Note: a comparison of Actual Freedom with Thusness's experience and Buddhism, as well as a refutation of Richard's criticism of Buddhism can be found in my writings at http://www.box.net/shared/sbyi64jrms
(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.
This Web Page is for anyone sufficiently motivated to explore into just what constitutes the Human Condition. It is about what one human being searched for in his own life and the discoveries he has made ... and what other peoples have done about ameliorating their present situation. All the articles on these pages should be sufficiently challenging to stimulate, inspire and initiate some preliminary investigation and discussion and, although the articles are specifically of interest to the spiritual aspirant who wishes to further their search into the area that lies beyond enlightenment (and any other form of an altered state of consciousness), the general tone of the text will be of immense appeal to any one interested in all matters pertaining to consciousness studies.
We are all fellow human beings who find ourselves here in the world as it was when we were born. We find war, murder, torture, rape, domestic violence and corruption to be endemic – we notice that it is intrinsic to the human condition – and we set out to discover why this is so. 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. We all report to each other as to the nature of our discoveries for we are all well-meaning and seek to find a way out of this mess that we have landed in. Whether one believes in re-incarnation or not, we are all living this particular life for the very first time, and we wish to make sense of it. It is a challenge and the adventure of a life-time to enquire and to uncover, to seek and to find, to explore and to discover. All this being alive business is actually happening and we are totally involved in living it out ... whether we take the back seat or not, we are all still doing it.
I, for one, am not taking the back seat ... because it is indeed possible for any human being to be totally free from the human condition.
The term ‘Human Condition’ is a well-established philosophical term that refers to the situation that all human beings find themselves in when they emerge here as babies. The term refers to the contrary and perverse nature of all peoples of all races and all cultures. There is ‘good’ and ‘bad’ in everyone ... all humans have a ‘dark side’ to their nature and a ‘light side’. The battle betwixt ‘Good and Evil’ has raged down through the centuries and it requires constant vigilance lest evil gets the upper hand. Morals and ethics seek to control the wayward self that lurks deep within the human breast ... and some semblance of what is called ‘peace’ prevails for the main. Where morality and ethicality fails to curb the ‘savage beast’, law and order is maintained ... at the point of a gun. The ending of malice and sorrow involves getting one’s head out of the clouds – and beyond – and coming down-to-earth where the flesh and blood bodies called human beings actually live. Obviously, the solution to all the ills of humankind can only be found here in space and now in time as this body. Then the question is: is it possible to be free of the human condition, here on earth, in this life-time, as this flesh and blood body?
Which means: How on earth can one live happily and harmlessly in the world as-it-is with people as-they-are whilst one nurses malice and sorrow in one’s bosom?
For a start, one needs to fully acknowledge the biological imperative (the instinctual passions) which are the root cause of all the ills of humankind. The genetically inherited passions (such as fear and aggression and nurture and desire) give rise to malice and sorrow. Malice and sorrow are intrinsically connected and, being based in the instinctual passions, are the primary cause of all the wars and murders and rapes and tortures and domestic violence and child abuse and suicides and the such-like. Malice and sorrow underpin the antidotally generated pacifiers of love and compassion which, if sublimated and transcended, give rise to Love Agapé and Divine Compassion in an altered state of consciousness (ASC) such as ‘Spiritual Enlightenment’. This ‘Tried and True’ solution to all the ills of humankind lies within the ‘Human Condition’ and, as it has had 3,000 to 5,000 years to demonstrate its efficacy, can be discarded as being the ‘Tried and Failed’.
Gone now are the days of having to assiduously practice humility and pacifism in an ultimately futile attempt to become free by transcending the opposites ... the traditional and narrow path of denial and fantasy, negation and hallucination. A wide and wondrous path of blitheness and gaiety is now available for one who wishes to live in the freedom of the actual world ... because it is very clear, to the discerning intellect, that the ‘Enlightened Beings’ have squandered their heyday. With this modern era’s rapid and comprehensive publication and communications network, none of their gaffes and improprieties elude notice. Anyone who is at all astute will have perceived that they have fallen short of their own standards ... and have failed to deliver the goods so readily pledged to a credulous humanity. For thousands of years they have been promising Peace On Earth – which is nowhere to be found – and a specious immortality in some dubious after-life.
It will become obvious, as one reads on, that the whole thrust of humanity’s wisdom – polluted as it is by belief, faith, trust, hope and an uneasy certitude – has been going horribly wrong. Wars, murders, tortures, rapes, sadness, loneliness, grief, depression, suicide and corruption have been the odious result of such practices for far too long to persevere in giving credence to the fantasies and hallucinations that pass for sagacity in the real world. Fuelled by an emotional imagination, human beings down through the centuries have given voice to their passionate dreams and nightmares, with abominable consequences. All of humanity’s sublime feeling and profound thought has been a purview predicated upon doom and gloom regarding life here on this fair earth. The Summum Bonum of all the many and varied disciplines – be it philosophy or psychology, physics or metaphysics, cosmology or sociology, theology or spirituality – has been to sanction the protracted doctrinal assumption that a god, by whatever name, is in charge of the universe.
This god goes under a many and a varied disguise: The Truth, The Absolute, The Supreme, The Source, The Origin, The Greatest, The Sublime, The Essence, The Most High, The Highest Good, The Self, The Higher Self, The True Self, The Soul, The Over-Soul, The Divine Presence, The Tao, The Breath Of Life, The Greater Reality, The Ground Of Being, Cosmic Consciousness, Mind, Intelligence, Existence, Spirit, Presence, Being, Nirvana, Satori, Samadhi, Thatness, Suchness, Isness ... and so on and so on. As impressive as all these titles may be, yet one must ask: how come, after 3,000 to 5,000 years of a recorded history, of the Gurus and the God-Men, the Masters and the Messiahs, the Avatars and the Saviours and the Saints and the Sages hawking their ‘Divine Solution’ to all and sundry, there is still as much misery and mayhem as back then? When one sincerely questions the ‘Teachers’, the ‘Teachings’ and the ‘Source’ of the ‘Teachings’ one will indubitably unearth this salient point:
Despite all their rhetoric, peace-on-earth is not actually on their agenda.
I invite anyone to make a critical examination of all the words I advance so as to ascertain if they be intrinsically self-explanatory ... and if they are all seen to be inherently consistent with what is being spoken about, then the facts speak for themselves. Then one will have reason to remember a pure conscious experience (PCE), which all peoples I have spoken to at length have had, and thus verify by direct experience the facticity of what is written (which personal experiencing is the only proof worthy of the name). The PCE occurs globally ... across cultures and down through the ages irregardless of gender, race or age. However, it is usually interpreted according to cultural beliefs – created and reinforced by the persistence of identity – and devolves into an ASC. Then ‘I’ as ego – sublimated and transcended as ‘me’ as soul – manifest as a god or a goddess (‘The Truth’ by any name) and preach unliveable doctrines based upon their belief that they are ‘not the body’.
Doctrines like acceptance, pacifism and unconditional love, for example.
In my investigations into life, the universe and what it is to be a human being living in the world as-it-is with people as-they-are I first started by examining thought, thoughts and thinking ... then very soon moved on to examining feelings (first the emotions and then the deeper feelings). When I dug down into these passions and calentures (into the core of ‘my’ being then into ‘being’ itself) I stumbled across the instincts ... and found the origin of not only the affective faculty but the psyche itself. I found ‘me’ at the core of ‘being’ ... which is the instinctual rudimentary animal self common to all sentient beings (otherwise mistakenly known as the ‘original face’ and is what gives rise to the feeling of ‘oneness’ with all other sentient beings). It is a very, very ancient genetic memory ... but hoariness does not make it automatically wise, however, despite desperate belief to the contrary.
Being a ‘self’ is because the only way into this world of people, things and events is via the human spermatozoa fertilising the human ova ... thus every human being is endowed, by blind nature, with the basic instinctual passions of fear and aggression and nurture and desire. Thus ‘I’ am the end-point of myriads of survivors passing on their genes. ‘I’ am the product of the ‘success story’ of blind nature’s fear and aggression and nurture and desire. Being born of the biologically inherited instincts genetically encoded in the germ cells of the spermatozoa and the ova, ‘I’ am – genetically – umpteen tens of thousands of years old ... ‘my’ origins are lost in the mists of pre-history. ‘I’ am so anciently old that ‘I’ may well have always existed ... carried along on the reproductive cell-line, over countless millennia, from generation to generation. And ‘I’ am thus passed on into an inconceivably open-ended and hereditably transmissible future.
In other words: ‘I’ am fear and fear is ‘me’ and ‘I’ am aggression and aggression is ‘me’ and ‘I’ am nurture and nurture is ‘me’ and ‘I’ am desire and desire is ‘me’.
The instinctual passions are the very energy source of the rudimentary animal self ... the base consciousness of ‘self’ and ‘other’ that all sentient beings have. The human animal – with its unique ability to be aware of its own death – transforms this ‘reptilian brain’ rudimentary core of ‘being’ (an animal ‘self’) into being a feeling ‘me’ (as soul in the heart) and the ‘feeler’ then infiltrates into thought to become the ‘thinker’ ... a thinking ‘I’ (as ego in the head). No other animal can do this. That this process is aided and abetted by the human beings who were already on this planet when one was born – which is conditioning and programming and is part and parcel of the socialising process – is but the tip of the iceberg and not the main issue at all. All the different types of conditioning are well-meant endeavours by countless peoples over countless aeons to seek to curb the instinctual passions. Now, while most people paddle around on the surface and re-arrange the conditioning to ease their lot somewhat, some people – seeking to be free of all human conditioning – fondly imagine that by putting on a face-mask and snorkel that they have gone deep-sea diving with a scuba outfit ... deep into the human condition.
They have not ... they have gone deep only into the human conditioning. When they tip upon the instincts – which are both savage (fear and aggression) and tender (nurture and desire) – they grab for the tender (the ‘good’ side) and blow them up all out of proportion. If they succeed in this self-aggrandising hallucination they start talking twaddle dressed up as sagacity such as: ‘There is a good that knows no evil’ or ‘There is a love that knows no opposite’ or ‘There is a compassion that sorrow has never touched’ and so on. Which means that the ‘Enlightened Beings’ advise dissociation (wherein painful reality is transformed into a bad dream) as being the most effective means to deal with 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. Just as a traumatised victim of an horrific and terrifying event makes the experience unreal in order to cope with the ordeal, the ‘Enlightened Beings’ have desperately done precisely this thing ... during what is sometimes called ‘the dark night of the soul’.
This is because it takes nerves of steel to don such an aqua-lung and plunge deep in the stygian depths of the human psyche ... it is not for the faint of heart or the weak of knee. This is because past the human conditioning is the human condition itself ... that which caused the conditioning in the first place. To end this condition, the deletion of blind nature’s software package which gave rise to the rudimentary animal ‘self’ is required. This is the elimination of ‘me’ at the core of ‘being’.
The complete and utter extinction of ‘being’ is the end to all the ills of humankind.
Thus the single root cause of all the mayhem and misery that epitomises the human condition is the persistent feeling of being an identity inhabiting the body: an affective ‘entity’ as in a deep, abiding and profound feeling of being an occupant, a tenant, a squatter or a phantom hiding behind a façade, a mask, a persona; as a subjective emotional psychological ‘self’ and/or a passionate psychic ‘being’ (‘I’ as ego and ‘me’ as soul) inhabiting the psyche; a deep feeling of being a ‘spirit’; a consciousness of the immanence of ‘presence’ (which exists immortally); an awareness of being an autological ‘being’ ... the realisation of ‘Being’ itself. In other words: everything you think, feel and instinctually know yourself to be ... is to be an alien in an alien world.
Becoming free of the human condition is a physiological occurrence, centred at the nape of the neck (the top of the brain-stem/base of the brain), wherein the ‘lizard-brain’ mutates out of its primeval state ... but if this mutation is not allowed its completion one becomes enlightened. To become spiritually free the ego-self (‘I’ as ego) must die/dissolve ... all genuinely enlightened beings point to a single edifying moment of awakening (with a variety of descriptions) wherein the personal self (or ‘being’) transmogrifies into the impersonal self or ‘being’ (or non-self) ... and which ‘being’ (often capitalised as ‘Being’) exists timelessly, spacelessly and formlessly. To become actually free the soul-self (‘me’ as soul) must also die/dissolve ... the total extirpation of ‘being’ (and thus ‘Being’) itself.
So far in human history one has had only two choices: being human or being divine. Given that there has only been one alternative to being worldly – being otherworldly – one had to become divine to escape from the Human Condition. Thus the ego had to dissolve. Yet the deeper identity – the soul, the spirit, the being – remained intact only to wreak its havoc once again ... now disguised as ‘The Self’. Once one sees that the ‘Tried and True’ is the ‘Tried and Failed’ one easily recognises today’s third alternative: actual freedom ... and it outstrips any Altered State Of Consciousness. A new way to live life on this verdant planet has been discovered which eliminates the need to humble oneself in a degrading surrender and servitude to some imagined deity. It is now possible to live freely in this newly emerging post-spiritual epoch, attaining full and mature use of one’s innate faculties ... and easily superseding all of the revered saints and sages. Actual freedom is a tried and tested way of being here in the world as it actually is ... stripped of the veneer of reality that is super-imposed by the psychological and psychic entity within the body. This entity is the feeling of identity that inhibits any freedom and sabotages every well-meant endeavour.
In actual freedom one finds that the need for the ‘Ultimate Reality’ has vanished along with the ego and soul ... the ‘self’ and the ‘Self’.
Obviously, the physical cause necessitates a physical solution (the extinction of the instinctual ‘being’ itself) and this altruistic ‘self’-sacrifice will not eventuate unless the temporary absence or abeyance of the physically inherited cause (a genetically inherited instinctual animal ‘self’) which created the problem of the human condition is intimately experienced, remembered and activated. This peak experience of one’s potentiality is known as a pure consciousness experience (PCE) and is essential to the process of freeing oneself from one’s fate and attaining to one’s destiny. The first and most important step is to remember a PCE (everybody that I have spoken to at length over the last nineteen years – everybody – has had at least one) and thus start thinking for oneself (although most people cannot initially remember a PCE and may need a lot of prompting to retrieve it from their memory). Then each next step becomes obvious of its own accord in one’s daily life as one goes about one’s normal business in the market place. The pure intent born out of the PCE actively works on eliminating the animal ‘self’ bestowed by blind nature each moment again.
One begins by incrementally purging oneself of the social identity that has been overlaid – from conception to the present day – over the innate self. With cheerful diligence and application born out of pure intent, one whittles away at the persistent social identity, abandoning the desire for unity, until one arrives at a virtual freedom. In virtual freedom one is ninety nine percent free and the other one percent causes very little trouble – if any – and with virtual freedom operating in every human being there could be a virtual global peace-on-earth. Howsoever that may be, the day of destiny ultimately dawns wherein one is catapulted into actual freedom ... one has escaped one’s fate and universal peace and tranquillity emerges. Being free from malice and sorrow, innocence and benignity are one’s constant condition. In the consummate perfection of the purity which endlessly wells in the utter stillness of the infinitude of this material universe, one is this very actual universe experiencing itself in all its magnificence as a sensate and reflective human being.
It is essential for success to grasp the fact that this is one’s only moment of being alive. The past, although it did happen, is not actual now. The future, though it will happen, is not actual now. Only now is actual. Yesterday’s happiness and harmlessness does not mean a thing if one is miserable and malicious now ... and a hoped-for happiness and harmlessness tomorrow is to but waste this moment of being alive in waiting. All one gets by waiting is more waiting. Thus any ‘change’ can only happen now. The jumping in point is always here ... it is at this moment in time and this place in space. Thus, if one misses it this time around, hey presto ... one has another chance immediately. Life is excellent at providing opportunities like this.
There is a wide and wondrous path to actual freedom: One asks oneself, each moment again, ‘how am I experiencing this moment of being alive’?
This can give rise to apperception. Apperception is the outcome of the exclusive attention paid to being alive right here just now. Apperception is to be the senses as a bare awareness, a pure consciousness experience (PCE) of the world as-it-is, which happens when the mind becomes aware of itself. Apperception is an awareness of consciousness. It is not ‘I’ being aware of ‘me’ being conscious; it is the mind’s awareness of itself. Which means that attentiveness and sensuousness will facilitate what the wide and wondrous path to an actual freedom is on about: a virtual freedom wherein the ‘good’ feelings – the affectionate and desirable emotions and passions (those that are loving and trusting) are minimised along with the ‘bad’ feelings – the hostile and invidious emotions and passions (those that are hateful and fearful) – so that one is free to feel well, feel happy and feel perfect for 99% of the time. If one deactivates the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ feelings and activates the felicitous feelings (happiness, delight, joie de vivre, bonhomie and so on) with this freed-up affective energy, in conjunction with sensuousness (delectation, enjoyment, appreciation, relish, zest, gusto and so on), then the ensuing sense of amazement, marvel and wonder can result in apperceptiveness (unmediated perception).
Now, delight is what is humanly possible, given sufficient pure intent obtained from the felicity born of the pure consciousness experience, and from the position of delight, one can vitalise one’s joie de vivre by the amazement at the fun of it all ... and then one can – with sufficient abandon – become over-joyed and move into marvelling at being here and doing this business called being alive now. Then one is no longer intuitively making sense of life ... the delicious wonder of it all drives any such instinctive meaning away. Such luscious wonder fosters the innate condition of naiveté – the nourishing of which is essential if fascination in it all is to occur – and the charm of life itself easily engages dedication to peace-on-earth. Then, as one gazes intently at the world about by glancing lightly with sensuously caressing eyes, out of the corner of one’s eye comes – sweetly – the magical fairy-tale-like paradise that this verdant earth actually is ... and one is the experiencing of what is happening.
But refrain from possessing it and making it your own ... or else ‘twill vanish as softly as it appeared.
The day finally dawns when something irrevocable happens inside the skull. In an ecstatic moment of being present, ‘I’ as ego and ‘me’ as soul expire. ‘I’ the personality and ‘me’ the being ceases to exist, permanently. There is a sensation inside the top of the brain-stem that is experienced as a physical ‘turning over’ of some kind ... something that can never, ever, turn back. Something irrevocable happens and everything is different, somehow, although everything stays the same physically ... with the outstanding exception of a perfection and purity permeating all and everything.
Something has changed, although it is as if nothing has happened ... except that the entire world is a magical fairy-tale-like playground full of incredible joy and delight that is never-ending. ‘My’ demise was as fictitious as ‘my’ apparent presence. I have always been here, I realise, it was that ‘I’ only imagined that ‘I’ existed. It was all an emotional play in a fertile imagination ... which was, however, fuelled by an actual hormonal substance triggered off from within the brain-stem because of the instinctual passions bestowed by blind nature. Thus the psyche – the entire affective faculty born of the instincts itself – is wiped out forever and one is finally what one actually is: this thinking and reflective flesh-and-blood body simply brimming with sense organs, delighting in this very sensual world of actual experience.
Thus the search for meaning amidst the debris of the much-vaunted human hopes and dreams and schemes comes to its timely end. With the end of both ‘I’ and ‘me’, the distance or separation between both ‘I’ and ‘me’ and the sense organs – and thus the external world – disappears. To be living as the senses is to live a clean and clear and pure awareness – apperception – a pure consciousness experience of the world as-it-is. Because there is no ‘I’ as a thinker (a little person inside one’s head) or a ‘me’ as a feeler (a little person in one’s heart) – to have sensations happen to them, one is the sensations. The entire affective faculty vanishes ... blind nature’s software package of instinctual passions is deleted.
Then there is nothing except the series of sensations which happen ... not happening to an ‘I’ or a ‘me’ but just happening ... moment by moment ... one after another. To live life as these sensations, as distinct from having them, engenders the most astonishing sense of freedom and magic. One is living in peace and tranquillity; a meaningful peace and tranquillity. Life is intrinsically purposeful, the reason for existence lies openly all around. It never goes away – nor has it ever been away – it was just that ‘I’/‘me’ was standing in the way of the meaning of life being apparent. Now the universe is experiencing itself in all its magnificence as an apperceptive human being. Life is not a vale of tears; peace-on-earth is an actual freedom from the human condition; it is indeed possible to be actually free, here on earth, as this body, in this life-time.
To seek and to find; to explore and uncover; to investigate and discover ... these actions are the very stuff of life!
Labels: Actual Freedom, Anatta, Non Dual
It is very common to mistake actualism for meditative attainments. You seem to be incorrectly lining the PCE up with experiences of nonduality. Understandable, but important to realise that you have not yet grasped what's on offer with Actual Freedom.
I started reading your article on box.net but after seeing you line actual freedom up with Thusness/PasserBy's stage 5 I stopped reading as it's a straw man argument.
Actual Freedom is about holding ourselves to a _much_ higher standard than is common in buddhism - particularly among the enlightened.
I did not state that actual freedom is the same as "nonduality" if by that you mean the union of subject and object.
Obviously, you have not read the document, so you have no idea what it is talking. Whereas, I have read a large portion of AF website, so I know exactly what it is talking about, and I am thus able to correlate with the maps of enlightenment (of course, I am well aware that AF is beyond what many calls 'enlightenment' - but it certainly lines up with the core Buddhist doctrine, and the Thusness stages).
I have talked to Trent and Tarin. Trent said that he thinks Stage 5 is very PCE/AF-ish. Upon further clarifications, he later states that what is described 'sounds like AF to me'.
I also had an interesting chat with Tarin, though he neither refuted nor gave any conclusions about my document so far. But he should be writing a response soon.
Daniel (who commended that my capacity for analysis is 'remarkable', though I think it is just 'normal') might also be communicating with me on this issue, stating that he was grateful for my 'complex and interesting' emails.
So I suggest, since those Actually Free people (Tarin and Trent) and also Daniel Ingram has been so open-minded about this, why aren't you doing the same? Why do you choose to close your mind over some statements made by Richard?
In other words, why are you simply believing Richard's words without question? Just because he said that Actual Freedom is 'beyond enlightenment' does that mean it must be true? 'Enlightenment' by what/whose standards? Richard's standards, or Daniel's standards, or Thusness's standards, or Buddha's standards, or others? Similarly, 'common in Buddhism' is really vague - many Buddhists in the world aren't even seeking enlightenment, many Buddhists in the world aren't enlightened, or are semi-enlightened, most Buddhists only have a half-past-six understanding of Buddhism, but does that mean they represent Buddhism as a whole, or does that mean they represent the Buddha and the Buddhadharma?
Have you investigated the issue for yourself or are you simply taking Richard's words on blind faith? Where is the spirit of free inquiry? :-)
I have taken the time to read through a lot more of your document but my conclusion remains essentially the same. AF appears to occur on a different developmental axis to enlightenment.
You raised having discussed this topic with Trent, Tarin and Daniel. I will be surprised if they agree with you, because I may not be actually free but I am a practicing actualist, and I believe what you are proposing is based on inexperience with what is on offer with Actual Freedom.
The difference can be very subtle, and I will say again it is very understandable that you have drawn this conclusion - it tripped me up for quite some time last year. Stage 5 does seem very similar to a PCE, and the similarities have been explored in depth on the DhO site. They are not the same, however, and the difference makes all the difference.
Having read a large portion of the AF website does not mean you know exactly what it is talking about, in fact I would say they are mutually exclusive. You said that AF certainly lines up with the core buddhist doctrine - I think this can only be the case if you have mistaken buddism for AF.
I approached this open-mindedly before drawing my conclusion. Disagreeing with you does not mean I am closed-minded. So are you open-minded to the possibility that you have not grasped what is on offer in Actual Freedom? That you have not experienced a PCE or if you have, you have not gained enough familiarity with it to draw meaningful comparisons between it and buddhism?
I assure you, I do not believe Richard's words without question. I have been public with my doubts on the yahoo mailing list, for anyone to verify. I have indeed investigated these matters myself, and continue to do so - because actual freedom is my goal.
My best suggestion is to take a closer look at the descriptions of the PCE to be sure you have recalled one correctly, and attempt to gain more experience with PCEs. There's not much benefit to be had in dry analysis without an experiential basis.
You said: "AF appears to occur on a different developmental axis to enlightenment."
My reply: My understanding is that different people can have different developmental axis, even though there might be some level of similarities/predictability in the unfolding patterns if a person is doing certain similar techniques (such as people doing Mahasi Vipassana will go through the sixteen nanas, people doing shamatha will go through the 8 shamatha jhanas, people doing self-inquiry will realize I AM, people doing actualism will experience PCEs and eventually AF, etc).
I noted in my document that Richard's and Thusness's unfolding of insights have a high degree of similarities. For example, Richard's developmental axis is exactly the same as Thusness in terms of the earlier stages. That is, Richard had gone through the I AM, the nothingness experience, and probably the substantialist non-dual phase, before realizing Anatta. In that sense, Richard's personal developmental axis is highly similar to Thusness's. That does not mean that everyone has to go through their development axis.
Daniel's developmental axis for example is rather different as it does not include the 'I AM' phase, for example - hence his development axis is different from Thusness's or Richard's developmental axis. Daniel's developmental axis was more related to the progression of insights/16 nanas and the 4 paths in the Ven Buddhaghosa's Visuddhimagga and Mahasi Sayadaw style.
The standard Theravadin Pali sutta instructions as taught by the historical appearance of Buddha in fact do not lead practitioners to the 'I AM' realization (that would be more to Advaita, and parts of Zen, etc). However, there are many passages, such as those in the Mahasatipatthana Sutta and other Suttas that I quoted, that seems very similar to AF method, but I digress here.
My point is that there could very well be several varying developmental axis, and everyone may go through a slightly/vastly different developmental axis on their way to AF (and some parts of their development axis may not strictly speaking be necessary). AF could be promoting a way to focus solely on the PCEs and the Realization of Anatta, rather than going through the other phases. This is definitely possible and I would not say this is in any way contradictory to original Buddhism or Thusness's 'Vipassana instructions' for example (he does not emphasize on going through cycles of nanas, but focus more on experiencing the pure sensate clarity without a self in terms of practice).
I recently read from a thread (not sure which is it) that most of the AF-ers went through the earlier stages of spiritual enlightenment before attaining AF, while only a few headed straight for the PCEs and AF without going through the earlier stages. Among those that attained AF, some went through the 'I AM' realization, some did not and had earlier experiences through noting practice, and some just practiced Actualism from the start, all those various developmental axis could happen.
You said: "You raised having discussed this topic with Trent, Tarin and Daniel. I will be surprised if they agree with you"
My reply: It might be surprising to you, but what I said was true. I have not heard any refutation so far by them on how Stage 5 is not PCE/AF-related.
For example Trent earlier seemed to have thought that Stage 5 is a temporary PCE but still not 'Actual Freedom' as Stage 7 had a short mentioning of 'ongoing practice', but it was later clarified that this is not what he thought it was based on what Thusness told me - that after the deep realization of Anatta (Stage 5 with partial relation to Stage 7), PCE became effortless, spontaneous, permanent rather than 'arrived' through doing something concentrative and contrived. For example: it is seen that in hearing, there is always only just sound and no hearer, in sensing/feeling, always only sensations with no sensor. After realization, there is no longer a contrived practice of 'letting go the sensor so that sensations are experienced as-they-are without a sensor' or practicing to 'become the sensations', since it is seen that always already, in sensing, there is (always in actual case) no sensor, only sensations, in seeing (always in actuality) only scenery without seer, etc. As a result, self-immolation occurs, not that there was a really existing self to immolate through efforting, but more like a false identity is realized as false and hence relinquished forever, and thus PCE turns permanent, spontaneous and effortless. There cannot be a moment where one says one has 'lost the PCE/the observer has returned' because the illusion (false identity) that there had ever truly been an observer at any time is lost. The so called 'practice' is thus different from prior-realization as there is no longer a need to do something to get some state (e.g. let go, concentrate/attend to sensations, etc, to drop the 'self' and dissolve into 'just sensations', etc) but simply an effortless and spontaneous 'actualizing of view/realization' in every moment, sensation/experience/action, in other words just seeing, just hearing, just walking is itself spontaneous perfection and is not what ordinary people think of as 'practice'.
It is after this clarification that Trent said "what you write here sounds like AF to me".
I have not heard from others (Tarin or Daniel) of anything implying that Stage 5 is unrelated to PCE or AF.
You said: "Stage 5 does seem very similar to a PCE, and the similarities have been explored in depth on the DhO site. They are not the same, however, and the difference makes all the difference."
My reply: Having read all posts and threads on Actual Freedom in DhO and KFD, I do not recall Thusness stages, much less Thusness Stage 5, ever being discussed or compared in those forums.
You said: "Having read a large portion of the AF website does not mean you know exactly what it is talking about, in fact I would say they are mutually exclusive. You said that AF certainly lines up with the core buddhist doctrine - I think this can only be the case if you have mistaken buddism for AF....
...There's not much benefit to be had in dry analysis without an experiential basis."
My reply: You have made many claims without substantiating the basis of your statements - statements that imply Actual Freedom is definitely not the same as Buddhism, but without any further explanation.
Yes, I have many experiences of PCEs even though I have not attained actual freedom, so it is not exactly a 'dry analysis'. Nevertheless even though I may not sound like an authority here - Thusness (who I am comparing the stages with and is much more experienced than I) still seems to appreciate my analysis, stating that my document was very well written (though I don't think too highly of it - I am not a dharma expert or teacher and much of what I learnt came from my years of conversations with Thusness).
Reading some of my comments here, I noticed that I sounded somewhat aggressive at some points... sorry if it sounded that way, wasn't being mindful when posting.
These things happen when we're not actually free - we have to be ever vigilant to avoid becoming too arrogant, or too aggressive, etc. That is part of the appeal of actual freedom, for me. True peace on earth - harmlessness 24/7 - will not be possible until actual freedom.
I'd really like to explore the essential disagreement we have here - I believe what you are experiencing and labelling a PCE, is not in fact a PCE. We're basically arguing about two different things. So instead of going back and forth perhaps we can attempt to confirm this central point?
If I am wrong, I will happily accept your theory lining up AF with Thusness stages until such time as one of us is actually free and can compare notes with someone else actually free to confirm we're talking about the same thing.
So if you don't mind can I ask you a few questions about the PCE?
1. What do you do to bring about a PCE? How long does it take, what stages do you go through on the way there?
2. Can you describe the qualities of a PCE in your own words? What differentiates it from when you are not in a PCE - or are you always in a PCE now?
3. What words would you use to describe how a PCE feels, to someone who has not experienced one?
4. Is it possible to experience anger while in the PCE, express it fully, let it go, and then immediately return to the PCE?
5. What does the PCE reveal about subtle resentment and everyday reality?
6. Does the PCE reveal that everything is already beautiful? Or is beauty a bad choice of words? What happens, in a PCE, if you focus on the quality of beauty?
You said: "If I am wrong, I will happily accept your theory lining up AF with Thusness stages until such time as one of us is actually free and can compare notes with someone else actually free to confirm we're talking about the same thing."
That is fine, however, I cannot speak for Thusness as Thusness is far more experienced than I am. I am not at his Stage 5 which requires realization of Anatta: I am still at the 'I AM' stage with occasional PCEs. To compare his experience with mine would be like comparing the sun with the moon. I only have short intermittent PCEs, but PCE is Thusness's permanent and effortless mode of experience due to his Realization of Anatta.
You said: "1. What do you do to bring about a PCE? How long does it take, what stages do you go through on the way there?"
PCEs do not require any other stages. I should also note that PCE is not listed in Thusness stages as well, since Thusness stages are all talking about realization/insights and not just the experience alone, and PCE is an experience. I get to PCE through some kind of mindfulness practice (not different from 'Thusness Vipassana'), but I also got there once or twice through a form of contemplation "What is it like to be dead?" in which I tried to pretend to be dead - though I did not go through any physical death-like experience like Ramana Maharshi or Richard, only that any sense of self/Self disappears and what is left is the universe - the floor, the walls, the aircon humming experiencing itself without an observer, without any sense of distance. I am no longer seeing or feeling from behind my head, instead for that minute or so I am the universe hearing and seeing itself in all its brilliance and vividness and aliveness. From this experience (that was in 2008) I learnt that the death of 'self'/'soul' does not entail an unconscious state, but rather it is simply the entire universe as pure consciousness and existence (not self/Self as 'being/existence/observer'). I had some PCEs since/before but that one left more impression somehow.
You said: "2. Can you describe the qualities of a PCE in your own words? What differentiates it from when you are not in a PCE - or are you always in a PCE now?"
Sorry, I do not stay in PCE long enough to tell you anything than what I said above.
"3. What words would you use to describe how a PCE feels, to someone who has not experienced one?"
Sheer amazement and wonder of the universe experiencing itself without an observer.
"4. Is it possible to experience anger while in the PCE, express it fully, let it go, and then immediately return to the PCE?"
No, have not experienced anger in PCEs.
"5. What does the PCE reveal about subtle resentment and everyday reality?
6. Does the PCE reveal that everything is already beautiful? Or is beauty a bad choice of words? What happens, in a PCE, if you focus on the quality of beauty?"
In PCE there is no beautiful/ugly, only pure sensate perfection and wonder. Even eating and shitting is marvelous.
I did not experience resentment in PCE.
Hi. I read your whole article "Actual Freedom and Buddhism" and I think it is generally a well made criticism. It is visible that you took the time to investigate actual freedom, instead of ignorantly dismissing it, or pretending it doesn't exist, or censoring the subject, like others have done, and I want to thank you for that.
I claim neither "enlightenment" nor "actual freedom", but from what I read, I think you may have a valid point about "anatta" being misinterpreted/misunderstood. I hope that an actually free person will clarify any misunderstandings. I still have doubts and objections, especially regarding rebirth/reincarnation and morality/rules.
Regarding rebirth, and the existence of a self, you say "Just because you can remember an event yesterday, does that imply that there is a soul? No!" and similar things. I think this argument is not valid because there is a physical brain to store the information that will be recalled later by the same body, whereas in the case of rebirth, if it really happens, it seems like something non-physical is moving from one body to the other.
Regarding morality, buddhism has a large set of precepts/rules, very specific rules, about things that should or should not be done, whereas actualism does not have the same requisites. In buddhism, there is a lot of talk about "right and wrong", and many judgements that seem to be fixed, whereas in actualism judgement is made on a basis of "silly or sensible", which are more flexible appraisals that depend on the situations rather than being fixed.
The rules first, since it is an easy one.
The rules are not fixed - Buddha did not set rules in the beginning, but as time goes by, his community/sangha did foolish things, so the Buddha had no choice but to set some rules to prevent folly from being repeated. Buddha's rules were 'subject to revision'.
Now.. I understand that AF does not have precepts and rules and prefer people to exercise their common sense. This is also the case in certain schools of Buddhism - Dzogchen, for example, teaches not blind adherence to rules but to exercise our awareness.
Even non-buddhist teachings like Eckhart Tolle also claim that rules are not necessary if one acts with awareness and wisdom. (not suggesting that Eckhart Tolle is teaching the same things as AF, just pointing out that the 'no rules' thing is not perculiar to AF at all)
Of course... that is IF that person has 'awareness' and 'wisdom' to begin with.
Some people just don't! So how do you, for practical purposes, prevent criminals from killing, from stealing things?
You set up laws. Well, yes, understandably as AF so clearly said, the rules and laws have not solved the problems of humanity from its roots - the attachment to the self/Self that leads to the affective system of craving, anger, harmfulness, etc, the source of all the sufferings of the world. This is in line with Buddhist understanding.
Yet, having laws are still necessary because at least it helps maintain some level of orderliness in society (even though not to the level of perfection). You can't deny that the vast majority of society are still un-free, and therefore, quite capable of being harmful.
You can't expect everyone to attain Actual Freedom immediately - I do not believe it can be achieved even in ten thousand years time. Certainly not in our lifetime, I can assure you. So in the meanwhile, while we wait for a utopian society (in an unreachable future) where everyone becomes actually free, do we just let society run lawless and let the murders and rapes go uncontrolled? Do you see my point?
So why do away with laws and rules? It is necessary, for the time being. It is not the ultimate solution, I agree, but a practical interim (and imperfect) solution to some of society's problems. After all who would want to live in a lawless land? Everyone prefers to live in a lawful, safe, low-crime society. Tell me honestly: would you even dare let alone want to live in a lawless society where murders, rape, robbery go unchecked?
Similar for Buddha - his Arhants were no longer capable of transgressing the rules (like killing, stealing, etc) even if the rules were non-existent. Why? They have removed the delusion of a self/Self and the affective system of craving, anger, harmfulness, fear, etc etc. They can no longer do harm to themselves and others.
But the rules are necessary for beginners/non-Arhants.
It is for practical, pragmatic purposes. To safeguard the happiness of mankind and prevent the world from becoming a living hell, precepts and rules are still a 'transitory necessity'.
Buddhism has a higher goal - freedom from all sufferings. Precepts and rules are not going to achieve that, it only ensures that you do not make your deluded life even worse - but it does not remove your delusions (of being a self/Self). Nevertheless, precepts are still helpful for practical purposes.
Also, precepts help ensure that if we do not become an Arhant/liberated yet, at least we do not make so much bad karma for ourselves...
Which comes to the question of karma and rebirth.
How can there be rebirth without a soul?
(to be continued)
You said that the fact of reincarnation means that consciousness is a soul, since if rebirth is possible then it implies that consciousness is not material based.
However, you have no proof that consciousness must be limited or confined to one physical body. How do you know that? It is just an assumption, a mere inference. It is not your direct experience. Yes, in direct experience, when you experience a PCE you clearly experience that there is no self/Self/soul, only the Universe experiencing/seeing/hearing itself as this body and mind without an observer/feeler. But how do you know that this can only be experienced in this physical body and not in future bodies and future lives? That is an inference, an assumption, not a direct experience.
There are many people who had near death experience who reported witnessing their body from a different location, and witnessing the medical procedures the doctors were doing, accurately, all the while he was announced medically dead (and then later revived). These things are well-known in medical science, even though they are unable to fully explain them.
Well, I am suggesting that yes, consciousness need not die with the physical body.
*But I am not suggesting that consciousness is thus, as a result, a soul*
Thusness commented on someone's out of body experience 4 years ago, he wrote:
"Thusness: On feeling lightness and experiencing ‘astral traveling’:
(quote from website)
"My own experience is that the density of the body seems to change. Years ago I experienced the phenomena of ‘astral traveling.’ During this experience you have the feeling of leaving the coarser body and floating. At some stage you have to return to the body, and the feeling is not very pleasant. You are going from a feeling of freedom and ‘lightness’ back into what feels like cold, dense, clay. This ‘clay’ is the collective emotions, experiences, and holding of the body. After some AMness has fallen away, the body feels lighter and less dense. You just keep feeling lighter and freer."
Thusness: The “density” and “lightness” is the weight of “losing her identification with certain aspect of the self”. The power of this “identification” cannot be underestimated.
Next is her experience of ‘astral traveling’, if she is in a stage of absorption and then out of a sudden awareness, the eyes of awareness may allow her to witness something that is altogether different from the physical place but this does not necessary mean that ‘consciousness’ has left and re-enter the body. Consciousness is propelled by causes and conditions. According to her conditions of absorption and clarity, just IS.
But then everyone has their own experiences. Just my 2 cents. :)"
Consciousness (seeing, hearing, thinking, etc) is a process, a manifestation, that dependently originates, that is interdependent with the physical body (while we are alive), but may not be limited by it. There could be other conditions for consciousness to arise. Nevertheless consciousness is never understood to be a soul in Buddhism.
Why? In direct experience - in hearing, there is always just sounds, no hearer, in seeing, there is always just scenery, no seer, etc etc...
This truth continues even into death. Which means if you are having an out of body experience, if you realized anatta, you will realize that even though you are having an out of body experience, you are still seeing without a seer, hearing without a hearer, etc.
So you see, even if you are being reborn, even if you are experiencing out of body experiences, the truth remains that whatever you experience IS the Universe experiencing itself, seeing and hearing itself, without an observer/self/Self. That is why it is not contradictory.
The truth of no-soul, no-self/no-Self applies everywhere, whether you are in Australia, or in U.S., or you are in another planet, or you are dead and transiting to another life.
By the way a common question that arises is... "if there is rebirth, then WHO/WHAT is it that is reborn?" This question is wrong because it presumes that for rebirth to take place, there must be a self, an entity, a soul, but this is not the case for Buddhism.
In Buddhism, the question 'Who is reborn' is wrongly put and the Buddha's reponse when asked such a question was to reject it as an improper question. Having rejected the question he would then inform the questioner of what he ought to have asked: "With what as condition is there birth?"
The reason that it is an improper question is that rebirth is taught as the continuation of a process, and not as the passing on of any sort of entity.
For a more complete exposition of the subject see Mahasi Sayadaw's Discourse on Paticcasamuppada ( http://web.ukonline.co.uk/buddhism/mahasip.htm )
The Buddha taught that at any moment, Consciousness is an ARISING that has *Conditions* - it never arises without a condition. As such, how can it be a soul?
In Buddhism, as Thusness said, Consciousness/Awareness is not like a mirror reflecting (a feeler/observer) but rather a manifestation. Luminosity (vivid awareness) is an arising luminous manifestation rather than a mirror reflecting. The center here is being replaced with Dependent Origination, the experience however is without subject and object separation.
One must learn how to see Appearances as Awareness and all others as conditions. Example, sound is awareness. The person, the stick, the bell, hitting, air, ears...are conditions. One should learn to see in this way. All problems arise because we cannot experience Awareness this way.
II. The Doctrine
Rebirth Is Not Transmigration
1. Translated from the Milindapañha (7116)
SAID the king: “Bhante Ngasena, does rebirth take place without anything transmigrating [passing over]?” 1
“Yes, your majesty. Rebirth takes place without anything transmigrating.” 2
“How, bhante Ngasena, does rebirth take place without anything transmigrating? Give an illustration.” 3
“Suppose, your majesty, a man were to light a light from another light; pray, would the one light have passed over [transmigrated] to the other light?” 4
“Nay, verily, bhante.” 5
“In exactly the same way, your majesty, does rebirth take place without anything transmigrating.” 6
“Give another illustration.” 7
“Do you remember, your majesty, having learnt, when you were a boy, some verse or other from your professor of poetry?” 8
“Yes, bhante.” 9
“Pray, your majesty, did the verse pass over [transmigrate] to you from your teacher?” 10
“Nay, verily, bhante.” 11
“In exactly the same way, your majesty, does rebirth take place without anything transmigrating.” 12
“You are an able man, bhante Ngasena.” 13
2. Translated from the Milindapañha (465)
“Bhante Ngasena,” said the king, “what is it that is born into the next existence?” 14
“Your majesty,” said the elder, “it is name and form that is born into the next existence.” 15
“Is it this same name and form that is born into the next existence?” 16
“Your majesty, it is not this same name and form that is born into the next existence; but with this name and form, your majesty, one does a deed—it may be good, or it may be wicked—and by reason of this deed another name and form is born into the next existence.”
(click on link to continue)
Regarding the rules, I did not mean to imply that there shouldn't be laws. I was specifically talking about morality and the precepts and rules in buddhism which defines things as "right and wrong", which is not the same as "legal and illegal" in law, or "silly and sensible" in actualism. First of all, I think religion and law should be separated, because clearly, different religions have different ideas of reality. A large number of countries have democracy as the form of government nowadays. For instance, no one wants to be killed, so most people agree that killing another person should be illegal. With regards to the Buddha's rules as being "subject to revision", unfortunately, I see people still quoting the Buddha's rules and relying on them/him as an arbiter of what is right and wrong, in fact I have seen that in your forum, in a similar way that Christians quote the bible to prove that something is right or wrong. The main problem I see with the concepts of right and wrong, is that they often prevent rational thought, usually relying on what someone else said, and usually appealing to emotions like guilt and shame, instead of sensible thought.
Regarding the soul, I did not actually say that "the fact of reincarnation means that consciousness is a soul, since if rebirth is possible then it implies that consciousness is not material based", what I said what that your argument about the non-existence of a soul was invalid because you were extrapolating from physical to non-physical in your example where you said "Just because you can remember an event yesterday, does that imply that there is a soul? No!". I think that this argument is as valid as me saying something like "I write a poem on a piece of paper. Later, the poem is available to be read. Does that imply that there is a soul? No!" (example only). Neither I nor the piece of paper need to have a soul for the information to be stored there. Not even consciousness is necessary for the paper to retain the information. And a camera can even record a picture or a scene on film to be accessed later.
To clarify. With regards to the self/soul and rebirth/reincarnation, what I am trying to say, is that your argument for the non-existence of a soul, which is a non-physical entity, in not valid because what you are using as an example, that a person remebers something that happened yesterday, can already be easily explained as not needing a non-physical entity and happening purely by physical means, as the body is recalling information that was present to its physical senses (that is, locally), in a similar way that a piece of paper can retain a poem, or a camera can retain a picture. Whereas in the case of rebirth, information moves from one body to the other, without any obvious physical clues or physical explanation, which is hard to explain without the existence of a non-physical entity. I have a related question. Do you, and/or your teacher, make or not make a distinction between physical and non-physical? I have read about cases, true or false I don't know, where information has been transmitted from one person to the other mentally from a distance (that is, telepathy), but even if that happens, it has not been determined to be through physical means, although one could argue that it happens through a medium (some may say "akasha" or "aether"), whether physical or non-physical, that science has not been able to explain, in a manner akin to, say, radio waves. I don't know.
Richard makes a clear distinction between physical and non-physical (often called metaphysical or spiritual), and says that the the non-physical, the psychic realm, although very real, does not exist in actuality. He does not explicitly talk about recollecting his past lives, but he does mention that he used to access the akashic records.
Ether; Etheric; Akasha; Akashic
"With regards to the Buddha's rules as being "subject to revision", unfortunately, I see people still quoting the Buddha's rules and relying on them/him as an arbiter of what is right and wrong"
As a lay Buddhist, we are asked (not forced or threatened) to follow the 5 precepts, not for the sake of Buddha, but for our own sake:
1. I undertake the training rule to abstain from taking life.
2. I undertake the training rule to abstain from taking what is not given.
3. I undertake the training rule to abstain from sexual misconduct.
4. I undertake the training rule to abstain from false speech.
5. I undertake the training rule to abstain from fermented drink that causes heedlessness.
Obviously, all these precepts are for one's own good. Just these five precepts will do for a lay Buddhist.
The Buddha did not say 'righteous vs evil' (that is Christianity not Buddhism), he said 'wholesome, skillful', what leads to benefit and happiness of humanity, and 'unwholesome, unskillful', which leads to harm and suffering.
Therefore we are told to avoid whatever is condusive to harm and suffering, and perform whatever is wholesome and beneficial. This is morality 101 of Buddhism.
Killing, stealing, etc, leads to harm and suffering for oneself and others, and therefore obviously should be avoided.
These are generally agreed upon and that is why the Buddha set these basic 5 precepts for lay Buddhists. It is for our own good.
Btw, the Buddha did not tell people to blindly follow him, but to use their own judgement:
..."When adopted & carried out, do they lead to welfare & to happiness, or not?"
"When adopted & carried out, they lead to welfare & to happiness. That is how it appears to us."
"So, as I said, Kalamas: 'Don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, "This contemplative is our teacher." When you know for yourselves that, "These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness" — then you should enter & remain in them.' Thus was it said. And in reference to this was it said....
As you can see, the Buddha encourages use to see whether a teaching is sensible, leads to happiness, rather than following blindly.
As for what you said about rebirth, I wrote a longer reply that is too long to be posted in blogger, so I'll attach a link to the document: http://www.box.net/shared/kdim1v35me
I might ask Thusness for his opinion on this matter tonight. I am not sure if I represented the Buddhist view accurately enough, but that is just my understanding so far.
I will inform here again if I wanted to update any errors in my document.
Thank you for the detailed reply, it clarified some of my doubts, at least in regards to what the Buddhist position is.
Assuming rebirth occurs even though there is no entity, even though there is actually no fixed "me", is there a feeling of being "me"? Because otherwise how is one going to be able to associate the process that was going on before in a certain body and is now continuing in the other body. Please note that I am not asking if there is a "me", but rather if there is a basic "feeling of being me".
Some enlightened beings report that after enlightenemnt all that remains is "the feeling of being" or "there is only being", would you say that this "feeling of being" does remain, and would you say that it is the same as "the feeling of being me" that I mentioned above? I notice that Thusness/PasserBy often uses the term "Presence", would you say that "Presence" is the same as "Being" or "the feeling of being"?
There is birth, i.e. suffering, because of affliction and action. As long as the aggregates are afflicted, afflicted aggregates will continue to be appropriated.
And the primary affliction/delusion is the conceit of 'I am' (asmi-mano). This conceit is false and delusional.
And when ignorance is removed through awakening of Insight, until all fetters and afflictions are dissolved, there will be no more conditions for Birth to arise.
The dissolution of the conceit "I Am" was described by the Buddha as "nibbana here and now," and it cuts to the root of all contentions.
So in short, with this conceit "I Am" thoroughly and completely removed from our psyche, there is no more 'fuel' for further rebirths. Such a person is known as 'Arhant', a conquerer, someone who is liberated from the cycle of rebirth.
Nevertheless, even while rebirth is happening, there is no 'self/Self/soul' that transmigrates - that is an illusion, what is actually happening is that thoughts/illusion /conceit of "I Am" and other afflictions and karma which are all processes are conditioning the process of rebirth.
I don't understand what do you mean by 'Because otherwise how is one going to be able to associate the process that was going on before in a certain body and is now continuing in the other body.' - why is 'association' necessary? Rebirth is simply a selfless process, there is no transmigration of a single identity/soul involved - you are neither the same person (that would imply a soul) nor a totally different person (because there is a causal/interdependent link) from the past life, in the same way that you are not the same person nor a different person from yesterday. Every moment is a fresh, new moment, a new experience, even though conditioned by the previous moments. You don't need to associate/identify with a 'soul' that persists from yesterday to today, and yet, you can still remember what happened yesterday isn't it. Each experience is actually experienced without a feeler/soul - even if we are deluded to think otherwise.
Thusness's term 'Presence' is different from Actual Freedom's 'Presence'. Thusness is aware that Presence can be mistaken as an Ultimate Identity or Ultimate Being in the earlier stages of enlightenment, but starting from Stage 5, Presence/Awareness/Consciousness is simply understood to be 'all vivid arisings/sensations', the pure sensations from all consciousnesses (the five senses plus thinking). All sensations are simply present, vivid, alive of itself, and this is the meaning of 'Presence' (not talking about a sense of Being).
"I don't understand what do you mean by 'Because otherwise how is one going to be able to associate the process that was going on before in a certain body and is now continuing in the other body.' - why is 'association' necessary?"
When someone recalls a past life, they may say "I was a fisherman in a past life" or "I was raped in a past life", etc. There seems to be some sense or feeling of "This happened to *me* in a past life".
"Thusness's term 'Presence' is different from Actual Freedom's 'Presence'."
There is no "Presence" in actual freedom.
You said: "When someone recalls a past life, they may say "I was a fisherman in a past life" or "I was raped in a past life", etc. There seems to be some sense or feeling of "This happened to *me* in a past life"."
There is no problem using "I was" if it is just for convenience, conventional purpose.
Like, Richard even though is actually free can still say "I am Richard", "I was born on this planet in on [insert date]", "I once had [insert past experience]" - even while knowing that these are for convenience whereas no real 'self' can be found.
You said: "There is no "Presence" in actual freedom."
I am aware that Richard does not use the term 'Presence' to describe Actual Freedom, however I am pointing out that Richard's definition of 'Presence' is different from Thusness's.
Whereas Richard is using the term 'Presence' to mean 'Presence of Being', Thusness is using the term 'Presence' to mean 'Presence of Sensations'. No sense of being is involved at all. It is like saying: Sensations are present. Universe is present. (obviously) You cannot say they are absent.
Whereas Presence is used to mean Being in Stage 1 and 2 and even up to 4, it is no longer referred that way in Stage 5.
A quick look at Richard's personal history - http://actualfreedom.com.au/richard/articles/abriefpersonalhistory.htm - shows just how many 'I had', 'I lived in...', 'My'... 'Me'.... he used.
Even though he no longer believes in a self/Self/soul, it is a necessary convenience. It would not make sense (or at least it will be silly) to say, "The body mind used to live in ...." "The body mind is going to the toilet now."
Would an arahant say "I" or "mine"?
Other devas had more sophisticated queries. One deva, for example, asked the Buddha if an arahant could use words that refer to a self:
"Consummate with taints destroyed,
One who bears his final body,
Would he still say 'I speak'?
And would he say 'They speak to me'?"
This deva realized that arahantship means the end of rebirth and suffering by uprooting mental defilements; he knew that arahants have no belief in any self or soul. But he was puzzled to hear monks reputed to be arahants continuing to use such self-referential expressions.
The Buddha replied that an arahant might say "I" always aware of the merely pragmatic value of common terms:
"Skillful, knowing the world's parlance,
He uses such terms as mere expressions."
The deva, trying to grasp the Buddha's meaning, asked whether an arahant would use such expressions because he is still prone to conceit. The Buddha made it clear that the arahant has no delusions about his true nature. He has uprooted all notions of self and removed all traces of pride and conceit:
"No knots exist for one with conceit cast off;
For him all knots of conceit are consumed.
When the wise one has transcended the conceived
He might still say 'I speak,'
And he might say 'They speak to me.'
Skillful, knowing the world's parlance,
He uses such terms as mere expressions." (KS I, 21-22; SN 1:25)
"A quick look at Richard's personal history - http://actualfreedom.com.au/richard/articles/abriefpersonalhistory.htm - shows just how many 'I had', 'I lived in...', 'My'... 'Me'.... he used."
But Richard explains that he uses the term I to mean the physical body only ("this flesh and blood body"). When he means an identity, he usually uses scare quotes around the pronoun (example: "'I' as ego and 'me' as soul"). So he is not using it the same way as an arahant.
Richard: "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?"
And how is Richard using the term different from the Arahant?
It is clearly stated that the Arahant has clearly seen through any notions of a self, or a soul, or an identity.
Of course the word "I" is refering to the body and mind - in Buddhism, the body and mind is all there is (the five skandhas). The "I" is simply a convention for the five skandhas, it cannot be found as an inherent identity, like the word "weather" is not an inherently existing entity but simply a process of clouds, rain, wind, etc. As I explained already in my document.
"And how is Richard using the term different from the Arahant?"
If an arahant says "I was a fisherman in a past life" he/she is obviously not referring to "this flesh and blood body".
By the way, our body is renewing its cells every moment. As a matter of fact every 7 years our body has completely changed in terms of cell renewal.
So it can also be said that our body is being reborn continuously even in this life.
So in fact, your "this flesh and blood body" is not in fact "this singular/permanent flesh and blood body" but an "this ever-changing and ever-evolving flesh and blood body".
Yet, we still say "I was," etc.... That's fine as far as it goes, it is understood that there is no self or soul or a permanent body, but it is used for convenience.
Rebirth does not contradict No-Soul, Anatta.
"I was a fisherman in a past life" is simply a convenient statement. There is no "I" that lasts even a moment, there is no continuous "I" from just now till now, in the same way the body is renewing itself entirely every 7 years.
On a light note, this is what experiencing a rainbow in PCE mode might be like: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQSNhk5ICTI
just kidding! you aren't suppose to cry in PCE! that's probably an ASC ;)
It's si amusing how people take on all this rubbish, the silly slogans... flesh & bloody body, what is the body - it is beyond flesh & blood. Richard is a delused fool who tries so desperately to convince but without any real conviction. His words are empty. His claim is not even original, just a mash up of many sources.
You could ask yourself "What am I" and still get the same results. You could ask as did Rama Maharishi "who am I" and still get the same results. The fact is, whever attention is held, consciousness must be. When consciousness is fixed, there is error of perception. Free yourself indeed, but only via understanding is there freedom.
Richard isn't beyond emotion or the human condition he's totally indulging in it, read the sample chapters of his Journal. He just loves shopping, and can't comprehend why so many "belittle" the capitalist consumerist society (so much for enlightenment). He also love to fuck his new lover. Isn't fucking instinct??? So many contradiction, so much waffle. Trying to impress with obscure words and verbose is not the way.
To anonymous: while I do have doubts that richard has overcome all instinctual passions (while acknowleding that he does experience an immense degree of freedom from passions), and agree with you that his claims are not new, there is actually a difference where the methods lead.
Self-inquiry leads to the I AM realization. I have practiced this years ago culminating in self-realization so I know. But self-realisation is not final.
It is a little strange that so many who declare themselves "Actually Free" are very bound up in self expression, self proclaimation, and self protection.
They love to talk about their great freedom from emotion and yet, they denigrate and deny others their own experiences as if these have no value as they are not an outcome of the Actual Freedom process. Which as someone above has indeed pointed out, is not so original at all. You can find similar methods in spiritualism/channelling teachings, in Byron Katie's process, in Gurdjieff, etc.
I find the closed mindedness of Actual Freedom practitioners most offputting, their defensiveness of "their method", their abhorance of questions from others who have clearly experienced something other than day-to-day consciousness and action (or should i say, reaction). Any question is viewed as an attack, why would someone emotionally free view a question as an attack? Just look on thier forums to discover this for yourself. Ask a few inncocent questions. After a few unnecessary abusive and malicious replies, you may find yourself banned from the forum, as I have numerous times.
The whole thing smacks of cultism to me. If you read Richard's site objectively, you can't but be hit by the falsity of it all, the egoitistic indulgence, and yes the blatant contradictions which abound.
From taking a simple approach, he has done his utmost to make it as difficult as possible. The results of someone "beyond enlightenment"? I'd rather read J Krishnamurti, at least he gave clarity as to what he was about and made no grandiose claims.
Truth, indeed, there can be nothing beyond Truth.
I may add, that chasing experiences, PCE's, is as deluded as chasing Jesus. The loop of consciousness cannot end until the chasing ends.