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SW's Practice Advice
Answer
5/4/11 7:47 PM
These are notes I took during a conversation with SW about my own AF practice. They may only apply to me and my particular take on things, but perhaps others will find them useful:

**************

Once there was no compelling argument for being a feeling being, it did itself.

“So what if you had a twang: could you just ignore it?”

Remember her analogy about hypochondriacs: when you are sick, you will know. Put the twangs in a box as insignificant. Ultimately the analysis is keeping it alive in some way. Feeling good is more important than tracking down the twinges.

She got AF realizing that the twinge of anxiety was not a problem, it was just a veil, like a bell jar, and she just needed to just yank the veil off, as the world is totally perfect.

To be the opposite of an achiever, AF is actually the opposite of achieving anything.

Towards the end you have to let the car drive itself.

(As per Tarin's advice) She says she stayed as close as she could to the PCE, said she could just wake up and kick into a PCE watching water or whatever and would try to stay in it all day, spent a lot of time walking in the woods taking pictures of cool stuff, spent a lot of time being outdoors watching people, noticing that everything she heard had a complete perfection to it, had a lot of fun (my paraphrasing).

She said that spending time with Tarin was helpful and basically (they) did nothing except hang out together in silence.

She started out with HAIETMOBA, but then just worked with the PCE.

She wasn’t working at the time, was on sabbatical, had a lot of alone downtime to just "be" without work pressure.

When working on her own internal patterns that got her out of the PCE, she says that each person must figure out where their blocks are, and she said it was like being on a diet, in the sense that it is utterly individual, and you have to figure out what works for you.

You are doing this for the people who are closest to you, as it eliminates your internal harm potential.

Initially She had some reservations about Richard, but when she realized that he had doubts about himself this unarmed her doubts in a large way.

She worried that she would not be as good for her child if she was free of emotions, but once she got over that things were a lot better.

AF is the lackluster wooden cup Holy Grail, not the spectacular bejeweled one, it is just an endless flow of things being good.

She has no perception of herself working anymore, just is at work sometimes, at home sometimes.

In response to the notion that obsessing over something, or feeling stressed about something, will help solve the problem:

Having feeling about anything that goes bad is just a double whammy, as the bad feelings are just added on and unnecessary.

The perception that your feeling give you control is the block, as feelings give you no control, it is just an illusion.

It is like there is a Hollywood director in your mind that spins off doomsday scenarios about what will happen if you pursue this stuff, but you will function so much better without feelings.

She agrees that email was once very stressful before AF, but now she just sees them as text, not as a problem, they are just words on the screen, and there are very few times what you actually have to think about what the response is, as you already know, and so it is just a question of acceptance.

This is mapless, feel good, PCE, VF, AF, that’s it, and there are so many deviations that may or may not work for a person, and those deviations will be broad.

She says the social conditioning stuff is very overlooked by AF practitioners, and people don’t fully understand what it means to just be a flesh and blood body, and people have a lot of feelings and emotions tied up in race, class, gender, and they don’t have the interrogative mechanism to undo those. She said a lot of that idealogical stuff already exists in the study of the humanities, so she was very familiar with the way people falsely construct social identities. We take on role identities and use it to construct an identity and that is exactly what you will lose when you get AF, but that may not change behavior, just the feeling about the actions. If you can remove that, you can remove a whole bunch of junk, so take any aspect of your socially conditioned identity and realize that it is idealogical and affective, and it is designed politically to keep people doing certain kinds of things and thus is the opposite of freedom, and so it is never good to have pride in anything, as that is identity, and that is the outline of your prison. You can take it as a given that almost anything you think about yourself is socially conditioned, and this is a good place to realize the implications of being a feeling being.

If you have achieved a lot of things, then you have to get used to unbecoming, as you are none of the things that you have done.

There is nothing at stake except pragmatism.

*********************

I hope these are useful to someone in some way.

Daniel

RE: SW's Practice Advice
Answer
5/4/11 8:57 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Thank you both for sharing this.

In addition to his having been a war-time combatant, this also disarmed me about Richard:
• : ‘(...) back in 1981, in the early days of starting on the wide and wondrous path to an actual freedom from the human condition, I was standing in the kitchen of my ex-farmhouse, situated on a couple of acres of land in a remote countryside location, washing the breakfast dishes; I was not interested in washing the dishes/I had never been interested in washing the dishes; I did not like washing the dishes/I had never liked washing the dishes; washing the dishes was an uninteresting chore, an unlikeable task, that just had to be done (otherwise I would not be doing it/would never had done it/would never do it) ... and all the while the early-morning sun was streaming in through the large glass windows, in the eastern wall to my front, beckoning me, enticing me to hurry-up and get the uninteresting and unlikeable job over and done with so that I could scamper outside and get stuck into doing the interesting things I really liked doing/wanted to do.
Howsoever, what has these days become known as the actualism method – asking oneself, each moment again, how one is experiencing this moment of being alive (the only moment one is ever alive) – had by now become a non-verbal approach to life, a wordless attitude towards being alive, and all-of-a-sudden, whilst standing there with my hands in the sink being anywhere but here, at anytime but now, it was a delight and a joy to be doing exactly what it was I was already doing anyway ... standing in the golden sunlight with hands immersed in delicious, tingling-to-the-touch, hot soapy water.
I find myself looking at what the hands are feeling (the hot soapy water) and become aware I have never seen hot soapy water before – have never really seen hot soapy water before – and become fascinated with the actuality of what is happening: it is as if the hands know what to do without any input from me; they are reaching for a plate, they are applying the scourer appropriately, they are turning the plate over, they are applying the scourer appropriately, they are lifting the cleaned plate out of the washing sink; they are dipping it into the rinsing sink; they are placing it in the rack to drip ... and all this while they are feeling the delicious tingling sensation of hot soapy water as it strips-away the grease and other detritus.
I am not required at all; I am a supernumerary; I am redundant; I can retire, fold in my hand, pack in the game, depart, disappear, dissolve, disintegrate, vamoose, vanish, die – whatever – and life would manage quite well, thank you, without me ... a whole lot better, in fact, as I am holding up the works from functioning smoothly.
‘I’ was not needed ... ‘my’ services were no longer required’.


Enjoying work/steady-state interest and evaporation of resentment-of-being-here/cruelty-bias since inadvertently creating a bit of a zinger intention-trigger several weeks ago. The zinger invited the opportunity to choose a decision and I decided to commit to every single moment. I sometimes sit in breathing meditation to feel sensations arise. Generally, I just go to it before bed/as lying down because it's natural. The social identity is harder, but I tackle these as they arise - many opportunities.

These contributions and the forum have been invaluable and sustaining. I would still be banging my head on the wall or worse if I had not landed here (somewhat roughly) last summer.

RE: SW's Practice Advice
Answer
5/5/11 6:23 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Hi Daniel,

Great helpful notes. Really helpful for me at the moment. Could you elaborate on what you meant by "twang" and putting them ina box?

RE: SW's Practice Advice
Answer
5/6/11 1:02 AM as a reply to Nikolai ..
Twang meant bodily twang, meaning feelings that cause something you can physically feel, such as a sinking feeling in your stomach, tension in your jaw, a twinge in your brow, etc.

Put it in a box is ambiguous advice in some ways, agreed. I can't be sure I understand the meaning absolutely, but in the context of our conversation it meant to not give them undue attention at the very least or make them more than they were. You could ask Stef, and she might clarify how it relates to you in some way that is better than how I understood it.

At one point she asked how I could tell that something was an emotional body twang vs just a gas cramp, pointing to the fact that there is the bare thing and then there is the interpretation, which is affective, I think.

******

As to behavior and feelings about behavior, that one keeps coming up in AF and it doesn't seem that helpful for practice, which is what I care about. My goal is AF regardless of exactly what it is at this point, which may not satisfy some, but is good enough for me. The action vs internal perception of that action debates come up a lot in this business and perennially frustrate those who believe they should perfectly align as their ideals think they should.

*******

Beo: glad you got something out of it. Achievement trip is affective, and would seem to be all one has to work with, until you realize that the PCE is so satisfying that achievement seems absurd, some distraction from how nice things are now, and apparently that is the direction in which to go: sensual present-centered appreciation, so they tell me.

Daniel

RE: SW's Practice Advice
Answer
5/6/11 4:13 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
One thing that should be noted about the text that appears here is that it took place in the context of a conversation, a back and forth between Daniel and I. What you see here is one side of that conversation (my side) without having access to the questions and issues that Daniel raised. This is the natural consequence of taking notes; one takes note of what they heard rather than what they asked (usually). So if some of you do not immediately understand some of what is written here, you should know that reading this is like watching a film with half the screen covered.

But I will attempt to clarify some of the questions that have been asked here.

The Box

This is a technique for destabilizing useless worrisome thoughts (they are all useless, really). This is especially helpful if one worries about things that happened before, or what we might call "history." The past is full of troubling traumas for most people, both impersonal and personal, yet we are often able to put the impersonal traumas out of our minds because we implicitly accept that these are unalterable and there is no point worrying about them. (Such impersonal traumas are things like previous wars, slavery, the holocaust, stonewall, the stock market crash, etc.) Those impersonal traumas are in a box of regrettable but unfortunate events that can never be changed and they do not operate (for most people) in a way to cause daily suffering. Yet the things we worry about are very rarely related to what is happening right now. So when I talk about putting something in a box, I suggest that any thoughts of worry get put into a box with all the impersonal traumas we are aware of yet which have no power to cause suffering.

Continuing to endlessly entertain one's paranoid worries or persistent worries is to feed the belief that thinking about them can solve them, when in fact, thinking about them and feeling bad as a result is a way of being in the world that keeps one from being happy and harmless. One will notice if one has this habit of worry that as soon as one removes one problematic train of thought, another will immediately pop up and the worrying goes on. So then it seems that the object doesn't matter at all, but the methodology of the mind to worry becomes the thing itself.

This is where the analogy of hypochondria came up. A person who baselessly worries that they are ill will see a doctor and once it is confirmed they do not have whatever disease they imagined they had, it is not as if the problem is solved and they never worry again. They will inevitably begin to think they are suffering from some other ailment and they will keep doing this endlessly. The point isn't really whether they are sick or not; the point is that they have a compulsion to worry about their bodies. This person will never be cured of the compulsion to worry about their health by receiving endless proof they are not sick; they have to be cured of the compulsion to worry.

Therefore to put worrisome thoughts into a box is to destabilize the compulsion to worry rather than dig into the thoughts themselves as if there is a logical way to solve those worries and "make them go away."

This technique of putting such thoughts "into a box" can also be done with future thoughts that cause worry; or, doomsday scenarios. This is your only moment of being alive. Anything other than what you are experiencing at this moment of being alive literally has no existence and is as important to this moment of being alive as, for example, what kind of airplanes were flown in the Battle of Yellow River in WWII. (I don't know if there was a Battle of Yellow River in WWII. I just made that up.)

If one doesn't have the habit of thinking worrisome, anxiety-producing thoughts, then one can ignore the stuff about the box altogether. And, please know that the box is simply a metaphor; one can use whatever metaphor they like for the same process.


Behavior


As Daniel points out in his response to Mico Mico as it relates to the idea of behavior, the point of becoming actually free is not behavior modification. As far as I understand it, behavior modification isn't even really the goal of 4th path (per se) as the critique of the "limited emotional model" of enlightment in the MCTB makes clear.

I am not sure what behavioral changes one expects to see of an actually free person, so I invite Mico Mico to expound on what his or her expectations are regarding behavior.


Pragmatism

This comment "there is nothing at stake except pragmatism" is meant to suggest that becoming actually free involves no risk (nothing is at stake) and is a practical and down to earth thing to do, since eliminating one's suffering entirely is the best way to live. It is perfectly logical that if one has a way to be happy and harmless that one would do so.

This relates, perhaps, in a peripheral way to the question about behavior. In order to become actually free, one need not "give up" anything in terms of one's lifestyle. One need not become celibate, one need not give up wine, or weed, or their job, or their clothes, or their bodily adornments, or their wife, partner, or husband...One is not asked to suffer in any respect and in fact, suffering is the opposite of actualism. There is no ethos of "no pain, no gain" operating, so that what one has to "lose" is one's own experience of unhappiness, resentment, and dissatisfaction with life.

RE: SW's Practice Advice
Answer
5/6/11 11:54 AM as a reply to Seraphina Wise.
thanks for the clarifications!

generally my train of thought is "yeah there's no reason not to (pursue AF/apply the actualist methodfeel good)... but i can't stop feeling bad!"

SW:
One will notice if one has this habit of worry that as soon as one removes one problematic strain of thought, another will immediately pop up and the worrying goes on. So then it seems that the object doesn't matter at all, but the methodology of the mind to worry becomes the thing itself.

aye that does tend to happen. part of the worry is: "but if i forget about this how will i know if it's bothering me?" part of the reasoning is... before starting any of this awakening stuff, i would feel bad. sometimes i'd know why, sometimes not, but i'd feel bad nonetheless. after starting on the awakening stuff i saw the actual reason for feeling bad and ceased feeling bad for many of my patterns (happened a lot more with actualist method than with vipassana). so that's the connection - if i'm aware of why i'm feeling bad then it'll stop. which is true... that's the point of attentiveness, no?

so when something bothers me, i know it's bothering me, so even if i don't know the actual reason (if i did it wouldn't bother me), i know i have to look for it.. and that if i find it (or not if 'i' find it but if attentiveness reveals the underlying pattern) it dissipates. if 'i' just ignore it, the reasoning goes, it'll cause pain down the line and i won't know why...

and the patterns keep recurring, too.. like i'll have a pattern annoying me or whatnot. then i'll manage to not worry about it and feel really good for a few hours. then i end up back in the pattern. i know it didn't bother me when i felt good, but i see it as something preventing me from feeling good, so i want to get rid of it so i can go back to feeling good...

but i guess the point is, worrying about feeling bad is a double-whammy, like you said. feeling bad is enough indication that i'm feeling bad..

EDIT: and of course, the things that used to bother me, i can't draw up a list of what they were.. it's not like i have to keep a mental inventory of them so that i can not-do-them when they come up.. it's more like they just don't bother me. i guess part of the fear is that if i ignore something, it might bother me without me knowing.. like cause some emotion that i don't know the cause of, but that i would if i kept worrying about it. but that doesn't make sense cause the fact that i'm worrying about it shows that i don't know the cause of it already. so it's all just silliness..

SW:
There is no ethos of "no pain, no gain" operating...
that is surely 180 degree opposite from enlightenment (got to go through Dark Night before you get the goods)

actual freedom, behaviour, peace on earth
Answer
5/8/11 8:05 PM as a reply to Seraphina Wise.
per nikolai's request, i have split off the replies concerned with this topic from the thread 'SW's Practice Advice', and am placing this new thread in the 'dharma battleground (dhb)' forum category (to preserve the 'actualism/actual freedom' category's emphasis on practice-oriented discussion).

tarin

RE: actual freedom, behaviour, peace on earth
Answer
5/8/11 9:47 PM as a reply to tarin greco.
Brilliant! Thanks Tarin.

I psoted this previously but it got lost with the thread splitting:

I took the advice on about just ignoring the twangs and getting back to feeling good. Very good advice!

I hadn't tried that before. I think it was due to the habitual tendencies to really stick with the twangs because of so much insight practice. I never questioned this tendency. I think it is true that this was allowing the "feeling" and the twang that seemed related to it to stick around longer. I ignored all twangs yesterday and just decided to get back to being happy and harmless.

When the twangs lose their "status" so to speak, as in being the the centre of attention, they lose the mind's tendency to make something out of them as well. I got back to being happy and harmless very quickly, in a matter of seconds, and the twangs (or flows of unpleasant sensations in certain spots), not being paid attention to anymore, just bubbled and spat and dissipated really quickly. Seems like giving them more attention than they deserve keeps them and certain sublte feelings around longer

I chatted with a friend who is also aiming for AF and we both agree that the following simple advice is GOLD:

Once there was no compelling argument for being a feeling being, it did itself.

and

“So what if you had a twang: could you just ignore it?”

Remember her analogy about hypochondriacs: when you are sick, you will know. Put the twangs in a box as insignificant. Ultimately the analysis is keeping it alive in some way. Feeling good is more important than tracking down the twinges."



These pointers have allowed my practice to shift ever so slightly and it is now much easier to just decided to be happy and harmless. Twangs schmangs! I was over complicating things and perhaps tying some knots in the process.

Thanks again!


Edited to ask a question:


Stephanie, could you elaborate on how to get AF, you realized "that the twinge of anxiety was not a problem, it was just a veil, like a bell jar, and one needed to just yank the veil off, as the world is totally perfect."

How did you "yank the veil off" exactly? I think i understand what you mean. I have recently seen how there is a choice in any given moment to experience with an affective filter or without. Could you elaborate on it?

Thanks

Nick

RE: actual freedom, behaviour, peace on earth
Answer
5/8/11 10:13 PM as a reply to Nikolai ..
What exactly is a 'twang'? Is it the cognitive component of the feeling? The belief/thought 'knot' which keeps and perpetuates that feeling?

While smoking weed, I realized one thing. If I allow any feeling to "stick in" - and thereby develop a "mood" - then it is very difficult to "get out of it" because moods are very sticky/persistent feelings by definition. I was telling myself (on weed, again) that it is probably much better to quickly nip the feeling in the bud before it 'sticks in'. This means doing the absolutely minimal investigation (can't do too much investigation) - lasting, perhaps, a few seconds - necessary to realize the silliness of that feeling and (cognitive) beliefs justifying it, and then IMMEDIATELY get back to feeling neutral/good such as to not develop a "mood" out of this feeling. I try to "ignore" whatever cognitive/affective content is behind this feeling process. It works for cases where I clearly see the silliness, but not for others (cases activating my low self-esteem for instance).

I'll continue with this 'ignoring' method and see how it goes.

RE: actual freedom, behaviour, peace on earth
Answer
5/8/11 10:17 PM as a reply to Harry Potter.
What exactly is a 'twang'? Is it the cognitive component of the feeling? The belief/thought 'knot' which keeps and perpetuates that feeling?


For me at least it is a flow of sensations somewhere in the body, usually in one of the chakra spots which seems linked to a feeling, one of its conditioning factors. I would get very fixated on these "twangs". Ignoring them cut out the tendency to make them into something more than they were.


While smoking weed, I realized one thing. If I allow any feeling to "stick in" - and thereby develop a "mood" - then it is very difficult to "get out of it" because moods are very sticky/persistent feelings by definition.


That is when MCTB 4th path comes in handy. No stickiness. ;-)



I was telling myself (on weed, again) that it is probably much better to quickly nip the feeling in the bud before it 'sticks in'. This means doing the absolutely minimal investigation (can't do too much investigation) - lasting, perhaps, a few seconds - necessary to realize the silliness of that feeling and (cognitive) beliefs justifying it, and then IMMEDIATELY get back to feeling neutral/good such as to not develop a "mood" out of this feeling. I try to "ignore" whatever cognitive/affective content is behind this feeling process. It works for cases where I clearly see the silliness, but not for others (cases activating my low self-esteem for instance).


Nice! "Nip it in the bud" is a good reminder. Thanks!

RE: actual freedom, behaviour, peace on earth
Answer
5/8/11 10:32 PM as a reply to Nikolai ..
Nikolai ?:
What exactly is a 'twang'? Is it the cognitive component of the feeling? The belief/thought 'knot' which keeps and perpetuates that feeling?

For me at least it is a flow of sensations somewhere in the body, usually in one of the chakra spots which seems linked to a feeling, one of its conditioning factors. I would get very fixated on these "twangs". Ignoring them cut out the tendency to make them into something more than they were.


I always find it a bit odd that DhOers describe of physical sensations causing/sustaining a feeling or emotion. Coming from the AF background, I see that almost always a feeling/emotion is backed by some belief (or better - a "complex" to use Jung's idea). For example, if you tell me that your feeling of boredom is caused by some physical sensation, I'd be so confused ... because boredom is due to not finding any interest in current experience (i.e., mostly a cognitive/belief/some-other-feeling issue).


Nikolai:

While smoking weed, I realized one thing. If I allow any feeling to "stick in" - and thereby develop a "mood" - then it is very difficult to "get out of it" because moods are very sticky/persistent feelings by definition.

That is when MCTB 4th path comes in handy. No stickiness. ;-)


Is there a way to derive the benefit of 4th path - with regards to 'no stickiness' - without having to meditate or enter jhanas? Or do I have to go through the extremely slow process of breaking down my social identity?

RE: actual freedom, behaviour, peace on earth
Answer
5/8/11 11:23 PM as a reply to Harry Potter.
I always find it a bit odd that DhOers describe of physical sensations causing/sustaining a feeling or emotion. Coming from the AF background, I see that almost always a feeling/emotion is backed by some belief (or better - a "complex" to use Jung's idea). For example, if you tell me that your feeling of boredom is caused by some physical sensation, I'd be so confused ... because boredom is due to not finding any interest in current experience (i.e., mostly a cognitive/belief/some-other-feeling issue).


Hmm, perhaps I have been very conditioned to see things from a physical viewpoint. I spent 8 years in the Goenka tradition focused purely on the sensations of the body. I feel the entire body at all times as a buzzy mass of vibrations. I can't turn this awarenss off.

For me, it seems very obvious that there is some sort of process of sensations being reacted to mentally. Those sensations seem to arise due to an object coming in contact with a sense door to trigger a sequence of evaluation and mental, verbal and physical reaction thus giving rise to a feeling, such as boredom.

For example, I am in a situation where someone is insulting me verbally. The words come in contact with my ears. The mind percieves, evaluates and identifies the sounds heard as negative towards "self". A negative flow of sensations/vibrations is triggered in the body (usually at a chakra point for me). The mind reacts mentally to the flow creating a feeling compounded out of those sensations and the mental reaction , a mind state and/or flow of thoughts. The sensations seem to add the colour and vibe to the feeling. This compounding process seems to me to give rise to a feeling/sense of being IMO.

The belief of "I need to be doing something fun and if I'm not , I'll be bored", as a thought, is an object which comes in contact with the sense door of the mind. This contact is followed by perception, evaluation and then the arising of sensations of either an unpleasant, pleasant or neutral nature depending on the evaluation of the object.

In the case of boredom, unpleasant sensations arise to then be reacted to mentally with a mind state of restlessness and a desire for pleasant sensory input --> craving, and a feeling "me" is born again and again. All of this happens very, very quickly.

So, perhaps changing the way we perceive and evaluate objects will help in breaking the chain of sequence which leads to extreme feelings in order to get back to being happy and harmless. Apperception breaks the chain before the evaluation takes hold perhaps. I would say insight meditators are more focused on the phenomenological goings on rather than the content of the thoughts (beliefs). This approach is new for me, coming from a purely insight background. I like it.

Is there a way to derive the benefit of 4th path - with regards to 'no stickiness' - without having to meditate or enter jhanas? Or do I have to go through the extremely slow process of breaking down my social identity?


4th only happened after lots of meditation insight practice. Not sure you could jump to the non-stickiness. But if you develop and cultivate the ability to "nip it in the bud", things don't need to be less sticky, right?

RE: actual freedom, behaviour, peace on earth
Answer
5/13/11 12:19 AM as a reply to Nikolai ..
Nikolai .:
(...) So, perhaps changing the way we perceive and evaluate objects will help in breaking the chain of sequence which leads to extreme feelings in order to get back to being happy and harmless. Apperception breaks the chain before the evaluation takes hold perhaps. I would say insight meditators are more focused on the phenomenological goings on rather than the content of the thoughts (beliefs). This approach is new for me, coming from a purely insight background. I like it.

Is there a way to derive the benefit of 4th path - with regards to 'no stickiness' - without having to meditate or enter jhanas? Or do I have to go through the extremely slow process of breaking down my social identity?


4th only happened after lots of meditation insight practice. Not sure you could jump to the non-stickiness. But if you develop and cultivate the ability to "nip it in the bud", things don't need to be less sticky, right?


Hmm. "nip it in the bud" sounds simple, but in practice, the "compounding" results in a mental block and thus inhibits any investigation, let alone nipping in the bud.

So, first, it is the "compounding" that must go, or at least mitigated to a sufficient extent for investigation and nipping-in-the-bud to happen. This is the key insight I gained while investigating on weed today. I have this mental block in regards to desire for companionship with woman. During the day, I discovered the core belief that inhibits any fun I could have with an activity (activities that used to be very fun before puberty) ... the belief that I must be in a relationship to live a contented life (I am a 30 yr old virgin male). Where does "compounding" come here? I also have a low self-worth with its own ramifications mixed into the perceptions of women/people (probably due to childhood bullying). What I discovered during the day was based on what I investigated yesterday on weed. Just now, I smoked some more to investigate this belief, and how to eradicate it (so I may get back to the fun of doing things that used to be fun). And I realized something: there are 'gaps' in our feeling experience. There is the pleasure of intimacy/sex, and then there is the "desire" of (repeatedly) attaining that pleasure. It seems that the moment "just before" to the arising of that desire is what I call the "gap" (very perceptible on weed). The belief I mentioned above is connected to the desire. I do not directly see that belief as silly, as it seems so true. But when I perceived the "gap" - things started making more sense: it is absolutely silly to desire/long-for a thing and compound it with frustrations/hopes/despairs. Instead, it is much more sensible to "extend" that gap. The 'gap' is much better than longing. Once the gap is stabilized, I can looking into up-levelling that into felicitous feelings.

It is when this 'gap' is forgotten, and (thus) desire/hopes/despair (repeatedly) reign, that moods form and "stick in" thereby making "me" a miserable self. At that stage, nipping it in the bud is an impossible task.

RE: actual freedom, behaviour, peace on earth
Answer
5/13/11 4:42 AM as a reply to Harry Potter.
Harry Potter the gap is where you can 'nip it in the bud' given sufficient intent and understanding of what is gonna come after the gap. if you prolong the gap long enough, the compounding (which might be striving to get into the experience) will whither/run out of gas. so you could still contemplate the belief from the vantage point of the gap, but it'll seem silly to spend time on as the belief will be seen to quite obviously be silly (any bad feeling about anything will be seen to be silly, regardless of belief).

the trick in my experience is finding how to spot the gap, then how to extend the gap. finding and extending the gap is both one and the same for me: it is contemplating whatever in this moment will inspire the intent to be here. sometimes it is trees/plant life, the sensation of ground under the feet, that this is the only moment i can be alive and its right here right now, the seemingly infinite range of forms, man's ingenuity in shaping form, the fascination of being conscious of being conscious. whatever works.

this is what has worked for me so far at least.

RE: actual freedom, behaviour, peace on earth
Answer
5/9/11 9:08 AM as a reply to Nikolai ..
Nick asks:


"Stephanie, could you elaborate on how to get AF, you realized "that the twinge of anxiety was not a problem, it was just a veil, like a bell jar, and one needed to just yank the veil off, as the world is totally perfect."

How did you "yank the veil off" exactly? I think i understand what you mean. I have recently seen how there is a choice in any given moment to experience with an affective filter or without. Could you elaborate on it?"

Practicing the PCE, and developing such a faculty with them that I was in them almost all day every day, meant that when one was not in the PCE there was something like a "switch" one could flip to go back into one. If existence when not in a PCE is "A," and the PCE is "B," then movement between A and B makes the path to "C" (actual freedom) more apparent; this is why the gold standard advice is "stay as close to the PCE as possible," because in doing so, one moves ever closer to actual freedom.

I will attempt what is an antiquated analogy in the era of CDs and Ipods; but think of a wax record. They are heated and therefore during their creation phase very soft; an object then imprints a groove onto the wax, and from that groove comes a particular sound. The PCE, the practicing of apperception, has the effect of reheating the wax so that all those grooves melt away. We might understand those grooves to be the social identity as well as the instinctual passions, so that practicing HAIETMOBA, which leads to apperception, which is the PCE, begins to unravel the self/Self.

The analogy of the veil, or the bell jar (a term which alludes to Sylvia Plath's novel by the same name), suggests that the self that needs to be undone has no actuality at all; the realization is that this parasitic thing one might perceive themselves to be "battling" with is pure fiction, therefore, getting rid of it is not at all a transformation of the actual matter (that being your flesh and blood body) but rather a radical, but ultimately simple, mutation in consciousness that enables the recognition that one has always been here in the actual world.

None of this should hurt.

For many, many years, I must admit, "Stefanie" had this strange suspicion when she was particularly stressed out, that there was some kind of way to "let go." Stefanie could suss out, in some inexplicable way, some boundary to the anxiety/tension/fear/worry and there was a very faint, vague realization that beyond that boundary there was no negative experience, but Stefanie couldn't find the tipping point until coming upon the DhO, Daniel and Tarin's conversations, and the Actual Freedom website. What I realize now is that the letting go was held back only by a belief that holding onto the tension was necessary to be a good person, to contain crisis and trauma, to "be on top of things." The belief went something like..."If I don't worry about X, Y, and Z, I will not accomplish W, which I really really need to accomplish to survive. So I better keep worrying until I get this thing accomplished. And I must accomplish this thing, otherwise, I will be letting down my family, those who depend on me, and I'll be a failure." Even as a Goenka meditator, for many years, this kind of anxious thought process was at work. This way of thinking, these beliefs, caused "Stefanie" untold suffering and sometimes that suffering was "mild," other times it could be excruciatingly intense; it was in those moments of intensity that this vague call to release this mechanism, whatever it was, would reveal itself.

This letting go is releasing one's self in order to experience harmlessness and happiness, instead of thinking it is a frivolous and useless enterprise to cultivate felicity, joie de vivre, carefreelessness, naivete, and humor. To be innocent and sincere is to be unassailable in one's happiness.

As I write this I am reminded of an incident from my childhood. I was about 10 at the time. I was walking home from school with my best friend and was probably in a PCE, as we'd just come from ballet, and physical activity was a childhood trigger for 'Stefanie' to experience a PCE...and a man pulled up alongside us on the street and asked directions. He asked if we knew how to get to "nipple street." I was thinking quite hard about how to give the man good advice, because I knew, as I lived in Denver, that all the streets were alphabetical, and that we were currently on Birch street, so I only needed to figure out which direction would send him deeper into the alphabet towards "N," and this is what I was thinking, quite benignly trying to help the man. My friend was grabbing at my arm frantically and I was standing there, sort of looking up as people do when thinking hard, and didn't notice the man was masturbating. I finally told him I had no idea where Nipple street was, but good luck. He drove off. My friend then told me the man was masturbating and her freak out commenced.

In my sincerity and naivete, I was completely incapable of being harmed by his attempt (which failed in my case) to expose himself to me and my friend. The release mechanism is to cultivate so much sincerity and naivete that one is so happy, that while one has feelings one is feeling good, *no matter what. *

One must be willing to be what some might understand as foolish; in the absence of a cunning entity, in the absence of manipulation, strategizing, and so on, one releases one's self into happiness, into feeling good, into experiencing the perfection of the world as it is, rather than categorizing, judging objects, people, and incidents as either good, bad, or neutral and then reacting to objects, people, and incidents as +1 or -1, or 0. In the case of the man looking for nipple street, one perspective on that event is that I was a total idiot who failed to realize the salacious nature of his intent. But what would that realization have gained me, but suffering and unhappiness, had I understood the incident the way my friend did, rather than as a simple (though insincere on his part) request for directions?


To the question you asked, Nick, of "how" to yank off the veil I have attempted to answer by saying, to summarize these comments, that going in and out of the PCE delineates the boundaries of the parasitic identity and enables one to suss out the delusional nature of it; being as happy as one possibly can to the point of ultimate naivete and sincerity; and by having fun and refusing to be serious. Therefore, when one is not in a PCE and "I" makes an appearance in the form of feelings (since "I" am my feelings and my feelings are "me,") one can flip the switch because one has seen through the gauzy fictitiousness of that identity and one is having so much fun in the actual world, why let a delusion crash the party?

RE: actual freedom, behaviour, peace on earth
Answer
5/9/11 9:52 AM as a reply to Seraphina Wise.
Thank you Stephanie!

This is a lot of good stuff to ponder and take on board. Excellent!

:-)

RE: actual freedom, behaviour, peace on earth
Answer
5/9/11 10:12 AM as a reply to Nikolai ..
Nikolai .:
Thank you Stephanie!

This is a lot of good stuff to ponder and take on board. Excellent!

:-)


You're welcome.

RE: actual freedom, behaviour, peace on earth
Answer
5/9/11 11:08 AM as a reply to Seraphina Wise.
Helpful post. Thanks.

But to be honest, in reading further on the AF website and what's been written here about PCE's, I'm not entirely sure now that I've had a full blown PCE of any significant length. Lots and lots of EE's, and possibly then dipping into some really really short PCE's. I know Nick has posted that he thinks his diminished "self" from 4th path attainment was possibly a good factor in making PCE's happen, but Stef if I remember correctly, you didn't follow the path/attainment model and were able to get AF. How did you make your PCE's last?

Thanks,
Steph

RE: actual freedom, behaviour, peace on earth
Answer
5/9/11 12:36 PM as a reply to Steph S.
Steph S:
Helpful post. Thanks.

But to be honest, in reading further on the AF website and what's been written here about PCE's, I'm not entirely sure now that I've had a full blown PCE of any significant length. Lots and lots of EE's, and possibly then dipping into some really really short PCE's. I know Nick has posted that he thinks his diminished "self" from 4th path attainment was possibly a good factor in making PCE's happen, but Stef if I remember correctly, you didn't follow the path/attainment model and were able to get AF. How did you make your PCE's last?

Thanks,
Steph


Hey there Steph,

I don't know how to "make" a PCE last. What a body can do, though, is when one becomes aware that one is no longer in a PCE, one can use whatever process one uses to get into a PCE to get back into it, or one can activate sensuous attentiveness, which will ultimately lead to apperception. The more deft one is at attentiveness, the 'quicker' one can return to apperception so that when the PCE "ends," one is simply "reflectively attentive," asking HAIETMOBA, and apperception will again "haply" occur. (To use Richard's phrasing.)

RE: actual freedom, behaviour, peace on earth
Answer
5/9/11 4:09 PM as a reply to Seraphina Wise.
SW:

Hey there Steph,

I don't know how to "make" a PCE last. What a body can do, though, is when one becomes aware that one is no longer in a PCE, one can use whatever process one uses to get into a PCE to get back into it, or one can activate sensuous attentiveness, which will ultimately lead to apperception. The more deft one is at attentiveness, the 'quicker' one can return to apperception so that when the PCE "ends," one is simply "reflectively attentive," asking HAIETMOBA, and apperception will again "haply" occur. (To use Richard's phrasing.)


Thanks for the reply. The part I put in bold might be the challenge for me here. To clarify, I'm having difficulty discerning the PCE itself. I've reflected on this quite a bit and while I have had many experiences where sensuousness was way heightened - everything wondrous and vivid and no worry to be felt, it seems there was still a bit of "me" in them (which would be an EE). Perhaps within these EE's there were brief moments when I did genuinely get into a PCE. I suspect the tricky part of it might be, I don't know if or when going from EE to PCE happens. So, I don't know how to get back to something that I'm not even sure is happening.

RE: actual freedom, behaviour, peace on earth
Answer
5/9/11 4:49 PM as a reply to Steph S.
Hey Stefanie,

How many months did it take you to go from start AF to AF? please answer.

RE: actual freedom, behaviour, peace on earth
Answer
5/9/11 4:53 PM as a reply to Adam Bieber.
Adam Bieber:
Hey Stefanie,

How many months did it take you to go from start AF to AF? please answer.


I started practicing actualism in July of 2010; I became actually free on 9/22/2010.

If you'd like to read some of my first posts to the DhO, please search under the handle "S Kyle."

RE: actual freedom, behaviour, peace on earth
Answer
5/9/11 4:50 PM as a reply to Steph S.
Steph S:
SW:

Hey there Steph,

I don't know how to "make" a PCE last. What a body can do, though, is when one becomes aware that one is no longer in a PCE, one can use whatever process one uses to get into a PCE to get back into it, or one can activate sensuous attentiveness, which will ultimately lead to apperception. The more deft one is at attentiveness, the 'quicker' one can return to apperception so that when the PCE "ends," one is simply "reflectively attentive," asking HAIETMOBA, and apperception will again "haply" occur. (To use Richard's phrasing.)


Thanks for the reply. The part I put in bold might be the challenge for me here. To clarify, I'm having difficulty discerning the PCE itself. I've reflected on this quite a bit and while I have had many experiences where sensuousness was way heightened - everything wondrous and vivid and no worry to be felt, it seems there was still a bit of "me" in them (which would be an EE). Perhaps within these EE's there were brief moments when I did genuinely get into a PCE. I suspect the tricky part of it might be, I don't know if or when going from EE to PCE happens. So, I don't know how to get back to something that I'm not even sure is happening.


One thing you could do is to do the second part after what you bolded...if you are not sure you are experiencing a PCE, you could approach it like you have no idea what PCE is and just follow the directions and relax, have fun, and let the PCE happen. If you are constantly "scanning" yourself, self-consciously wondering if you are in a PCE, then this will keep you from the PCE.

What if you just decided that you were going to first cultivate pure intent to feel as good as you could, as much as you could. And then from there, you worked on sensuous attentiveness...and see what happens? What if you dropped all analysis and instead just experienced being alive openly without an "agenda?" (That agenda being "nailing" the PCE?) What if you just thought: "Hey I don't know if this a PCE or an EE or what, but I am happy and I am experiencing this moment of being alive as perfect as it is, so I am just going to go with that."

RE: actual freedom, behaviour, peace on earth
Answer
5/10/11 3:22 PM as a reply to Seraphina Wise.
SW:

If you are constantly "scanning" yourself, self-consciously wondering if you are in a PCE, then this will keep you from the PCE.


I have noticed myself doing something like this alot. While in an EE, trying to scan around and figure out where the edge in my experience is. It's almost something like trying to stretch my experience out to the outer limits, but then it just retracts. Too much effort that only relates it back to me instead of panoramic sensate experience itself. A pattern of that happening has started, but hopefully shouldn't be too hard to get rid of with sincerity (and also minus any self-connotation of it being a "bad" habit, which has lurked there unnecessarily - it's not "me" that's doing it, just somehow the brain started picking up on that pattern and repeating it, I suppose).


What if you just decided that you were going to first cultivate pure intent to feel as good as you could, as much as you could. And then from there, you worked on sensuous attentiveness...and see what happens? What if you dropped all analysis and instead just experienced being alive openly without an "agenda?" (That agenda being "nailing" the PCE?) What if you just thought: "Hey I don't know if this a PCE or an EE or what, but I am happy and I am experiencing this moment of being alive as perfect as it is, so I am just going to go with that."


Fabulous. I'm giving this a whirl now and seeing what fun happens.

RE: actual freedom, behaviour, peace on earth
Answer
5/12/11 1:12 AM as a reply to Steph S.
To me, a PCE only happens on its own accord. one finds oneself in one. therefore, it is useless to try and voluntarily bring one about. One does have voluntarily control over feeling good because "one" is the internal world or "me". The "me" cannot control the actual world because it is not it and therefore, "I" cannot control or bring about a PCE (or experience with the actual). One can only play with the internal world until one feels felicitous/innocuous and from this advantageous point, involuntarily (as the "me" is no longer controlling) sensually observe and notice apperception, which is the first sense before cognition such as the wind touching your skin. If one finds the method not to be working, then most likely it is due to a lack of feeling good/innocuous.

Also, happy and harmlessness is not some state of extreme joy and pleasure. Happy and harmlessness manifests first as a mundane satisfaction, being completely content with the moment and maybe enjoying it a bit. Apperception is where things get great. The internal world can only provide so much and happiness/harmlesness is only a platform to experience the pleasure of apperceptive awareness. Also, one shouldn't search for a happiness that is superhuman because when relaxing into a low enjoyment, it becomes a greater one by no longer "trying" any more.

I hope I made my points clear. Its funny because i don't know if these are opinions or facts. I think they are facts but maybe only to my experience/understood this way through my experience.

RE: SW's Practice Advice
Answer
5/5/11 1:04 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
To be the opposite of an achiever, AF is actually the opposite of achieving anything.
...
If you have achieved a lot of things, then you have to get used to unbecoming, as you are none of the things that you have done.

hm interesting. today i was a bit saddish (not intensely so), being like man this isn't getting anywhere... for the past few days i was obsessing about the fact that i'm still suffering, causing suffering in the process. some relevant things about that in your notes, too. but after that died down there was a sense of nothing really happening. meditation-wise, it doesn't seem to do much anymore except lead to some pleasant and unpleasant altered states, temporarily, though i also don't think i'm 4th path so that was annoying. actualism-wise, feeling like i'm not learning anything new, just going over stuff i've already gone over before.

and i think i wanted that sense of progress. that might have been underpinning the obsessing. it feels good to feel like you're progressing.. that's probably why i occasionally check how clear my vision is and try to compare it to how it was before to see if it's more clear, since if it is i think i've progressed.

but like your notes say, AF is the opposite of achieving anything... that desire for progress has gotta go. it's silly anyway as 'i' am not progressing in that way anyway...

Daniel M. Ingram:
There is nothing at stake except pragmatism.
can you expound on this a bit?

RE: SW's Practice Advice
Answer
5/5/11 4:04 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
We take on role identities and use it to construct an identity and that is exactly what you will lose when you get AF, but that may not change behavior, just the feeling about the actions.

This really needs some clarification.

RE: SW's Practice Advice
Answer
5/6/11 1:33 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
Once there was no compelling argument for being a feeling being, it did itself.

This is also a great one, actually. There's no compelling reason to be a feeling being... so it's time to stop being one. How does one do that? By activating attentiveness.

Also, by no longer feeling. So whenever I feel a feeling, I think - is there a compelling reason to continue being a feeling being? No? Then there's no compelling reason to feel this feeling... thinking about it that way seems to really help to disarm them. It also means that none of my feeling-fueled tricks will help at all, since they only perpetuate being a feeling being.. it's just about attentiveness. Think I just found a nice source of pure intent..

RE: SW's Practice Advice
Answer
5/6/11 5:06 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
This is great, thanks for sharing.

Daniel M. Ingram:
Remember her analogy about hypochondriacs: when you are sick, you will know. Put the twangs in a box as insignificant. Ultimately the analysis is keeping it alive in some way. Feeling good is more important than tracking down the twinges.


Reminds me of this quote that I like:

Richard:
For a moment allow yourself to set aside – not give up – your psychological state of ‘being’, which is occupied by the latest accumulation of worries and preoccupations. Make all of your identity unimportant, for now, and contemplate the perfection of being here now. Allow this moment to live you, instead of you living in the present. Experience yourself as being the doing of what is happening. An immediate peace and calm emerges and all is wiped clean, allowing a three-hundred-and-sixty degree awareness to operate. It is like having eyes in the back of your head. In this clean atmosphere you can freely allow the pure quality of the immediacy of this moment to become paramount. It is of itself not at all concerned with the culturally defined personality you were just before; it takes no notice of any ‘problem’ that has just been plaguing you and is calmly unperturbed by any psychological interference. Instantly the friendly solution to all humankind’s problems lies open all around. It is a condition which cannot be mistaken as anything else than authentic, as it is your very character. It is the simple, actual quality of the universe itself … it is a magical world … a fairytale-like wonderland.

RE: SW's Practice Advice
Answer
5/17/11 7:36 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:

She says the social conditioning stuff is very overlooked by AF practitioners, and people don’t fully understand what it means to just be a flesh and blood body, and people have a lot of feelings and emotions tied up in race, class, gender, and they don’t have the interrogative mechanism to undo those. She said a lot of that idealogical stuff already exists in the study of the humanities, so she was very familiar with the way people falsely construct social identities. We take on role identities and use it to construct an identity and that is exactly what you will lose when you get AF
Daniel


Stefanie -
Given that you became actually free about 3 months after finding AF and the DhO, it would seem the "pre-work" you did on social conditioning was incredibly valuable. For folks who are aspiring to become actually free that are reading the AF website and Richard's journal now, would you recommend any books or articles on social conditioning that you think might assist in becoming AF?

Thank you.

RE: SW's Practice Advice
Answer
5/18/11 6:25 AM as a reply to ed c.
Ed C wrote:

Stefanie -
Given that you became actually free about 3 months after finding AF and the DhO, it would seem the "pre-work" you did on social conditioning was incredibly valuable. For folks who are aspiring to become actually free that are reading the AF website and Richard's journal now, would you recommend any books or articles on social conditioning that you think might assist in becoming AF?

Thank you.

***

Hi Ed,

Almost all contemporary theory in the humanities is premised on the notion that identity (and what is typically meant by identity is the idea of race, gender, sexuality, class, and able-bodied-ness) is a social construction. There are literally thousands of works structured around this most basic recognition that race is not "real" (as they would say), that gender is not natural but performative, ditto for sexuality, class, and able-bodied-ness (in the context of disability studies).

Having said that, I will refrain from recommending a specific reading list to avoid those specific titles becoming associated with Actualism, when in fact many of the works, while undoing certain notions of identity, may as yet construct others. A google search on "the social construction of race/class/gender/sexuality/ability" will likely point you in the direction of some works you can read, as the titles catch your interest.

Social conditioning, of course, is not only for these broad categories of identity, but relate also to notions about things like marriage ("Against Love," by Laura Kipnes is entertaining), beauty, normal-ness ("The Trouble with Normal," Michael Warner), morality ("Beyond Good and Evil," Friedrich Nietzsche) , and so on, and there is a ton of writing about that as well. There is even a lot of writing about happiness itself in academe, for example, Sara Ahmed's recent book "The Pursuit of Happiness," or Barbara Erenreich's book "Bright Sided." (These are not recommendations for actualists, please realize, simply examples of the kind of work one can read if so inclined; I make no claims about their veracity but reference them only as examples of what is available on the subjects I mention above.) The texts I've mentioned here are arbitrary and special in no significant way; but like almost everything else written by academics in the humanities since 1985 (or so), they take as a "given" the social constructedness of identity.

These categories of identity are not separate and discrete, and they are held together in multiple ways by the instinctual passions, and by affect. Often academics in the humanities will talk about the "intersectionality" of identity, or the "matrix" of identity, or, in the case of the French philosopher Michel Foucault, the "network of power," which informs how identities get made socially. One piece of identity ties to another; if you pull the piece on marriage, for example, you may find all kinds of ideas and beliefs about gender, sexuality, class, beauty, morality, and even nationality fall out onto the mat, so that one then is unraveling a huge morass of social conditioning about who one is and who others are.

To undertake a study of social conditioning in all its dimensions can be helpful to the practitioner who doesn't know what social conditioning is; at the same time, one must avoid getting caught up in the ideological notions present even in the works that question social conditioning. Furthermore, there is no one or 35 "right" books to read in order to understand social conditioning; one can read a plethora of books on the subject in order to see how scholars have pulled back the notion of a fixed, stable identity on the bases of the kinds of things I mention above.

My comment that some actualist practitioners don't do enough work on the social identity arises from the fact that often it can be difficult for individuals to understand the most basic assumptions of their culture. It may be difficult to understand the most basic assumptions of one's culture if one has nothing to compare it to and if one has never questioned ideas and beliefs they have taken as "givens" from the time they were born. Many of those ideas, beliefs, and assumptions are "invisible" and should become visible if one is attentive and understands what social conditioning is. Those assumptions contribute to and make up, in large part, one's social conditioning. Quite often those who have had to privilege to never think about certain aspects of identity, when asked about it, will dismiss it as insignificant, only to discover later--and perhaps quite to their dismay--that they do indeed have some mistaken notions about identity, about what bodies mean, and the way their notion of themselves is informed and sustained by cultural and societal beliefs.

It seems to me that one of the most promising aspects of a widespread actualist practice is that it offers people a chance to break the shackles of social conditioning, which is so much to blame for suffering in the world. I have made the comment before in private conversation that while intellectuals have argued for quite a long time that social constructions of identity are the cause for much strife and conflict between peoples, no one among academics has yet to imagine a viable solution to the problem as far as I have seen. The first solution to that problem, and the first practice to actually address the social identity in a way that would permanently solve the problem, is actualism.