On Mailing List ‘A’ with Respondent No. 24
RICHARD: Physical death is the end. Finish.
RESPONDENT: Funny, aren’t you the same Richard who is so not into beliefs? But this sounds suspiciously like a belief to me.
RICHARD: A fair enough question ... but easy to understand with a little reflection. It is the psychological entity within the body – the ‘I’ – that projects a perpetuation of itself even unto an ‘After-life’. Just like all Gods and Goddesses are but a projection of ‘self’, so to is ‘Immortality’. This is what is a belief, not the statement: ‘Physical death is the end. Finish’.
As there is no ‘I’ anywhere whatsoever inside this body, I can experience – and thus know as a fact – that there is no actual ‘Immortality’ in some ‘After-life’ because there is no one here to have it (Immortality) or go into it (an After-life). It is all but a fantasy spun out of a delusion born out of an illusion. ‘I’ think and feel that ‘I’ am so important that ‘I’ must live forever. It is a pernicious belief with its roots buried deep in self-importance and self-aggrandisement. It is where conceit meets arrogance and become meekness and humility ... and seeks its post-mortem reward.
‘I’ will do anything to survive.
RESPONDENT: You make it sound as if the only alternative to believing that physical death is the end of consciousness were believing that consciousness survives the death of the body, that is, believing in some form of immortality. But neither alternative escapes the status of ‘belief’, in its narrow epistemological sense. I would suggest that there is another alternative, that of a reservation of judgment in the absence of conclusive evidence one way or the other. I think such a reservation of judgment is consistent with faith, which, as existential commitment, transcends both belief and unbelief (in their narrow epistemological sense, that is).
RICHARD: I write this assuming you did mean to write ‘in its narrow epistemological sense’ and not ‘in its narrow etymological sense’. (I have been recently accused of doing the latter – which disingenuously allows one to avoid having to examine the action of believing and its dire consequences). As epistemology has to do with the validity of knowledge, I am wondering how ‘belief’ can be considered ‘narrow in an epistemological sense’ . Belief is, per definition, not knowledge ... unless we allow the word ‘knowledge’ to devolve into including anything at all that anyone would care to imagine or fantasise about.
Be that as it may, I appreciate that it sounds like I am presenting only two alternatives to believe in, yet I am not. I am consistently urging not only the discarding of all beliefs, but to examine and discard the very action of believing in itself. I only present a refutation to a particular belief in order that a person may come to see, not only how silly it is, but how dangerous it is to believe at all. I would not want anyone to stop believing in immortality and start believing in death as oblivion ... that would be to swap one belief for another and the action of believing remains intact. Where the action of believing remains intact, the ‘believer’ – the ‘I’ – is supported, affirmed, verified and perpetuated. This is the primary danger of beliefs (the secondary danger, of course being the result of a specific belief put into practice out in the world ... for example: Religious Wars and Crusades). Thus to propose a reservation of judgment is to do nothing about the ‘I’ at all. Being agnostic about something believed unknowable – whilst satisfying to an intellect desiring to ‘transcend belief and unbelief’ – amounts to yet another belief (‘I believe it is unknowable’). The question to ask oneself is: ‘Why am I procrastinating’.
Procrastination allows ‘me’ to continue to subsist ... and yet ‘I’ will thus wreak ‘my’ havoc in another area. And where you say that ‘a reservation of judgment is consistent with faith’, we are back into the same arena as the action of believing, for faith, trust, hope and belief are all part of the same package. The action I am referring to is the passionate involvement required to maintain the synthetic credibility of whatever is believed in, or what one has faith in, or what one trusts and what one hopes for. It is impossible to dispassionately believe, dispassionately have faith, dispassionately have hope or dispassionately trust. Anyone who claims otherwise does not understand the experiential reality lying under those words. ‘I’ am, to a large part, an emotional ‘being’ ... ‘I’ am, to a large part, made up of beliefs, values, principles, ideals, theories, traditions, customs, mores and so on. Belief is an emotion-backed thought ... and not sensible thought at that.
For a start, any belief is nonsensical. 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, freely available for all to see as being correct. To believe something to be true is to accept on trust that it is so. A fact does not have to be accepted on trust ... a fact is candidly so. A fact is patently true, manifestly clear. A fact has actual verity, whereas a belief requires synthetic credence. It is a fact that I, as this body, am mortal. I will die in due course ... this heart will stop beating, these lungs will cease breathing, this brain will quit thinking. The flesh will decompose, if buried, or will be dispersed, if burnt, as smoke and ash. There could be nothing more final, more conclusive, more complete, of an ending to me than this. So the belief in Immortality goes against all the factual, evidential actuality. It must, therefore, have its roots buried deep in the psyche, to be held so passionately by so many people. It is not merely the passing whim of a thoughtless few. It is something that people feel deeply to be true. It is dear to their heart’s desire.
Herein lies the clue to ascertain why this fancy has persisted: a feeling is not a fact. Feelings have led humankind astray for millennia, without ever being questioned as to whether they are the correct tools for determining the correctness of a matter. Feelings are held to be sacrosanct; they are given a credibility they do not deserve. They are seen to be the final arbiter in a contentious issue: ‘It’s a gut-feeling’, or ‘My intuition is never wrong’, or ‘It feels right’, and so on. Thought, shackled by emotion and passion, cannot operate with the clarity it is capable of. At the centre of feelings lies a passionate entity known as the soul. The soul, which has no substance whatsoever, is revered as being the seat of ‘me’; it is ‘my’ essential ‘being’. The feeling of ‘being’ is the impression of being present; it is the perception of a ‘presence’ that transcends time and space ... giving rise to the improper assumption that ‘I’ am Immortal. It must be stressed again that all this is derived from calenture; nothing in this has any facticity. This is because ‘I’ generate unfortunate misinformation on account of ‘being’. ‘I’ may be real ... but ‘I’ am not actual. Reality is not actuality. Reality is a world-view created and sustained by emotive thought. This affective vision is a blinkered version of what is actual. Time is actual, space is actual ... and any personal interpretation of the actual is an emotional transubstantiation of it into an illusion called reality. To then transcend this reality is to take a mystical leap into an Other-Worldly Realm ... a Supernatural Reality.
This Supernatural Reality is always spelt with a capital to denote Divinity. Everyday reality – which the Spiritual people call ‘worldly’ – is already an illusion, so any rising above this is to move from an illusion into a delusion. In this delusion ‘I’ feel a Oneness with all of Creation, an intuitive sense of ‘Being’. In this intuition of ‘Being’, ‘I’ am Timeless and Spaceless ... in other words; Eternal and Infinite. ‘I’ have cheated Death itself. When the body dies, ‘I’ will discard it as ‘I’ would a suit of old clothes and live forever in that Transcendental Realm. ‘I’ will have attained to ‘My’ Essential Nature, which is one of Love Agapé and Divine Compassion. The Incomparable Beauty of ‘My’ Heavenly State is best described as being Ineffable ... which is to dissemble in such an ingenious way that the gullible cannot help but be impressed by and be in awe of, ‘My’ Supreme Condition. ‘I’ have realised ‘Myself’ as being the Absolute, the Supreme ... as being God Incarnate. ‘I’ have manifested ‘Myself’ in order to bring ‘My’ Teachings to humankind.
Remember, all this is a delusion born out of an illusion ... it is all a feverish play in a super-active imagination, spurred on by a morbid dread of not ‘being’. Death is viewed as a calamity, a tragedy. ‘I’, being non-material, cannot accept, let alone embrace, that which is physical, that which is actual. Mortality is a physical phenomenon; it is a fact to be faced and understood. To act otherwise is a denial of the actual. This universe is so enormous in its scope, so grand in its order, so exquisite in its form, that it is sheer vanity and utter insolence to presume that what occurs intrinsically to the scheme of things is somehow ‘Wrong’. With an attitude like that, no wonder people hate having to be here on earth. It is no wonder that they feel that they have to cope with life whilst waiting for death to release them. It is such a shame that billions of human beings are missing out on the unadulterated perfection of being fully alive; missing out on rejoicing in being here now; missing out on deriving immense pleasure at living this moment, here on earth.
This universe knows what it is doing ... to assume that it does not is absurd. This universe was miraculously able to give birth to me, it is marvellously capable of bearing me and will, eventually, wondrously manage to end me. This is the physical, actual order of things in this, the only universe there is. There is nowhere else but here ... and there is no time but now. Anything else than here and now exists only in an enthusiastic imagination ... enthused by ‘me’, by any ‘being’ at all. Any intuition of ‘being’ is created and sustained by emotive thought ... it is the egocentric fear of not ‘being’ that gives rise to the notion of an ‘myself’. Any fear of the death of ‘me’ is an irrational reaction to the demise of an apparently enduring psychological entity. The ‘death’ of ‘me’ is a non-event; ‘I’ do not actually exist in the first place. There is no actual ‘me’ to either ‘die’ or to have Eternal Life.
RESPONDENT: Furthermore, if you make the argument that since there is no ‘I’, there can also be no immortality of the ‘I’, you have to accept the argument that since there is no ‘I’, there can also be no death of the ‘I’. Otherwise, while you might be beyond enlightenment, you would not be very consistent.
RICHARD: Oh, yes ... it is a delicious sensation to be here; I experience myself as no-one in particular; I am simply a body enjoying this exquisite moment of being alive unimpeded by any ‘self’ within. Only this moment actually exists, for there is no lasting ‘I’ present which would make the past and future real. The freedom from enduring over time as the past, the present and the future, leaves one completely able to appreciate the impeccable purity of being here. This appreciation is the exclusive attention paid to being alive right here and now. This type of attention is best known as apperception, which happens when the mind becomes aware of itself. Apperception is an awareness of consciousness. It is not ‘I’ being aware of ‘me’ being conscious; it is the mind’s awareness of itself. Apperception is a way of seeing that can be arrived at by pure contemplation. Pure contemplation is when ‘I’ cease thinking ... and thinking takes place of its own accord. Such a mind, being free of the ‘thinker’ and the ‘feeler’ – ‘I’ as ego and soul – is capable of immense clarity and purity. All this is born only out of pure intent. Pure intent is derived from the PCE experienced during a peak experience, which all humans have had at some stage in their life. A peak experience is when ‘I’ spontaneously cease to ‘be’, temporarily, and this moment and place is here and now. Everything is seen to be perfect as-it-is. Diligent attention paid to the peak experience gives rise to pure intent. With pure intent running as a ‘golden thread’ through one’s life, reflective contemplation rapidly becomes more and more fascinating. When one is totally fascinated, reflective contemplation becomes pure awareness ... and then apperception happens of itself.
With pure intent operating more or less continuously in ‘my’ day-to-day life, ‘I’ find it harder and harder to maintain credibility. ‘I’ am increasingly seen as the usurper, an alien entity inhabiting this body and taking on an identity of its own. Mercilessly exposed in the bright light of awareness – apperception casts no shadows – ‘I’ can no longer find ‘my’ position tenable. ‘I’ can only live in obscuration, where ‘I’ lurk about, creating all sorts of mischief. ‘My’ time is speedily coming to an end, ‘I’ can barely maintain ‘myself’ any longer. The day finally dawns where the definitive moment of being here, right now, conclusively arrives; something irrevocable takes place and every thing and every body and every event is different, somehow, although the same physically; something immutable occurs and every thing and every body and every event is all-of-a-sudden undeniably actual, in and of itself, as a fact; something irreversible happens and an immaculate perfection and a pristine purity permeates every thing and every body and every event; something has changed forever, although it is as if nothing has happened, except that the entire world is a magical fairytale-like playground full of incredible gladness and a delight which is never-ending.
With no ‘me’ inside to mess things up, I can ascertain, with clarity, that there is no soul inside this body. The soul was a feeling, not a fact. With no soul to ‘quit the body’ at physical death, there is, perforce, nowhere to go to. There is no After-Life; it was all a creation of ‘me’ and ‘my’ longings for Immortality. Being here now, this moment is perennial, not timeless. I am perpetually here, not immortal. The present has vanished, as did the past and the future, into the mists of ‘my’ time. With ‘me’ gone, all myths end.
It is possible to actually know.
RESPONDENT: Epistemologists sketch out various theoretical frameworks to account for all the various elements that relate to knowledge. Almost every epistemological framework attempts to deal with the nature of belief as it relates to knowledge. A definition of knowledge that has become popular in many circles is that knowledge is justified, true belief. However, ‘belief’, as epistemologists use it, often means something very different from what other people intend by it when they use the term non-technically. That is why I like to distinguish between belief ‘in its narrow epistemological sense’ – which usually means something like ‘cognitive assent to the truth or falsity of a proposition’ (e.g., based on a judgment of probability) – and belief generally, which can have quite a broad range of meanings, from ‘trust’, to ‘opine’, to ‘hope’, to ‘think’, to ‘be-almost-sure- but-not-quite’.
RICHARD: So under the ‘various theoretical frameworks’ I gather that the word ‘knowledge’ has now come to mean ‘justified, true belief’ . I wonder just what, to these theorists, constitutes an unjustified, false belief. As a belief is not a factual observation in the first place, it must drive them crazy trying to decide which belief is true and which belief is false ... and which one to justify. I am glad that I stick to facts and actuality ... it is so much easier.
RESPONDENT: It is certainly dangerous to believe falsely. However, it is equally dangerous not to believe correctly. For example, if I didn’t believe I had a body, I wouldn’t see any reason to eat, and would quickly starve to death.
RICHARD: It is just as dangerous to believe ‘correctly’ as it is to believe ‘falsely’ . Just look at what happened to Mr. Salmon Rushdie. You cannot believe that you ‘have a body’ ... if there is a body it is evident. All you can do is acknowledge the fact of the body. And as for starving to death: the stomach sends a signal to the brain when it needs food. ‘You’ and your belief are not necessary at all for survival. ‘You’ only think and feel (believe) that ‘you’ are important ... ‘you’ are actually redundant.
RICHARD: Who indeed. With such fatalism ruling your life then there is not much point in me responding to rest of your post, is there? Especially as I happened to notice the following while skimming through the posts that you wrote about your obvious belief on the subject entitled: ‘Love’:
This belief in God is at variance with your avowed stance about ‘after-death’ ... as previously stated thus: Vis.:
I suggest that this is a good example of the layers of deceit that the act of believing can create within the human mind and heart, leading otherwise intelligent people so far astray from what is actually happening that they can justify pretty well anything.
RESPONDENT: It is not necessarily a fact that I have a body, merely because I perceive myself as having a body. A theoretical example beloved of epistemologists is the so-called ‘brain in a vat’ example. It is not inconceivable that I am simply a brain kept alive in a Dr. Frankenstein’s vat that is being stimulated by a mad scientist in such a way as to simulate bodily experience. If that were true, it would make my belief that I have a body another example of empirically justified, but untrue belief.
RICHARD: If this is an example of what is so ‘beloved of epistemologists’ , then they clearly can not help humanity out of the mess it has got itself into via crippling beliefs. I now see why you need your god.
RESPONDENT: I personally don’t have much of a problem with my ‘I’. Nature made it, and who am ‘I’ to argue with that?
RICHARD: Who indeed. With such fatalism ruling your life then there is not much point in me responding to rest of your post, is there?
RESPONDENT: Ah, I see you believe I am a fatalist ... you may not see any point in responding to the rest of my post (if you followed out the rest of your beliefs to their logical implications, you wouldn’t see any point in eating or sex, either), but, as fate would have it, I happen to be endowed with a will and a mind and the ability to write (however poorly) as well, and even the capacity for enjoyment of such debates. So I find it rather a pity if you are backing out of a discussion in which I am so clearly trouncing you.
RICHARD: This paragraph of yours says it all ... it shows why I understood that there was not much point in responding to the rest of your post. Where you write ‘ah, I see you believe I am a fatalist’ , you are endeavouring to prove your theory that I have beliefs. I do not. I never ‘believed’ that you are a fatalist ... I simply noticed that the statement: ‘Nature made it, and who am ‘I’ to argue with that?’ is what is called fatalism – and that is what I wrote. If you wish to extrapolate from that that I somehow believe you to be a fatalist, that is your trip, not mine.
You try again by saying ‘if you followed out the rest of your beliefs to their logical implications’ , conveniently ignoring the fact that what you are referring to are not my beliefs but facts. A fact does not have to be believed ... a fact is actual and thus is verifiable. Then you say: ‘as fate would have it’ ... which sounds so much like fatalism that anyone can see the complete nonsensical nature of the case that you are wasting your time building.
You then wrote: ‘I happen to be endowed with ... the capacity for enjoyment of such debates. So I find it rather a pity if you are backing out of a discussion in which I am so clearly trouncing you’ .
Why are you engaged in a debate? I am only interested in investigative dialogue that leads to a mutual understanding of the human condition and thus the complete and utter eradication of malice and sorrow from within the human mind and heart. If I were foolish enough to adopt your stance then all the wars, murders, tortures, rapes, domestic violence and corruption will continue to go on; all the sadness, loneliness, misery, grief, depression and suicides endemic to the human condition will continue to flourish. If one diligently pursues the wide and wondrous path of an actual freedom all the way, one will find oneself here for the very first time as this body only, minus any argumentative and lugubrious ‘I’. One will be innocent and harmless and blithe and carefree and salubrious and sagacious. As this is a far cry from your simplistic epistemological constructs and your cavalier dismissal of the reflective pursuit of productive understanding through the thoughtful discussion of the human condition, you might be well advised to cease wanting to trounce people and start observing the facts that lie open all around for those unencumbered with beliefs to see for themselves.
Until then, I see no point in continuing this thread.
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.
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