Actual Freedom ~ Commonly Raised Objections
Commonly Raised Objections
A Pure Consciousness Experience is not Universal
RESPONDENT: According to Richard and
others, everyone has had a PCE sometime in their life. And, a good question here: Does Richard or others know this to be a fact
RICHARD: What I know for a fact is that all the people I have spoken to at
length could recall having had a PCE – as distinct from an altered state of consciousness (ASC) – although it sometimes took a
quite a while for them to remember. Once it took over three hours of intensive description/discussion – as being sans any
affective content whatsoever the PCE cannot be stored in the affective memory banks (which is where the ASC is primarily located)
– plus they are much more common in childhood and require further reach.
Also ‘I’ have a vested interest in not remembering such an experience of pristine
perfection as it would mean the beginning of the end of, not only ‘me’, but the extinction of ‘being’ itself (‘me’ at
the core of ‘my’ being is ‘being’ itself) ... which is quite often capitalised as ‘Being’ (aka ‘Truth’, ‘God’,
‘Isness’, ‘All That Is’, ‘That’, and so on) upon self-realisation.
It is far easier to say that it can only be an assumption that everyone has had a PCE
sometime in their life ... and then get on to the much safer topic of discussing whether such an assumption is reasonable.
RESPONDENT: Richard claims that all the
people he spoke to had PCE’s ...
RICHARD: Not so ... I report that all the people I have spoken to *at length*
on this topic can *recall* having had a pure consciousness experience (PCE). For example:
• [Richard]: ‘... all the people I have spoken to at length could recall having had
a PCE – as distinct from an altered state of consciousness (ASC) – although it sometimes took a quite a while for them to
remember. Once it took over three hours of intensive description/discussion – as being sans any affective content whatsoever the
PCE cannot be stored in the affective memory banks (which is where the ASC is primarily located) – plus they are much more
common in childhood and require further reach.
Also ‘I’ have a vested interest in not remembering such an experience of pristine perfection as it would mean the beginning of
the end of, not only ‘me’, but the extinction of ‘being’ itself (‘me’ at the core of ‘my’ being is ‘being’
itself) ... which is quite often capitalised as ‘Being’ (aka ‘Truth’, ‘God’, ‘Isness’, ‘All That Is’,
‘That’, and so on) upon self-realisation. (...)’.
Has it never occurred to you that were peoples everywhere able to readily recall such
moments of perfection then an actual freedom from the human condition would probably have been discovered ages ago?
RESPONDENT: ... some of them could only remember after
RICHARD: I copy-pasted the words <repeated prodding> into a search engine
and sent it through everything I have ever written, only to have it return nil hits, and a similar search for the word
<prodding> also found nothing: if you could provide the text wherein you read those words it would be most appreciated.
RESPONDENT: What is the credibility of such a report as
the prodding can bias the subject?
RICHARD: You may find the following informative (from the same e-mail as above):
• [Richard]: ‘... I have read descriptions of such experiences [PCE’s] at random
over the years – and seen/heard descriptions on television/radio – *thus it is not a matter of my prompts implanting such a
notion or even me putting words in their mouth* ... and a good example of this happened only recently when a co-respondent
referred me to books written by some ‘positive psychologists’, whilst discussing the subject of happiness in normal people,
one of which books I found on-line in its totality. Here is an excerpt from the first chapter which immediately caught my eye:
• [quote] ‘One summer day, 40 years ago or so, I was walking along a residential
street when an rich, earthy scent wafted my way and triggered, as smells are wont to do, a vivid recollection. Like Dorothy,
stepping out of her front door into the Technicolor Land of Oz, I remembered another summer’s day when I was 4 years old,
playing in a bank of warm, black dirt in the back yard of my home. I had a little red toy car for which I’d made a road slanting
up the face of the dirt bank and, in my recollection, I was ‘driving’ the car up this mountain road while making motor noises.
That’s all there was, no real action, yet the memory, in the few seconds before it faded away, was redolent with the smell and
feel of the warm dirt, the bright colour of the toy, the hot sun – with simple but intensely pleasurable sensory experience.
When I read Aldous Huxley’s account of his mescaline experience, of his feeling that the colours, shapes, and textures of his
books on the shelves across the room were as intense an experience as he could bear and that he dared not look outside at the
flowers in the garden, I thought of my brief revisitation of my childhood’. (www.psych.umn.edu/psyfac/emeritus_sr/Lykken/HapChap%201.htm#_edn3;
David Lykken, Chapter 1, ‘Happiness: The Nature and Nurture of Joy and Contentment’).
The various people I have discussed these matters with have invariably recalled similar
‘Technicolor Land’ experiences in childhood ... sometimes referred to as a ‘nature experience’, a ‘peak experience’, a
‘jamais vu experience’, or even an ‘aesthetic experience’. And not only have I witnessed children having such an
experience, and spoken with them about while it is happening, but recall having the same myself on many an occasion: often in
early childhood there would be a ‘slippage’ of the brain, somewhat analogous to an automatic transmission changing into a
higher gear too soon, and the magical world where time had no workaday meaning would emerge in all its sparkling wonder ... where
I could wander for hours at a time in gay abandon with whatever was happening.
They were the pre-school years: soon such experiences would occur of a weekend (at school I became known as ‘the dreamer’ and
had many a rude awakening to everyday reality by various teachers) ... so much so that I would later on call them ‘Saturday
Morning’ experiences where, contrary to having to be dragged out of bed during the week, I would be up and about at first light,
traipsing through the fields and the forests with the early morning rays of sunshine dancing their magic on the glistening
dew-drops suspended from the greenery everywhere; where kookaburras are echoing their laughing-like calls to one another and
magpies are warbling their liquid sounds; where an abundance of aromas and scents are drifting fragrantly all about; where every
pore of the skin is being caressed by the friendly ambience of the balmy air; where benevolence and benignity streams endlessly
bathing all in its impeccable integrity. (...)’. [emphasis added].
This magical world is what occasions me to write like this:
• [Richard]: ‘When one walks naked (sans ‘I’ as ego and ‘me’ as soul) in
the infinitude of this actual universe there is the direct experiencing that there is something precious in living itself.
Something beyond compare. Something more valuable than any ‘King’s Ransom’. It is not rare gemstones; it is not singular
works of art; it is not the much-prized bags of money; it is not the treasured loving relationships; it is not the highly esteemed
blissful and rapturous ‘States Of Being’ ... it is not any of these things usually considered precious. There is something
ultimately precious that makes the ‘sacred’ a mere bauble.
It is the essential character of the infinitude of the universe – which is the life-giving foundation of all that is apparent
– as a physical actuality. The limpid and lucid purity and perfection of actually being just here at this place in infinite
space right now at this moment in eternal time is akin to the crystalline perfection and purity seen in a dew-drop hanging from
the tip of a leaf in the early-morning sunshine; the sunrise strikes the transparent bead of moisture with its warming rays,
highlighting the flawless correctness of the tear-drop shape with its bellied form. One is left almost breathless with wonder at
the immaculate simplicity so exemplified ... and everyone I have spoken with at length has experienced this impeccable integrity
and excellence in some way or another at varying stages in their life.
This preciosity is what one is as-one-is – me as I am in actuality as distinct from ‘me’ as ‘I’ am in reality – for
one is the universe’s experience of itself. Is it not impossible to conceive – and just too difficult to imagine – that this
is one’s essential character? One has to be daring enough to live it – for it is both one’s audacious birth-right and
one’s adventurous destiny – thus the pure consciousness experience (PCE) is but the harbinger of the potential made actual.
Put succinctly: there is an unimaginable purity which is born out of the stillness of the infinitude as manifest at this moment in
time and this place in space ... but one will not come upon it by thinking about or feeling out its character. It is most
definitely not a matter to be pursued in the rarefied atmosphere of the most refined mind or the evocative milieu of the most
One must come to one’s senses ... both literally and metaphorically.
It is not for nothing that I say actualism is experiential ... armchair philosophising
will get one nowhere fast.
RESPONDENT: Because a lot depends on this claim ... in
fact the method rests on this claim ... if this isn’t true for everyone, then the method can be applied only to a select few.
RICHARD: I have addressed such a conclusion before ... for instance:
• [Richard]: ‘As everybody I spoke to at length – everybody – could recall at
least one PCE, and usually more, it would be a very strange situation indeed that it be not an experience common to all people but
only to those whom I engaged with on an ad hoc basis for two decades or more’.
As actualism, which the very term itself expresses admirably, is all about what is
actual there are no select few and/or chosen ones in regards peace-on-earth, in this lifetime, for a flesh and blood body.
RESPONDENT: How many of the list members have had
RICHARD: If I may point out? As it is not a question of having had a PCE but,
rather, recalling having had one your query is a red-herring (more on this further below).
RESPONDENT: I for one cannot remember any ...
RICHARD: As a suggestion only: as you can remember having experienced altered
states of consciousness (ASC’s) there may very well be a vested interest in not recalling a PCE. Vis.:
• [Richard]: ‘Where you recently wrote, in another e-mail, that ‘all knowledge is
of the past’ and that ‘to have names of the states of mind is to live in the past’ and that ‘the word becomes the thing’
and that ‘once one shakes off himself off all the labels, all the knowledge that is of the past, then one is ever fresh’ and
that ‘then there is stillness, the quietness of the mind, that allows the now without distorting it’ it did seem that such
phrasing was reminiscent of the words of Mr. Jiddu Krishnamurti. Have you ever read about/listened to his teachings?
• [Respondent]: ‘Yes I have read Krishnamurti. But *I wrote it out of my experience*. (...)’. [emphasis added]. (Re: Questions To Richard; Friday 16/04/2004 AEST).
RESPONDENT: ... there are around 70 subscribers to the
list ... it will be useful to have the data as to how many have had PCE’s and how many haven’t.
RICHARD: As your posts have not demonstrated much familiarity with what are
called ‘red-herrings’ and ‘straw man arguments’ this may be an apt place to point out that conclusions drawn from invalid
premises almost invariably lead to vapid speculation.
RICHARD: We find sadness, loneliness, sorrow, grief, depression
and suicide to be a global incidence – we gather that it is also inherent to the human condition – and we want to know why. In
spite of the fact that every single human being has had at least one pure consciousness experience (PCE).
RESPONDENT: How do you know?
RICHARD: The same way that I know anything about anybody and everybody ... I ask
and I listen. Plus I read about other people’s experiences in books, journals, magazines, newspapers and on the internet. I
watch TV, videos, films ... whatever media is available. Most people cannot initially remember a PCE and may need a lot of
prompting to retrieve it from their memory ... I had the first PCE that I could consciously remember in 1980, thus triggering off
memories of similar incidents in my child-hood. For example: I had one when I was eight years old and had locked it away, out of
sight, for the next twenty six years. The 1980 PCE proved to be the turning point of my life ... and it can be for others as well.
Everybody that I have spoken to at length over the last nineteen years – everybody – has had at least one PCE.
It is a human experience common to all humans from all walks of life. Therefore it is
impartially authentic, unlike religion and spirituality which require belief and faith, and is the genuine peace-on-earth that
human beings say they have been looking for. It is what gives rise to such expressions as: ‘There must be more to life than
this’. Nevertheless, as I said before, people do not usually remember them easily.
This is because, in a PCE, there is no ‘me’ to record the memory on the affective
‘tape-recorder’, for the PCE is not a matter for the emotions and passions and calentures. All other (normal) memories have an
affective component ... which is why there is nostalgia and sentimentality in people’s reveries.
RESPONDENT: A request for an estimated
guess not related to the above ... when was the human animal first capable to experience a PCE?
RICHARD: The current human animal is known as homo sapiens (tool-making
fire-using symbol-writing hominids) dating back to perhaps 100 thousand BCE; prior to that was homo erectus (tool-making
fire-using hominids) dating back to perhaps 1.6 million BCE; prior to that was homo-habilis (tool-making hominids) dating back to
perhaps 2.0 million BCE; prior to that was the genus australopithecus (small-brained hominids) dating back to perhaps 5.0 million
BCE: prior to that were the hominoids strepsherinni/ haplorini (from which hominids arose) dating back to perhaps 70 million BCE.
Thus my estimated guess would be to place it at maybe 70,002,004 years ago ... give or
take a year or two.
particular realization is also an understanding, and therefore a thought. Or, to put it differently, there is no such thing as a
RICHARD: This is just crazy ... everyone I have ever questioned has reported at
least one PCE in their life. Usually more than one ... and they can last from as little as one-two seconds to several hours. One
person (a woman) I spoke with had it last all afternoon and night, finally going to sleep at 2.00 AM ... only to find it still
happening upon waking. It gradually diminished during the course of the morning. And it is not only my observation ... many are
the accounts I have read of this ... the subject is currently being discussed around the world in the fields of academia. It comes
up in the new study (of the last fifteen years or so) called ‘Consciousness Studies’. This is where I obtained the phrase
‘PCE’ from ... I had called it a ‘Peak Experience’ (after Mr. Abraham Maslow) until then. Oh, there are many, many
websites discussing the nature of consciousness itself ... one such site is called ‘The Journal Of Consciousness Studies’ and
operates out of Cambridge University in the UK ... if my memory serves me correct. Their URL is: www.zynet.co.uk/imprint/home.html
RICHARD: I have never made a secret of what my agenda is in
writing to this mailing list (peace-on-earth, in this lifetime, as this flesh and blood body) and I have no reservations
whatsoever about endeavouring to persuade another to read with both eyes ... but to describe this pastime as ‘pushing a
particular set of conclusions’ is to miss the point entirely.
RESPONDENT: I agree that
if there is a PCE, for some people the memory itself can be a trigger for the actuality. But that doesn’t seem to be the case
for most people.
RICHARD: One of the many things I did, in the years before I went public, was to
ascertain whether people from all walks of life could recall having had a pure consciousness experience (PCE) – as distinct from
an altered state of consciousness (ASC) – for obvious reasons. Sometimes it took a quite a while for them to remember – once
it took over three hours of intensive description/discussion – as being sans any affective content whatsoever the PCE cannot be
stored in the affective memory banks (which is where the ASC is primarily located) ... plus they are much more common in childhood
and require further reach.
Everybody I spoke to at length – everybody – could recall at least one PCE ... and
RESPONDENT: Some of us find keen awareness of death or
the truth of impermanence tends to trigger PCE but again, that does not seem to be so for most others I have talked with,
RICHARD: Mostly PCE’s happen for no demonstrable reason at all – as in being
a serendipitous event – and quite often occur in everyday surroundings doing everyday things ... I can recall being on a
farmhouse verandah at age eight, looking into the glistening white of a full glass of milk in the early morning sunshine, when it
happened for the entity within.
As for ‘impermanence’ ... as the PCE evidences that it is never not this
moment then permanence is already always here.
RESPONDENT: I also had a thought. If
everybody has at least one PCE in one’s life and if the law of averages holds in these matters, on an average, large part of
population should have more than one PCE and a very small population should have much more than the average number of PCE’s.
Since you said you have been searching through books for anybody talking about anything like Actual Freedom, what about people
experiencing PCE’s? What did they do about their experiences, i.e. PCE’s, if they had them?
RICHARD: Mostly peoples interpreted them according to the prevailing norms of
their culture, as mostly the PCE devolves into an ASC, anyway. For example (if you really wish to get confused) in a paper called
‘What does Mysticism have to Teach us About Consciousness?’ Mr. Robert Forman says:
• ‘PCE’s, encounters with consciousness devoid of intentional content, may be
just the least complex encounter with awareness per se that we students of consciousness seek. (...) This experience, which has
been called the pure consciousness event, or PCE, has been identified in virtually every tradition. Though PCE’s typically
happen to any single individual only occasionally, they are quite regular for some practitioners. The pure consciousness event may
be defined as a wakeful but content-less (non-intentional) consciousness. (...) Now, as I understand them, advanced mystical
experiences result from the combination of regular PCE’s plus a minimization of the relative intensity of emotions and thoughts.
That is, over time one decreases the compulsive or intense cathexis of all of one’s desires. The de-intensifying of emotional
attachments means that, over the years, one’s attention is progressively available to sense its own quiet interior character
more and more fully, until eventually one is able to effortlessly maintain a subtle cognisance of one’s own awareness
simultaneously with thinking about and responding to the world: a reduction in the relative intensity of all of one’s thoughts
and desires. (...)
What do we mean by mysticism? What is generally known as mysticism is often said to have two strands, which are traditionally
distinguished as apophatic and kataphatic mysticism, oriented respectively towards emptying or the imagistically filling. These
two are generally described in terms that are without or with sensory language. The psychologist Roland Fischer has distinguished
a similar pairing as trophotropic and ergotropic, experiences that phenomenologically involve inactivity or activity. Kataphatic
or imagistic mysticism involves hallucinations, visions, auditions or even a sensory-like smell or taste; it thus involves
activity and is ergotropic. Apophatic mystical experiences are devoid of such sensory-like content, and are thus trophotropic.
When they use non-sensory, non imagistic language, authors like Eckhart, Dogen, al-Hallaj, Bernadette Roberts and Shankara are all
thus apophatic mystics. Because visions and other ergotropic experiences are not the simple experiences of consciousness that we
require, I will focus my attentions exclusively on the quieter apophatic forms’. www.imprint.co.uk/Forman.html.
Goodness me ... ‘trophotropic’ and ‘ergotropic’ and ‘kataphatic’ and
‘apophatic’ ... because of the confusion, I merely took the academically accepted phrase (Pure Consciousness Event) and
substituted ‘Pure Consciousness Experience’ for it, a couple of years ago, so as to regain the actual purity of the PCE back
from those who ascribe ASC properties (mystical purity) to it. Before that I had been using the expression ‘Peak Experience’,
as popularised by Mr. Abraham Maslow, for about eleven years. In the beginning I used hippie terminology (from my ‘alternate’
background after the sixties) but PCE (Pure Consciousness Experience) seems most suitable. I also favoured the word
‘experience’ over ‘event’ because Mr. Jiddu Krishnamurti makes such a thing about his ASC not being an experience. An
actual freedom is very earthy and, living this experience twenty four hours a day is all new in human history ... thus I get to
invent names (like ‘Actual Freedom’) and describe qualities and properties, like any explorer ... it is all good fun.
You sent me a description some time back that reads to me as if you have enough direct
experience to proceed. Vis.:
• [Richard]: ‘In a PCE there is the direct sensate experience of being here – at
this place in infinite space – right now at this moment of eternal time ... there is no affective qualities like ‘Euphoria’
or ‘Bliss’ or ‘Ecstasy’ or ‘Rapture’ leading one to the transcendent ‘Goodness’ (‘Love’ and ‘Compassion’)
and to the supramundane ‘Truth’ (‘Beauty’ and ‘Wholeness’) where the awesome ‘Sacred and Holy’ reigns in all its
miraculous ‘Ineffability’. In a PCE one is now living – as I do – in the infinitude of this fairy-tale-like actual world
with its sensuous quality of magical perfection and purity where everything and everyone has a lustre, a brilliance, a vividness,
an intensity and a marvellous, wondrous, scintillating vitality that makes everything alive and sparkling ... even the very earth
beneath one’s feet. The rocks, the concrete buildings, a piece of paper ... literally everything is as if it were alive (a rock
is not, of course, alive as humans are, or as animals are, or as trees are). This ‘aliveness’ is the very actuality of all
existence ... the ‘actualness’ of everything and everyone’.
• [Respondent]: To this description of PCE, I would say I have had very much the
same experiences. I could hear engines of all the different cars and the buses passing by. I could hear them clearly and
distinctly. And my capacity to do that increased from pretty much zero to hundreds. The leaves on the trees were lot more
colourful than usual, the bricks on the old hospital building were brighter and distinct from the grout in between them. I was
observing all of these things but did not care for a particular item under observation. And many of these things happened pretty
much at the same time, actually in a continuous stream one after another. Oh, the clay pots which held the plants were lustrous
and so were the moss growth on the outside of those pots. In addition, I could see each of those tiny ‘blades’ on the moss
clearly. There were lots of people on the street but I was not looking at them individually but instead collectively. In fact, I
did not want to focus at them, I kind of looked towards the horizon but not really. On a normal day, I like to watch all the young
nubile women, at their beautiful faces, at their round breasts, but not that day. I just wanted to sort of look towards the
horizon. In addition, there was plain wholesome happiness, not the feeling of happiness which I get after a ‘pat on the back’
from a fellow scientist, but simple wholesome happiness without any worries and everything was just great. There was no Euphoria,
Bliss, Ecstasy or Rapture. There was no Love, Compassion, Beauty or Wholeness.
I do appreciate your description and, just by the by, seek to establish an
ever-expanding data-base of such descriptions so that other people can read them and relate to them and thus remember their own
PCE’s. May I add your description to the collection? If so, could you expand and/or clarify?
That is: will you clearly define – via your personal experience as partly detailed
above – the marked difference betwixt a PCE and an ASC?
RESPONDENT: And how can anyone agree
with you as there are so few PCE’s one experiences during life compared to the time spent busy being an identity?
RICHARD: As a pure consciousness experience (PCE) is a direct experience of the
pristine perfection of the peerless purity this actual world is then even a momentary experience (quality) will stand out amongst
years of normal experiencing (quantity).
RESPONDENT: It would be a very interesting report to
read on this mailing list from someone who is experiencing a PCE while writing. Do you remember for such a thing to have happened
in the past?
RICHARD: No ... any such descriptions have been written after the event.
RESPONDENT: Or do you have any links or descriptions of
PCE’s that can be accessed off-site (as the actualist style of writing is quite -ism specific compared to umm … D. H. Lawrence
RICHARD: As the suffix ‘-ism’ (from the Latin/Greek ‘ismus’/‘isma’
meaning ‘of action’/‘something done’) simply forms a noun expressing the characteristics of a person or a thing it would
be a contradiction, not only in terms but in action, if the actualist style of writing were not specific to actuality ... whereas
a romanticist’s style of writing, for example, is specific to the characteristics of romanticism.
RESPONDENT: For if it is such a global occurrence there
would be many reports/descriptions of it, including on the internet.
RICHARD: Most of the reports/descriptions I have come across have either been
interpreted according to the cultural norm after the event or have devolved into an altered state of consciousness (ASC) during
the event when affective feelings enter into the experience ... for example:
• ‘I must have been six or seven, and I remembered lying in the grass in front of
my house. My mind had become completely immersed in my own private world of grass and dirt and bugs. I examined each blade of
grass, noticing the tiny striated segments, and could even see the various cells in each blade. The dirt was emanating a warm
humid, earthy smell. The grass was fragrant, and I became ‘riveted’ in my little kingdom. My mind, utterly focussed, came to a
complete standstill, and in that moment of absolute stillness it seemed as if time itself stood still. I found myself immersed in
a bath of peace. The grass seemed to shimmer with an intense beauty. Everything scintillated and was bursting with life. It seemed
as if only a moment had gone by when I heard my mother’s voice calling me in to dinner. As I got up I realised at least an hour
must have slipped away as I had somehow ‘dropped into the gap’. My soul had quietly revealed itself to my innocent
child-self’. (pages 48-49, ‘The Journey’, ©Brandon Bays 1999; published by Thorsons; ISBN
0 7225 3839 1).
The intense feeling of beauty, in such instances, is what reveals truth (or
god/goddess): beauty is the affective substitute for the purity of the perfection of this actual world ... just as love is the
affective surrogate for actual intimacy.
Here is non-affective report/description:
• ‘One summer day, 40 years ago or so, I was walking along a residential street
when an rich, earthy scent wafted my way and triggered, as smells are wont to do, a vivid recollection. Like Dorothy, stepping out
of her front door into the Technicolor Land of Oz, I remembered another summer’s day when I was 4 years old, playing in a bank
of warm, black dirt in the back yard of my home. I had a little red toy car for which I’d made a road slanting up the face of
the dirt bank and, in my recollection, I was ‘driving’ the car up this mountain road while making motor noises. That’s all
there was, no real action, yet the memory, in the few seconds before it faded away, was redolent with the smell and feel of the
warm dirt, the bright colour of the toy, the hot sun – with simple but intensely pleasurable sensory experience. When I read
Aldous Huxley’s account of his mescaline experience, of his feeling that the colours, shapes, and textures of his books on the
shelves across the room were as intense an experience as he could bear and that he dared not look outside at the flowers in the
garden, I thought of my brief revisitation of my childhood’. (Chapter 1, ‘Happiness: The
Nature and Nurture of Joy and Contentment’; David Lykken).
Incidentally, that (a 40-year-old memory of a then-remembered experience from 4 years
of age) is a classic example of a quality experience standing out amongst a quantity of experience.
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