Actual Freedom – The Actual Freedom Mailing List Correspondence

Richard’s Correspondence

On The Actual Freedom Mailing List

with Correspondent No. 27


July 16 2003

RESPONDENT: There are a some questions I have regarding cosmology as defended by AF – maybe these can help clarify some current discussions – namely the current cosmology and unknowable phenomena discussions.

RICHARD: And for the sake of the clarification you speak of here are what the words cosmology and cosmogony mean to me:

• ‘cosmogony [Gk ‘kosmogonia’ creation of the world]: a theory or account of the origin of the universe; the branch of science that deals with the origin of the universe; the creation of the universe; cosmogonic, cosmogonical; cosmogonist: (a) a person who holds that the world had a beginning in time; (b) a person who studies cosmogony or propounds a cosmogony.
• ‘cosmology [Fr. ‘cosmologie’ or mod. L ‘cosmologia’]: the science of the evolution and structure of the universe; a theory or postulated account of this; the branch of philosophy or metaphysics which deals with the universe as a whole; cosmologist: a person who studies cosmology or propounds a cosmology’. (Oxford Dictionary).

I profess no intimate or direct knowledge of the structure (the nuts and bolts) of the universe ... that which is what is properly called cosmology. Vis.:

• [Co-Respondent]: ‘What I am most interested in, Richard, is bring forth some rather unusual questions about the nature of what is ‘Actual’. Questions about the energies which constitute matter ‘as we know it’ (through the senses), and the various speeds and properties of substance that the senses are unable to register. These may not interest you but it will help me understand (I’m choosing my words carefully here just how finely tuned is this third alternative focus ...
• [Richard]: ‘If you mean questions such as the make-up of atoms and the speed of sound waves, radio waves, light waves and so on, then I would make it clear that I am not a physicist ... nor a mathematician. Consequently I do not pretend to know all the detailed analysis of the constitution of physical matter/energy gathered and/or proposed so far by human beings ... which means that this lay-person viewpoint enables me to not fall for the all-too-obvious errors of omission (and errors of commission) that dogs the mathematically-driven physicist’s world-view’.

With only a few scattered digressions all I have ever spoken of – and repeatedly at that – in regards the nature of the universe is its infinitude ... and I use the word ‘infinitude’ in its ‘a boundless expanse; an unlimited time’ (Oxford Dictionary) sense. For instance:

• [Richard]: ‘As time is eternal – just as space is infinite and matter is perpetual – to be here now as this flesh and blood body only is to be living an ongoing experiencing of this infinitude of this very material universe (I am using the word ‘infinitude’ in its ‘a boundless expanse and an unlimited time’ meaning). Therefore, infinitude – having no opposite and thus being perfection itself – is personified as me ... a flesh and blood body only. Hence my oft-repeated refrain: ‘I am the material universe experiencing itself as a sensate and reflective human being’ or ‘I am the experience of infinitude’. The infinite character of physical space, coupled with the eternal character of time and the perpetual character of matter, produces a here and now infinitude that can be understood experientially by one who is apperceptive. To grasp the character of infinitude with certainty, the reasoning mind must forsake its favoured process of intellectual understanding through logical and/or intuitive imagination and enter into the realm of a pure consciousness experience (apperception). In a PCE – which is where there is no ‘I’ or ‘me’ extant – the essential characteristics of infinitude are transparently obvious, lucidly self-evident, clearly apparent and open to view’.

More than a little of what modern day theoretical physics proposes is, more properly, called cosmogony ... the ‘Big Bang’ theory for example.

RESPONDENT: 1) Precisely, how is the universe known to be infinite/ eternal?

RICHARD: Put simply: if the infinitude directly experienced in a pure consciousness experience is not the infinitude of the universe then what is it the infinitude of ... a god (using the word ‘god’ in the ‘ground of being’ sense)?

In other words if it be not a physical infinitude then it falls into the realm of being a metaphysical infinitude.

RESPONDENT: It seems to me that whether this is known purely through ‘common sense’ reasoning without a PCE or whether it takes a PCE to become obvious is unclear.

RICHARD: You may find the following link informative in this regard:

Just in case you do not access that page I would draw attention to the following excerpts:

• [Richard]: ‘... modern astronomy is showing the universe to be immensely vast. For example, in 1986 a huge conglomeration of galaxies that are 1,000,000,000 light years long, 300,000,000 light years wide and 100,000,000 light years thick were found (which finding was confirmed in 1990). This ‘wall of galaxies’, as it became known, would have taken 100,000,000,000 years to form under the workings of the ‘Big Bang’ theory ... which makes the mathematically estimated ‘age’ of the universe – 12 to 14 billion years – simply look sillier than it already did. (...)
‘I primarily base the infinity, eternity and perpetuity (collectively known as infinitude) of the universe on my direct experience of the actual, of course, but that is of little use to another person who is not living in this actual world or not currently having a pure consciousness experience (PCE). Therefore, one initially needs to approach the question rationally – through inductive and/or deductive reasoning – so as to dispel the oh-so-persistent feeling of finiteness, temporariness and transitoriness which the psychological and psychic entity manifests over the actual (the centre in consciousness creates the boundary in awareness) thus producing everyday reality’s spatial, temporal and material finiteness. (...)
‘... as a normal person I could not directly experience the actuality of the infinitude ... at age eight or nine I was first made aware of the infinity of space by my father one night whilst gazing at the stars: I could not grasp the concept but could comprehend the existence of infinity when he gave me his version of the Ancient Greek ‘throwing a spear into what’ question regarding the supposed boundary to space (he asked me what lay at the end of the universe ... a brick wall/wire fence/whatever ... if one leans on the brick wall and looks over what would one looking at or into). The actual knowing of this infinity (as opposed to intellectually knowing) lodged itself there and then in me as a demand to be met one day. (...)
‘... at 33 years of age I had a four hour PCE wherein the direct experience of infinitude provided the actual knowing I had desired from childhood ... and I wanted this actuality twenty four hours of the day. Consequently – after an eleven year interlude in an altered state of consciousness wherein God aka Truth arrogated the universe’s infinitude – I entered into the actual world at age 45 and have directly known ever since, each moment again, infinitude as an actuality. It is ‘I’ and/or ‘me’ who creates the impression of ‘finite’, ‘duration’ and ‘transience’ ... and then challenges others to prove them wrong. There is no such thing as a physically finite, timed and depletable universe; it is ‘I’ and/or ‘me’ who creates this impression with ‘my’ instinct-driven feelings which cripple an otherwise intelligent mind ... ‘I’ and/or ‘me’ can only think in terms of duality. To think logically is to think in terms of opposites ... and logic is limited inasmuch as it cannot encompass infinitude (infinitude has no duality).
‘Therefore, it is up to those who propose an edge, a boundary, a beginning, a duration, an ending, a depletion to demonstrate the veracity of their belief. Until then, the universe will go on being what it is: a boundless, limitless, immeasurable infinitude. For those people who attempt to disallow this actual knowing on the grounds of subjectivity I can only say that their knowing is not only subjective as well but a self-centred subjectivity into the bargain. Furthermore, they need to satisfactorily explain why they are unnecessarily complicating what is actually a simple issue: they need to satisfactorily explain why they are positing a finite space ... and where it came from and out of what and how and why; they need to satisfactorily explain why they are positing a limited time ... and when it came and from what and how and why; they need to satisfactorily explain why they are positing depletable form ... and where it came from and out of what and how and why’. (...)

I, for one, have not heard about, or read of, any satisfactory ‘where, when, how, from what, and why’ answer and I would be most surprised to ever come across one as what cosmogony does is shift the issue of infinitude into the realm of creation/discreation fantasies ... such as believing in a ‘Creation’ ex nihilo/‘Destruction’ ad nihil, if one is a religious cosmogonist, or believing in a ‘Big Bang’ ex nihilo/‘Big Crunch’ ad nihil, if one is a scientific cosmogonist, for example.

In other words (‘ex nihilo’ is Latin for ‘out of nothing’ and ‘ad nihil’ is Latin for ‘to nothing’) the issue of infinitude has been shifted onto a non-temporal (timeless) and non-spatial (spaceless) and non-material (formless) and therefore non-existent, and thus metaphysical, nothing or nothingness ... which posited nothingness, or non-existing void, is further proposed as being both the source, or origin, of all things physical (all time, all space, all form) and the eventual destiny for all its (supposed) manifestations.

In short: it bespeaks of credulity stretched to the max.

RESPONDENT: 2) Can I know merely by using common sense (without a PCE) that the universe is infinite/eternal – despite the currently prevailing scientific theories? If so – how could I know it?

RICHARD: I personally plunk for what Mr. Zeno proposed in the fifth century BCE (as already mentioned above) who asked if one were to travel to the edge of the universe and throw a spear what would one be throwing a spear into?

RESPONDENT: 3) Could I have a PCE and it still not be completely evident that the universe is infinite/eternal?

RICHARD: It could indeed be not completely evident ... yes. I have the distinct advantage of the on-going experiencing of infinitude and can easily know for sure each moment again when asked ... as I sit here now typing these words I am this material universe experiencing itself as an apperceptive human being: as such it is stunningly aware of its infinitude.

And this is truly wondrous.

RESPONDENT: Do I have to somehow turn my attention to that fact in a PCE – or is it always a datum of experience in the PCE?

RICHARD: What can happen is that the direct experience of infinitude in a PCE can be translated as being the infinitude of something metaphysical ... a god (using the word ‘god’ in the ‘ground of being’ sense) in other words.

Then the PCE can devolve into being an altered state of consciousness (ASC) with all that is implied and the ramifications thereof.

RESPONDENT: 4) It would also be interesting for Richard/ Peter/ Vineeto or whoever is inclined to discredit the purported evidence in existence for the big bang. It has been said that the big bang is creationist cosmology – which for some is true – yet it is hardly ONLY creationist cosmology – take people like Steven Weinberg or Stephen Hawking for example. Mr Hawking has defended a finite universe with nothing outside or before it (nothing for a Creator to do) – so there appear to be some who propose there is an outside to the big bang and others who say it is self-contained. Obviously, whoever proposes there is something outside the universe must do so on non-scientific grounds.

I don’t intend to argue the case for the big-bang – but how would AF explain the red-shift, for example? Or the current interpretations of the cosmic background radiation, etc? I’m aware of Halton Arp’s counter proposals, but the question, it seems to me is where the evidence actually leads. Just because the person who came up with the big bang theory was a theist doesn’t discredit the theory if there is no god. If there are independent reasons (evidence) for thinking it is true, is it not important for those independent reasons to be examined? Does a finite universe necessarily lead to a something outside of it? It seems there are many scientists who don’t think so.

RICHARD: There are many, many refutations of both the ‘Big Bang’ theory and the ‘Red Shift’ theory available both in print and on the internet (mostly on the internet as publishers, generally speaking, will not publish anything which departs from the party line) ... which one would you like to read/hear about?

Speaking personally the only refutation I am interested in is the direct experience of infinitude itself.

RESPONDENT: 5) Lastly, if I were setting out to discover whether the universe is infinite/eternal or finite – just how would I do it? What observations would I make? What reasoning would I use? Precisely, how would I investigate the issue if I don’t already know the fact?

RICHARD: Again I would recommend accessing the above link (where I go into some detail about this which you ask).

RESPONDENT: Is there a way to avoid being an agnostic on the issue – since if I’m investigating – then I’m open to finding out the fact of the matter? Does being agnostic necessarily mean being open to belief? Can’t I be agnostic and be open to finding out a fact? Or do I just have to get rid of current scientific theory to find that I already know the answer?

RICHARD: The question of agnosticism applies to all subjects, of course, not only the subject of the infinitude of the universe (which has tended to split the current, and previous, discussions on this mailing list into two separate issues).

For something like twenty five years I was an agnostic ... and it is an apparently satisfying position to be in as it makes one feel both intellectually comfortable and intellectually superior at the same time (whilst appearing humble) until one day I realised just what I was doing to myself ... and to others. I was cleverly shuffling all the ‘hard questions’ about consciousness under the rug and going around deftly cutting other people down to size (which is all so easy to do simply by saying ‘well that is your belief/ truth/ idea/ philosophy/ whatever’).

But I had nothing to offer in its place – other than the smug ‘nobody knows’ agnosticism – and I puzzled as to why this was so. Finally, I ceased procrastinating and equivocating. I wanted to know. I wanted to find out – for myself – about life, the universe and what it is to be a human being living in the world as-it-is with people as-they-are.

I now know.

October 05 2003

RESPONDENT: I’d be interested to know whether Richard sees that what [Robert] Forman is talking about with the PCE is quite different than what he means by it. It seems to me that Richard has merely adapted Forman's use of the term due to some (superficial) overlap in usage, but I think it would be misleading to think of Forman's PCE as the same thing as what an actualist means by it, since Forman is still firmly planted as a spiritualist, and because for him, a ‘PCE’ is without content – meaning without thought or sensation – just pure unmediated consciousness of consciousness alone.

The way Richard uses the word ‘apperception’ is closer in meaning (though not exactly the same) to what Forman means by a PCE than what Richard means by a PCE.

As far as I am aware, no one in academia has categorized or pinned down the PCE the same way Richard has. The normal understanding of a ‘PCE’ is that it is mystical, spiritual, pure consciousness. Personally, I don’t see any benefit that the actualists get from associating the PCE term with Robert Forman or the ‘Pure Consciousness Event’ – as such association is bound to be misleading.

Given Forman’s definition of a PCE, it’s no wonder he doesn’t think it could be permanent. His PCE is 180 degrees opposite the actualist PCE.

RICHARD: First and foremost: it was not because of a (superficial) overlap in usage: a pure consciousness event is not a pure consciousness experience because experiencing does not occur in a pure consciousness event (else it be not a pure consciousness event) and there is nothing superficial about that ... indeed it is fundamental to the reason why I chose to call the temporary occurrence of an actual freedom from the human condition a pure consciousness experience.

When I first came onto the internet in 1997 I subscribed for a while to an academic consciousness studies mailing list associated with the ‘Journal of Consciousness Studies’ and it was there I first heard of the phrase ‘pure consciousness event’ – with the emphasis that there be no experiencing in such a state – and thus chose the phrase ‘pure consciousness experience’ so as to make the generic phrase ‘peak experience’ more specific.

As for associating the acronym (PCE) with Mr. Robert Forman: it was not until 1999 that I came across Mr. Robert Forman’s paper, published in the ‘Journal of Consciousness Studies Volume 5, Issue 2, 1998’ and entitled ‘What Does Mysticism Have To Teach Us About Consciousness?’, from which I provided quotes you refer to earlier in your e-mail to demonstrate to another co-respondent the confusion engendered by peoples interpreting spontaneous pure consciousness experiences (most common in childhood) according to the prevailing norms of their culture ... which are derived from altered states of consciousness (ASC’s).

ASC’s have two main characteristics: they can be extroversive or introversive. Mr. David Wulff has this to say:

• ‘[Robert] Forman concluded that the introvertive mystical experience, which he relabelled a pure consciousness event to emphasise the absence of any experienced object, is the more elemental form [of mysticism]. Two further states develop from this – the dualistic mystical state, which combines a heightened awareness-of-one’s-own-awareness with consciousness of thoughts and objects, and the unitive mystical state, in which one’s awareness and its objects become one, which is [W. T.] Stace’s extrovertive experience. Forman rejected the label ‘extrovertive’ because it seems to suggest that one is having the experience ‘out in the world’. (page 401, ‘Varieties of Anomalous Experience’; ©2000 American Psychological Association) .

I have also written about the introversive/ extroversive distinction before:

• [Richard]: ‘It is quite common to have heightened sensory perception in an ASC (provided it be an extroversive ASC as contrasted to an introversive ASC) ... the nature mystics have written extensively about such experience (www.jnani.org/natmyst/natmyst_set.html). However, the introversive ASC is generally held to be both superior and more significant as it is exemplified by (a) the disappearance of all the physical and mental objects of ordinary consciousness and, in their place, the emergence of a unitary and undifferentiated consciousness and thus (b) the event is non-temporal (timeless), non-spatial (spaceless), and non-material (formless).
Mr. Robert Forman, on page 131 of the ‘Journal of Consciousness Studies Volume 5, Issue 2, 1998’, (in a paper called ‘What Does Mysticism Have To Teach Us About Consciousness?’), described the introversive ASC as a pure consciousness *event* so as to emphasise the absence of any experienced object – it is pure subjectivity in other words – which is also why such terminology as ‘Consciousness Without An Object’ is used to describe the totally senseless and thoughtless trance state known as ‘dhyana’ in Sanskrit (Hinduism) and as ‘jhana’ in Pali (Buddhism).
In the West such a state can only be described as catalepsy ... apart from Mr. Venkataraman Aiyer (aka Ramana), in his early years, possibly the best-known example could be Mr. Gadadhar Chattopadhyay (aka Ramakrishna): onlookers can see the body is totally inward-looking, totally self-absorbed, totally immobile, and totally functionless (the body cannot and does not talk, walk, eat, drink, wake, sleep ... or type e-mails to mailing lists).
A never-ending ‘dhyana’ or ‘jhana’ would result in the body wasting away until its inevitable physical death ... as a means of obtaining peace-on-earth it is completely useless.

In the paper mentioned (‘What Does Mysticism Have To Teach Us About Consciousness?’) Mr. Robert Forman provides examples from both western and eastern mysticism (plus an event in his own life) to illustrate what he means by the phrase ‘pure consciousness event’. For example he talks about mystics becoming ‘utterly dead to things, encountering neither sensation, thought nor perceptions’ and ‘one becomes oblivious of one’s own body and all things’ and ‘one becomes unaware of all things, i.e. devoid of all mental and sensory content’ and then goes on to say that ‘in Buddhism such Pure Consciousness Events are called by several names: nirodhasamapatti, or cessation meditation; samjnavedayitanirodha, the cessation of sensation and conceptualisation; sunyata, emptiness; or most famously, samadhi, meditation without content’.

Howsoever he is adamant that consciousness is still operating in a pure consciousness event ... for instance he says that ‘the Upanishads are insistent that one remains conscious, indeed becomes nothing but consciousness itself’ and ‘according to Yogacara Buddhist theorists one’s consciousness is said to persist as some form of content-less and attribute-less consciousness’.

Bearing this in mind I accessed the links you provided and have drawn from them the following relevant quotes:

• [Mr. Charles Tart]: ‘The ultimate goal is a state called nirodh, which is beyond awareness itself. Nirodh is the ultimate accomplishment in this particular version of Buddhism, higher than the eighth jhana on the Path of Concentration’.
• [Mr. Alan Hefner]: ‘Beyond the nirvana is the nirodh (cessation), which consists of the absolute cessation of consciousness ...’. (www.themystica.com/mystica/articles/m/meditation.html).

Here both authors are quite specific that consciousness itself ceases – just as Mr. Gotama the Sakyan said – which could explain the quote which started this discussion:

• [Mr. Ken Wilber]: ‘In my scheme, the PCE is a causal (formless) state of consciousness; since, as Forman points out, it is always a temporary state, it cannot become a permanent structure (if it did, it would become a type of irreversible nirodh, or permanent formless cessation)’.
(http://wilber.shambhala.com/html/books/psych_model/psych_model6.cfm/xid,4301884/yid,2377916).

And Mr. Charles Tart also explains why it cannot be permanent (although his ‘seven days’ can only be an arbitrary figure):

• [Mr. Charles Tart]: ‘This is an extremely difficult state to obtain because the body’s metabolism drops to minimal level for existence; thus the state can be maintained for no longer than seven days. The meditator is required beforehand to determine the length he or she will remain in this state. (www.psychedelic-library.org/soc17.htm).

It would appear that Mr. Robert Forman cherry-picked his data to support his own experience (which is easy enough to unintentionally have happen) and which brings me to a discussion you and I had over a year ago:

• [Respondent]: ‘A question specifically for Richard. It’s interesting to me that many who have this ‘no-self’ experience say that it’s not an ‘experience’ at all – like for example, Bernadette Roberts and U.G. Krishnamurti – and here I see that Ann [Faraday] says virtually the same thing. That is, no experiencer – therefore no experience. Any clue whether this is just a difference in terminology? Or rather whether there may be some actual, qualitative difference?
• [Richard]: ‘In the Buddhist tradition, which is where she apparently gained her understanding from going by her use of the capitalised word ‘Empty-ness’ four times to describe the state of being she underwent, there is a qualitative difference ... I have already written before, on Jan 03 2001, about the state of being called ‘dhyana’ in Sanskrit (known as ‘jhana’ in Pali) so I will refer you to the following link: [snip link]. Suffice is it to say here that this state of being, otherwise known as ‘entering into samadhi’, is a trance state – a state called catalepsy in the West – wherein ‘Form’ and ‘Feeling’ and ‘Perception’ and ‘Mental Fabrications’ and ‘Consciousness’ (all experiencing) cease to exist totally.
There is only Bliss.

Now, even to say ‘There is only Bliss’ is to be saying too much for ‘Bliss’ is the last state of being experienceable before the fulfilment of the event itself (whereupon consciousness ceases completely) and the first state of being experienceable after the event ... the event itself is a comatose state about which nothing can be said.

Also, where I say ‘There is only Bliss’ I am speaking primarily out of personal occurrences (although there are references to ‘Unspeakable Bliss’ in mystical literature) and why I say that ‘Bliss’ is the last state of being experienceable before/ first state of being experienceable after is because that is the way it happened for me.

If I were to delineate the way such an event can proceed it would look something like this: reaching deep down into the deeper feelings, past personal sorrow, there is universal sorrow (the sorrow of all sentient beings); by being that then out of that comes compassion, universal compassion, and not the common or garden variety; then in that, by being that, there is love, love of a nature that can only be rapturous; to be enraptured is to be euphoric, to be euphoric is to be ecstatic; in ecstasy there is only bliss ... then what happens is ineffable as all experiencing ceases (hence ‘timeless and spaceless and formless’).

Which is why what I then called ‘The Absolute’ (‘Ground of Being’, Truth, and so on) has no attributes whatsoever.

However, upon conscious awareness re-establishing itself the passage of the sun across the sky, or the movement of the stars through the firmament by night, would show that time and space and form had carried on doing what it has always been doing all the while the episode was underway ... which is one of the main reasons why I am here where I am today.

I just could not live a lie ... no matter how glorious (read vainglorious in hindsight) it be.

October 08 2003

RICHARD: ... a pure consciousness event is not a pure consciousness experience because experiencing does not occur in a pure consciousness event (else it be not a pure consciousness event) and there is nothing superficial about that ... indeed it is fundamental to the reason why I chose to call the temporary occurrence of an actual freedom from the human condition a pure consciousness experience. When I first came onto the internet in 1997 I subscribed for a while to an academic consciousness studies mailing list associated with the ‘Journal of Consciousness Studies’ and it was there I first heard of the phrase ‘pure consciousness event’ – with the emphasis that there be no experiencing in such a state – and thus chose the phrase ‘pure consciousness experience’ so as to make the generic phrase ‘peak experience’ more specific. As for associating the acronym (PCE) with Mr. Robert Forman: it was not until 1999 that I came across Mr. Robert Forman’s paper, published in the ‘Journal of Consciousness Studies Volume 5, Issue 2, 1998’ and entitled ‘What Does Mysticism Have To Teach Us About Consciousness?’, from which I provided the quotes you refer to earlier in your e-mail to demonstrate to another co-respondent the confusion engendered by peoples interpreting spontaneous pure consciousness experiences (most common in childhood) according to the prevailing norms of their culture ... which are derived from altered states of consciousness (ASC’s).

RESPONDENT: I appreciate you making the distinction clear between the ‘pure consciousness event’ and the ‘pure consciousness experience.’ What seemed to me a nominally (superficial) overlap turns out to be worlds apart in meaning. When I read the quote from Forman at the beginning of the AF Library entry on ‘PCE’s,’ I originally interpreted you to be using the ‘pure consciousness event’ to provide additional evidence (backed by an academic source) that the PCE(xperience) occurs globally.

RICHARD: I do see that The Actual Freedom Trust library entry can be misleading in that respect ... in the original e-mail, which that entry has been adapted from, I was explaining that most people interpreted their experiences of pure consciousness according to the prevailing norms of their culture, as it mostly devolved into an ASC anyway, and that because of the confusion (such as the ‘trophotropic’ and ‘ergotropic’ experiences and/or ‘apophatic’ and ‘kataphatic’ strands of mysticism Mr. Robert Forman referred to in that paper) I merely took the academically accepted phrase and substituted ‘experience’ for ‘event’, a couple of years previously, so as to regain the actual purity of the unadulterated experience.

RESPONDENT: Though as I understand you now, you are actually using the ‘pure consciousness event’ as a contrasting point of departure to introduce something radically different – namely, the ‘pure consciousness experience’ – which is why you say there is no (superficial) overlap.

RICHARD: Yes, that is a good way to put it – ‘as a contrasting point of departure to introduce something radically different’ – because my intention at the time (1997) was to introduce my discovery on the academic consciousness studies mailing list I was then subscribed to ... but an abortive attempt at a meaningful discussion with a tenured professor soon disabused me of the notion that any such intent would be received with anything other than the civil rejection it got.

In short: I got the message (that one is not supposed to be living/experiencing/being that which one discusses in academia) and unsubscribed.

RESPONDENT: If I understand you correctly, I am certainly glad to see that you never confused or conflated the two – and that my previous understanding was based upon a misunderstanding of the presentation of the quotes.

RICHARD: I will see if the library entry can be made more clear ... and I appreciate you drawing attention to the fact that the second part of the quote was in reference to the ‘Dual Mystical State’ and have already removed it as mysticism is confusing enough already without a error in quoting on my part adding to it.

RESPONDENT: In other words, previously, I thought Forman’s quote was there to help define what a ‘pure consciousness experience’ IS – rather than what it IS NOT. Or maybe a better way of putting it would be that both are pure consciousness, yet the Event and the Experience are 180 degrees apart.

RICHARD: As what ‘pure consciousness’ means in a pure consciousness event is ‘consciousness without an object’ (an identity sans body), and what ‘pure consciousness’ means in a pure consciousness experience is ‘consciousness without a subject’ (a body sans identity), they are indeed 180 degrees apart.

‘Tis no wonder the tenured professor politely rebuffed me, eh?

October 21 2003

RESPONDENT: Richard, I have been considering what you mean by the following statement – (located at listb37): [Richard] ‘I was normal for 34 years ... and it is the pits; and because (b) I was abnormal for 11 years ... and it sucks’. [endquote]. I have a lot of experience being normal – so I have a general idea of why you say being normal is ‘the pits’, but I’m perplexed why you say that your period of enlightenment ‘sucks’.

Taking a stab at it – being ‘normal’ is ‘the pits’ because of the human condition – bickering, arguing, fighting, unreasonableness, debilitating feelings and so forth. Yet it’s possible that humans find a reasonable amount of happiness even within the human condition – evidenced by the fact that people don’t walk around in ‘the pits’ (emotionally) all the time. Most people in the ‘real’ world that are ‘normal’ would not say their life is ‘the pits’. Why is there a discrepancy between how ‘normal’ people evaluate being ‘normal’ (mostly pretty good, but sometimes ‘the pits’) and how you evaluate being ‘normal?’ Thinking about this myself, I’m wondering if the discrepancy is due to the fact that ‘normal’ people feel out the meaning and value of their lives – that is, they get a sense of it’s value via feeling – which can feel wonderful at times – though certainly not unmixed with feelings of sorrow and malice, and that your statement about being ‘normal’ as ‘the pits’ is based upon factual evaluation – that much of human life consists in bickering, arguing, fighting, fear and aggression – and that peace on earth is nowhere to be found? So that when you say that being ‘normal’ is ‘the pits’ – you don’t mean that each ‘normal’ person feels their life to be ‘the pits’, but if they were only to look at it accurately and factually, they would see it as ‘the pits’ and look for something much better? In other words, it appears you are not using the term ‘the pits’ in an affective or emotional connotation, but as a factual evaluation (non-affective). Is this basically correct? I would appreciate if you would explain further.

Also, since you say that being enlightened ‘sucks’, precisely what do you mean by that? Are you referring specifically to the quality of enlightenment – which I understand is supposed to be quite wonderful, even glorious I think you’ve called it – or are you referring specifically to the ‘inflated’ and ‘vain-gloriousness’ of it? Precisely, what sucks about being enlightened?

My current investigation consists in unravelling many of my misconceptions I originally had about actualism. Hanging around for the last almost two years has given me ample opportunity to reflect on the kinds of conversations that happen on this mailing list and why there is such a ‘divide’ and often an inability to understand what is being written as a factual report – what is said is so often taken quite personally or different from the intention behind the words (the current discussion about the uniqueness of an actual freedom being a case in point). There were many things that I encountered that gave me trouble, personally. Most of those have been cleared up now, but one of those that has given me trouble is this evaluation of being ‘normal’ as ‘the pits’. My trouble has taken a few different forms:

1) I have two children and am concerned for their well-being – so I have to come to terms with both the importance of actualism for myself and them, as well as be ok with them doing whatever they want with it – which means that I have to willing raise my kids in a world where there is a good possibility that they will spend most or all their years in the ‘normal’ world which you call ‘the pits’. The best I can do is give them an opportunity to be free.

2) Living in the world with other ‘normal’ humans and seeing their lives as ‘the pits’ can be gut-wrenching at times.

3) The term ‘the pits’ can be taken as an affective term – meaning that every ‘normal’ person walks around basically miserable and depressed all the time – which conflicts with my own experience – so this can create a sort of cognitive dissonance. If the phrase ‘the pits’ is taken as evaluative only, it can be seen that being ‘normal’ can be ‘the pits’ – yet one can feel one’s life to be pretty good, in spite of it.

RICHARD: When I reviewed the exchange where the quote of mine comes from I see it was in response to a question about sanity/ insanity and why I was looking to go beyond being both a normal being and an abnormal being in the context of a discussion about the extent and range of other human beings’ experience and solutions (specifically psychology/ psychiatry and philosophy/ spirituality) and the failure of such fields of human endeavour to deliver an actual freedom from the human condition.

I generally use modern-day expressive colloquialisms, such as ‘the pits’ and ‘it sucks’, so as to emphasise that there is something far, far better right under everybody’s nose, as it were, by thus vividly drawing attention to the fact that the habituated settling for second-best – as in the ‘you can’t change human nature’ factoid for instance – has desensitised people to the suffering which epitomises the human condition ... to the extent that wisdom such as ‘suffering is good for you’ is oft-times sagely proffered (whereas in my experience the only good thing about suffering is when it comes to an end, permanently).

Now, being normal is the pits only in comparison with being actually free from the human condition (just as being abnormal sucks only in contrast to an actual freedom from the human condition) and when I was a normal being, for 34 years, I lived what I then called a great life – it was not the pits by any description back then as I lived such a life to the full (with quite an adventurous lifestyle) – and when I was an abnormal being, for 11 years, I lived what I then called a glorious life ... and neither did it suck at the time as I lived that life to the full as well (with an even more adventurous lifestyle).

Yet I could not deny that all the while there must be/surely was something better, far better, than either the great life or the glorious life – thus I would not, could not, and did not, settle for second best – and that is precisely what I am conveying to my fellow human beings: whatever you do, do not ever settle for second best.

For the best is just here, right now, where it already has been, all along, and always will be.

••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

P.S.: It is the pits to nurse malice and sorrow to one’s bosom, period, and it sucks to keep on nursing malice and sorrow to one’s bosom, so as to activate their antidotal pacifiers love and compassion, and pretend they are not still there whilst proclaiming the pacifistic antidotes to be the solution to all the ills of humankind.

••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

October 24 2003

RICHARD: ... being normal is the pits only in comparison with being actually free from the human condition (just as being abnormal sucks only in contrast to an actual freedom from the human condition) and when I was a normal being, for 34 years, I lived what I then called a great life – it was not the pits by any description back then as I lived such a life to the full (with quite an adventurous lifestyle) – and when I was an abnormal being, for 11 years, I lived what I then called a glorious life ... and neither did it suck at the time as I lived that life to the full as well (with an even more adventurous lifestyle).

RESPONDENT: I gather from this statement that it would be important when I encounter some of the negative words denoting life as ‘normal’ that they are normally to be taken in contrast to being actually free from the human condition?

RICHARD: Yes ... this is essentially no different from what we discussed on July 14 2002 (relative meaning/ actual meaning), July 16 2002 (relative meaning/ meaning of life), July 16 2002 (follow-up), July 28 2002 (real world meaning/ meaning of life), August 17 2002 (real world/ actual world), September 06 2002 (relative/ ultimate), November 18 2002, December 06 2002, January 23 2003, January 24 2003, January 23 2003 (feeling caring/ actually caring), and April 05 2003 (relative meaning/ actual meaning).

This passage is particularly apt:

• [Respondent]: ‘... there seems to be a comparison [in your usage of the word ‘pathetic’] with life in the ‘real’ world compared to life in the actual world.
• [Richard]: ‘... whenever I discuss these matters with my fellow human beings there is indeed always a comparison with life in the ‘real’ world as contrasted to life in the actual world ... it is what I came onto the internet for.

I might add, though, that I first took note of the modern-day ‘it’s the pits’ colloquialism one particularly fine day some years ago, when discussing life, the universe, and what it is to be a human being living in the world as-it-is with people as-they-are, with a psychologist about the same age as me, and a veteran of the same war I was engaged in when but a youth of 19, whose son had committed suicide at age 20 ... this is what the note he left for his parents to read when they found his dangling body said:

• ‘Life’s the pits and then you die’.

Incidentally, I recall reading somewhere that the highest rate of suicide is from about age 70-75 onwards.

RESPONDENT: I once stated that I thought that actualism had a ‘dark underbelly’. This was largely due to a host of negative adjectives applied to being ‘normal’. For example, ‘the pits’, ‘abysmal state of affairs’, ‘petty life’, ‘pathetic’, ‘miserable’, ‘bad situation’, and so on. It is obvious to me that most ‘normal’ people don’t see it that way – which is why I thought you to be displaying the ‘dark underbelly’ that I spoke of.

RICHARD: It is life in the real-world (being normal) which has the dark underbelly – and thus, albeit sublimated and transcended, so too has life in the unreal-world (being abnormal) – not life here in this actual world ... the pristine perfection of the peerless purity the infinitude this universe actually is ensures nothing dirty (‘being’ or ‘presence’) can get in.

RESPONDENT: It is helpful to take this all in context – and the context in this case is ‘compared to an actual freedom from the human condition’. My misunderstanding appears to have been based upon the fact that I didn’t notice the shifted standard.

RICHARD: There is only one standard (to use your terminology) here in this actual world: perfection.

RESPONDENT: That is, ‘normal’ people usually have quite a different standard of what constitutes a good life than an actualist does. Is this a correct assessment?

RICHARD: Indeed it is ... an actualist settles for nothing less than the perfection evidenced in a pure consciousness experience (PCE). Hence my report, in the previous e-mail, that I could not deny that all the while I was both normal and abnormal there must be/surely was something better, far better, than either the ‘great life’ or the ‘glorious life’ – and thus I would not, could not, and did not, settle for second best – and that this is precisely what I am conveying to my fellow human beings: whatever you do, do not ever settle for second best.

For the best is just here, right now, where it already has been, all along, and always will be.

*

RESPONDENT: [follow-up] Being that you called your 34 years of being normal a ‘great life’, (at least then) would you say (then or now) that you ‘enjoyed’ your life back then?

RICHARD: I would say (then) I enjoyed my life the best I could given that the human condition was endemic – as expressed in real-world phrases such as ‘make the best of a bad situation’ and ‘look on the bright side’ and ‘life is what you make of it’ and so on – as I was mostly optimistic, occasionally pessimistic, mostly cheerful, occasionally melancholy and so on and so on through all the moods ... and I would say (now), as I do say now on many an occasion in prior e-mails, I have been having a ball all along.

I have never not been here ... ‘twas all an illusion/delusion.

RESPONDENT: I ask you this to determine whether you, like Vineeto, limit the words ‘enjoy life’ to being only applicable to how an actualist ‘enjoys life’. If you recall, she recently made the claim that animals and people do not ‘enjoy’ their lives.

RICHARD: You would be better off asking Vineeto as I can only make a guess as to what she was referring to (presumably she meant it in the sense that an illusory enjoyment is not actual enjoyment as she has had enough PCE’s to be acutely aware that the real-world does not exist in actuality).

RESPONDENT: It seems to me that living a ‘great life’ would indicate enjoyment of life, wouldn’t you agree?

RICHARD: If you asking me whether I agree that a ‘great life’ in an illusory real-world is an enjoyment of that illusory life then I would say yes, it most definitely is ... just as a ‘glorious life’ in the delusory unreal-world most certainly is an enjoyment of that delusory life.

After all, as the real-world saying goes, ‘life is what you *make* of it’. [emphasis added].

RESPONDENT: If so, this would indicate either that Vineeto was wrong, or using the words ‘enjoy life’ in a stipulated manner that I personally don’t understand.

RICHARD: Perhaps a review of this exchange may throw some light upon the matter this time around:

• [Respondent]: ‘Richard, it would be nice to better understand a few things that have perplexed me: How is it possible for a ‘normal’ human life to be worthwhile, valuable, and at least somewhat happy (as you have told me in the past) – yet you often call life in the ‘real’ world ‘grim and glum’ and ‘miserable’?
• [Richard]: ‘What I wrote to you was this (twice): [quote]: ‘... sustaining oneself (and one’s family if there is one) is certainly not pointless. Furthermore there are many meaningful experiences in everyday life: providing shelter (building, buying or renting a home); being married (aka being in a relationship); raising a family (preparing children for adult life); having a career (job satisfaction); achieving something (successfully pursuing a hobby) and so on. However, to rely upon transient experience to provide an enduring meaning to life is to invite disappointment. (listaf27b#16Jul02) and (listaf27c#06Sep02). I could have as easily said that to rely upon transient experience to provide an enduring happiness, for example, is to invite disappointment ... plus real-world happiness is an affective happiness anyway (I have not felt happy for many, many years). Is life in the real-world worthwhile, valuable, happy (and so on)? The real-world is an illusion, a veneer pasted over this actual world, as a reality, by the animal ‘self’ within ... what worth, what value, what happiness (and so on) inheres in an illusion? The same applies to grimness and glumness and misery (and so on) ... it is all illusory.
Do you still want to ask your question?

In a pure consciousness experience (PCE) it is patently evident that there is no such thing as the real-world (‘tis but an illusion) – plus it is just as obvious that an altered state of consciousness (ASC) is an un-real world born out of dissociation from the real-world (‘tis but a delusion arising from the illusion) – and, also indubitably, that an illusory/ delusory enjoyment is but a pathetic imitation of the actual.

RESPONDENT: If you restrict the usage of ‘enjoy life’ to pertain to actualists, then do you also recognize the ‘normal usage’ of those words?

RICHARD: I do indeed ... which is why I suggest, that whatever you do, do not ever settle for second best because the best is just here, right now, where it already has been, all along, and always will be.

RESPONDENT: Since you have told me in the past that it is possible for a ‘normal’ person to be reasonably happy, to live a valuable life, and so forth – would you also say it’s possible for a ‘normal’ person to ‘enjoy life’? Just curious.

RICHARD: A curious thing I have noticed, ever since I started writing on the internet, is that my writing has become increasingly peppered with qualifiers, conditioners, caveats, codicils, and footnotes ... so much so that, as there are only a few paper-back versions of ‘Richard’s Journal’ left in stock, and it is about due to have another print-run, I am contemplating editing it before doing so (editing, not revising) as at the time of writing it never occurred to me that some, if not many, people would want/need to have everything spelled-out in full each time it was written.

Thus where I used to say ‘contrary to popular belief it is possible to be happy and harmless all the time’ (for example) nowadays it looks something like this (for instance):

• [Richard]: ‘... perhaps this is also an apt moment to explain that nowhere do I say that either the human animal or the other animals cannot be (relatively) happy from time-to-time or (relatively) harmless from time-to-time – and even for extended periods – but that the survival passions, and the feeling-being they automatically form themselves into, not only preclude both total happiness and harmlessness and happiness all-the-time and harmlessness all-the-time but occlude the direct experience of the meaning of life as a living actuality each moment again’.

My guess is that when Vineeto wrote the following it never occurred to her to add qualifiers and conditioners and caveats and codicils and footnotes:

• [Vineeto]: ‘The idea that animals are innocent or happy is a myth’.

‘Tis only a guess, though.

January 21 2004

RESPONDENT: Richard, it might help (me at least) to clarify your following statement in your correspondence with Respondent No. 56: [Richard]: ‘... facts are few and far between for most scientists, and many of their ‘facts’ later turn out to be flawed methodology arising out of their expectations based upon their belief systems and/or mind-set’. [endquote]. It is clear and plain to see that the second part of what you are saying is correct. Specifically, that many of scientists ‘facts’ ‘later turn out to be flawed methodology arising out of their expectations based upon their belief systems and/or mind-set’. I don’t see any room for disagreement on that point. Anyone who has studied or read about science and the history of science would be able to agree with that statement. But, you are additionally saying that ‘facts are few and far between for most scientists’, which is by no means obvious. Would you mind stating more clearly what you mean?

RICHARD: I am none too sure how I can put it more clearly ... in any area of research I have ever looked into I have, more often than not, found that not only are facts rather thin on the ground but that it is mainly the hypothesis/ theory which gets most of the attention (which is possibly why many of the ‘facts’ later turn out not to be facts at all).

I could provide many examples – global deforestation for instance – yet hesitate to do so as I would become deflected into attending to all the minutiae the presenting of such examples require in order to make a case ... instead I would invite anyone genuinely interested to find out for themselves by conducting their own research into various topics.

If anyone were to do so I would suggest reading the following booklet ‘Science Without Sense’ before they start: http://www.junkscience.com/sws.html

RESPONDENT: For example, a literal reading:

1) Most (more than 50%) of scientists (people who work or consider themselves ‘scientists’) are few and far between on their facts (there are many more or significantly more errors in their scientific studies than facts). If that is what you mean, can you demonstrate that to be the case?

RICHARD: Nope ... and neither can anybody demonstrate that to not be the case either (more on this immediately below).

RESPONDENT: In other words, can you demonstrate that more than 50% of people who consider themselves scientists are in error significantly more often than they are correct regarding their ‘scientific’ study?

RICHARD: The last time I looked-up the subject there were over 100,000 scientific journals published each year containing more than 6,000,000 articles ... and no single person can ever even read all those articles let alone make sense of them as no single person has expertise in all areas of scientific research (there are over 1,000 areas of specialised study and no single person has cross-disciplinal expertise in all areas). Vis.:

• ‘There are now, for example, well over 100,000 scientific journals published each year, producing over six million articles to be digested – clearly an impossible task’. ('Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of our Time' by W. H. Freeman, 1997).

And:

• ‘It is estimated that 408,000 references are added each year to the National Library of Medicine ‘Medline’ database from among the more than 100,000 scientific journals now published’. (Arndt KA: ‘Information excess in medicine. Overview, relevance to dermatology, and strategies for coping’. Arch Dermatol 128:1249-1256, 1997; www.compophupdate.com/bridging.htm).

And:

• ‘The scientific journal was invented in the mid-1600’s as a means of speeding scholarly communication: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. As science grew, so did the volume of literature and the specialisation of journals. Today there are over 100,000 scientific journals’. (www.library.ucsb.edu/classes/chem184/184lec2.html).

And:

• ‘The world wide available information doubles every 3 years. From 1991 to 1994, there has been as much information generated as from 1440 (Gutenberg) to 1991. More than 100,000 scientific journals are being distributed every year’. (www.mu.niedersachsen.de/cds/webpages/3.htm).

RESPONDENT: Or maybe you mean:

2) Scientists ‘facts’ often turn out to be errors due to flawed methodology arising out of their expectations.

RICHARD: Yes, I also mean that. Expectations can, and often do, lead to cherry-picking the data, for example ... especially in the area of epidemiological studies (such as the tobacco issue for instance).

RESPONDENT: Or possibly:

3) Scientists are victims of the human condition like everyone else, so in as much as they are living an illusion, they must also be significantly in error about much of what they do and say inside and out of their ‘scientific’ study.

RICHARD: I also mean that as well, yes, and the intuitive/ imaginative facility is often the main culprit ... plus there is the matter of position, prestige, and attracting research dollars as well, to mention but a few of the impediments to unbiased study, and there is also the down-side of peer-review to take into account (which prevents many discoveries outside the mainstream paradigm from being published in the prestigious journals).

RESPONDENT: It might also be useful to demarcate between various kinds of ‘science’ – as you seem to have more disagreement with theoretical physics and such than say, biological sciences – like work done in genetics or evolutionary theory – though these are also not exempt from error.

RICHARD: I do understand the value of pure science (theoretical science), as contrasted to applied science (practical science), in the area of research and development – just as I understand the value of pure mathematics as opposed to applied mathematics – as evidenced by the technological revolution and the main point I am emphasising is the dangers of taking the latest (supposedly) scientific discovery to be fact, as propagated by the popular press for instance, because theoretical science does not describe the universe ... mathematical equations have no existence outside of the ratiocinative process.

Perhaps this might go some way towards explaining what I mean:

• ‘... the world of experience and observation is not the world of electrons and nuclei. The world of experience is in terms of visible objects, occupying definite positions at definite instants of time – in a word, the world of classical mechanics. When the atom is pictured as a nucleus surrounded by electrons ... there is no sense in which one can say that, if only a good enough microscope were available, this picture would be revealed as genuine reality. It is not that such a microscope has not been made; it is actually impossible to make one that will reveal this detail. (...) Whether electrons and nuclei have an objective existence in reality is a metaphysical question to which no definite answer can be given’. (Sir A. Brian Pippard. Emeritus Professor of Physics, University of Cambridge; Cavendish Professor, 1971-82: ©1994-1998 Encyclopaedia Britannica).

Once the not-observable-as-objects-in-space-and-time basis of sub-atomic particles is established the mathematical processes involved unfold further mysteries accordingly. Vis.:

• ‘The process of transformation from a classical description to an equation of quantum mechanics, and from the solution of this equation to the probability that a specified experiment will yield a specified observation, is not to be thought of as a temporary expedient pending the development of a better theory. It is better to accept this process as a technique for predicting the observations that are likely to follow from an earlier set of observations. There is, however, no doubt that to postulate their [electrons and nuclei] existence is, in the present state of physics, an inescapable necessity if a consistent theory is to be constructed to describe economically and exactly the enormous variety of observations on the behaviour of matter’. [endquote]. (Sir A. Brian Pippard. Emeritus Professor of Physics, University of Cambridge; Cavendish Professor, 1971-82: ©1994-1998 Encyclopaedia Britannica).

Needless to say, once this postulation is accepted – and as ‘an inescapable necessity’ at that – then there is no prize for guessing what will happen. Vis.:

• ‘The habitual use of the language of particles by physicists induces and reflects the conviction that, even if the particles elude direct observation, they are as real as any everyday object’. (Sir A. Brian Pippard. Emeritus Professor of Physics, University of Cambridge; Cavendish Professor, 1971-82: ©1994-1998 Encyclopaedia Britannica).

Thus the sub-atomic postulates (aka particles) have become ‘as real as any everyday object’ and thus assume the status of being factual via a sleight of hand (or should I say sleight of mind) that would be the envy of many a confidence trickster.

I will repeat what I said earlier for emphasis: in any area of research I have ever looked into I have, more often than not, found that not only are facts rather thin on the ground but that it is mainly the hypothesis/ theory which gets most of the attention.

Which is possibly why many of the ‘facts’ later turn out not to be facts at all.


CORRESPONDENT No. 27 (Part Eight)

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