On Mailing List ‘A’ with Respondent No. 12
RICHARD: The self, whilst being real – sometimes very real – is not actual. It is as much a delusion as the ego is. For many years I mistakenly assumed that words carried a definitive meaning that was common to all peoples speaking the same language ... for example ‘real’ and ‘truth’. But, as different person’s told me things like: ‘That is only your truth’, or: ‘God is real’, I realised that unambiguous words are required. (To a child, Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy are ‘real’ and ‘true’). Correspondingly I abandoned ‘real’ and ‘true’ in favour of ‘actual’ and ‘fact’, as experience has demonstrated that no one has been able to tell me that their god is actual or that something is only my fact. Therefore this keyboard is actual (these finger-tips feeling it substantiate this) and it is a fact that these printed letters are forming words on the screen (these eyes seeing it validate this). These things are indisputable and verifiable by any body with the requisite sense-organs.
Any sense of self is an identity ... the persistence of identity even into enlightenment is legendary by now: ‘I am God’, ‘I am That’, ‘I am The Supreme’, ‘I am Emptiness’, or even just ‘I am’. It is the continuance of identity – ‘I’ – in any way, shape or form that is the ‘spanner in the works’. There is only one thing that ‘I’ can do to remedy the situation. As ‘I’ am only real and not actual, ‘I’ can simply disappear. Psychological self-immolation is the only sensible sacrifice that ‘I’ can make in order to reveal the fulfilment of the perfection of being here as this body in the world as-it-is at this moment in time. Life is bursting with meaning when ‘I’ am no longer present to mess things up. ‘I’ stand in the way of the purity of that perfection being apparent ... ‘my’ presence prohibits consummation being evident. ‘I’ prevent the very meaning to life that ‘I’ am searching for from coming into plain view. The main trouble is that ‘I’ wish to remain in existence to savour the meaning; ‘I’ mistakenly think that meaning is the product of the mind and the heart. Nothing could be further from the case.
The closest approximation to the actual that ‘I’ can attain via thought can only ever be visionary states produced from utopian ideals that manifest themselves as hallucinatory chimeras. The mind, held hostage by humanity’s ‘wisdom’, is a fertile breeding-ground for fanciful flights of imagination, giving rise to the fantasies and phantasms so loved and revered – and feared – by humankind. As for feelings ... one can disregard feelings too, for emotions and passions beget the esoteric, the psychic world of materialisations and apparitions. One can easily become bewitched by the bizarre entities that inhabit the Supernatural Realms; one can become beguiled and enchanted by the promise of the Glory and Glamour and Glitz of the Altered State Of Consciousness ... one will become a victim of that most insidious aspect of vanity: Power and Authority.
So much for thought and feeling – there is a third alternative: Apperception. Apperception is something that brings a facticity born out of a direct experience of the actual.
Apperception is the mind’s perception of itself – it is a bare awareness. Normally the mind perceives through the senses and sorts the data received according to its predilection; but the mind itself remains unperceived ... it is taken to be unknowable. Apperception happens when the ‘who’ inside abdicates its throne and a pure awareness occurs. This is called a peak experience. The experience is as if one has eyes in the back of one’s head; there is a three hundred and sixty degree awareness and all is self-evidently clear. This is knowing by direct experience, unmediated by any ‘who’ whatsoever. One is able to see that the ‘who’ of one has been standing in the way of the perfection and purity that is the essential nature of this moment of being here becoming apparent. Here a solid and irrefutable native intelligence can operate freely because the ‘thinker’ and the ‘feeler’ is extirpated. One is the universe’s experience of itself as a human being ... after all, the very stuff this body is made of is the very stuff of the universe. There is no ‘outside’ to the perfection of the universe to come from; one only thought and felt that one was a separate identity (ego, id, self, identity, persona, personality, lower ‘I am’, atman, soul, spirit, or whatever) forever seeking Union with ‘That’, by whatever name (Higher Self, True Self, Real Self, The All, Existence Itself, Consciousness, The Void, Suchness, Isness and so on).
Then what one is (‘what’ not ‘who’) is these sense organs in operation: this seeing is me, this hearing is me, this tasting is me, this touching is me, this smelling is me, and this thinking is me. Whereas ‘I’, the identity, am inside the body: looking out through ‘my’ eyes as if looking out through a window, listening through ‘my’ ears as if they were microphones, tasting through ‘my’ tongue, touching through ‘my’ skin, smelling through ‘my’ nose, and thinking through ‘my’ brain. Of course ‘I’ must feel isolated, alienated, alone and lonely, for ‘I’ am cut off from the magnificence of the actual world – the world as-it-is – by ‘my’ very presence.
Any identity whatsoever is a delusion.
RESPONDENT: No comment. Seriously, I think what you wrote there was good. I would be interested to see whether you can live up to what you have written – if indeed that is your intention. And what are your views regarding relationships and what people call ‘love’? Do you think it’s possible for two identity-less beings to fall in love with each other?
RICHARD: You make a valid point ... however, it is not a case of ‘living up to what I have written’ ... it is a case of currently and continuously living it now. It is not ‘my intention’, it is my actuality ... I write directly out of my on-going experience. Otherwise it would all be only theory and conjecture, speculation and surmise ... and what follows would amount to nothing but bombast and blather.
There is an actual intimacy between me and my companion. Actual intimacy is a direct experiencing of the other. It is an actuality born out of pure intent. Pure intent was activated by paying intense attention – exclusive attention – to one’s peak experiences. A peak experience is where ‘I’, the identity, temporarily abdicate the throne and everything is seen to be already always perfect. A chief characteristic of the peak experience is the clarity of apperception ... the seeing through of the belief in ‘my’ existence. In the months that followed the peak experience, the pure intent – this unwavering attention – amounted to an obsession for ‘me’, the identity, for what a sin it was to be disconsolate and miserable when the world had been experienced as being so glorious. To be here, intimately here at this moment in time, where this actual world is such a marvellous place to be alive in, is a satisfaction and fulfilment unparalleled in the annals of history.
Actual intimacy – being here – does not come from love, for love stems from separation. The illusion of intimacy that love produces is but a meagre imitation of this direct experience of the actual. In this, the actual world, ‘I’, the personality, the subjectively experienced identity and self, have ceased to exist; whereas love accentuates, endorses and verifies ‘me’ as being real. And while ‘I’ am real, ‘I’ am relative to other, similarly afflicted, persons; vying for position and status in order to establish ‘my’ credentials ... to verify ‘my’ very existence.
To be actually intimate is to be without separation ... and therefore free from the need for love with its ever un-filled promise of Peace On Earth. I am not apart from the universe ... I am the universe experiencing itself as a thinking, reflective human being. Whereas ‘I’ can never be intimate for ‘I’ am distanced from the actual by ‘my’ very ‘being’ ... ‘I’ stand in the way of actual intimacy. The intimacy that ‘I’ as a personality can have, as a feeling – an emotion or a passion – for another in a relationship, pales into insignificance when compared with the actual intimacy of being the universe experiencing itself. There is no need for a relationship here. Relationship requires a separated identity in order to do the relating. By being what I am – ‘what’ not ‘who’ – I am not separate from the universe. This body is literally made of the very stuff of the universe ... there is no difference whatsoever between this stuff and me. I am it.
I do not make the mistake, as the people who have dissolved only their ego do, of identifying myself with Existence or Whatever ... as being God On Earth, or any of that deluded nonsense ... I have no identity or self whatsoever. Nothing that ‘I’ – as an ego-less ‘Self’ – experienced many years ago when ‘I’ lived in the Divine Realm (Samadhi, Satori, Nirvana, Sunyata and so on) can equal the magnificence of being here in this actual world. Being here as-I-am far surpasses any Religious Illumination, Spiritual Enlightenment, Mystical Union or any other Altered State Of Consciousness. For example: This moment is perennial, not timeless. I am perpetually here – for the term of my natural life – as this moment is; I am not immortal. It is the universe that is eternal ... not me. I am free to be me; me as I actually am. I am free to be practical, straight-forward and down-to-earth. I am free of any guile, any hypocrisy, any duplicity, any cupidity ... any corruption at all. Innocence prevails only where time has no duration ... and this moment has no measure, it is ever-new. I have no need for such a paltry surrogate as Immortality ... Immortality fades into the oblivion it deserves when compared to the magnitude of experiencing the infinity of the universe as a human being living here, each moment again, fresh and new and pristine.
I am free to live in this magical wonderland that is the actual world.
RESPONDENT: You don’t make it clear whether ‘my companion’ refers to the Infinity of Nature (God) or an individual human being. I will assume you mean the latter. In that case I will ask you whether your ‘companion’ has exactly the same philosophical realisation and ambition as yourself? And would they mind if you were equally ‘intimate’ with lots of other people at the same time?
RICHARD: My companion could not possibly be ‘the Infinity of Nature (God)’, as any God or Goddess is clearly nothing but a psychic projection of the ‘self’. I experience – and therefore acknowledge – the only infinity that there is: the infinity of this physical universe that is what we are all tangibly made up of. This flesh and blood body is the same corporeal stuff, simply in a different formulation, as the stuff of the stars and planets – some people mistakenly think that the universe is only out in space – it is as much this body and this room as anything else or anywhere but here. We are not constructed of some material from ‘outside’ of the universe by some unknowable god and put ‘in here’ for some inscrutable purpose. We are, literally, this infinite universe ... and there is no outside to infinity.
RICHARD: So yes, you assume correctly. My companion is a living, breathing, human being.
RESPONDENT: I always thought a ‘companion’ was someone who keeps you company in old age when you have lost all dignity and are on your last legs, and comforts you that you’re not a waste of space when all reason says you are.
RICHARD: As my companion and I are legally married I could have written ‘my wife’ ... only to be accused of being chauvinistic or patriarchal or possessive or old-fashioned or whatever. She refers to me as ‘my partner’ ... is that any better? I hereby submit a list of appellations for your consideration and approval ... please advise me as to which you find appropriate: My wife, My spouse, My partner, My colleague, My friend, My associate, My mate, My chum, My buddy, My pal, My supporter, My collaborator, My coadjutor, My peer, My acquaintance, My amigo, My playmate, My familiar, My compeer, My confidant, My crony, My accomplice, My comrade, My ally, My cohort, My confrere, My consort, My counterpart, My sidekick, My bosom buddy, My intimate, My helpmeet, My compatriot, My confederate, My concubine, My mistress, My courtesan, My paramour, My accessory, My woman, My inamorata, My girl friend, My chick, My old lady ... or if we want to degenerate entirely and go ocker: The ball and chain, The trouble and strife, The cheese and kisses, The old dear, The old chook ... and so on.
Personally, I prefer ‘my companion’.
RICHARD: And, yes, she has exactly the same realisation and ambition, which is the primary reason that we are living together.
RESPONDENT: My word! Then she is either a very exceptional woman or you are a common fraud. Your words concerning Reality have merit, but I have serious reservations about your actual understanding as it manifests in the way you live your life. Your words about ‘living in the moment’ don’t do much for me, as every mindless person I meet is actively promoting the lifestyle of ‘living in the moment’. It is the fashion of the age.
RICHARD: She has had several peak experiences, of precisely the same nature that the ‘I’ that used to live in this body all those years ago had, and has no other objective in life but to live these experiences twenty-four-hours-a-day.
RESPONDENT: She’s given-up work then? Declared war on femininity? And she is fully aware that she has to reach a state beyond all emotion (fear, desire, love, pity, etc.)? Forgive me, but I always have a good laugh when I hear of men seeking to keep the company of women while giving the reason that they are trying to spiritually advance themselves. But for all I know your female friend may be every bit as noble you think she is. She may indeed be a fully enlightened Buddha. It’s possible. Perhaps we can hear from her on this discussion list?
RICHARD: It follows, of course, that not only does she not mind that I have an actual intimacy with everyone and everything ... she wants nothing but that for herself. Actual intimacy is the direct experience of the people, things and events in the world about, unmediated by any ‘who’ within ... that emotional and mental construct known as ‘I’. Actual intimacy has nothing to do with sexual proclivity – which is a matter of individual predilection – but refers to the absence of any psychological distance betwixt one and another.
It is ‘I’ who creates this psychological distance; it is ‘I’ who then feels separate; it is ‘I’ who correspondingly longs for Union; it is ‘I’ who creates love to bridge the self-created gap; it is ‘I’ who invents Gods and Goddesses to become One with. It is ‘I’ who, being a fiction, desires Immortality to perpetuate ‘my’ real existence for all of Eternity – thus secretly despising this body and this physical life – and it is ‘I’ who, being a central figure in ‘my’ scheme of things, proposes that there is an outside to this material universe. There is not. This universe has no edges ... which means that there is no centre either. With no centre to existence we are nowhere in particular.
Being here, as an actuality, is to be anywhere at all, for infinity is everywhere all at once.
Why would she have to be an exceptional woman? The only requirement to wish to solve the ‘Mystery of Life’ is that one be a human being who, having had experiences of the actuality of being here in the world as-it-is, wants nothing other than to live that perfection twenty four hours a day. As to whether I am a common fraud ... that is for you to ascertain one way or the other ... and as you have serious reservations about the way I live my life (based on no more information other than that I live with a human being who happens to be a female) then it seems that you already know the closely kept secret that the only proof that one is a truly free person is that one eschews women and shuns them entirely.
Also, I typed the words ‘living in the moment’ into the search function of this computer and sent it back through my posts and it could not find the phrase anywhere. Perhaps you could send me your copy where it does say that? What it did find, using the word ‘moment’ only, to search, was:
I, too have met people who are ‘actively promoting the lifestyle of ‘living at this moment’’. They do not seem to understand that as long as they are an ‘I’, a psychological entity living a parasitical existence within the body, then this moment of being alive is forever locked away in some other dimension. Only when ‘I’ am not is this moment apparent.
As for ‘giving up work’: she does not have to work as we are retired and living on a pension ... we are doddering around in our senility being companions to each other, remember? And she has not ‘declared war on femininity’: she simply prefers to be a human being rather than living the socially prescribed role of ‘woman’ ... be it ‘mainstream’ or ‘feminist’ or anything else. And she is not ‘trying to spiritually advance’ for there is not the slightest trace of spirituality, religiosity or mysticism in what she is doing. And no, she is not the teeniest bit noble – sincere, yes – but noble? No. And she is most definitely not ‘a fully enlightened Buddha’ for she has no interest at all in living in a delusion like he did. And yes she is well aware about being beyond all ‘emotion (fear, desire, love, pity, etc.)’ ... in fact she can tell you about that herself: ‘I am immensely happy to simply be alive, to be here in this world. Many years ago I would not have been capable of living a life without any ‘stress’ whatsoever. As I was then – the old me – I would have found the prospect of an existence devoid of any disharmony and nervous tension to be utterly boring and uninteresting; a life surely wasted in apathy and complacency. A ‘goody-two-shoes’, as such a person is derogatorily called in the real world, is something one is fervently warned against by one’s contemporaries. It seems to be of the utmost importance there that each child, as soon as possible, learns to cope and deal with the Human Condition in the way that is accepted as being ‘normal’ in the orthodox mode of life. In other words: how it has always been done. Prolonged naiveté and non-conformity must be eradicated ‘in the best interests of the child’, so the person will not be hurt when they venture out and about in the real world. The newest recruit to humanity has thus not only been persuaded to sell themselves out to the system, but has entered into the society of stress, anxiety and all the other peer group pressures. By the time the child has reached adult-hood, they will never dare to be authentic, genuine, original ... and will be forever afraid to risk entering into an area believed to be boring, dull, unemotional and lethargic.
Is this enough? I can send more if you wish, for I have nothing else to do but potter around the house taking up space (seeing that ‘a companion is someone who keeps you company in old age when you have lost all dignity and are on your last legs, and comforts you that you’re not a waste of space when all reason says you are’.) But out of regard for others on this list in respect to the length of posts I will stop for now.
RICHARD: Why would she have to be an exceptional woman? The only requirement to wish to solve the ‘Mystery of Life’ is that one be a human being who, having had experiences of the actuality of being here in the world as-it-is, wants nothing other than to live that perfection twenty four hours a day. As to whether I am a common fraud ... that is for you to ascertain one way or the other ... and as you have serious reservations about the way I live my life (based on no more information other than that I live with a human being who happens to be a female) then it seems that you already know the closely kept secret that the only proof that one is a truly free person is that one eschews women and shuns them entirely.
RESPONDENT: I wouldn’t say that eschewing women is a proof that one is free, but being attached to women is a sure proof that one is enchained. The Buddha (I know you don’t like him but I do) says: ‘So long as the lustful desire of a man for a woman, however small, is not destroyed, so long is that man in bondage, like a calf that drinks milk is to its mother. (The Dhammapada).
RICHARD: Without an ‘I’, there is nothing inside this body to be either attached or detached ... one is free to be living with, or without, a member of the other gender. Living is all so very easy and simple in the actual world ... to be without ‘I’ in ‘my’ entirety is a most estimable condition to be in. To practice detachment merely manifests and strengthens the second ‘I’ (of Mr. Venkataraman Aiyer aka Ramana fame) and can lead to one realising oneself as the ‘Self’. If carried out successfully, one will be in danger of becoming enlightened and live in the massive delusion of existing for all Eternity ... that is: Spaceless, Timeless, Unborn, Undying and so on. ‘I’ thus survive, triumphant, only to wreak ‘my’ havoc once again ... disguised now as some Metaphysical Entity who has manifested for ‘The Good of All Mankind’. ‘I’ conveniently ignore all the hatred and bloodshed that ‘I’ – as my illustrious predecessors have also done – leave in the wake of ‘my’ noble Love Agapé‚ and Divine Compassion. This has been the way of humans for millennia: to escape from ‘reality’ by creating a ‘Greater Reality’ ... this is the wisdom of the Sages and the Saints, the Masters and the Messiahs, the Avatars and the Saviours – and is but a delusion created out of an illusion. It is all predicated upon the persistence of an identity existing through into an ‘After-Life’.
RESPONDENT: Buddhism does teach that Nirvana and enlightenment (the extinction of suffering and the delusion of self) are possible in this life – although you would be very lucky to find even a single modern Buddhists who actually wants to attain that condition. And Jesus taught that the Kingdom of Heaven was here and now for those who are able to see it (which would seem to exclude all Christians).
RICHARD: It is of no avail to quote Mr. Gotama the Sakyan’s revered wisdom, because he knew naught of these matters that I write of ... it is a well known fact that, out of compassion, he would not take the ‘final step’ while a single sentient being was still suffering. Which is why, for Buddhists, their Ultimate State – ‘Parinirvana’ – lies on the other side of physical death. Thus his identity indubitably remained intact ... for compassion rises out of sorrow. In actuality the opposites are eliminated, not merely transcended.
The same applies for the cherished teachings of Mr. Yeshua the Nazarene. His god (his father!) had a mansion of many rooms whereto he hastened, out of love, to prepare a place for us mere mortals ... also on the other side of physical death. Unless one is a Jehovah’s Witness, no one calling themselves a Christian believes for a moment that their Ultimate State lies here on earth. Thus he too had an identity ... for love rises out of loneliness or aloneness. When ‘I’ am not, there is no psychological entity extant to need love ... or to generate it.
The demonstration of anything factual lies in the practical working out of it physically, here on earth. It is of no use for anyone to propose that complete fulfilment lies only on the other side of physical death, as the venerated Sages do ... there is simply no way to authenticate this, nor can any useful information be garnered from there. I have always been interested purely in our lot on this planet and have only ever been concerned about a practical dissolution of the Human Condition while this body is alive and breathing. It is ‘I’ in ‘my’ entirety that stands in the way of the perfection and purity of this moment in time being apparent. One needs to eliminate not only the ‘ego’ or ‘self’, but the ‘soul’ and ‘Self’ as well. Then, and only then, can any remaining sense of identity whatsoever disappear. With no identity in any way, shape or form whatever, both malice and sorrow are eliminated (not transcended) ... along with their beguiling antidotes: love and compassion.
(Just out of curiosity: You are the same person who edits/ edited the Atheist Society newsletter, are you not? The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines an atheist as: ‘A person who denies or disbelieves in the existence of God or gods’. If you are, then why are you quoting long-dead deities? Their wisdom is not worth the paper it was not printed on until so many years after their alleged life/ death that there is serious dispute about the authenticity of anything they purportedly said and did. There is also thoughtful scholarly debate as to whether these archetypical religious/ spiritual teachers historically existed anyway. Humankind has been held in mythical thralldom for far too long ... it is high time humans all came of age and started thinking and discovering for themselves. And, after all is said and done, if that is not what intelligence is – a person with the ability to think and discover for oneself – then what is? The postings on this list are mainly psittacisms.)
But I appreciate the comments you wrote regarding what my companion had to say. It is indeed refreshing to find a fellow human being who is prepared to go all the way, whatever it takes ... not to mention the numerous other people I have spoken with over the years. There is the distinct possibility that humankind might excel itself yet.
RICHARD: Without an ‘I’, there is nothing inside this body to be either attached or detached ... one is free to be living with, or without, a member of the other gender.
RESPONDENT: So your wouldn’t mind at all if your wife slept with other men every day and spent most of her time with them?
RICHARD: Not at all ... I do not own her, she is not my possession ... she is free to live her life as she sees fit. Similarly, she does not see me as her possession and does not own me. Apart from practical considerations about things like STD’s and unwanted pregnancies, we put no boundaries upon each other. If she or I then willingly choose to remain monogamous, that is a free choice. (For what it is worth, as an illustration only, until recently we have been living in what is called a menage a trois. She is currently living in her own home doing whatever she does do when we are not with each other. We are married in name only – for legal purposes – which is why I originally wrote ‘my companion’ ... we do not consider ourselves ‘married’ in the sense most people mean by that term.)
RESPONDENT: This is how I understand it: That which a Buddha rejects is not ultimate enlightenment, but a false enlightenment – the enlightenment of the arhats. An arhat, according to the Buddhist use of the term, retains a small element of ego (the innermost core of the ego) to enjoy the fruits of wisdom. This is sometimes called ‘Nirvana’, but it is not the true and pure Nirvana of the Buddhas, which does not include even the slightest element of ego. In other words the great Bodhisattva (one who strives for Buddhahood) turns his back on the great bliss of so-called ‘Nirvana’ in order to seek real and true enlightenment. Now, even when one becomes a fully enlightened Buddha one still experiences the illusion of duality (‘self’ and ‘other’) – even though one is not taken-in by this illusion at all. One experiences this illusion due to the fact that one’s body has senses which create these illusions. It is only at death that the illusion of duality disappears, and this is termed ‘Parinirvana’. But this is not a superior state to that of Buddhahood but is only a different word to convey a different phase of existence.
RICHARD: This expresses precisely why I write so rigorously about what I am on about: there is nothing the matter with the senses; it is the psychological identity within the body that distorts the sense data ... creating the impression that ‘one still experiences the illusion of duality (‘self’ and ‘other’)’. Given that this impression is then taken to be a fact, such a person thus has to perform a sleight of hand (or I rather should say: ‘sleight of mind’) and convince oneself that ‘one is not taken-in by this illusion at all’. One does not have to wait for death’s ‘Great Release’ ... (‘It is only at death that the illusion of duality disappears’) ... for I do not experience any ‘illusion of duality’ and therefore do not have to avoid being taken in by it. It actually is possible to live freely, without having any illusion at all to have to deal with.
Where you say ‘It is only at death that the illusion of duality disappears’, whether you realise it or not, you are acknowledging that as long as this body is alive and breathing – complete with those dratted sense organs – one can not be utterly free. This is why Buddhists maintain that their Ultimate State lies only on the other side of physical death ... which you accidentally confirm when you finish your paragraph with ‘a different phase of existence’. Physical death does not usher one into a ‘a different phase of existence’ ... there is only a heap of rotting flesh and mouldering bones – or a pile of ashes if cremated. That is it. Finish.
RESPONDENT: True Buddhist compassion is really only to do with understanding, and is nothing to do with sorrow at all. The Bodhisattva understands that the All is himself, and so he cannot rest in the puny ‘Nirvana’ of the arhats, who are so easily satisfied. The Bodhisattva realises that all beings, and indeed all things, are literally parts of his own self, and so he is responsible for All. The Bodhisattva rejects ‘Nirvana’ because of his responsibility to The All (Truth). As you can see this kind of compassion is infinite in nature and has nothing to do with sorrow.
RICHARD: So if there is ‘True Buddhist compassion’ then there is, presumably, ‘False Buddhist compassion’. You have already spoken of a ‘False Enlightenment’ and an ‘Ultimate Enlightenment’ as well as a ‘True and pure Nirvana of the Buddhas’ which implies an ‘Untrue and impure Nirvana’ ... it seems that this venerable Mr. Gotama the Sakyan did not leave a very clear message ... perhaps it is because he is indeed a mythical creature after all and his alleged wisdom is but the collective works of countless pious humans, over centuries of time, cobbling together commentaries upon commentaries. It is a very complicated philosophy, full of pitfalls for the unwary, and leading to nothing more spectacular than the common or garden variety of Eastern Enlightenment – Moksa, Samadhi, Satori and so on – with the main exception being that no god is openly acknowledged. However, your use of capitalisation, (‘if God is used as another name for Truth or the Infinite, then I believe in God, because I believe in Truth’.) ... (‘the All (Truth)’) ... (‘Infinity of Nature (God) ‘), gives the game away. The Jain religion also does not openly acknowledge any god ... but do the same thing. Anyone who uses capitalisation is referring to something that is Sacred, Holy, Hallowed, Divine, Heavenly, Sanctified, Sacrosanct, Otherworldly and so on. In other words: God.
The ‘kind of compassion that is infinite in nature and has nothing to do with sorrow’ quite clearly rises out of ‘The Bodhisattva’s ... responsibility to the All (Truth)’ This translates as ‘Doing God’s Work on Earth’ in Western terminology. The trouble with people who discard the god of Christianity – and call themselves atheists – is that they do not realise that by turning to the Eastern spirituality they have effectively jumped out of the frying pan into the fire. Eastern spirituality is religion ... merely in a different form to what people in the west have been raised to believe in. And it is of no use to protest that Buddhism – ‘True Buddhism’ – is not a religion but a philosophy, for I have been to India some years ago and studied Buddhism for myself. It is those bits about ‘No-Mind’, No-Self’, ‘Non-Being’, ‘The Void’, ‘Emptiness’ and so on that sound so convincing to the Western mind that is desperately looking for answers. The Christian conditioning actually sets up the situation for a thinking person to be susceptible to the insidious doctrines of the East. At the end of the line there is always a god of some description, lurking in disguise.
RICHARD: Just out of curiosity: You are the same person who edits/edited the Atheist Society newsletter, are you not? The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines an atheist as: ‘A person who denies or disbelieves in the existence of God or gods’.
RESPONDENT: Yes, I am that person. I don’t believe in the God or gods of modern day Christianity. However, if God is used as another name for Truth or the Infinite, then I believe in God, because I believe in Truth.
RICHARD: How unfortunate it is that you so easily write the words ‘I believe in Truth’. The subject of beliefs and believing is one of my favourite topics as beliefs are the bane of humankind. A person who is free has no beliefs whatsoever, so one who is endeavouring to become free will view them all with deep suspicion. Beliefs have been so instrumental in killing, maiming, torturing and otherwise causing such pain and suffering since the dawn of human history, that one wonders that they are given any credence at all these days. It behoves one to examine each and every belief – especially those that pass for ‘truths’ or ‘The Truth’ – and watch them disappear out of one’s life forever. It is so liberating to be free of beliefs – of believing itself – that I cannot recommend their elimination highly enough. One’s sense of identity and self is largely made up of beliefs – beliefs are emotion-backed thoughts – and instincts. The vast majority of the beliefs that one carries are not invented by oneself; they were imbibed with the mother’s milk and added to thereupon up to the present day. They are inherited beliefs, put into the child with love and fear – reward and punishment – and added to as an adult out of awe and dread – the carrot and the stick. It is no wonder human beings are such a desperate lot. A ‘Mature Adult’ is actually a lost, lonely and frightened entity careering around in confusion and delusion.
However, it is never too late to begin to undo that which has been done to one. One of the marvellous aspects of entering onto the path of facts and actuality is that it is a wide and wondrous path full of delight and discovery ... with some down-turns from time-to-time as the old ways reassert themselves. I will not pretend for a moment that all is rosy when one begins to dismantle one’s belief system; one’s very identity and self is at stake. The identity and self will put up a good fight for they want to stay in existence as they have a lot to lose. To wit: their ‘life’. As the sense of identity and self is firmly based upon the instinct for survival, ‘I’ will get up to all kinds of tricks to retain and regain ‘my’ ascendancy. But it is not a hopeless case: if ‘I’, the Richard who was, could do it, anyone can. ‘I’ claimed no special abilities other than a determination to succeed in ‘my’ desired ambition. In 1980 ‘I’ had what is known as a ‘Peak Experience’ wherein the perfection and purity of the universe as-it-is was experienced. ‘I’ was hooked. ‘I’ devoted myself to the task of setting ‘myself’ free of absolutely everything that stood in the way of attaining what had been experienced on that day. The word ‘fail’ was not in ‘my’ vocabulary.
Other than that, the only other requirement that comes to mind at this moment is that one is a human being.
RESPONDENT: Oh boy, don’t tell me the third partner is also a truly realised being! There must be a hell of a lot of them over there!
RICHARD: Thus far I have treated your – albeit rather prurient – inquiries into my personal life as if they were genuine queries as to the practical workings of freedom in everyday life. The fatuous nature of the above retort with its gratuitous sarcasm tends to make me lose interest in responding to any more of the same ... especially as it seems to pander to a questionable trait in your character. It also casts serious doubt upon your bona fide’s.
RESPONDENT: ‘Not being taken-in by the illusion’ (as I called it) would automatically mean that there was no duality of ‘illusion’ and ‘non-illusion’. Such a duality is precisely the illusion, so if one is not taken-in by it then it does not exist. I agree that it is possible to live in this life beyond illusion and non-illusion.
RICHARD: Taken on its own, this statement is straightforward enough – after allowing for the mental convolutions necessary to understand Buddhist thought – but as it comes in conjunction with your previous paragraph (‘It is only at death that the illusion of duality disappears, and this is termed ‘Parinirvana’. But this is not a superior state to that of Buddhahood but is only a different word to convey a different phase of existence’.) it is seems to me to be an attempt to wriggle out of a double-bind you have enmeshed yourself into. Arranged sequentially it goes like this:
As Number (3) is totally at odds to Number (1) I would ask for clarification as to which one is the fact ... if it: (3) ‘does not exist’, how is it that it is: (1) ‘only at death’ – and we were speaking of physical death – that it disappears? And Number (1) is your basic premise – purportedly a fact – upon which you are basing this discussion.
You then appeared to be agreeable: ‘I agree [with Richard] that it is possible to live in this life beyond illusion and non-illusion’. As it was you who brought the concept of ‘non-illusion’ (which is rarefied Buddhist nonsense, anyway) into the discussion, I hardly consider it follows that you are agreeing with me ... you only make it seem that you do, so as to not lose face. Why do you not give in now and admit to what is widely known amongst Buddhists ... to wit: that it is not possible to be utterly free while this body is still alive and breathing? They all acknowledge that the ‘Ultimate State’ – Parinirvana – lies on the other side of physical death ... or are you single-handedly re-writing Buddhism? My original statement still stands, despite your attempts at obfuscation: ‘It is of no avail to quote Mr. Gotama the Sakyan’s revered wisdom, because he knew naught of these matters that I write of ... it is a well known fact that, out of compassion, he would not take the ‘final step’ while a single sentient being was still suffering. Which is why, for Buddhists, their Ultimate State – ‘Parinirvana’ – lies on the other side of physical death. Thus his identity indubitably remained intact ... for compassion rises out of sorrow. In actuality the opposites are eliminated, not merely transcended’.
Close inspection of Buddhism reveals nonsensical dilemmas as does the Christianity you reject ... like that one that has troubled Theologians for ages:
Grown men do get themselves into such a bind, do they not? To paraphrase an age-old aphorism: ‘Oh what a tangled web they weave, when first they practice to believe!’
RICHARD: Where you say ‘It is only at death that the illusion of duality disappears’, whether you realise it or not, you are acknowledging that as long as this body is alive and breathing – complete with those dratted sense organs – one can not be utterly free.
RESPONDENT: No, I was merely saying that our experience of ‘things’ ceases when we die, which is a different phase of existence in the same way as childhood and adulthood are different phases of existence.
RICHARD: Definitely not a good analogy, for going from childhood to adulthood implies a continuity of something through time. Physical death is the end. Finish. There is not a ‘different phase of existence’ after physical death in which, while ‘our experience of ‘things’ cease’ , we go on. This is the same-same Immortality of all religions that you are talking about – the Buddhists are no different to any other religion, when one gets into the nitty-gritty of things.
RICHARD: Physical death does not usher one into a ‘a different phase of existence’ ... there is only a heap of rotting flesh and mouldering bones – or a pile of ashes if cremated. That is it. Finish.
RESPONDENT: I agree that (as far as we know) we have no experience of existence once the body dies.
RICHARD: What is this ‘as far as we know’ business? In the latter part of this post you declare: ‘I know Truth’ . Also, you do the same thing as before ... you appear to agree with me, all the while changing what I wrote. I did not say: ‘we have no experience of existence once the body dies’ ... I said: ‘that is it. Finish’.
And again: ‘I agree that people are equally foolish all over the world, and their religions are more or less equally false. It is said: ‘One religion is as true as another’’. Who are you agreeing with? I never said that. To me, all religions are absolutely false, not ‘more or less false’. And I would say, without the slightest hesitation: ‘one religion is as false as another’. You are being disingenuous here.
RESPONDENT: The difference is that the wise person does not see themselves as different from God. They are themselves God.
RICHARD: As you agreed with me in a previous post where I wrote: ‘any God or Goddess is clearly nothing but a psychic projection of the ‘self’’, and you wrote: ‘Agreed’ ... I can hardly consider that you can now turn around and say a person who sees themselves as God could possibly be wise. Foolish, yes ... deluded, yes ... confused, yes ... befuddled by eastern logic, yes ... but wise?
RESPONDENT: To be more clear I could have said ‘I know Truth, and I have faith in it because of the extent and depth to which I know it’. The ‘I believe’ bit was just a shorthand way of saying the same thing.
RICHARD: Wriggling again? ‘I believe’ and ‘I know’ are such vastly disparate words that I can not buy your lame excuse of ‘just a shorthand way of saying the same thing’. And, in case you think I am being picky, you compound your error by going on with ‘I have faith in it’. Faith, belief, trust and hope are all part of the same package ... a person who actually knows would have a solid confidence and certainty born out of that knowing. And, please, do not tell me that ‘faith’ is shorthand for ‘certainty’ ... your equivocations are starting to wear thin.
RICHARD: A person who is free has no beliefs.
RESPONDENT: They know things rather than believe them I presume. But in the case of empirical knowledge they would still have to hold beliefs of a sort because of the inherent uncertainty of empirical knowledge. For example such a person might say ‘I currently believe in such-and-such a theory because, at the moment it has the most evidence to support it’.
RICHARD: No. A free person would not say: ‘I currently believe in such-and-such a theory because ...’. As any belief is an emotion-backed thought and a free person has no feelings at all – no emotions or passions whatsoever – there is no possibility of an emotional investment at all in theories which can – and do – change according to the circumstances. The etymology of the word ‘believe’ indicates that it is derived from: ‘hold dear, love’ ... or thus, ‘fervently wish to be true’. Quite a passionate word I would say.
In view of the paucity of sagacity in your response I can not ascribe any value to your parting comment: ‘It sounds good, but I think you have a long way to go’.
RESPONDENT: Being in relationships does leave you at the brunt of a lot of jokes I’m afraid!
RICHARD: Strange ... nobody around here makes jokes about my relationships ... you have the dubious honour of being the first. Which makes me wonder just what kind of world you have created for yourself. Being in a relationship is one of the most delicious, delightful, fascinating and rewarding things that one can ever do. In case you have not taken it in, given that half of the population being female and the other half being male, it an actuality that we fit together. It is a ‘given’, as they say in scientific circles, like gravity. It is the method by which we all came to be here – there is no other way of becoming a human being other than the union of the ova and the spermatozoa. And strange indeed it is that most religious/ spiritual/ mystical/ metaphysical paths, somewhere along the line, insist that one eschews anyone of the other gender. It amounts to nothing other than being in a state of denial.
Apart from that, sarcasm is the lowest form of wit.
RESPONDENT: I am the last person to defend popular Buddhism, but the Buddha himself was an ordinary human being who, supposedly at least, attained absolute perfection. That’s what ‘Buddhahood’ means. It is not conceived in Buddhism that a living fully enlightened Buddha is imperfect in any way at all. As I say, the use the term ‘Parinirvana’ is not meant to indicate a higher state of existence.
RICHARD: I was wondering what to do about demonstrating the obvious to you as I gave away all my Buddhist books in 1984 when I had finished with the subject. Not having any authoritative texts lying around the house to quote from, I contemplated buying some from the esoteric book-store ... but I figured you were not worth the time and money as you would tell me that they were the wrong source anyway. Then I chanced upon the encyclopaedia that came with this computer when I bought it. I typed in the word ‘Parinirvana’ and – Lo! and Behold! – they, too, know more about Buddhism than you do:
Please note the ‘a state of final Nirvana (Parinirvana) is attained at the moment of death’ bit ... does this convince you? Also notice the ‘not to be confused with total annihilation’ bit. This is what I have been writing about since we began this thread. In actual freedom there is total annihilation.
RESPONDENT: A rotting corpse is the continuation of the body after death. There is continuity through time.
RICHARD: Dodging the issue. We were discussing consciousness not compost. We were talking about Immortality – life after death – and the continuation of something, by whatever name, in some metaphysical ‘Timeless and Spaceless’ dimension. Discussing issues with you, I have noticed, is akin to drying dishes with a wet rag.
RESPONDENT: As far as we know death means the end of our consciousness – which means the end of our experience of ‘things’ (including self). Now what kind of an end is that? It’s only a transformation.
RICHARD: A transformation into what? Here is a hint: Trikaya.
RESPONDENT: Whether self-consciousness continues after the death of the body is a matter for empirical measurement. No empirical knowledge can be known with absolute certainty. I don’t currently believe that self-consciousness can be sustained after the death of the body because I’ve never seen any convincing evidence that it can, and I can’t see any mechanism that might make it seem like a possibility. As far as things go at the current time it appears to me that our consciousness is dependent on a properly functioning brain. Once the brain stops working the consciousness is no longer supported.
RICHARD: But you declare that you know The Truth! What kind of truth is it if it does not tell you about life after death? Are you being obtuse, disingenuous or ... or do you actually not know? Perhaps that is why this discussion is so slippery ... that you really do not know what you are talking about.
RICHARD: Who are you agreeing with? I never said that. To me, all religions are absolutely false, not ‘more or less false’.
RESPONDENT: Following that reasoning then your ideas must be false so long as we call your ideas religious.
RICHARD: As I am on record as stating that there is not the slightest trace of religiosity, spirituality, mysticism or metaphysicality in me whatsoever, I find this type of argument just plain stupid.
RICHARD: Any belief is an emotion-backed thought.
RESPONDENT: I believe that 1 + 1 = 2 (based on the definitions of ‘1’ and ‘2’), and that is not an emotion-backed thought. You are attached to a narrow usage of particular words.
RICHARD: One and one always do equal two ... this is a fact. Why the need to believe something obvious? And I am not ‘attached to a narrow usage of particular words’ ... I am being precise and clear. Under your schematisation, of defining away proper and accepted use of words as ‘narrow usage’, apparently anything goes ... anything can be whatever you define it to be. Sounds like Post-Modernism.
Also, accusing some of being ‘attached’ to something is your universal put-down for anyone who disagrees with you. You have used it and over-used it ... until it does not mean anything at all, any more.
RESPONDENT: Belief is higher than knowledge because it is possible to know something but not have the courage to believe it.
RICHARD: Thus far we have established that:
I, for one, do not see that anything fruitful will be obtained by continuing this futile dialogue ... this approximation of a genuine discussion.
RICHARD: By its very nature a belief is not factually true ... otherwise it would not need to be believed to be true. A fact is obvious; it is out in the open.
RESPONDENT: If you define ‘belief’ as being concerned with something that is not factually true, then what do you call it when people don’t believe the facts because the facts are too scary to believe?
RICHARD: As a belief is not factually true by its very nature, then a fact, which by its very nature is obvious, can not be believed or disbelieved. Therefore your question: ‘what do you call it when people don’t believe the facts’, does not follow, logically. (However a person can ignore a fact by pretending that it is not there. Such a person is called a fool.)
RICHARD: There is no actual ‘me’ to either ‘die’ or to have ‘Eternal Life’.
RESPONDENT: In the highest sense of the word ‘Immortal’ doesn’t mean ‘endless life’ but means ‘beyond life and death’. That which is mortal experiences life and death. But that which is immortal is unborn and undying.
RICHARD: The only factual thing that remotely meets the qualification ‘beyond life and death’ is inanimate matter – a rock, for example. It only meets the qualification by virtue of the fact that it has never been alive, therefore it can never be dead. So, whenever the word ‘Immortal’ (the opposite to ‘mortal’) is used, no one, to my knowledge, has ever referred to the physical, inanimate universe itself ... they have always indicated something metaphysical, by whatever name, be it personal or impersonal. As anything alive will inevitably die (this is a fact), then the word ‘Immortality’ refers to supernatural stuff (which is belief). The only ‘thing’ that is ‘unborn and undying’ is God. God, by any other name, is still God ... and with God we are back in the realm of belief.
But you and I have already exhausted this particular topic in another thread ... where it was established that you, who fancied yourself as a logician, valued belief higher than reason.
The Third Alternative
(Peace On Earth In This Life Time As This Flesh And Blood Body)
Here is an actual freedom from the Human Condition, surpassing Spiritual Enlightenment and any other Altered State Of Consciousness, and challenging all philosophy, psychiatry, metaphysics (including quantum physics with its mystic cosmogony), anthropology, sociology ... and any religion along with its paranormal theology. Discarding all of the beliefs that have held humankind in thralldom for aeons, the way has now been discovered that cuts through the ‘Tried and True’ and enables anyone to be, for the first time, a fully free and autonomous individual living in utter peace and tranquillity, beholden to no-one.
Richard’s Text ©The Actual Freedom Trust: 1997-. All Rights Reserved.