On The Actual Freedom Mailing List
with Correspondent No. 50
RESPONDENT: Richard, have you heard of the American Werner Erhard?
RICHARD: I first heard of him 15-16 years ago when his ‘Erhard Seminar Training’ course (commonly known as ‘est’ from the Latin for ‘it is’) was at the height of its popularity.
RESPONDENT: His transformation is detailed in a book entitled Werner Erhard: The Transformation of a Man, by William Bartley.
RICHARD: As I have not read the book, nor have any intention of doing so, I do not know of the specific details ... here is what he said, in response to a reporter’s question in 1988, about his ‘transformation’ in 1971 and what it has done for him:
From what I have been able to glean in that article and elsewhere it seems to have been more of a flash of insight into his modus operandi – maybe a revelation, even, that all he knew amounted to nothing – rather than a transformation into what is popularly known as spiritual enlightenment.
RESPONDENT: From reading it I guess he is only enlightened but he has this method in it called ‘getting off it’ (meaning your emotion or point of view or attitude) so as to ‘experience aliveness’. That sounds a little like using HAIETMOBA? for virtual freedom so I just wondered if you know what he’s about.
RICHARD: In brief: the consciousness-raising/ personal empowerment ... um ... marketing strategies of the behavioural-psychology/personal-growth movement that grew out of the Beat Generation/Hippie Generation of the ‘sixties and ‘seventies and which became known as the Me Generation.
Perhaps best epitomised by phrases such as ‘there is nothing to get so you got it’ and ‘you are perfect the way you are’, for example.
RESPONDENT: I have been using HAIETMOBA? for about three mos. now and have had one PCE brought on by the words ‘this moment’. It is the fourth PCE I have had in the last five years, all lasting about one minute. Don’t get mad (ha) but the three others came while reading Alan Watts. During them I am always safely locked in this eternal moment of infinity. I have lots of questions I’d like to ask you but will send this first to see if it flies.
RICHARD: Hmm ... I am none too sure it even taxied down the runway.
RESPONDENT: (...) I have lots of questions I’d like to ask you but will send this first to see if it flies.
RICHARD: Hmm ... I am none too sure it even taxied down the runway.
RESPONDENT: Yes, I only taxied for a little while, but now I have these distinctions between the PCE’s and the ASC I had.
RICHARD: I was, of course, referring to the words you wrote in your e-mail, as that is all I had to go by, and nowhere in it did you refer to the distinctions between a pure consciousness experience (PCE) and an altered state of consciousness (ASC) ... indeed you did not even mention an ASC.
To first liken a method for personal-empowerment/consciousness-raising, devised by one of the leading lights of the behavioural-psychology/ personal-growth movement of the ‘seventies and ‘eighties, to the actualism method of becoming actually free of the human condition and then go on to say that one has had four PCE’s in the last five years in which one was always safely locked in the eternal moment of infinity is hardly the stuff of a communication which flies.
RESPONDENT: In the ASC I could only gape in (psychological) wordless wonder at vast, empty (psychological) space. Asleep, there was only vast empty (psychological) space – no dreams. Awake, my attention was riveted to the vast empty (psychological) space in my head. I could think and function but I was awestruck (very impressed with – hint, hint) by the vast empty space.
RICHARD: I do not comprehend what you mean by ‘hint, hint’ ... perhaps you could put the hints into words?
RESPONDENT: But a vast empty psychological space is still psychological space (a self) and still creates a feeling/distance barrier. In the PCE’s this emotion/feeling distance barrier (the self) dissolved and affected the way I (physically) experienced time, space and objects. In the PCE’s the security or confidence instilled by (physical) location in eternal time and infinite space is unmistakable. Everything exists in an absolute stillness and deep purity. Visually, the contrast of light and dark is heightened, colours are richer. Hearing is unrestricted, sounds are welcome. I could feel the nubbly fabric of the chair on my skin and I remember thinking I was in forbidden territory, that I was breaking a big taboo because everything was so easy and o.k. So those are the differences as I experienced them. Was attention/energy appropriated to the senses that otherwise would have been used by the psyche?
RICHARD: It is the other way around: the naïve attention of the senses (a spontaneous awareness) is usually appropriated by the psyche ... and the psyche consumes a lot of calorific energy to maintain its dominance. Where the psyche is non-existent (either in abeyance in a PCE or extinct in an actual freedom from the human condition) sensory perception is freed to be what it has actually been all along ... an effortless delight.
Nothing is being appropriated anywhere by anything.
RESPONDENT: Richard, what were you doing to induce PCE’s ‘on an almost daily basis’ all those years ago?
RICHARD: The short answer is: by allowing them to happen.
RESPONDENT: Also, what ‘process’ was going on for six months in 1981 and thirty months in 1993-4 when you were ‘unstable as all get out’?
RICHARD: The medical diagnosis was that there was an excess of dopamine in the post-synaptic receptors ... an excitation of the brain cells, which was happening of its own accord irregardless of events, and thus not under voluntary control.
These days I am in agreement with that determination as some considerable light was thrown upon it all a few years ago when I drank three cups of strong coffee (I only drink decaffeinated coffee nowadays) in a two-hour period and it set-off a psychotropic episode lasting 5-6 hours ... an episode indistinguishable from what was occurring in 1981 and 1993-1994.
I have since found out that caffeine is a chemical cousin to cocaine (chemical not biological) ... and, as a similar episode occurred a couple of years ago as a result of having a dental injection to anaesthetise the jaw, I now make sure the dentist uses a procaine mixture which does not contain adrenaline, which most such mixtures do, because its effect is also psychotropic.
I am also hypersensitive to alcohol ... even a liqueur chocolate has a deleterious effect.
RESPONDENT: Also, if we are to minimize the good and bad emotions how does that align with ‘going dangerously through the heart first’?
RICHARD: The person whom I wrote that to, being a scholar of Mr. Jiddu Krishnamurti’s words and therefore a staunch advocate of the way of the heart, was not applying the actualism method – thus was not minimising the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ feelings – so I tailored my response to fit where they were coming from ... having gone through the heart myself I do know it can work (even though I do not advise anyone following in my footsteps) if it be done fully, completely.
In the same vein I have also written about going through fear, then dread itself, when that was what was happening for another co-respondent – I provided some very detailed step-by-step information about that process – even though I advocate staying on the wide and wondrous path of the sheer delight of being as happy and harmless as is humanly possible whilst remaining a ‘self’.
In short: I was being pragmatic, practical.
RESPONDENT: Also, why do you say emotions are not factual?
RICHARD: I copy-pasted ‘emotions are not factual’ into my search-engine and sent it through all the words I have ever written only to return nil hits; a search for ‘not factual’ returned 20 hits but none of them referred to emotions (the majority were for ‘beliefs are not factual’) ... so I can only presume you are referring to me oft-times saying ‘a feeling is not a fact’.
If so, what I mean by this is that neither a feeling about something – as in ‘it feels right’ for example – makes it factual nor does a feeling of something – as in the feeling of ‘being’ for instance – make it a fact (hence ‘a feeling is not a fact’).
Also the word ‘sense’ – as in ‘a sense of identity’ for example – is often used as a surrogate for the word ‘feeling’ ... as it is more accurate to say ‘a feeling of identity’ then, obviously, that feeling is not a fact.
RESPONDENT: They are chemicals, what is not factual about that?
RICHARD: Chemicals are, of course, factual.
RESPONDENT: Richard, I’ll try to be clearer in my writing from now on. I accidentally deleted your last post to me while answering it but I will do the best I can to clear up the issues you addressed. I am very new to computers so please bear with me.
RICHARD: All the posts to this mailing list (barring computer glitches) are automatically archived at the following URL: http://www.topica.com/lists/actualfreedom/read
It is a public archive accessible by anyone.
RESPONDENT: Regarding Werner Erhard: point taken. I’ve had more than a passing encounter with his organization and I am going to tell them about AF because I think they ought to know.
RICHARD: As his organisation (now called ‘Landmark Educational Forum’ and run by his brother Mr. Harry Rosenberg since 1985 when he left the country) makes around US$50,000,000.00 a year there are 50 million reasons why they probably will not be interested.
Furthermore, as I understand it the course/programme he started is what is sometimes known as a ‘Large Group Awareness Training’ (LGAT) programme – in which a considerable number of people take a seminar together aimed at helping them realize what is purportedly their true potential – whereas an actual freedom from the human condition is an individual matter ... and the actualism method is a moment-by-moment method whereby the normal events of day-to-day life are what ensures success.
Another well-known LGAT programme is the ‘Neuro-linguistic Programming’ (NLP) ... and the seminars run by Mr. Anthony Robbins (who is perhaps the most successful ‘graduate’ of NLP) is yet another.
RESPONDENT: I didn’t mention my ASC in my last post because I thought you would access my previous posts (I think I’ve had about 3 previous posts) if you needed to.
RICHARD: I did read your earlier posts before responding ... my comment about being none too sure your communication even taxied down the runway had nothing to do with the topic of the distinctions between the pure consciousness experience (PCE’s) and the altered state of consciousness (ASC) you had as it only referred to you first likening a method for personal-empowerment/consciousness-raising, devised by one of the leading lights of the behavioural-psychology/personal-growth movement of the ‘seventies and ‘eighties, to the actualism method of becoming actually free of the human condition and then going on to say that you have had four PCE’s in the last five years in which you were always safely locked in the eternal moment of infinity.
And that is hardly the stuff of a communication which flies.
It was you who introduced that other topic as being the reason for my comment (which is obviously not what I was referring to as I can only go by what you wrote and nowhere in that initial e-mail were there any indications that you were wanting to convey your understanding of the distinction between the PCE’s and the ASC) ... hence my ‘indeed you did not even mention an ASC’ observation.
RESPONDENT: By ‘hint, hint’ I meant that if an emotional impression is getting made, then it’s an ASC. In that ASC I was awestruck. In a PCE there’s a matter-of factness about it that leaves no impression.
RICHARD: I presume you mean ‘leaves no *emotional* impression’ as the PCE has an enormous impression else it be not a PCE: in a PCE one is stunningly aware that everything is already always perfect (already has been and always will be) and that nothing else needs to be done other than to live this, night and day, for the remainder of one’s life as this is where the peace-on-earth humankind has longed for over aeons lies ... and where the meaning of life lies open all around.
In short: it is far more than merely being okay.
RESPONDENT: Thank you for your no-adrenaline anaesthesia recipe. I will use it because I am always looking for ways to reduce excess chemicals caused by drugs, alcohol, caffeine and even those caused by excess carbohydrate consumption.
RICHARD: Please bear in mind that what I am allergic to is, more than likely, idiosyncratic ... one of the reasons why I would be interested in coming across another person actually free of the human condition is to more reliably separate out what is peculiar to me and what is common to people in general.
I have always had a low tolerance to alcohol, for example, as when I was in the military in my late teens/early twenties I was known as a ‘cheap drunk’ (an expression for a person easily intoxicated by a few drinks) ... thus the fact that I have zero tolerance these days probably has nothing to do with an actual freedom from the human condition.
RESPONDENT: Something that has helped me recently was reading (list B, Feb., 2003, respondent #19) about going around approving and disapproving of the universe happening. That’s me! I have been disapproving of the universe happening! Not that I am now approving of it happening (I never did approve of it happening that I know of) but now it’s more neutral. Life is easier. It’s like I have a less adverse effect on people and things.
RICHARD: I was unable to find anything at the reference you provide ... but I did find this:
What is at the bottom of all this disapproving business is a basic resentment at having to be here in the first place (as in ‘I didn’t ask to be born’ for example) and that fundamental grievance gets taken out on the universe at large.
And for as long as ‘I’ am out to prove that life sucks (by being miserable and malicious) and that being here is the pits there is no way ‘I’ am going to be happy and harmless as to do so would be to betray ‘my’ most basic feeling about it all.
I kid you not – it was one of the first things ‘I’ realised all those years ago – yet there is a simple way to be done with such nonsense forever. Vis.:
You will see that this is a far cry from being ‘more neutral’ about it all.
RESPONDENT: So thank you for that, Richard. Thank you for the whole thing, of course, for getting to AF and for the website and for speaking to us personally.
RICHARD: You are very welcome (although as it was Peter’s suggestion to go public via the internet the web site is the result of his welcome influence) ... what I have found invaluable is the feed-back over the years wherein my writing skills have improved considerably.
So much so that some of my earlier writings could do with a rewrite.
RESPONDENT: You say it’s all fun now but on the way it took ‘nerves of steel’ so there was a considerable amount of work involved. What are the nerves of steel needed for? Dread? Or taking the chance of alienating your friends and family due to a turn in behaviour, like no longer being able to empathize or sympathize or share beliefs?
RICHARD: Oh, it was a lot of fun along the way too ... the ‘nerves of steel’ phrase is a common expression, along with ‘not for the faint of heart or weak of knee’, which I co-opted to describe what is involved in the deep-sea diving that is an inevitable part of exploring the stygian depths of the human condition (where an aqua-lung is essential in contrast to using a snorkel in order to explore the human conditioning which was inculcated from birth onwards so to somewhat ameliorate the effects of the human condition).
The aqua-lung is, of course, analogous to pure intent.
Dread is a common occurrence in the real-world (else the word would not exist) so ‘nerves of steel’ does not specifically refer to that ... nor does it specifically refer to alienating loved one’s as that too is a common occurrence in the real-world (as evidenced by de-programming for example).
I mainly used the expression so as to make it clear that the going can get a bit rocky at times – that the process of becoming actually free is not something one is going to breeze through without mishap – as I have no interest whatsoever in misleading my fellow human being.
To be forewarned is to be forearmed, in other words.
RESPONDENT: Now regarding ‘a feeling is not a fact’. This is so tricky. The amygdale identifies various sense data with the need for certain chemicals: for a tiger you need this chemical, for a baby you need that chemical. But no, that would mean identification (thought) comes first. So that means that prior to identification happening, we get chemicals, based on unidentified sense data?
RICHARD: Yes (if by ‘unidentified’ you mean cognitive identification): the raison d’être for the instinctual passions, such as fear and aggression and nurture and desire, genetically endowed by blind nature is that a split-second reaction occurs in situations where survival depends upon instant action.
In addition to this basic programming, from birth onwards (thus prior to thought developing), an affective memory forms as the baby experiences itself and its world ... and even when cognition develops the circuitry is such that sense impressions go first to the affective memory (which colours the cognitive memory).
Thus when there a tiger is pouncing (to use your example), and there is no time for any leisurely appraisal of the situation before taking appropriate action, there is what has been called a ‘quick and dirty’ emotional/ passional scanning of danger, and a near-instantaneous affective-based response.
In a blind rage, for instance, where one instinctually lashes out it is common to later on reflect and say ‘I don’t know what came over me’ (or words to that effect).
RESPONDENT: So that means I am anger waiting to happen, that the sense data that triggers it is not even really relevant.
RICHARD: Well, not always relevant but, at the very least, sometimes so ... it is only a rough and ready software package, which blind nature endows, when all is said and done.
RESPONDENT: I am love waiting to happen, etc. This looks too random.
RICHARD: Whilst nature may be blind it is not necessarily haphazard, arbitrary ... it, being cause-and-effect based, is pragmatic (as opposed to principled) in an adventitious way. The phrase ‘survival of the fittest’ means those best fitted to the environment survive to propagate the species (and not necessarily survival of the most muscular as it is sometimes taken to mean).
RESPONDENT: Am ‘I’ a constant chemical (emotional) combination waiting to focus as one or the other at the sight, smell, touch, of just about anything?
RICHARD: At root, or at ‘my’ most basic ... yes: a hair-trigger entity genetically programmed to thoughtlessly (aka passionately) spring into action at the slightest hint of danger ... as is evidenced in trampling one’s fellow human beings to death at the exits in the blind panic for survival in a fire at a theatre or cinema, for example.
RESPONDENT: How does this chemical saturation so instantly abate and allow a PCE to happen?
RICHARD: You do seem to be disregarding the fact that, not only am ‘I’ anger waiting to happen (or any other of the ‘bad’ feelings) or love waiting to happen (or any other of the ‘good’ feelings), ‘I’ am also the felicitous/ innocuous feelings waiting to happen ... feelings such as happiness and harmlessness, for example.
Put simply: neither a grim and glum person nor a loving and compassionate person has much chance of allowing the PCE to happen.
RESPONDENT: Does this take nerves of steel?
RICHARD: No, apart from spontaneous PCE’s (most common in childhood) it takes happiness and harmlessness: where one is happy and harmless a benevolence and benignity that is not of ‘my’ doing operates of its own accord ... and it is this beneficence and magnanimity which occasions the PCE.
The largesse of the universe (as in the largesse of life itself), in other words.
RESPONDENT: If it does, then it is a different way of using them than I am used to. Maybe this is what you meant when you said your method of inducing PCE’s on an almost daily basis all those years ago was just by ‘allowing them to happen’?
RICHARD: What I meant by ‘allowing them to happen’ is just that ... allowing them to happen (ceasing to prevent them from occurring might be another way of putting it).
I say this because it became patently obvious to ‘me’, via previous PCE’s, that there was this whole other world – what I now call this actual world – just sitting ‘there’ waiting to be apparent, as it were, and all ‘I’ had to do was allow it to happen ... or, to put that differently, all ‘I’ had to do was get out of the way.
Of course when it did happen ‘there’ was here, where it has been all along, but I put it in those terms because that is how it was experienced at the time ... and it is only an ‘other world’ to ‘me’ as there is, in fact, only this one world.
Also, pure intent is essential in the process of allowing the PCE to happen – else it may be an ASC that ensues – but I wanted to keep the answer as brief as possible for the impact it rightfully deserves.
Because it is actually that simple.
RESPONDENT: It’s interesting that in practicing Actualism, we need to be in touch with our emotions enough to not be detached, but not so much in touch with them that we get dissociated as in enlightenment.
RICHARD: For the sake of clarity in communication I would stress that the actualism method sits firmly upon the minimisation of both the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ feelings and the optimisation of the felicitous/ innocuous feelings ... and merely being in touch with felicity will not do the trick.
RESPONDENT: I looked up the word ‘dissociation’ and the first definition included the breaking up of chemical combinations into their simpler constituents. So is enlightenment singular attention being paid to only one chemical effect (emotion) happening (out of all of them ) or it is one chemical effect (emotion) drowning out the rest due to the sheer amount of it?
RICHARD: As I use the word ‘dissociation’ in the psychiatric sense I am somewhat reluctant to extend its usage into the area you propose ... to break everything down into chemical effects (whilst not dismissing such effects of course) would be to rightly earn the label ‘reductionism’.
In other words there is more to understanding the workings of the psyche than understanding chemistry.
RESPONDENT: Is it physically draining to be enlightened?
RICHARD: It can be ... especially when interacting with others as the transmission of love, and the intensity of compassion, consumes an inordinate amount of psychic energy. Roaming alone in nature was not as draining, however, as it was mostly affective energy ... although it must be said that there was 7-8 hours of sleep and three meals a day back then (as contrasted to 3-4 or 4-5 hours of sleep and one meal a day plus a snack now).
RESPONDENT: Was there a change in your general or subtle state of health after AF?
RICHARD: I have had what is called a healthy constitution all my life – I very rarely had the need of doctors – so I cannot readily point to any specific change other than the marked absence of any psychosomatic ailments.
I can still come down with colds and flu’s, for example, although nowhere as near as often or as severe.
RESPONDENT: It seems like a load is taken off my nervous system or something in a PCE.
RICHARD: Indeed ... the entire load, in fact, which absence of stress can only have the effect of ensuring a more healthy immune system.
RESPONDENT: Also, I am wondering if the psychic circuit operates at a particular frequency and could be eliminated by introducing a duplicate counter-frequency.
RICHARD: The only way of becoming virtually free/actually free which has been demonstrated to work is the one on offer on The Actual Freedom Trust web site ... there may be other ways yet to be discovered but this is the only one so far with a successful track record.
RESPONDENT: Maybe this is what happens when ‘I’ sees it is nothing but an emotional action/fabrication?
RICHARD: Oh? Is it your experience that when ‘you’ see that ‘you’ are nothing but an emotional action/fabrication the psychic circuit is eliminated ... or is this an hypothesis based upon a speculation?
RESPONDENT: The exactly accurate thought/realization of what ‘I’ am blows that circuit.
RICHARD: Rather than going around calibrating thoughts/realisations to a particular counter-frequency why not give the actualism method a go?
RESPONDENT: It is a circuit that is gone now (for you) isn’t it?
RICHARD: The entire psyche is no more (aka both the affective faculty and its epiphenomenal psychic ability).
RESPONDENT: The circuit to the amygdale?
RICHARD: What I can say is that the startle responses (otherwise known as reflex actions) still operates – and much better than ever now that there is no affective reaction – and that the radical change happened in the brain-stem/base of the brain at the top of the spinal cord ... arguably in the Reticular Activating System in general, and the Substantia Nigra in particular, where some researchers have posited the seat of consciousness to lie.
In other words, with no identity extant the limbic system (which includes the amygdalae) is free to operate at its optimum.
RESPONDENT: Are there doctors that are interested in keeping track of you besides psychiatrists?
RICHARD: Nobody from the medical profession is keeping track of me these days (the psychiatric tracking you refer to was only for three years in the early-to-mid ‘nineties).
The last thing the psychiatrist said to me back then was that this is beyond psychiatry.
RESPONDENT: Richard, O.K. – about Landmark – I know about the money – I’ll tell them anyway. They claim to be committed to people, not money. We’ll see.
RICHARD: Oh, I do not question their commitment to people – most self-help/ motivational/ whatever therapists are committed to their work – as the vast majority of human beings are well-meaning in their endeavour to help, to be of assistance.
I just cannot see how actualism would fit into the weekend workshop/group therapy transaction genre wherein a coincidental transaction which always seems to take place is the movement of large amounts of dosh from wallets and purses into the ever-ringing till of the originator/facilitator (meaning that, somewhere along the line, the initial intent to help others has become over-ridden by having others help oneself become either rich, famous, powerful, or all three) ... whereas actualism is about helping the only person one can ever change do just that (change oneself).
Put simply: the actualism method, being a moment-by-moment method whereby the normal events of day-to-day life are what ensures success, is a do-it-yourself method which simply cannot be co-opted by entrepreneurs and, thus, would not be of interest to them.
RESPONDENT: As for the kind of impression left by a PCE – yes it is enormous.
RICHARD: Ahh ... good. I could have guessed as much else you would not be writing to this list the way you do but as you had put it that the ASC was very impressive (as in ‘awestruck/very impressed’) and the PCE was not (as in ‘left no impression’) it seemed worthwhile to pursue the point a trifle.
RESPONDENT: When the invisible boundary drops away, everything looks bigger and closer and the world is deeply pure in all infinite directions and the unshakeable stillness of it always having been, always being, and always going to be here and now makes me immediately, wonderfully and finally (as in for all time), Home Free.
RICHARD: Can you recall anything of the ambience in being ‘Home Free’ significant enough to comment on?
RESPONDENT: I didn’t mean to compare my feeling more neutral with respect to ‘disapproving of the universe happening’ with a PCE. Not at all.
RICHARD: The two descriptions I provided were in the nature of realisations – not PCE’s – and may very well throw some light upon what ‘neither approving nor disapproving’ means (other than being neutral) as the middle ground between black and white, for an analogy, is grey.
As a general rule of thumb, when one comes upon a dichotomous situation, there is quite often a third alternative ... the most obvious one being neither suppressing nor expressing a feeling, such as anger for a ready-enough example, whereupon the feeling is put into a bind, as it were, and in the interregnum a third alternative can hove into view.
RESPONDENT: I did make the connection to ‘I didn’t ask to be born’ when the insight happened and wondered why those particular words didn’t click and the former ones did.
RICHARD: It sometimes can take more than a few repeats before the import of something which ‘clicks’ actually sinks in and takes effect ... many was the time that, all those years ago, when browsing back through notes jotted down as a particular realisation occurred, say 6 months prior, ‘I’ would think how insightful that observation was and why on earth had ‘I’ not been doing it all this while.
RESPONDENT: I want you to know I do use HAIETMOBA? ...
RICHARD: Yes, my error ... I did see, when that e-mail came into my mail-box from the list and I re-read it for any typos I may have missed, that I should have said ‘why not give the actualism method a full go’ as you had already said you had been using it for three months.
And by ‘full go’ I mean to the stage where the benevolence and benignity of the vast stillness, which is the essential character of the infinitude this universe actually is, is able to operate (where one is as happy and harmless as is humanly possible) as a human being ... instead of ‘me’ vainly trying to be infinitely/ eternally beneficent and magnanimous.
All one needs to do, to put it in its most simplified form, is be felicitous/ innocuous – a boots and all felicity/ innocuity – then one is not on one’s own in this, the adventure of a lifetime, as the universe is with one all the way.
And help don’t come bigger than that!
RESPONDENT: ... but I see what is missing is I must generate felicity as my resident mood and not just be in touch with it sometimes.
RICHARD: Yes ... and then, further along the way, be felicitous/ innocuous (‘I’ am ‘my’ feelings and ‘my’ feelings are ‘me’).
RESPONDENT: That is difficult ...
RICHARD: What I advise is to be realistic and set the bottom line as feeling good (a general sense of well-being) each moment again so as to get the ball rolling (get a momentum going) ... the generalised example I provide goes something like this: what has happened, between the last time I felt good and now? When did I feel good last? Five minutes ago? Five hours ago? What happened to end those felicitous feelings? Ahh ... yes: ‘He said that and I ...’. Or: ‘She didn’t do this and I ...’. Or: ‘What I wanted was ...’. Or: ‘I didn’t do ...’. And so on and so on ... one does not have to trace back into one’s childhood ... usually no more than yesterday afternoon at the most.
Once the specific moment of ceasing to feel good is pin-pointed, and the silliness of having such an incident as that (no matter what it is) take away one’s enjoyment and appreciation of this only moment of being alive is seen for what it is – usually some habitual reactive response – one is once more feeling good ... but with a pin-pointed cue to watch out for next time so as to not have that trigger off yet another bout of the same-old same-old. This is called nipping it in the bud before it gets out of hand ... with application and diligence and patience and perseverance one soon gets the knack of this and more and more time is spent enjoying and appreciating this moment of being alive.
The more one enjoys and appreciates being just here right now – to the point of excellence being the norm – the greater the likelihood of a pure consciousness experience (PCE) happening ... a grim and/or glum person has no chance whatsoever of allowing the magical event, which indubitably shows where everyone has being going awry, to occur.
Plus any analysing and/or psychologising and/or philosophising whilst one is in the grip of debilitating feelings usually does not achieve much (other than spiralling around and around in varying degrees of despair and despondency or whatever) anyway.
RESPONDENT: ... but thank you for pointing out why because, obviously, how can I be happy when my attitude is ‘I didn’t ask to be born.’? HA!
RICHARD: Indeed not ... that basic resentment, the fundamental grievance, will dog every best effort otherwise and render all endeavour useless.
RESPONDENT: On the AF site you have often taken the time to say the same thing in at least fifty different ways. Someday one of those ways may be (or trigger) the right words in my head (for AF to happen).
RICHARD: Or even a virtual freedom: someone once said, after reading maybe 60-70 pages of my journal, that Richard repeats himself a lot and stopped reading ... which occasioned me to recall someone else saying that they had read it eight times and were onto their ninth read ... and each time discovering layers of meaning (if only because of the repetition) overlooked in each previous read-through.
There is no prize for guessing who is now living in virtual peace and harmony and who is still quarrelling and bickering.
RESPONDENT: By saying ‘counter-frequency thought’ I mean the exactly right thought/words that will someday do the trick. I’m thinking the exactly right thought/idea will be the one that exactly duplicates the function/purpose of the psyche/identity, and because two things cannot occupy the same space, then, ZAP.
RICHARD: Okay ... all I can say is that the notion of ‘frequency’ does not ring any bells for me (meaning I cannot relate to it). As for the right thought/idea (or, rather, realisation/thought): I have been asked, on occasion, about the significance of the realisation that occurred in an abandoned cow-paddock which preceded/triggered the break-through into an actual freedom from the human condition and by now I basically have a multiple-choice answer (you can take your pick).
As what I was ‘struck by the fact’ of had nothing whatsoever to do with the seminal question then No. 2 seems unlikely ... which leaves No. 1 as being the likely candidate.
In other words, it was the seminal question which delivered the goods – when they were good and ready to be delivered so to speak – and being struck by a fact about something else entirely was simply what was happening when the experiential answer being asked for came about.
However, as the fact which I was struck by was that clearing forests to plant grass was no longer valid – and that clearing grass to plant forests was – it would seem that No. 1 is unlikely ... which leaves No. 3 as the likely candidate.
Yet as the ancient wisdom of the spirit-ridden bronze-age peoples never was valid – whereas clearing forest to plant grass was – it would seem that No. 2 is the likely candidate as what I was actually struck by was that it had got to the stage that I did not actually know what the right thing to do was any longer ... meaning that I was, finally, ready and ripe to be the answer (which is what the word ‘experiential’ refers to when all is said and done).
As I said: you can take your pick.
RESPONDENT: Does the psyche identify itself or is it identified by ... common sense?
RICHARD: The psyche, being affectively-based, identifies itself intuitively – hence intuition is often held in high esteem – inasmuch as intuitively knowing means instinctively knowing (and not insightfully knowing as it is sometimes used to mean) ... and as one’s native intelligence can barely get a foot in the door to where the instinctual passions hold sway the psyche usually eludes being identified commonsensically.
RESPONDENT: You say it doesn’t end itself, but pushes a button to make it happen. What is that button?
RICHARD: You must be referring to something like this:
The button is, of course, dedication (‘what one does is that one dedicates oneself to the challenge of being here as the universe’s experience of itself’) and/or devotion. Here is how I put in my previous e-mail:
And one of the best ways of ascertaining when one’s commitment has reached 100% is when the peoples one knows start calling one obsessed and slip the word ‘insanity’ into their well-meant advice every now and again.
Despite all the rhetoric 100% commitment is avoided like the plague in the real-world.
RESPONDENT: No, I have not experienced this for myself, as you queried. You are the one who experienced the emotionally fabricated nature of your identity that day out in the pasture planting trees.
RICHARD: As nowhere have I ever said that what happened in an abandoned cow-pasture had anything to with a psychic circuit which operates upon a particular frequency it is unreasonable to associate your speculation – let alone your speculative-based hypothesis – with my experience (which is why I have gone into the event in some detail further above).
Just to refresh your memory this it what you wrote:
You see, in this is implied, not only that thoughts/realisations operate at frequencies, but that the psyche is a (frequency-based) circuit as well ... and, furthermore, that a cognitive frequency (if there be such a thing) can be calibrated to counteract an affective frequency (if there be such a thing).
Perhaps if I were to put it this way: the psychic facility is an epiphenomenon of the affective faculty (at root the instinctual passions) and thoughts/realisations are what the cognitive faculty does ... and neither the cognitive faculty nor the affective faculty (let alone its epiphenomenal psychic facility) are the means by which actuality becomes apparent. Vis.:
RESPONDENT: As I don’t care to end up like U.G. Krishnamurti, or some other way I realize it’s risky and I need pure intent from the PCE’s to keep it in the right direction.
RICHARD: Ah, yes ... the only danger on the wide and wondrous path to an actual freedom from the human condition is that one may inadvertently become enlightened along the way.
RESPONDENT: I’m going to pass on commenting about explaining things reductionistically for now, but about nature being pragmatic – yes. It just uses what’s at hand, is that what you mean?
RICHARD: The phrase ‘survival of the fittest’ means those organisms most fitted to the environment prosper (and not necessarily those most muscular as is popularly believed) and those least fitted to the environment languish and, eventually, die out ... it is a pragmatic process (as opposed to principled) in an adventitious way.
Given the fierce opposition spiritualists mounted against the evolution theory, when it was first proposed (and in the ensuing years), it would not be entirely unreasonable to consider that the ‘law of the jungle’ misinterpretation bruited abroad stemmed from such sources.
RESPONDENT: In a PCE everything is magically animate, doing what it’s doing, in a backdrop of infinite depth and stillness.
RICHARD: Hmm ... ‘doing what it’s doing’ is about as informative as ‘a rose is a rose’: in actuality (as evidenced in a PCE) it is stunningly apparent that everything is the perfection of the purity which infinitude is and, as such, is perfection personified.
RESPONDENT: No principle, no agenda.
RICHARD: Ahh ... there is an agenda inasmuch as everything growing (aka ‘life’) is growing in purity as that perfection personified.
RESPONDENT: ‘Life’ or liveliness is the way everything exists.
RICHARD: As maybe 99.99% (an arbitrary figure) of the universe is inanimate then ‘life’ is not ‘the way everything exists’. For example, when some people talk to me about ‘nature’ they become somewhat bemused when I suggest that, as far as space exploration has been able to ascertain, there is no nature on the moon ... meaning that what life actually is is what flora and fauna are and not what rocks are.
Now, if by ‘nature’ a person means absolutely everything (as in ‘life’ is ‘the way everything exists’) then the glass ashtray on my desk (being mainly silica) is as much ‘nature’ as the trailing plant cascading down from the shelf above the desk next to mine ... yet when I offer such a person a drink from a polystyrene cup they tell me it is not natural.
Generally speaking, materialism has that rocks are dead, lifeless (yet only something that was alive can ever be dead) whereas what actualism is on about is the direct experience that matter is not merely passive.
I chose the name ‘actualism’ rather simply from a dictionary definition which said that actualism was ‘the theory that matter is not merely passive (now rare)’. That was all ... and I did not investigate any further for I did not want to know who formulated this theory. It was that description – and not the author’s theory – that appealed. And, as it said that its usage was now rare, I figured it was high-time it was brought out of obscurity, dusted off, re-vitalised ... and set loose upon the world (including upon those who have a conditioned abhorrence of categories and labels) as a third alternative to materialism and spiritualism.
Thus (to parallel your phraseology): actuality, or actualness, is the way everything exists.
RESPONDENT: Richard, about Landmark – I don’t think I suggested that actualism be ‘fit into the weekend workshop/group therapy transaction genre’ format, but even so, Landmark’s format for their technology is really a continual conversation that reviews how the participants use the technology presented in the initial course (the Forum) in their day to day life and what it is producing. This is done in weekly 3-hr. seminars, with other long-weekend courses along the way to present more technology. Participants are therefore in a continual ‘inquiry’ into their way of being, while the initial course (the Forum) does it’s best to have participants (through dialoguing with a Forum leader) experience their own philosophical contexts, their epistemology, their ontology, etc., to the point of transcending their ‘survival mechanisms’ (what they call Mind) and realizing ‘satisfaction’ (Self), wherein ‘the moment is sufficient unto itself’. Obviously they really mean wherein the Feeling is sufficient unto itself, but whose quibbling? ME! That’s the reason I want to talk to a Forum leader about AF; they think transformation is the height of consciousness and as such are ripping off ignorant people. From what’s in the book, Werner Erhard’s transforming experience is a jumbled up ASC. He says part of it was the realization he knew nothing, because all the knowledge he had amassed up till then was skewed toward survival, success, making it. Then in the next instant he realized he knew everything, and not from having learned it, but from his experience. (does he mean his feeling?) He ‘saw that everything was going to be all right, that it was all right, that it had always been all right, that it always would be all right and I didn’t think this – I KNEW it. It was so stupidly, blindingly simple I simply could not believe it ... I was no longer even concerned with achieving ... I WAS satisfied ...’. (because he felt good?) ‘... I was concerned only with the truth ... experience is not who I am, it is simply evidence that I am here, who I am is the source of my experience ...’ (his feelings?) ‘... All identities are false ...’. (only feelings matter?) O.K., it was a flat-out ASC. The part that threw me for so long was the ‘everything all right’ part but now that I read it with both eyes I can see his ‘I KNEW it’ is really via his feeling. That organization has processed about one million people now, since 1972. And before getting restructured when Werner left it was a one hundred forty million plus dollar a year company, not 50 million like now. So I just think they should know that they are not the height of consciousness and that something else actually is. I probably will not be able to get a Forum leader to speak with me because they are so busy and I am nobody. My idea is to mail your The Third Alternative to a Forum Leader in the San Francisco Area Centre and ask them to read it. I can’t see how it could not shake them up if they read it with both eyes, on account of them being so into Being. Then, I’m hoping they will be willing to discuss it with you online.
RICHARD: Okay, thank you for explaining this so clearly ... and what particularly appeals to me out of all of the above is your ‘but now that I read it with both eyes’ report.
Ain’t life grand!
RESPONDENT: Richard, there is much I to discuss with you due to your most recent thorough reply that I wanted to get the Landmark stuff out of the way first so I could concentrate on this AF stuff.
You asked me to elaborate on the ambience of ‘Home Free’ in a PCE. Well, even though it reads sequentially this is not in any order. I notice the disappearance of some invisible barrier, which makes everything seamless, no dirty distance between me and everything else. I notice that load off the nervous system we talked about which has to do with feeling pressured for time somehow, as being the weight and force of believing I am responsible, of being charged with knowing how it is supposed to happen and making it happen. But with that gone I feel so here, so relaxed and aware. Time is one big, long eternal moment of stillness. All the time in the universe is available for me to operate in. There is a purity penetrating everything and the very air in the room looks clearer and purer. And without me knowing what is supposed to happen, I do not know what is going to happen so in about two seconds life has turned into such a gas! All of a sudden life is physical ease in a huge, magic, endless wonderland that is , pure, still and miraculously my home. And I am off the hook. I don’t ‘have’ to do anything so my activity, or just sitting there, is playful. Whatever I do and wherever I go is or would be agreeable. I don’t have to ‘work’.
RICHARD: Ah, yes it is certainly so that ‘all the time in the universe is available for me to operate in’ in a pure consciousness experience (PCE) ... and being free of ‘being charged with knowing how it is supposed to happen and making it happen’ describes the ambience perfectly.
Life is indeed ‘such a gas!’ ... nothing is ‘work’ in this actual world (which includes working at a job) and everything is such fun.
Thank you for your excellent description.
RESPONDENT: There is a flavour of intrigue or taboo or something in there, too. But maybe that’s affect coming in at the end, or now that I look at it, maybe that’s the feeling of power and cunning ‘ I’ get by being able to stand in the way of actuality. Ooo, that’s sick.
RICHARD: Ha ... that certainly would be sick but as you have mentioned this intrigue/taboo before (when referring to ‘forbidden territory’) it is worth commenting on: I do recall, when PCE’s first started occurring, that I had the distinct impression of having ventured into an area that I was not supposed to go into ... that it was a big secret, as it were, that we humans were not to acknowledge existed else we would not be able to be nasty anymore (licentious).
Now, put that way, it sounds silly but then when I remembered, at age three, somehow knowing that something had ‘gone wrong’ somehow and everybody had forgotten why we were all here – to have fun and enjoy each others company in this grand adventure which life is – it all fell into place (and I was able to date it as being at age three by a particular incident which could only have happened at that age).
In my journal I wrote it as ‘it is as if everybody is playing a game called ‘let’s pretend we are lost’’ ... except that life in the real-world is not a game – people do kill, maim, torture, rape, suicide, and all the rest – so I soon disabused myself of that notion and I only mention all this – as childish as it may sound – as that is what the impression was at the time.
Of course as the years went by, and as I talked at length with many people from many walks of life about these moments of perfection, and discovered they had all had PCE’s – all of them – it became sensibly clear what my childish notion was based on: everybody secretly knows, from those PCE’s, that all the suffering is unnecessary ... *yet they still, perversely, insist on suffering anyway*.
Hence your ‘flavour of intrigue or taboo or something in there, too’ – plus your earlier ‘forbidden territory’ observation – is quite valid, as far as I am concerned, and there is no need to attribute it to affect coming in at the end.
RESPONDENT: O.K., on to the next issue. I can’t thank you enough for reiterating how to use HAIETMOBA?. I have read it fifty times, but this time it clicked. There is something to watch out for, which is the feeling of upset. I am just used to living with my upsetting feelings by ignoring them or repressing them, because I shouldn’t get upset ... you know? ... it’s not right to be upset, etc. So to go looking for the incident like you suggest wasn’t working because ... I’m always upset! due to repressing or analysing why I shouldn’t have the bad feeling. I mean, where would I start? When I saw this about myself I was happy and from there I was able to locate an upsetting incident that day.
RICHARD: Good ... and once one gets the knack of it (it does take diligence and application and patience and perseverance in the beginning) it all becomes such fun to find out, each moment again, how one ticks.
One thing I did, way back when I started doing that method, was to make sure I would never, ever, tell myself off for slipping back into the old ways – after all ‘I am only human’ and it is bound to happen from time-to-time – and instead I would pat myself on the back for being astute enough to notice that I had slipped back and thus get on with the business of being happy and harmless again ... and feeling good about myself for being able to do so.
It is important to be friends with oneself – only I get to live with myself twenty four hours of the day (other people can and do move away) – and if I am at war with myself, disciplining myself, telling myself off, I am alienating the only person who can truly help me in all this.
In short: be nice to yourself, not nasty ... there are already enough people doing that anyway.
RESPONDENT: By the way, the part of HAIETMOBA? that induced a PCE for me one day were the words ‘this moment’. They grabbed my attention, stopped me and ... presto changeo , actuality bloomed.
RICHARD: Yes, I noticed that the first time you wrote it and it particularly caught my attention as I have had more than a few people ask why the question cannot be shortened to ‘how am I experiencing’ ... the ‘this moment of being alive’ is vital to being here – just here – right now, at this moment, as this is the only moment of being alive.
In actuality it is, of course, never not this moment – this moment lasts forever, as it always has done and always will do, and is the arena in which all things happen – but in reality it is experienced as being but a fleeting moment as one is out of time.
To be in time is, to use your expression, such a gas!
RESPONDENT: But back to the post – something else that you said worked well for me, too, which is the silliness of letting anything take away one’s enjoyment and appreciation of this only moment of being alive. It is embarrassing to admit but once the distinctions are in place, letting anything interfere could be seen less as an habitual response and more like doing it on purpose.
RICHARD: Yes, self-sabotage, in other words, as if to prove the method does not work, its all too hard, life’s a bitch, what’s the point, the man is a self-acknowledged madman anyway ... and so on and so on.
RESPONDENT: And then there was the part about virtual freedom. I have silently pooh-poohed virtual freedom but now with the success of locating an upsetting incident I can see raising the bottom line to excellence.
RICHARD: Ahh ... you are not the first person to scorn virtual freedom and you will not be the last: I had one person take me aside, one day, so as to tell me in confidence that it came across as being all so naïve and that if I wanted to be taken seriously I should change my vocabulary.
I was so pleased to hear that ... being naïve (not to be confused with being gullible) is essential if one is to ever be happy and harmless.
RESPONDENT: I’m amazed that someone as glum as me has had a PCE at all and it’s no wonder why they only last a minute or so when they do happen.
RICHARD: I do recall that in the early days they would only last a minute or so but as one becomes more familiar with them, more at home with them, they can start to last longer ... the day I had one last for ten or so minutes was the day I knew it was no longer possible to stop this process and that it would keep on keeping on until the end.
There were times when things would get quite alarming – bizarre mind-states for instance – and I would put my foot on the brake to slow it all down only to find, to my mounting alarm, that the pedal went all the way to the floor ... there were no brakes!
RESPONDENT: O.K. let’s forget the thought frequency thing. You answered my question about what the right thought was that caused AF in you. I’m saying because of the seminal question, you had to admit you had been fooling yourself when you realized your enlightened motivation (survive!) to plant trees was no different than your unenlightened motivation (survive!) to plant grass.
RICHARD: Oh no, planting grass really was the right thing to do all those years ago – it is only modern-day peoples who castigate the pioneers for doing what was right then – just as planting trees is the right thing to do nowadays ... what is the right thing to do, in any era, changes into another right thing to do as changes caused by doing the previous right thing happen.
What I really realised, at that moment and in that context, was that I no longer knew what the right thing to do was anymore ... and at that moment I was, finally, ripe and ready to be what I actually am.
RESPONDENT: But how did you see the fallacy of passionate, identity-driven survival? It had to have been all those PCE’s you had.
RICHARD: Yes, it was also all the PCE’s, but not only that (and not specifically that): it was the seminal question that did the trick and the situation and circumstances, peculiar to me and my context at that time, were but the trigger ... if I had been some other person in some other context I could have been washing the dishes, for example, or riding a bicycle.
And if I had been some other person in some other context the seminal question would have been different too ... meaning that only you can know what you must do – and you will not know what that is until it happens – and when you do know what to do it will be too late to stop the happening.
Hence all the procrastination – it means the end of ‘me’ – because it can, and will, happen now.
RESPONDENT: Richard, I have called Landmark World Headquarters in San Francisco and spoken to a man in their research and development department. After about a five minute explanation by me of AF vs. transformation, he brought up the AF website on his computer. Then he took a call that summoned him to a meeting. He is aware that you are available to speak with via the mailing list. He asked me if AF has been replicated in anyone else and I said yes, as virtual freedom, but that you are the only one in AF. Because of the summons I didn’t have time to say much more than that. When I asked him if he thought Landmark is interested in finding out about AF he said yes. That surprised me, so I guess I’ll follow this up with a phone call if they don’t post to the mailing list within about a week. I’m going to bet a body part they will, a hangnail, but if they do, it should be a doozie of a conversation.
RESPONDENT: I had a work assignment today that in the past has always been upsetting, but today ... I wasn’t! I was too busy being happy and harmless!
RICHARD: Ahh ... those words are music to my ears.
RESPONDENT: HA! That’s amazing how that works!
RICHARD: It is indeed ... and yet so simple too. And, speaking of simplicity, this may be an apt moment to provide the reminder that, by having already established feeling good (a general sense of well-being) as the bottom line for moment-to-moment experiencing then if, or when, feeling happy and harmless fades there is that comfortable baseline from which to suss out where, when, how, why – and what for – the feeling of being happy and harmless ceased happening ... and all the while feeling good whilst going about it.
Furthermore if, or when, there is a sinking below the bottom line, and feeling bad (a general sense of ill-being) is the moment-to-moment experiencing then, rather than trying to suss out where, when, how, why – and what for – the general sense of well-being (feeling good) ceased occurring, it is far more useful to first get to a stage of being neutral, because, when in the feeling bad position, feeling good can appear to be so, so far away ... indeed, at times, feeling good can seem to be but a dream, a fancy, a chimera, a will-o’-the-wisp, from that position, and what’s the point anyway, that method didn’t work either (of course), it’s all stupid, life sucks, and ... and all the rest of those self-pitying, self-justifying, defeatist assertions.
Plus, as already mentioned previously, any analysing and/or psychologising and/or philosophising whilst one is in the grip of debilitating feelings usually does not achieve much (other than spiralling around and around in varying degrees of despair and despondency or whatever) anyway.
Needless is it to add that the step from being neutral to feeling good is not such a big step?
And then one is back on track again.
RESPONDENT: Richard – just an update about Landmark. The man I spoke to initially has passed the AF information on to his superiors to look at and decide about with respect to their purposes. He said they do not necessarily get back to him about what he inputs. He is looking into it himself for his own purposes and did tell me it gives him a headache to read it. He invited me to resume my participation in Landmark courses and I enthusiastically declined, which precipitated my endorsement of the free, do-it-yourself and everything-you-need to-know-thoroughness of the AF site. Also, I assured him this is not self-empowerment by some other name as he seemed to assume, so it is obvious he hasn’t read much of the AF site yet, but he said he is genuinely interested in AF and that he would be in touch with me about it, both for himself and for Landmark if they tell him anything.
RESPONDENT: As for me, I keep reading the AF site but seem to be kind of just treading water as far as making progress goes, I haven’t had any more PCE’s. However, my days are really even, without the previous emotional highs and lows. Every day is very smoothed-out, so to speak. Things don’t bother me like they used to, and I am much less ‘involved’ in even my own problems. I have noticed I am not cursing like I used to, and I wasn’t even trying to fix that. I have not been being happy and felicitous and bon vivant like I need to be but things are going along so well I’m afraid to raise the bar as you advise. I am more interested in being honest with others how I feel about things and that seems to be a stumbling block, even though others seem to have less of a problem with me than ever before. Life really is different since I started with Actualism, I am different. But it’s time to raise the bar, so ... I’ll let you know how it goes.
RICHARD: If ‘smoothed-out’ days is the same as, or the equivalent to, a feeling good (a general sense of well-being) bottom-line of moment-to-moment experiencing then, as the name of the game is to enjoy and appreciate being just here, right now, on this planet as this body (as this gender, race, age, and of this era), simply enjoy and appreciate each ‘smoothed-out’ moment ... if for no other reason than the emotional highs and lows are not occurring.
This enjoyment and appreciation – in conjunction with the pure intent born out of sincerity (if not yet out of naïveté) – will surely occasion the felicity you speak of, even if only after a while and/or if only for a short while, and thus the bar has been raised almost without consciously doing so. Then if, or when, that felicity dissipates there is an event to locate and to look at, from the relative comfort of the fall-back baseline, so as to ascertain why such felicity/ innocuity is no more ... to find out what has happened, between the last time one felt felicitous/ innocuous and now. When did I last feel felicitous? Five minutes ago? Five hours ago? What happened to end those felicitous feelings? Ahh ... yes: ‘He said that and I ...’. Or: ‘She didn’t do this and I ...’. Or: ‘What I wanted was ...’. Or: ‘I didn’t do ...’. And so on and so on ... one does not have to trace back into one’s childhood ... usually no more than yesterday afternoon at the most.
Then one is back on track again ... and all because of everyday events.
In regards to your ‘I wasn’t even trying to fix that’ observation: you may very well find, as you proceed further along the wide and wondrous path to an actual freedom from the human condition, that most issues get fixed of their own accord – the brain rewires itself as it were – the more one is as happy and harmless as is humanly possible, enjoying and appreciating each moment again, as it is almost inevitable that, just as old habits die through disuse, non-felicitous synaptic connections wither away through lack of exercise.
This does not mean, of course, that one does not actively investigate moment-to-moment issues as it is such attentiveness which ensures the behind-the-scenes rewiring ... because that very attentiveness is the pure intent in action (and it is pure intent which does the trick of its own accord).
Also, the easier it becomes the more fun it is ... and the more fun it is the easier it becomes.
RESPONDENT: Richard, I have some questions: Is ‘human intelligence’ or ‘thinking’ or ‘thought’ (as distinct from the mind of a dog or even a gorilla) the result of or the property of or the ability to abstract?
RICHARD: No, not necessarily ... in evolutionary terms the long, slow evolution of intelligence has its roots in the most ‘on the ball’, the most shrewd and/or sharp and/or smart and/or cunning and/or wily and/or sly, and so on, outmanoeuvring the least ‘on the ball’ – the most dumb – and there is nothing abstract about that (the term ‘survival of the fittest’ does not mean the survival of the most muscular, as is often commonly misunderstood, but means those most fitted to the environment live to pass on their genes whilst the least fitted languish and die out).
And, even more prosaically, the long, slow evolution of intelligence is also the result of successfully negotiating what has been called the vicissitudes of life: not only obtaining such basic necessities as air, water, food, shelter and clothing (if the weather be inclement) in the face of fire, flood, famine, tempest, vulcanicity, pestilence, disease, and so on, but prospering whilst doing so because of tool-making, for instance, or the utilisation of fire, for another ... none of which are abstract.
Intelligence is the cognitive faculty of understanding and comprehending (as in intellect and sagacity) ... which means the cerebral ability to sensibly and thus judiciously think, remember, reflect, appraise, plan, and implement considered activity for beneficial purposes (and to be able to rationally convey reasoned information to other human beings so that coherent knowledge can accumulate around the world and to the next generations). Yet there is more to intelligence than the faculty of the human brain thinking with all its understanding (intellect) and comprehension (sagacity) as, along with the self-referential nature that being conscious implies (agency, or intervening action towards an end, implies self-interest), the brain’s cognisance of being a conscious body – thus being self-conscious or self-aware – in the world of other animals, vegetation, things, and events, is an essential prerequisite for intelligence to arise ... and, again, there is nothing abstract about being aware of being conscious.
Incidentally, abstract (conjectural) thought is but one of the many ways of thinking: for instance there is practical/impractical thought; pragmatic/imaginative thought; reasoned/ expressive thought; adventitious/ principled thought; prudential/philosophical (or politic/ philosophic) thought; insightful/ intuitive thought; judicious/ injudicious thought; rational/ irrational thought; logical/illogical thought; salubrious/ pathological thought, as well as illative thought (inferential, deductive, inductive thought) and reflective thought (contemplative, meditative, pensive thought) and so on.
As thought is broadly categorised as being perceptive thought (sensible thought), or realistic (extrinsic) thought, and imperceptive thought (intelligible thought), or autistic (intrinsic) thought, then I guess the latter could be broadly categorised as abstract thought.
RESPONDENT: Is cause/ effect the way thought must operate, otherwise it is not called ‘intelligence’ or ‘thought’?
RICHARD: Perhaps it would be clearer to say that non-causative (unrelated to cause/effect) thought is not intelligent thought?
RESPONDENT: Is language a property of abstraction?
RICHARD: No, but that would be because this is what abstraction means to me:
Whereas, seeing that you link abstraction with symbolisation (further below), it may very well mean something like this to you:
For what it is worth, as the development of language can only ever be speculation, I would guess that, as the affections are both primal and primary to cognition, language/thought ever-so-slowly developed as an extension of the growling, grunting, groaning, moaning, whimpering sounds that are so expressive of the feeling of what is happening ... most histrionic words have an affective etymological root, I have noticed. Thus the ‘first’ thoughts in humanoids most probably would have been inchoate expressions of the primal feelings that are evident in the higher order animals.
For example, tests on chimpanzees show that, when communicating with sounds (they do not have a voice-box capable of language), the Broca’s Area – the region of the frontal cortex of the human brain concerned with the production of speech – of their brain is activated.
RESPONDENT: Does an animal need the power of abstraction to have ‘theory of mind’?
RESPONDENT: If a dog buries a bone, or a squirrel stores nuts or a chimp hides food to eat alone later, is all this due to a distinction of me/not me?
RICHARD: I have seen a documentary where squirrels storing nuts were put through exhaustive tests to determine that it was purely instinctual – thus it has nothing to do with ‘self and other’ (let alone ‘theory of mind’) – and the same applies to dogs burying bones ... of the three examples you give only the chimpanzee deceives (hides food so as to eat alone later) as only the chimpanzee is self-conscious (monkeys, for instance, are not self-conscious) and thus capable of ‘theory of mind’.
RESPONDENT: Do you need the power of abstraction to distinguish self/other?
RICHARD: No, all sentient beings (sentience means being capable of sensation or sensory perception) are able to distinguish ‘self and other’ (not to be confused with being self-conscious and thus ‘theory of mind’) ... all sentient beings are conscious as consciousness (the state or condition of being conscious) is what sentience means. Vis.:
Or, to put that another way, sentience is what consciousness is at its most basic ... perception means consciousness (aka awareness). Vis.:
And to be [quote] ‘aware or conscious of a thing’ [endquote] is what being capable of distinguishing self and other is: a dog, for instance, lifting its leg on a tree is aware that, not only does what we call ‘tree’ stay where it is whilst he can come and go, but that it is different to, and thus distinguishable from, what we call ‘cat’, and so on.
Whereas a virus, for example, not being sentient cannot.
RESPONDENT: Is mental imaging abstraction?
RICHARD: As a mental image of an orange, for instance, is obviously not the orange then ... yes.
RESPONDENT: Is there any other way to abstract than with language?
RICHARD: Given that you link abstraction with symbolisation then ... no.
RESPONDENT: Can I have a mental picture without an attending emotion?
RICHARD: That would be something to find out for yourself as I cannot know what you experience and, furthermore cannot form mental images anyway as there is no imaginative/intuitive faculty extant in this body (the affective faculty’s epiphenomenal psychic facility vanished along with the affective faculty) ... from what I can recall I would say no.
RESPONDENT: Is memory due to the power of abstraction?
RICHARD: Not as far as I am concerned ... for me memory is due to the power of reference (more on this further below).
RESPONDENT: Are emotions abstractions?
RICHARD: Ha ... there are no emotions in actuality (there is nothing affective here in this actual world).
RESPONDENT: Also, when you say apperception is consciousness aware of being conscious, is it the function of the neo-cortex aware of the function of the amygdalae, which is to say, thought aware of consciousness?
RICHARD: No, apperception – from the dictionary definition ‘the brain’s perception of itself’ – is where being conscious of being conscious (aka the awareness of being conscious or the awareness of being aware) is unmediated or direct ... in contrast to the normal ‘I’ being aware of ‘me’ being conscious.
Incidentally, I would not locate consciousness in ‘the function of the amygdalae’ as the seat of consciousness is arguably located in the brain-stem, probably in Reticular Activating System (RAS or RS) in general and possibly in the Substantia Nigra (towards to top third of the RAS) in particular ... the amygdalae, in concert with the limbic system in general, function as a reflexive process only (as in the startle response) when identity is extinguished.
RESPONDENT: But thought is not an awareness, is not a perceiving faculty, not a sense organ, so that couldn’t be right.
RICHARD: Indeed not ... apperception happens irregardless of thought (thought may or may not be operating).
RESPONDENT: What is the relationship of thought, language, intelligence, the power of abstraction and apperception?
RICHARD: There are too many things mixed up together to make a meaningful all-inclusive response ... thought and language are related, obviously, but do not necessarily have a relationship with abstraction; beneficial ways of thinking are related to intelligence, obviously, but do not necessarily have a relationship with abstraction; neither thought/language nor intelligence – let alone abstraction – have any relationship with apperception: apperception occurs irregardless (when alive, not dead, awake, not asleep, and sensible, not insensible).
This is because apperception is current-time awareness, in that it takes place presently, at this moment in time, and is the unmediated perception of what is happening right now, at this very moment, thus staying forever current, surging perpetually on the crest of the ongoing wave, as it were, of this moment in eternal time and is the immediate experiencing of actuality at this moment in whatever form it takes ... there is only the pure conscious experiencing of the awareness of perpetuity as it is never not this moment in actuality.
This moment in eternal time is the arena, so to speak, where all things happen ... and apperception makes this apparent.
RESPONDENT: Does the ability to symbolize (abstract) have anything to do with the cause/effect nature of intelligence?
RICHARD: Ahh ... symbolisation does not mean abstraction to me: symbols, be they words in thought, sound, print or pixels, refer to something, as far as I am concerned, rather than represent something, as far as some people are concerned (or so they have communicated to me). Therefore, insofar as symbols are referential they have everything to do with causation (cause and effect) and thus, with intelligence whereas, for those whom symbols are representative, they may not necessarily have anything to do with causation, or thus, with intelligence, as the representation (or so it has been communicated to me) exists in its own right.
‘Tis a fair bet that identity is the spanner in the works.
RESPONDENT: If you start with sentiency as simple consciousness in a dog and then proceed up to apperception in humans I’ll appreciate it.
RICHARD: Given the distinction between the reference to/representative of something (concrete/abstract) all of the above may be more confusing than clarifying ... so perhaps the most significant thing to say here is to stress that consciousness is the state or condition of a body being conscious (the suffix ‘-ness’ forms a noun expressing the quality of a state or condition) be it of a dog or a human or any other sentient being. In popular usage, however, the word ‘consciousness’ can also mean the (illusory/delusory) identity who is being conscious ... whereas the word ‘awareness’ does not usually carry that connotation.
Therefore, while the word ‘conscious’ can mean the same as what the word ‘aware’ means the word ‘consciousness’ can also mean something other that what the word ‘awareness’ means ... it can mean the (supposedly immortal) phantom entity who (supposedly) makes a sentient being alive and not dead (as in the phrase ‘consciousness has left the body’ to signify physical death). That the vast majority of animals are not self-conscious (are not self-aware) is the reason why, by and large, it is generally held that animals do not have a consciousness which ‘leaves the body’ at physical death.
Thus apperception as you referred to it further above – ‘consciousness aware of being conscious’ – simply means the condition of a human body being conscious (that is, consciousness), sans identity/affections, being conscious of being conscious (an unmediated/immediate awareness of being conscious or a bare/direct awareness of being aware).
To put that the way I prefer to put it: all experiencing is awareness of what is happening whilst it is happening; the mind, which is the human brain in action in the human skull, has this amazing capacity to be, not only aware, but aware of being aware at the same time (a simultaneity which is truly wondrous in itself).
And it is where this awareness of being aware is unmediated (apperceptive awareness) that this universe knows itself.
RESPONDENT: Does an animal need the power of abstraction to have ‘theory of mind’?
RICHARD: No ... being self-conscious (not to be confused with being embarrassed) is the essential requisite for ‘theory of mind’.
RESPONDENT: If a dog buries a bone, or a squirrel stores nuts or a chimp hides food to eat alone later, is all this due to a distinction of me/not me?
RICHARD: I have seen a documentary where squirrels storing nuts were put through exhaustive tests to determine that it was purely instinctual – thus it has nothing to do with ‘self and other’ (let alone ‘theory of mind’) – and the same applies to dogs burying bones ... of the three examples you give only the chimpanzee deceives (hides food so as to eat alone later) as only the chimpanzee is self-conscious (monkeys, for instance, are not self-conscious) and thus capable of ‘theory of mind’.
RESPONDENT: Do you need the power of abstraction to distinguish self/other?
RICHARD: No, all sentient beings (sentience means being capable of sensation or sensory perception) are able to distinguish ‘self and other’ (not to be confused with being self-conscious and thus ‘theory of mind’) ... all sentient beings are conscious as consciousness (the state or condition of being conscious) is what sentience means. (...) And to be [quote] ‘aware or conscious of a thing’ [endquote] is what being capable of distinguishing self and other is: a dog, for instance, lifting its leg on a tree is aware that, not only does what we call ‘tree’ stay where it is whilst he can come and go, but that it is different to, and thus distinguishable from, what we call ‘cat’, and so on. Whereas a virus, for example, not being sentient cannot.
RESPONDENT: Something struck me in what you said about self-awareness. That it is evidenced in the ability to deceive and that it is an essential prerequisite to intelligence.
RICHARD: Yes ... although putting it that way may convey an impression that trickery is an essential prerequisite for the arousal of intelligence as well (when it is but a way of determining self-awareness in this instance). This is because being self-conscious – conscious of being conscious – implies being aware of other sentient beings similarly self-conscious (hence ‘theory of mind’) and, whilst one way of determining if self-consciousness has arisen is the ability to engage in pretence (deceive and trick), being conscious that a mirrored image is oneself, and not another of one’s species, is the main way ... which is not to imply that narcissism is a prerequisite for intelligence, either.
At its most simplest intelligence is the ability to anticipate eventualities and develop contingency plans rather than exigent reaction – in a drought or a famine animals, just like plants, unless particularly hardy tend to languish and/or die – in conjunction with the ability to manipulate one’s environs for beneficial purposes ... which means, at its most basic, being conscious of both place and periodicity (the cognisance of both being a sentient creature occupying space and the persistence of such existence over time) and the implications and ramifications of occupation/continuation in spatial extension and of temporal duration and acting accordingly.
Intelligence also involves being aware of birth, growth, senescence, and death (but that is another topic).
RESPONDENT: So with the chimpanzee, now that we know it has self-awareness, what do you say will cause the most rapid rise in its intelligence, or is it not a given that it will develop intelligence?
RICHARD: First of all there is no consensus amongst primatologists that the chimpanzee, or any other of the apes, has developed ‘theory of mind’ – or any other animal, such as the dolphin for example, for that matter – and the following URL is worth a read in regards to this point (if only as a cautionary note): www.bbsonline.org/documents/a/00/00/05/46/index.html
Having said that, long-term studies (by people such as Ms. Jane Goodall and Mr. Francis De Waal for instance) do provide compelling evidence that, at the very least, the chimpanzee is to some degree self-conscious.
As to what would cause intelligence to arise (or indeed if it would) most rapidly in them: that could only be a matter of conjecture as it is the awareness of the persistence of one’s existence over time and in space, and acting accordingly, which signifies the arousal of intelligence and not self-consciousness (and thus ‘theory of mind’).
RESPONDENT: If language, thought and symbolization as referentiality are so closely related, it seems to me the next step is to teach chimps sign language but surely this is being done.
RICHARD: Again, there is no consensus amongst primatologists that the chimpanzee, or any other of the apes, has learned a language – however rudimentary it may be – as at the most what they can be said to have learned is to make the appropriate gestures/ sounds commonly associated with some people, some other animals, some things and some events.
Virtually all animals communicate – consciously via sound, gesture, posture, and facial expression and non-consciously by scent/flavour, colour/engorgement, emotionally/ passionally, and intuitively/ psychically – to some degree yet communication is not necessarily language: the main hallmarks of a communication being a language are displacement (the ability to communicate about things or situations not currently present in space and time), narration (the ability to convey a meaningful chronicle/ story or account/ illustration), and productivity (the communication is able to be expanded to include new signals if and when necessary) ... all of which require a connection and relation between the strung-together signals (some form of grammatical syntax).
RESPONDENT: There are gorillas that have been taught sign language and are able to put known words together to make up new words for items they haven’t been taught a word for, like the known words ‘finger’ and ‘bracelet’ to mean ring ...
RICHARD: Once more a cautionary note: just because a gorilla – or any animal for that matter – can make appropriate gestures/sounds which to humans means ‘finger’ and ‘bracelet’ and thus, by extension, meaning ‘ring’, or whatever, does not necessarily imply it means that for the animal ... there was a chimpanzee, for instance, who could make the appropriate gesture associated with what humans call ‘water’ and the appropriate gesture associated with what humans call ‘bird’ and upon seeing a swan on a lake one day made the appropriate gestures associated with both ‘water’ and ‘bird’ which some researchers took to indicate the chimpanzee to be meaning ‘waterbird’ ... yet all the chimpanzee may have been doing might have been nothing other than correctly identifying a large body of wet stuff and a feathered creature (in that order) and making the appropriate gestures associated with those two things.
For an obvious instance of this: there is a parrot that has been trained in a similar fashion, for the same purpose, for over 16 years now that is capable of making the appropriate sounds associated with fifty objects, seven colours and five shapes, who (appropriately) vocalises ‘I’m sorry’ upon having bitten a human’s finger ... yet continues to bite and continues to vocalise that sound pattern.
In other words mimicry, even if appropriately cued, does not necessitate comprehension and understanding.
RESPONDENT: ... but if self-awareness is prerequisite for intelligence, then this must not be intelligence at work, or did I misunderstand you to say that it is only in chimps that we see self-awareness and not in any other animals so far?
RICHARD: All I said was that, of the three example you gave (the dog, the squirrel, and the chimpanzee) only the chimpanzee has evidenced being self-conscious ... as for other apes (such as the gorilla, the orang-utan, the gibbon, and the bonobos) being self-conscious: it is not a subject I have researched as it was of no particular interest to me to know anything more than the little I wanted to know.
It may be apposite to mention here that a large part of communication/language is intuitive (in the ‘instinctive’ meaning of that word and not the ‘insightful’ meaning it sometimes has) as in affective vibes and psychic currents ... as is evidenced, for but one example, by all the ‘emoticons’ on the internet and the ‘reading between the lines’ which more than a few people deem essential for effective ‘understanding’.
Also, as animals learn social skills those very skills must be taken into account when looking for evidence of both self-consciousness and ‘theory of mind’ – and indeed for evidence of language (rather that just communication) – as rote learning, as it were, does not necessitate intelligence.
RESPONDENT: Your last post to me brought up so many questions, Richard, but I am only going to ask one or two at a time. I am interested in.
RICHARD: As the remainder of your sentence appears to have been cut off I will re-post the following (in the jargon it could be called a reality-check) as I have found, more often than not, it does pay to keep things as simple and practical as possible:
And now that intelligence has developed in the human animal the blind survival passions are no longer necessary – in fact they have become a hindrance in today’s world – and it is only by virtue of this intelligence that blind nature’s default software package can be safely deleted (via altruistic ‘self’-immolation in toto).
No other animal can do this.
RESPONDENT: I haven’t written for a long time and I want you to know I am still practicing Actualism, reading the website over and over, running HAIETMOBA and reading what’s sent to Topica. My stumbling block is being felicitous, as usual. You’ve already coached me on this, I know it’s up to me to do it. I think also I am fairly detached, too, and what I have taken for a ‘good’ day is really more of a day of ... calmness, but a sort of contrived, finessed calmness. I feel stuck in the mud partly because I’m not having any PCE’s, the voice in my head will not shut up (It didn’t used to bother me, maybe I was not aware of it) and also the problem of felicity. Also, inquiring into the root of emotions is tricky to do by yourself (my mind wanders) and I find myself in my head so much it is irritating as hell. I don’t think my self is getting any thinner, it seems to have co-operated up to a point and then put on the brakes. I will not give up, though, because I’ve experienced what is right under my nose four times now . If you have any input, I’m listening.
RICHARD: As Vineeto has already responded to your e-mail (she knew I would be out of town last week and thus away from the computer) there is little I would add at this stage except to emphasise what she pointed out regarding detachment/ dissociation ... because what stands out in your (above) words is the ‘I am fairly detached’ phrase.
It is no wonder you are experiencing ‘a sort of contrived, finessed calmness’ ... the main problem in life is that peoples everywhere are already separate from the actual world and to practice detachment is to be twice-removed from actuality. Vis.:
For an example of detachment leading to dissociation (known as ‘vippayutta’ in Pali):
It is not for nothing I say everyone has been going 180 degrees in the wrong direction.
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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