Daniel M. Ingram recently wrote a good article:


It is very long and may be updated by Daniel later, so I will not post it here but you can read the article from the link above.

He wrote in http://dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/4739435:

"Essay: My Experiments in Actualism
9/25/13 4:09 AM

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As I get asked about this so often, I finally wrote down a summary of the thing and then answered some questions about it afterwards based on two emails I received.

Perhaps something in this will help clarify something for someone.

My Experiments in Actualism and Responses to Questions"

Tommy McNally wrote some comments as well in Dharma Connection:

  • Tommy McNally The DhO is "not nice" to Actualism is rather far from the truth, the reason most people even know about AF in dharma circles is due to the DhO. You missed "The Great DhO Schism" when Tarin first introduced AF to the forum! I have more to add to this as I also claimed AF at one time but I'm replying on my phone. It's a complicated topic for loads of reasons but there are a few of us in this group with extensive experience of Actualism.
  • Tommy McNally I just finished reading Dan's piece about Actualism and it's probably the best, most honest and clearly written breakdown of the way things have gone for almost all of us who claimed "Actual Freedom" at one time or another. I haven't spoken to him for a while and haven't gone on the DhO for quite a while due to being busy with other projects, but his descriptions really hit the nail on the head in a lot of ways. There are slight differences in how it's played out so far for me, but his overview and his comments on the emotional aspects are spot on. A really well written piece on a subject that caused a lot of us so-called "hardcore dharma" practitioners to question what we were doing and then go deeper again. If anyone's interested in going down the same developmental axis, I think Soh and Thusness' blog is one of best resources available right now, outside of looking deeper into specific systems and specializing to a certain extent. I'll post more, gotta go out just now...
  • Tommy McNally If you break Actualism down to a basic set of techniques and cut away all the verbiage of the website, you’re left with bare attentiveness to immediate sensate experience. At its most fundamental level, and regardless of what the self-proclaimed progenitor says, the entire practice leading to “an actual freedom from the human condition” is based on paying attention to what’s happening in the sensate field right now, but with a focus on the aggregate of feeling.

    Through the application of the method which, to give credit where credit is due, Richard Parker developed - of asking “How Am I Experiencing This Moment Of Being Alive”, generally referred to as HAIETMOBA – the mind is inclined in a very specific way towards the way the body feels and how we, as an individual physical body, are experiencing the world at this very moment. It’s a powerful method when used correctly and the acronym makes it easy to remember, but it’s basically just a way of turning attention towards the sense doors.

    Another aspect of AF practice is the dismantling of belief systems and what’s referred to as the “social identity”. By exploring how certain sensate experiences give rise to certain emotional states, one begins to see how deeply held beliefs and assumptions about the nature of reality are often false and lead to negative emotional states. Through taking all emotional experiences to bits, you can see how each has the same basic ‘flavour’ and how certain perceptual processes ‘colour’ them to be pleasant, unpleasant or neutral. It’s almost a sort of self-psychotherapy and can be very intense, but ultimately worthwhile.

    Something almost Tantric about AF is the emphasis on experiencing all sensate experience as pleasant, or focusing on the pleasant aspects of it so as to override the natural tendency of feeling to be positive, negative or neutral. Enjoying yourself is a large part of the basic method too and is actually very, very useful regardless of system. There’s also developing what’s referred to as “naivete”, which is basically a childlike wonder and sense of newness which occurs during the PCE and once this is established as the baseline. This is quite unique to AF as far as I know, but is a lot of fun to work with and does incline the mind towards experiencing in that way.

    As I think about this, which I haven’t done for quite some time, I’m laughing at how simple a system of techniques this is for how amazing the outcome is. But at the same time, I’m kinda sad that the refusal of its founder to accept how close his basic model is to the Dharma prevents many from seeing how close they are to discovering something really special. At root, Actualism is just another method of development but its view is wrong on so many levels that I can’t begin to list them. This is simply my opinion on the matter, having practiced it with utter sincerity for quite some time I can speak from experience but, to this day, I still can’t see how people haven’t figured out that Richard is batshit insane and that his entire model collapses under scrutiny. Not only that, if one continues to apply those same techniques once so-called Actual Freedom happens, the entire thread unravels and the very foundation of it is seen to be empty! It becomes impossible to posit the existence of a physical body beyond its imputation, so to continue to think that an “actual world”, existing “out there” and apart from the rest of experience is seen to be complete ballocks.

    There is value in the basic techniques and mental postures, undoubtedly, but the bullshit and general weirdness of its spectacularly bearded founder ruins it. I could go into all the reasons why I consider this to be so, but it serves no practical value and diminishes the positives that could be gained from skilful application of the techniques with Right View.

    I don’t know if there’s anything else I can add here, I’m doing my usual and going off on tangents so I’ll sign off for the moment and add more if I think of anything useful.
    September 21 at 7:55am · Edited · Unlike · 12

    • Tommy McNally I think Soh's done a lot more work on analyzing AF in comparison to realization within the Dharma and has put it far more clearly than I can. I always found it funny that Richard claimed that the material of Awakening to Reality wasn't Buddhist and that he refused to say whether or not what Thusness described was what he called AF. I don't believe that AF, or even the PCE itself, is related to recognizing rigpa as the whole of AF's view is that, with the dissolution of subjectivity, one experiences the word from the side of the object; there's still a very obvious reification of the physical form as being independent from consciousness and the other aggregates. If a person didn't have any insight into anatta prior to hitting a PCE, the experience could suggest that one is experiencing things 'as' the object of consciousness which is partly where I think a lot of the confusion comes in. If one has realized Anatta, the PCE has quite a different level of impact in comparison to when it's experienced prior to this. It's still amazing, don't get me wrong, but it's different in lots of very subtle ways which require close scrutiny of the PCE itself to really 'get'. I also don't think that AF or the achievement of it, whatever that actually is, is related to Stream Entry or can really be aligned with any of the Buddhism models due to there being way too many disparities at way too many levels. There are characteristics of it which could feasibly be correlated with certain attainments within Buddhism, but due to the continued belief that there is an objectively existing "actual world" it sort of cancels itself out. As Soh says, there are similarities with the taste of Anatta but, in my experience, it's not the same development trajectory.
    • Tommy McNally To clarify on what Lindsay's referred to as "PCE focus", I think it's worth mentioning that it's not actually the PCE itself which is the focus. It's more about focusing on the characteristics of of the PCE, using previous experiences of it to recognize that those characteristics are always there as an integrated part of the field of experience itself. Using previous experience of the PCE to fuel practice is referred to in Actualism as "pure intent", wherein one continually inclines towards experiencing the world in that way and with the intent to be "happy and harmless". By aiming for PCE's as a conscious goal, it short-circuits the attempt to incline the mind towards apperception by setting up a desire for things to be clearer or better than they are, which one then ends up inclining towards. It's like a loop of desire; you know how amazing the PCE is but your own desire to recreate that experience is just a mental fabrication. It's not possible to "imagine" a PCE because it occurs at a stage in the perceptual process prior to the formation of concepts, so any effort to recreate or fabricate it will ultimately fail. The memory of a PCE is a tool, but to aim for what you think a PCE is will lead in the opposite direction from where you want to be as it inclines the mind more towards the internal experience.
4 Responses
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  2. Keith A Says:
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  3. Keith A Says:

    It is refreshing to read an honest account. The Actual Freedom movement is very cultish and closed minded. I've practised this technique, but found that the question is completely irrelevant and that an open attention is all that is required. As for those who claim to be "actually free" I find such claims to be delusional. Richard for instance is very autocratic. In personal correspondence with him, he got very churlish in his emails. When I pointed this out and that it was an emotional reaction to my questions, he told me to "go to hell", so much for "no malice".

    I would not advise anyone to get involved with the AF people, use the question if you choose, but don't get sucked into their cult of the irrational.

    A recent view of the Actual Freedom Yahoo Group shows they are still operating the same; deleting discussions which they term "unhelpful", deleting questions from the curious which don't fit the AF agenda. Honest questions are not a form of opposition. Their actions merely expose their fears and their lack of emotional freedom. The self appointed leaders are indeed very manipulative.