Richard’s Selected Correspondence
On Hedonism and Anhedonia
RESPONDENT: And want to know why you do anything at all if you aren’t motivated by the pleasure/pain cycle.
RICHARD: Presuming you are referring to not being hedonically motivated ... have you ever considered what human life would be like if humankind was not run by the affections (emotionally/ passionally)?
RESPONDENT: How is this body motivated to do anything at all if there is no feeling?
RESPONDENT: My comments about shopping also were in the same vein. The pleasure of shopping is not merely due to handling pieces of plastic and paper.
RICHARD: The *sensate* pleasure of shopping is ... here is what I previously wrote (only this time juxtaposed with your query/ comments):
First of all, as I am incapable of imagining anything, let alone the future enjoyment of items purchased, it is impossible for me to obtain that kind of pleasure (hedonic pleasure) in any circumstance ... just as it is equally impossible to obtain its polar opposite (hedonic pain).
RESPONDENT: Imagination in this case meant anticipation.
RICHARD: Okay ... given that you (now) use the word ‘anticipation’ in a sentence stating that shopping (for example) is not really a sensate pleasure and that it is the anticipation, of how the purchases are going to be enjoyed at some other place than just here and at some other time than right now, which is what is pleasant at that very moment of handling pieces of paper and plastic bags (for instance), it would appear that what the following dictionaries have to say regarding that word could very well be appropriate. Vis.:
As I am incapable of having the feeling of excitedly or eagerly looking forward to and/or having an eager or pleasurable expectation of and/or looking forward with pleasure to anything, let alone the future enjoyment of items purchased, it is impossible for me to obtain that kind of pleasure (affective pleasure) in any circumstance ... just as it is equally impossible to obtain its polar opposite (affective pain).
RESPONDENT: If you say you are incapable of anticipation, it would be altogether remarkable.
RICHARD: Not only am I incapable of (affective) anticipation I am also incapable of (affective) expectation – or any other word of that ilk you may substitute the next time around – and this is indeed altogether remarkable for it means that one is free to enjoy and appreciate the sensate pleasure that shopping actually is ... the direct, immediate, sensuous experiencing (which happens just here, right now, and nowhere and nowhen else).
RICHARD: Secondly, where there is no identity whatsoever all conditioning – be it self-inflicted conditioning, familial conditioning, peer-group conditioning, or societal conditioning – has nothing to condition and falls by the wayside (hence choices made are freely made choices and not just habit-patterns).
RESPONDENT: This is similar to the Buddhist position.
RICHARD: Not so ... I specifically said [quote] ‘no identity whatsoever’ [endquote] whereas Mr. Gotama the Sakyan only extinguished the shallower part of the identity (the thinker) which allowed the deeper part (the feeler) to expand unchecked into the fullness of its being.
RESPONDENT: That conditioning leads to the feeling of a separated identity (dependant origination).
RICHARD: As I nowhere say that ‘conditioning leads to the feeling of a separated identity’ (for that feeling is what one is born with) there are now two reasons why it is not similar to the Buddhist position.
RESPONDENT: If conditioning is absent/ transcended there is no identity.
RICHARD: As I specifically said where there is no identity all conditioning has nothing to condition (and falls by the wayside), and not the other way around (as you have it), there are now three reasons why it is not similar to the Buddhist position.
RESPONDENT: But let’s discuss this interrelationship of identity and conditioning in another thread.
RICHARD: Why? Mr. Gotama the Sakyan knew naught of these matters that I report, describe, explain.
RICHARD: Lastly, the pleasure of shopping here in this actual world is indeed due to handling pieces of plastic and paper (for instance) only there is more to such handling than just the tactile sensation ... much, much more.
RESPONDENT: Of course, tactile sensation is just one form of sensation. My point was that the PRESENT sensations (in all their glory) are not sufficient for the pleasure one gets from shopping/sex. There is a thought process anticipating/ remembering future/past sensations which makes shopping/sex so pleasurable (in the normal realm).
I wanted to make a correlation with the sexual pleasure. I can well understand someone not enjoying shopping in the form of anticipating future pleasure. I myself do shopping in the present moment without thinking how I am going to use a certain product (though certainly I choose the product based on my conditioning/tastes).
RICHARD: Where I wrote ‘the pleasure of shopping here in this actual world’ (further above) I was not referring to an identity doing the shopping ‘in the present moment’ (be it either with or without thinking).
RESPONDENT: Thanks for your time and effort. In short, once again: If you get pleasure from sex which is based on mutualness, it is not merely sensate. It involves thought processes.
RICHARD: Perhaps this may help: in the perceptive process sensory perception is primary; affective perception is secondary; cognitive perception is tertiary.
RICHARD: Here is how I have described the anhedonic actualism experience:
RESPONDENT: It is more due to the mental process which assures one of a certain enjoyment of the things just bought.
RICHARD: No, not where identity is no more – as in a pure consciousness experience (PCE), where identity is in abeyance, or upon an actual freedom from the human condition (where identity is extinct) – as all pleasure is thus sensate-only ... the direct, immediate, experiencing which happens just here, right now, and nowhere and nowhen else.
RESPONDENT: Thanks for your comments, I really wish to learn.
RICHARD: You are very welcome ... and if all of the above is too much to grasp at once then, if nothing else, this is what is vital to comprehend:
RESPONDENT: I must admit that I have not seen anybody denying any life after death so clearly (except Charvaka philosophy, which is infamous for being materialistic, and I have not read it in detail.)
RICHARD: Aye, I am not a materialist, I am an actualist – which is the experiential understanding that nothing physical is merely passive – and is evidenced with the personal experience of the universe experiencing itself as a sensate and reflective human being (as opposed to a cerebral or affective perception). The Carvarka or Lokayata philosophy as propounded by Mr. Brhaspati has some similarities to the Epicurean philosophy of the West. The Carvakas sought to establish their materialism on an epistemological basis and in their ethics they upheld a hedonistic theory according to which enjoyment of the maximum amount of sensual pleasure here in this life and avoidance of pain that is likely to accompany such enjoyment are the only two goals that humans ought to pursue. There is no evidence that they addressed the issue of consciousness per se ... that is: what to do about the persistence of ‘self’.
RESPONDENT: Now, this is only my intellectual comprehension and not my experience. In fact I don’t remember of any peak experience kind or PCE, which you say everybody has once in a while. So, to me it does not matter, if what you are saying is ‘new’ or not. If you have experienced it and can help me experience it, I am ready to learn because I already see, intellectually, the need for it.
RICHARD: Good ... but we need to be clear what it is that you want to experience. Nothing that I am on about will you find in the scriptures. Nothing. Eventually one has no recourse but to face the facts and the actuality of the human situation squarely. Which is: ‘If the ‘ancient wisdom’ is so good, why has it not worked? How long must we try something before abandoning it in favour of something more promising?’ There is as much animosity and anguish now as back then. The experiment has failed. Love and its Compassion; Beauty and its Truth have had thousands of years to demonstrate their efficacy ... where is the evidence that they should be persevered with? Where is the Peace On Earth that they promised? Why is it that only 0.000001 of the population becomes enlightened? Why? Why?? Why??? Clear the work-bench and start fresh. Learn from those that have gone before and move on.
RESPONDENT: On another note, I was talking over with a friend yesterday at lunch about music and its relation to emotions. We both agreed that music – whatever kind – does not necessarily evoke an affective response in, for example, alexithymic/anhedonic people, very young children or someone way into the path of Actual Freedom or Actually Free. However, my friend assured me that if a certain type of music (classical, violin, piano) is played then it has to have some type of an effect on the human brain. I know that the very act of listening has an effect on the brain but do you experience anything else besides?
RICHARD: No, not at all ... and I did have a few classical pieces in my record collection all those years ago (mainly rhapsodies, overtures, and suites). The following passage is how I have described the anhedonic actualism experience:
Coupled with the inability to affectively feel pleasure is, of course, the inability to affectively feel pain (as in the pleasure/pain principle which spiritualism makes quite an issue out of yet never does eliminate) even though most, if not all, definitions of anhedonia only say ‘the inability to feel pleasure’ ... actualism, being most definitely not hedonism, can never be sadistic, masochistic, or sadomasochistic.
RESPONDENT: Non-affective stimulation of some kind?
RICHARD: No stimulation (other than the physical delectation as described above) at all ... just the same as watching voluptuous movies (sexually-explicit x-rated videos), for example, or a succulent feast being prepared in living colour in a cooking programme on lifestyle television, for another.
RESPONDENT: Now I have some questions for you. ‘Why you want to be happy and harmless?
RICHARD: As I do not want to be happy and harmless I cannot answer your question ... I have been here, in the perfection of this actual world, all along simply having a ball.
In other words: it was the identity within who desired happiness and harmlessness ... and ‘he’ desired it like ‘he’ had never desired anything before.
RESPONDENT: Is this not a desire?
RICHARD: It was for the identity within ... ‘twas the mother of all desires, in fact.
RESPONDENT: But you said you have not desires.
RICHARD: I have indeed said that ... and I will say it again: I have no desires whatsoever.
RESPONDENT: ‘You say you had a nice day and tomorrow you will have another one.
RICHARD: What I have actually said is that I have had a perfect day – and that tomorrow will be another perfect day – and copy-pasting the words ‘nice day’ into the search engine and sending it through all the words I have ever written brought up only one hit. Vis.:
RESPONDENT: How do you know it was a nice day if you had no feelings?
RICHARD: The direct experience of perfection informs of a perfect day: in the (above) context the ‘nice day’ is being sensately experienced ... and not affectively.
RESPONDENT: ‘If you don’t have I or being then who knows it?
RICHARD: Not ‘who’ knows it ... what knows it: this flesh and blood body being apperceptively aware knows it.
RESPONDENT: There exist people that suffer from anhedonia. Is a fact. Does the brain of these people are different from yours as you operate now?
RICHARD: First of all, anhedonia is usually defined as the inability to affectively feel pleasure (from the Greek ‘an-’ [‘without’] plus the Greek ‘hedone’ [‘pleasure’] which is akin to Greek ‘hedys’ [‘sweet’] from the Latin ‘suavis’) and what is usually overlooked is the inability to affectively feel pain ... as in the pleasure/pain principle so often mentioned in mystical texts.
It has nothing to do with physical pleasure/pain.
Second, usually anhedonia is a central feature of a psychotic disorder ... for example:
Third, from the descriptions I have heard and read it is a psychiatric condition for them ... and not a liberating condition. You may find what Ms. Kristina Luna has to report at the following URL illuminating in this regard:
Here is the abstract, summary, and conclusion, of that article:
As [quote] ‘the aetiology of anhedonia is still unknown’ [endquote] and anhedonia is [quote] ‘little understood by many in the psychiatric field’ [endquote] I cannot answer your query as to how the brain of those people operates differently from the brain in this skull other than to say that it appears to be a psychological condition and not a physiological condition (given that therapy can reverse the process somewhat).
RESPONDENT: I mean what is the difference of these patients and you?
RICHARD: In a nutshell: they are not free from the human condition ... they are more deeply entangled than the norm, in fact.
RESPONDENT: You said that you felt a brain change.
RICHARD: More specifically: I said that there was a physical sensation in the brain-stem (at the base of the brain/nape of the neck).
RESPONDENT: Did you ever thought that you might altered your brain?
RICHARD: No ... all the activity occurred in the brain-stem.
RESPONDENT: Please don’t take anything personal, we are discussing.
RICHARD: As there is no personality in situ to ‘take anything personal’ that can never happen ... and I have no problem at all about being quizzed anyway as anybody stating that they have the solution to all the ills of humankind can expect to be examined rigorously.
RESPONDENT: You are so much involved about how to live that you are missing life.
RICHARD: Which ‘life’ are you referring to (life in the human condition or life sans the human condition)?
RESPONDENT: If you were millionaire with your boat should you think how to live?
RICHARD: As there are quite a few millionaires (and billionaires for that matter) with boats it is fairly easy to answer your query by drawing from their experience ... any reports I have read of such people indicate that they are neither more, nor any less, happy and harmless than any non-millionaire with a boat.
RESPONDENT: These subject about living is only for people who are problematic and are trying to find one utopia.
RICHARD: The last time I checked-up on the topic approximately 6.0 billion people found life ‘problematic’ and were seeking ‘one utopia’ (if by those words you mean being generally dissatisfied with life as it currently is and wanting peace in some form or another).
Of course I have not done a door-to-door survey of all 6.0 billion people ... I am estimating this from talking with many and varied peoples from all walks of life (I have both travelled the country and overseas), from watching television, videos, films (whatever media is available), from reading about other people’s experiences in books, journals, magazines, newspapers (and latterly on the internet), for nigh on half a century, and extrapolating from that.
However, if you could provide web pages, books titles, magazine articles, newspaper reports, manuscripts, pamphlets, brochures or whatever that I can access – or other mailing lists that I can subscribe to – wherein people, who do not find life ‘problematic’ and who are not seeking ‘one utopia’ (if by those words you mean being generally dissatisfied with life as it currently is and wanting peace in some form or another), have written about the quality of their life and how that came about I would be most pleased.
I have yet to find someone – anyone – who is totally fulfilled, utterly content, and completely satisfied, each moment again ... I would be chuffed to be able to compare notes, as it were, with somebody else that is free from the human condition.
RESPONDENT: You will never know about your death as said Greek philosopher Epictetus, when I am death is not, when death exist I am not. So me and death will never meet.
RICHARD: Well now, Mr Epictetus was just plain wrong ... did you get this wisdom from your grandfather’s professorial studies of ancient Geek and Latin?
RESPONDENT: Enjoy your life and that’s all.
RICHARD: Ahh ... there is much, much more than ‘enjoy your life and that’s all’ to being a human being ... here in this actual world lies the ‘meaning of life’ (or ‘the purpose of existence’ or ‘the riddle of the universe’ or whatever the human quest may be called).
RESPONDENT: You are spending your life for the fear of life so you may die tomorrow and everything will be finish.
RICHARD: Or, alternatively, ‘you’ can cease waiting for tomorrow and die now and get it over and done with ... then the answer to the ‘who are we, where do we come from, where are we going to’ question which has plagued philosophers down through the centuries will be experientially self-evident for the remainder of one’s life.
RESPONDENT: Live and enjoy your life, everything else is nonsense.
RICHARD: I would not call the pristine purity, of the peerless perfection the infinitude this material universe actually is, ‘nonsense’ ... but, then again, I am biased in this regard.
Irredeemably biased, in fact.
RESPONDENT: Even this actual freedom is a way to escape from your dissatisfaction.
RICHARD: My word it is ‘a way to escape’ ... and not only from ‘dissatisfaction’ but the whole sorry mess.
RESPONDENT: One SSRI will make the trick.
RICHARD: Ha ... the pharmacological cure, eh? However, fluoxetine, fluvoxamine, paroxetine, sertraline, citalopram, lorazepam, imipramine, nortriptyline, to mention but a few of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, can have side effects such as an allergic reaction (difficulty breathing; closing of the throat; swelling of the lips, tongue, or face; or hives); an irregular heartbeat or pulse; low blood pressure (dizziness, weakness); high blood pressure (severe headache, blurred vision); chills or fever; unusual bleeding or bruising; a rash or hives; headache, tremor, nervousness, or anxiety; difficulty concentrating; nausea, diarrhoea, dry mouth, or changes in appetite or weight; weakness; increased sweating; sleepiness or insomnia and decreased sex drive, impotence, or difficulty having an orgasm, for example.
Plus malice and sorrow (and their antidotal pacifiers love and compassion) can, and do, still rear their ugly heads ... needless is it to say that there are no such side effects in the purity of the perfection of this actual world?
The main side-effect of an actual freedom from the human condition is peace-on-earth, in this lifetime, as this flesh and blood body only.
RESPONDENT: I should like to see you in the middle of Manhattan working till the night and then I should like to see you philosophising about life.
RICHARD: When I read through the discussion (as delineated further above) I do not see any ‘philosophising about life’ ... what I see is an exchange of practical information, reminders, tips, hints, suggestions, clues, and so on, regarding what works and what does not.
As for ‘the middle of Manhattan working till the night’ ... I could be in solitary confinement in some insalubrious penitentiary living on bread and water and still be happy and harmless (free from malice and sorrow and their antidotal pacifiers love and compassion) as that is the target which the identity within all those years ago set as a criterion of success.
Of course I would have to be pretty silly to behave in such a manner as to occasion that life-style ... yet the validation-benchmark remains cogent to this very day.
RESPONDENT: Richard, it is always good to find your email in my hotmail mailbox. There is one important point that hit me in your response: [Richard]: ‘After my break-through into actual freedom I went through thirty months of mental anguish thinking that I had lost the plot completely (although physically everything was perfect). No one could help me as nobody had traversed this territory before’ [endquote]. How did you experience the mental anguish from the perspective of actual freedom?
RICHARD: As a severe cerebral agitation ... it all happened only in the brain cells. There was perfect sensate experiencing: the direct, startlingly intimate sensuousness of the eyes seeing, the ears hearing, the skin feeling, the nose smelling and the tongue tasting all of their own accord (deliciously unfettered by a ‘me’ or an ‘I’) yet the cognitive faculty was face-to-face with the stark fact that it had been living a deluded dissociative state for eleven years ... and that religion – fuelled by its spirituality and mysticism – was nothing short of institutionalised insanity. That this disconcerting perplexity was only cerebral was evidenced by no sweaty palms, no increased heartbeat, no rapid breathing, no palpations in the solar plexus ... none of those things connected with the existential angst of being a contingent ‘being’. If I were to look in a mirror during that period and ask ‘who am I’ there was no answer – not even ‘the silence that speaks louder than words’ that had been experienced for eleven years – yet the answer to ‘what am I’ was patently obvious and undeniable ... I am this flesh and blood body.
In psychiatric terms the neurons were agitated: energised and excited with an excess of dopamine in the post-synaptic receptors, described as being similar to the effect of amphetamines, cocaine or LSD ... yet nothing could be done about it with psychiatry’s extensive arsenal of anti-psychotic drugs. Initially I had no alternative but to seek resolution in terms of either ‘the known’ (psychiatry) and/or ‘the unknown’ (mysticism) ... and I knew from eleven years experience that no mystic could be of any assistance whatsoever. I was truly on my own. The mental anguish was in determining the validity of uncharted territory – 5,000 years of recorded history and perhaps 50,000 years of oral tradition made no mention of this dimension of human experience – for I was irreversibly plunked fair-square in the midst of either ‘insanity’ (the psychiatric model) or ‘the unknowable’ (the metaphysical model) ... which is something else entirely. In the context of metaphysical human experience this condition is only achievable after physical death: the Buddhists call it ‘Parinirvana’ and the Hindus call it ‘Mahasamadhi’.
This was no ‘dark night of the soul’ – which I knew from 1981 – nor ‘real-world’ insanity ... this was something beyond either psychiatric or mystic human experience. It was pretty freaky stuff for a mere boy from the farm: who was he to set himself up to be the final arbiter of human experience ... and what was I doing in this territory anyway? What had I become? There was neither self (psychiatric diagnosis: Depersonalisation) nor any Self (metaphysical analysis: Atheistic Materialism); there was neither reality (psychiatric diagnosis: Derealisation) nor any Reality (metaphysical analysis: Atheistic Materialism); there was no affective feelings (psychiatric diagnosis: Alexithymia) nor any ‘State Of Being’ (metaphysical analysis: Atheistic Materialism); there was neither a pleasure centre for beauty (psychiatric diagnosis: Anhedonia) nor a centre for ‘Truth’ (metaphysical analysis: Atheistic Materialism). In the context of known human experience this was a severe mental disorder ... a psychotic condition according to the DSM-IV (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders – fourth edition – which is the diagnostic criteria used by all psychiatrists and psychologists around the world for diagnosing mental disorders). On top of that was the obvious fact that everybody else other than me – especially the revered and respected ‘Great Teachers’ of antiquity – were all quite seriously mad ... which is a classic indication of insanity in itself.
I do consider it so cute that freedom from the human condition is considered a mental disorder.
RESPONDENT: It must have been quite interesting since the mental anguish happened in the perfection of this moment back then ... to nobody in particular and thus the situation must have, as paradoxical as it might sound, been quite pleasurable.
RICHARD: Hmm ... ‘interesting’, yes; ‘pleasurable’, no. It was extremely uncomfortable and very disconcerting, perplexing and bewildering. It was also distressing for my companion and caused considerable disturbance in her ... she was a constant witness to my endeavour to come to grips with what had happened and what was going on. Despite the fact she was a qualified nursing sister this was beyond her ken and altogether too much to handle in the first few months. I must emphasise the immediacy and urgency of the dilemma: how could I be right and 5.8 billion peoples then currently alive (and maybe 4.0 billion once living) be wrong? This was an outrageous supposition to contemplate – as I remarked in my previous E-Mail I thought that I had lost the plot – yet all about people were hurting and being hurt: bickering, quarrelling, arguing, fighting and then applying band-aid solutions such as the cycle of guilt, remorse, repentance, forgiveness, empathy, trust, compassion through to love ... until next time.
There were all the wars and murders and rapes and tortures and domestic violence and child abuse and sadness and loneliness and grief and depression and suicides and the such-like to account for ... and all the Gurus and the God-Men, the Masters and the Messiahs, the Avatars and the Saviours and the Saints and the Sages did not have peace-on-earth on their agenda. Obviously someone had to be the first ... and this fact was thrilling to the nth degree. It meant that an actual freedom from the human condition, here on earth in this lifetime, as this flesh and blood body had been discovered and could be demonstrated and described ... no one else need ever take that route again (and I would not wish upon anyone to have to follow in my footsteps and run that full gamut of existential angst to break through to what lay beyond). I always liken it to the physical adventure that Mr. James Cook undertook to journey to Australia two hundred plus years ago. It took him over a year in a leaky wooden boat with hard tack for food and immense dangers along the way. Nowadays, one can fly to Australia in twenty-seven hours in air-conditioned comfort, eating hygienically prepared food and watching an in-flight movie into the bargain.
RICHARD: I have been examined by two accredited psychiatrists and have been officially classified as suffering from a pronounced and severe mental disorder. My symptoms are:
Also, I have the most classic indication of insanity. That is: everyone else is mad but me. I just thought I might share that with you, as I consider that it may be important for you to know that you are currently engaged in a correspondence with a madman.
RESPONDENT: Richard, I’m going to let my light out from under the bushel and tell you what I see: You are still ‘crazy’, and I still have affection and/or compassion for you.
RICHARD: As I am a person devoid of either latent or active enmity, I require no restorative affection whatsoever to create the illusion of intimacy in my human interactions. And as I am also a person devoid of either latent or active sorrow, I require no antidotal compassion whatsoever to create the illusion of caring. Thus, in an actual freedom, intimacy is not dependent upon cooperation. I experience an actual intimacy – a direct experiencing of the other – twenty four hours of the day irrespective of the other’s affection and/or compassion ... or mood swings. If this is being crazy – if this is a severe mental disorder – then it sure beats the sanity of the real world ... which is a sanity that produces wars and rapes and murders and tortures and domestic violence and child abuse and sadness and loneliness and grief and depression and suicide.
RESPONDENT: Maybe No. 4 will come around to loving you, also.
RICHARD: Hmm ... my posts are written in appreciative response to a fellow human being who is spending the most precious gifts they have – their time and sincerity – to communicate with me about the sense they have made, so far, of life, the universe and what it is to be a human being living in the world as it is with people as they are. To put it another way: I always value another human being simply for daring to be here on this fair earth – and therefore actively doing this living business – irregardless of where they are coming from.
RESPONDENT: You know, if I chose to arrange some of your statements sequentially, as you have done mine, I am quite sure that the list would require several emails, and at the end of it, I could make a case for complete insanity on the part of the subject of that list.
RICHARD: Why would you want to do that? I make no secret of the fact that I have been rigorously examined, by two accredited psychiatrists and a psychologist over a three-year period, and have been found to have a severe and incurable psychotic mental disorder – what used to be called insanity in less politically correct days – and have an official certificate to the effect that my condition corresponds with the criterion laid down in the DSM-IV (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders – fourth edition) which is the analytical criteria used by all psychiatrists and psychologists around the world for establishing mental disorders. I have the following symptoms:
However, if this is not sufficient evidence then please do go ahead with your list of sequentially arranged statements of mine ... anything I have to say can breeze through any kind of scrutiny and be found to completely support the official findings of a severe and incurable psychotic mental disorder.
RICHARD: What I did was embrace mortality. ‘Life’ and ‘Death’ are not an opposite ... there is simply birth and death happening as matter arranges and rearranges itself as the infinitude of this material universe. Life is what happens in between each arrangement and rearrangement as animate matter, and as sensate animate matter. Before I was born, I was not here. Now that I am alive, I am here. After death I will not be here ... just like before birth. Where is the problem? The problem was in the brain-stem, of course. It is the instinct to survive at any cost that was the problem ... backed up by the full gamut of the emotions born out of the basic instinctual passions of fear and aggression and nurture and desire. The rudimentary animal ‘self’, transformed into an identity in the human animal, must be extinguished in order for one to be here, in this actual world of the senses, bereft of this identity. Extinction releases one into actuality ... as this flesh and blood body only one is living in the paradisiacal garden that this verdant planet earth is. We are all simply floating in the infinitude of this perfect and pure universe ... coming from nowhere and having nowhere to go to we find ourselves here at this moment in eternal time and this place in infinite space. I am this very material universe experiencing its own infinitude as a sensate and reflective human.
RESPONDENT: One is reluctant to let go of the basic instinctual passions as they seem, at least in their less violent manifestations, to be the source of earthly and fleshly pleasures, for instance, the pleasure of sex, the pleasure of a good meal ...
RICHARD: Yes ... in psychiatric terms it is called ‘anhedonia’ (as in the inability to affectively feel pleasure). There is bodily sensation, of course, but the ‘pleasure centre’ (located by some neuro-scientists in the amygdala) has ceased to exist along with fear and all the rest. I could not be a hedonist if I wanted to.
RESPONDENT: ... the sense of power and competency one derives through keeping the physical body fit through exercise, etc..
RICHARD: I have no power or powers at all. Competency comes from not being run by the instinctual passions (thus allowing a freed intelligence to act sensibly) and, as I do not own a car, exercise comes mainly from walking. Other than that, my favoured form of exercise is raising the coffee-cup to my lips with my right hand whilst simultaneously exercising the left hand on the TV remote control buttons.
I traverse the world nightly in the comfort and safety of my own sitting room.
RESPONDENT: I’m having a hard time drawing the line, so to speak. Your words imply a strong position of no-compromise, extinction of basic instinctual passions, period. Am I misunderstanding what you are saying?
KONRAD: The only difference between you and me is then, that I do not want to be 100% in it, but like it to go out of it, and then use my abstract thinking.
RICHARD: This is the seduction of power ... in this case the power of abstract thinking to imagine worlds that do not exist in actuality. It is akin to your description of fantasising.
KONRAD: We, human beings, need this power to live. For it is our method of survival.
RICHARD: What? Fantasising about imaginary worlds is essential for survival? You have to be kidding yourself.
KONRAD: Especially, because the return back into this ‘state’ is then even more ‘pleasant’ because of the contrast.
RICHARD: Hmm ... I have no need of a contrast whatsoever. The perfection of this moment in eternal time and this place in infinite space is so pleasurable that people who call me a hedonist are missing the mark ... hedonism is nowhere near as pleasurable as this that is my on-going experiencing.
KONRAD: Maybe. But when it leads to abstaining from our survival method, it is not for me.
RICHARD: To be free from the Human Condition – which is to be free from sorrow and malice – is to enhance survival so much so that it leaves the animal instinct for survival dead in the water. Let alone promoting abstract thinking as a survival tool. If, as you say, the atomic bomb is the result of abstract thinking, then how does that enhance survival? Do you not think that something else has to happen, other than logic, to bring about individual peace ... let alone global peace? What about the malice and the sorrow that is endemic to humanity? The rudimentary survival instincts of fear and aggression and nurture and desire that blind nature endows all sentient beings with at birth is now threatening human survival ... now that your much-prized abstract thought has led to the development of weapons of mass destruction.
MS. AYN RAND: ‘If you achieve that which is the good by a rational standard of value, it will necessary make you happy; but that which makes you happy, by some undefined emotional standard, is not necessarily the good. To take ‘whatever makes one happy’ as a guide to action means; to be guided by nothing but ones emotional whims. Emotions are not tools of cognition; to be guided by whims – by desires whose source, nature and meaning one does not know-is to turn oneself into a blind robot, operated by unknowable demons (by ones stale evasions), a robot knocking its stagnant brains out against the walls of reality which it refuses to see. This is the fallacy inherent in hedonism – in any variant of ethical hedonism, personal or social, individual or collective’.
KONRAD: Including that of Richard.
RICHARD: A cheap throwaway line ... you have asked me before about hedonism before and I have explained it to you. I am not going to copy and paste that exchange because it is simply a waste of time. You are going to continue to run the line that Richard is a hedonist no matter what I say on the subject. So be it. You are a fool.
MS. AYN RAND: ‘‘Happiness’ can properly be the purpose of ethics, but not the standard. The task of ethics is to define mans proper code of values and thus to give him the means of achieving happiness. To declare, as the ethical hedonists do, that ‘proper value is whatever gives you pleasure’ is to declare that ‘the proper value is whatever you happen to value’ – which is an act of intellectual and philosophical abdication, an act which merely proclaims the futility of ethics and invites all men to play its deuces wild’.
KONRAD: Or, as Richard asserts, whatever ends misery.
RICHARD: Not so ... Richard does not assert that ‘whatever’ ends misery will do. I specifically state that it is only the demise of ‘I’ as ego and ‘me’ as soul that will do the trick. That is, ‘being’ ceases. This is very specific and is not ‘whatever ends misery’ .
You lack intellectual rigour.
MS. AYN RAND: ‘When a ‘desire’, regardless of its nature or cause, is taken as an ethical primary, and the gratification of any and all desires is taken as an ethical goal (such as ‘the greatest happiness of the greatest number’) – men have no choice but to hate, fear and fight one another, because their desires and their interests will necessarily clash’.
KONRAD: This is, according to the ethics of Ayn Rand, the root cause of war. In effect she says, that if people are programmed in their ethics to behave in such a way, that they put the desires of others, or a collective that might include themselves above that of their own, which is in her eyes the same as altruism, war will result. This is why she sees altruism as an evil.
RICHARD: Well then ... why do you insist that I read this twaddle? It is so silly.
MS. AYN RAND: ‘If the frustration of any desire constitutes a sacrifice, than a man who owns an automobile and is robbed of it, is being sacrificed, but so is the man who wants or ‘aspires to’ an automobile which the owner refuses to give him-and these two ‘sacrifices’ have equal ethical status. If so, then mans only choice is to rob or be robbed, to destroy or be destroyed, to sacrifice others to any desire of his own or to sacrifice himself to any desire of others; then mans only ethical alternative is to be a sadist or a masochist’.
KONRAD: Notice, how Ayn Rand asserts here, that if you consider emotions to be irreducible primaries, as Richard does, and you base society on it, all of the conflicts of the world arise out of it. So the position of Richard is understandable, and can even be seen to be rational from the perspective of Ayn Rand. However, there is still a vast difference between Ayn Rand and Richard. For Ayn Rand does not look upon emotions as irreducible primaries, but as a consequence of the implementation of a specific ethics. Therefore both their solutions are different. Richard asserts, that the solution is a transformation that ends all emotions. But Ayn Rand says, that this is inhuman. For when you do that, no matter whether this is possible or not, you not only destroy your potential to be happy, but, and that is even worse, you destroy the only way that exists to experience through life itself the only answer that is possible to the question: ‘what is the purpose of life?’ And therefore this solution is not a rational answer to ‘the human condition.
RICHARD: This is because, like you, she would presumably still get infuriated and have to have emotion-backed principles in order to manage to operate and function in a socially acceptable manner even when driven by the instinctual animal urges of fear and aggression that blind nature endows all sentient beings with. In other words: her writing shows that she is still a victim of the human condition ... like you she is encumbered by an affective ‘being’ that needs to be controlled.
RICHARD: As I have been living in this invaluable condition for five years now, endeavouring to convey to others the priceless character of an actual freedom from animosity and anguish – as distinct from having merely transcended and smothered them over with a honeyed coating of Love Agapé and Divine Compassion – then I am inordinately pleased whenever someone can grasp what this means for peace on earth. It is one thing to bask in Rapturous Bliss, Ineffable Ecstasy and Exalted Euphoria while perpetuating the status-quo and quite another to delightedly enjoy the ripples of pleasure that this body is patently capable of manifesting whilst actualising benignity and blitheness. These organic waves of sensational pleasure are usually constrained by the demands of the entity for emotional and passionate feelings ... which are the synthetic compensations for the supposed indignity of having to be here at all as this despised body. When the psychological – and psychic – entity willingly abdicates its sovereignty and takes its leave, the senses can act in their optimum manner ... just as when a normal person becomes blind, for instance, all the other senses are heightened. The result is a phenomenal increase in the pleasurable sensitivity of being a corporeal body in this very physical world. The resultant benevolence produces easy good-will, kindness and altruism, for one is living in a friendly world ... made all the more amiable because of the innate munificence and magnanimity of the purity of the perfection of the infinitude of the universe as is evidenced only at this moment in time.
This is important to comprehend, for under different conditions thoughtful people are prone to jumping to the conclusion that one would then be an out and out hedonist – an unfortunate appellation for I rather like the term and wished it received far better press – yet as a matter of fact and actuality, one is demonstrating one’s appreciation of all that the universe can offer by being here in a palpable and tangible sense. Instead of standing back and expressing a feeling – an emotion or passion – about this world, one is saying yes to existence in the most evident and obvious way ... with tactile approbation and sensibly discernible relish. One is fully committed, for one has realised that life is inherently perfect ... and it is possible to live that perfection all the time. Then – and only then – is one being here. Being here is a direct experiencing of the actuality of this moment that is hanging in time and is vastly superior to ‘me’ as an identity ‘living in the present’. When one is actually being here, one is totally immersed, completely involved in living. One is no longer ‘holding back’, saving oneself for Something after death or Someone who is deathless. One is out from control; no more is one keeping part of oneself in reserve, for this moment is freely living me ... and I am all of me. Being here as an actuality is to be doing what is happening with the full endorsement of one’s entirety.
What is implied – which is what is resisted – is the unconditional acceptance of mortality. Not surprisingly, although death’s oblivion is a fact, belief defies credibility when it comes to the persistence of identity even unto an After-Life. One of the most momentous implications of sanctioning actualism is the acknowledgment of the lie of Eternal Life ; the ramifications of this realisation are that if one does not experience the purity of perfection now, as this flesh-and-blood body, one never will. To wait for ‘death’s release’ is to defer consummation indefinitely ... for the entire term of one’s natural life. And further to this procrastination is the danger of the gratitude and thankfulness engendered solely by putting faith in the unintentional mendacity of those propagating Timelessness and Deathlessness ... which leads to devotional worship of the fabricated ‘evidence’ of Transcendental Everlastingness as demonstrated by the Divine Beings, with their trust and hope in what amounts to an abject surrender of one’s integrity and originality. All in all, the price paid for prevarication and equivocation is altogether too high, as human sanity and salubrity is traded for the myth and fantasy so beloved of the most ancient of ancestors. All of the agony and anguish that has prevailed since the dawn of human memory will continue to flourish unless the Spiritual Leaders of humankind can wake up and realise the remarkable error of their way.
RICHARD: Apperceptiveness has its own distinct ambience in consciousness: it has a flavour – a magical, crystal-clear, scintillating flavour – whereas feelings are heady, magisterial and grandiloquent by comparison ... finicky and phantasmal and flighty and fantastical. Yet these are but descriptive words and one’s own action will show one the difference ... then one will probably come up with one’s own words and the words used here will become superfluous. Action is the thing as apperception is a living actuality that adds nothing to perception nor subtracts anything – it distorts not at all – and sees things as they actually are. One can apperceive prime characteristics that actual freedom factually shows. In psychiatric terms, for example, these are called: 1. ‘depersonalisation’ (selflessness ... the absence of an entity that is called ego and Soul or self and Self). 2. ‘alexithymia’ (the absence of the affective faculty ... no emotions, passions or calentures whatsoever). 3. ‘derealisation’ (the condition of having lost one’s grip on reality ... the ‘real world’ is nowhere to be found). 4. ‘anhedonia’ (the inability to affectively feel pleasure ... no hormonal secretions means hedonism is not possible). The characteristics of actual freedom are not present in actualism as dogmas demanding hopeful belief with its blind faith and trusting surrender. The actualist knows that these facts are self-evident from the PCE and are available to anyone who cares to investigate in a sincere way. Attentiveness is the method of investigation and apperceptiveness has the capacity to reveal the factual character of actuality ... all the while freely accessible to any human being’s sensuous observation. With this degree of inspection, one sees the following factors: (a) it is ‘me’ in ‘my’ totality that is standing in the way of the already always existing perfection here on earth; (b) all feelings are inherently flawed and are narcissistic by nature; (c) every other-worldly truth is, in the end, unable to bring about peace-on-earth; (d) there are actually no entities that are unborn and undying, timeless and spaceless, birthless and deathless, formless and ceaseless, immortal and immutable.
RICHARD: Fear and aggression are built into the Human Condition – it is intrinsic and known as the ‘instinct for survival’. The ‘self’ is born out of the instincts.
RESPONDENT: But is not the sex drive an instinct? Where do you draw the line between the ‘instincts’, and the emotions you enjoy? Forgive me if I’ve missed these points previously.
RICHARD: Yes, the sex drive is an instinct ... and this instinct – and other instincts – can be eliminated entirely. Then one is free to act appropriately according to the circumstances – and not out of an instinctual reaction. Instincts are not set in stone, they are simply ‘blind nature’s’ way of ensuing survival. With our thinking, reflective brain we can improve on nature in this respect, as we have done in so many other ways. Any instinctual drive can be eradicated.
Then one is free to enjoy the sexual act as a physical, sensual pleasure (not as an emotional or passionate ‘solution’ to loneliness and sorrow via love) or free to enjoy celibacy as an idiosyncratic celebration of singularity (not as a dispassionate or detached way to dissolve the ego via craftiness). It is then an act of free choice to have sex, or not have sex, just as easily in either alternative. No drive means no urge. With no urge there is nothing to have to deny, nor anything to have to indulge. Thus it is neither ‘Asceticism’ nor ‘Hedonism’ ... this is an actual freedom.
I do not have any emotions to enjoy (or to dislike) as all feelings – emotions and passions – are no longer extant. And, yes, you may have missed out as I have written elsewhere on this list:
I did not ‘arrive’ here in this condition by either denying or indulging in sexuality ... I did not do anything at all for I have always been here. It was the ‘I’, the psychological entity residing within this body, that did all the work. ‘He’ self-immolated, psychologically speaking ... and only ‘he’ could do that. (Please note that I did not realise ‘myself’ – I am not a ‘Self-Realised Being’. ‘I’ am not an enlightened being any more, nor will ‘I’ ever be again – that hazard is over forever – for ‘I’ do not exist.) I am this living, breathing body being alive at this moment in time. By being here, as an actuality, I am the universe experiencing itself as a thinking, reflective human being.
Because the universe is infinite, it is perfect. Infinity is perfection – it can not be otherwise – because there is no ‘outside’ to infinity for there to be an opposite. Thus there is no ‘outside’ to perfection. Consequently, it is all perfect and has always been thus. Any imperfection was but a nightmarish fantasy created in the fertile imagination of ‘I’, the fictitious alien supposedly residing ‘within’. ‘I’, the ‘self’, am comprised in two parts: the ego (as a generalisation, located in the head) and the soul (as a generalisation located in the heart). Over-riding this ‘self’ is a sense of identity ... the ‘who’ that ‘I’ think and feel that ‘I’ am when ‘I’ ask the question: ‘Who am I?’
Whereas Richard is not a ‘who’, I am what I am ... these eyes seeing, these ears hearing and so on. Hence my immutable stance:
Do not, ever, ask the question ‘who am I?’ for one may be in danger of accidentally realising ‘who’ one is and, by thus becoming enlightened, continue to perpetuate all the appalling misery and suffering that has endured throughout the centuries because of the Enlightened Being’s well-meant – but fatally flawed – ‘Teachings’.
RESPONDENT: What has happened to you sounds very much like what often happens to people who have a near-death-experience in a car accident or something like that. When a person has a brush with death, his life can be radically altered. Suddenly, previous worries and concerns, which once seemed so important, now seem so trivial and banal. One begins to appreciate the ‘little things in life’ and rediscovers the open curiosity that one used to have as a child. One appreciates each moment as if it were truly precious and fresh, knowing all the while that these moments could so easily have been denied one, had one died in the accident. In short, one becomes like a child again – happy, fearless, open to new experiences, etc.
RICHARD: Your more and more elaborate prognosis is reaching rather frantic proportions here. It was, most definitely, not like what happens to people after a ‘Near Death Experience’. Nor does my description remotely sound like that, to any discerning reader.
Really, the quality of your critique is slipping, in this post.
RESPONDENT: The only problem with this is that it has nothing to do with wisdom or true ego-lessness, something which can only be found by swimming over the horizon and disappearing into the Great Beyond. People like Kierkegaard and Hakuin faced this awesome task squarely and didn’t flinch from making steady progress into it, despite the tremendous suffering involved. They didn’t turn away as you did, Richard, and become ordinary hedonists, which is what you have become.
RICHARD: I was wondering when someone would introduce the label ‘Hedonist’ into this list – and who it would be. As ‘Hedonism’ is merely the opposite of ‘Asceticism’, (which, I understand, is your current path to obtain enlightenment) it is but an example of dualistic thinking.
RICHARD: Is not the desire for Immortality – the perpetuation of ‘I’ on into an After-life – selfish?
RESPONDENT: Can you not conceive of one seeking Immortality with the understanding and belief that to achieve it would require a complete dying of ego, and a resulting renewal of self who’s only inclination is to be a conduit of love to the world?
RICHARD: No, I can not ... I used to live like that until I ascertained that a ‘renewed self’ is still a self, nevertheless. And it is the self – or the Self – that is the root cause of all the suffering of humankind.
As for being ‘a conduit of love to the world’ ... to be a loving self is to gild the lily. People mistakenly think and feel that the ‘dark side’ of human nature can be dealt with by cultivating a ‘good side’, and one of these ways is to be loving. As love has such a bad track record as regards being the cure-all for humanity’s ills, I no longer countenance such a course of action for even one second.
RESPONDENT: Trading our finite pleasures of attachment for Immortality seems like quite a deal to me. Could it be that you don’t believe in man’s capacity to do this, which would mean your own. Or is the obstacle in the other direction, that is, you choose not to believe in Immortality. In either case, it is an issue of not believing something.
RICHARD: But Immortality is a belief, not a fact. There is no trade to be made ... except in one’s imagination. When one is dead, one is dead. Finish.
As for ‘our finite pleasures of attachment’ ... you are not the only one to consider that I write about hedonism. I am not advocating that at all ... I am talking about being devoid of any concept or belief in the ego’s ‘reality’ or the soul’s ‘Reality’. This way, the ego and soul are seen to be concepts – that is, the self and the Self may be real but they are not actual – and their dissolution can proceed post-haste. Then one is being here as this body only. One is the universe experiencing itself as a sensate, reflective human being. One is living the infinity and eternity of this physical universe as an actuality here on earth and now in time.
Finite pleasures are but a bonus on top of this ambrosial and on-going experience.
RESPONDENT: To he who believes such things comes a peace greater than the world has ever seen.
RICHARD: I beg to differ. To he who believes in such things comes the believed peace that has been duplicated by ‘great’ persons throughout recorded history. They have left such hatred and bloodshed in their wake that one wonders why they are still fervently followed and believed. The facts speak for themselves ... actual peace has yet to be lived by humanity at large.
RESPONDENT: The only original thing about actualism is creating the adjective ‘actualism’ by adjoining the ending of ‘-ism’ with the word actual.
RICHARD: Ha ... you may find the following to be of interest, then:
As you will see I did not create that noun – the suffix ‘-ism’ forms a noun (signifying a characteristic quality) and not an adjective – I merely substituted the words ‘the direct experience’ for the words ‘the theory’. Also, as you have titled this e-mail ‘actualism = hedonism’, the following will be informative:
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.