A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Not Tao 9/12/14 9:15 AM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Dream Walker 9/12/14 2:06 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Adam . . 9/12/14 2:14 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Not Tao 9/12/14 6:58 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom John Wilde 9/12/14 6:36 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Not Tao 9/12/14 6:54 PM
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RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom PP 9/12/14 10:08 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Not Tao 9/13/14 3:25 AM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Psi 9/13/14 1:54 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Bill F. 9/13/14 2:31 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Eva Nie 9/13/14 3:54 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Bill F. 9/13/14 4:16 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Bill F. 9/13/14 4:16 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Not Tao 9/14/14 8:21 AM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Bill F. 9/14/14 10:27 AM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Not Tao 9/14/14 11:17 AM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Bill F. 9/14/14 11:28 AM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Not Tao 9/14/14 12:57 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Felipe C. 9/14/14 1:32 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Not Tao 9/14/14 1:44 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Daniel - san 9/14/14 3:03 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Bill F. 9/14/14 2:13 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Felipe C. 9/14/14 2:31 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Bill F. 9/14/14 2:44 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Felipe C. 9/14/14 3:32 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Bill F. 9/17/14 9:09 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom John Wilde 9/14/14 3:47 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Felipe C. 9/14/14 3:52 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom John Wilde 9/14/14 7:36 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Not Tao 9/14/14 5:47 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Daniel - san 9/14/14 7:06 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Not Tao 9/15/14 11:55 AM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Daniel - san 9/15/14 2:23 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Not Tao 9/15/14 6:07 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Daniel - san 9/15/14 6:30 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Felipe C. 9/15/14 7:42 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Daniel - san 9/16/14 12:55 AM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Psi 9/16/14 12:16 AM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Not Tao 9/16/14 4:48 AM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Psi 9/16/14 10:06 AM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Not Tao 9/16/14 10:43 AM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Psi 9/16/14 2:55 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Daniel - san 9/16/14 11:16 AM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Not Tao 9/16/14 3:23 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Daniel - san 9/16/14 6:36 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Not Tao 9/16/14 8:22 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Eva Nie 9/17/14 11:26 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Eva Nie 9/18/14 12:00 AM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Daniel - san 9/18/14 5:42 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom John Wilde 9/18/14 7:41 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Eva Nie 9/18/14 11:47 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Eva Nie 9/21/14 1:21 AM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Psi 9/16/14 4:03 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Daniel - san 9/16/14 7:19 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Eva Nie 9/15/14 1:03 AM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Daniel - san 9/14/14 3:20 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Felipe C. 9/14/14 3:54 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Daniel - san 9/14/14 4:22 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Eva Nie 9/15/14 12:43 AM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Daniel - san 9/15/14 2:36 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Eva Nie 9/17/14 10:58 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Felipe C. 9/15/14 5:48 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom J J 9/15/14 4:26 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Not Tao 9/15/14 4:42 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom J J 9/15/14 4:59 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Daniel - san 9/15/14 5:21 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Felipe C. 9/15/14 6:55 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Eva Nie 9/14/14 2:36 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Not Tao 9/14/14 4:46 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Daniel - san 9/14/14 5:11 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom John Wilde 9/14/14 5:40 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Not Tao 9/14/14 5:51 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom John Wilde 9/14/14 6:09 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Not Tao 9/14/14 6:35 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Daniel - san 9/14/14 7:17 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Daniel - san 9/14/14 6:14 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom John Wilde 9/14/14 6:25 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Not Tao 9/13/14 4:17 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Bill F. 9/13/14 4:07 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Psi 9/13/14 4:41 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom John Wilde 9/13/14 4:54 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Eva Nie 9/14/14 12:04 AM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Psi 9/12/14 11:46 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Psi 9/13/14 5:57 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Psi 9/14/14 12:50 AM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Psi 9/14/14 12:59 AM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Psi 9/14/14 9:49 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom J J 9/14/14 9:47 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Psi 9/14/14 9:56 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom J J 9/14/14 10:13 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom J J 9/14/14 10:41 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Psi 9/14/14 11:12 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Psi 9/16/14 11:54 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Not Tao 9/17/14 7:59 AM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Psi 9/17/14 9:49 AM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Not Tao 9/17/14 9:57 AM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Psi 9/17/14 10:56 AM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 9/17/14 11:15 AM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Psi 9/17/14 1:54 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Not Tao 9/17/14 1:52 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Psi 9/17/14 2:17 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Teague 9/17/14 10:18 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Not Tao 9/18/14 8:36 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Bill F. 9/18/14 10:08 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Felipe C. 9/22/14 11:24 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Bill F. 9/23/14 8:56 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Felipe C. 9/24/14 12:57 AM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Teague 9/18/14 10:22 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 9/19/14 9:42 AM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Not Tao 9/19/14 11:55 AM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Teague 9/20/14 2:07 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Eva Nie 9/21/14 12:49 AM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Not Tao 9/21/14 9:23 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Psi 9/21/14 10:19 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Psi 9/22/14 12:00 AM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Eva Nie 9/22/14 8:03 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 9/22/14 11:14 AM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Psi 9/22/14 12:49 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Eva Nie 9/22/14 8:45 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 9/23/14 10:07 AM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Psi 9/23/14 9:55 AM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 9/23/14 10:22 AM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Psi 9/23/14 1:19 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Eva Nie 9/23/14 11:47 AM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 9/23/14 12:31 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Psi 9/23/14 1:44 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Not Tao 9/23/14 2:55 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Felipe C. 9/30/14 1:42 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 9/23/14 2:40 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Not Tao 9/23/14 2:57 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 9/23/14 2:58 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Not Tao 9/23/14 3:08 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Psi 9/23/14 4:54 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 9/23/14 5:27 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Psi 9/23/14 6:07 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Not Tao 9/23/14 6:35 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Psi 9/23/14 6:27 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Not Tao 9/23/14 6:38 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom J J 9/23/14 7:53 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Not Tao 9/23/14 9:45 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom J J 9/24/14 2:34 AM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Psi 9/23/14 9:15 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 9/23/14 9:24 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Psi 9/24/14 10:57 AM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Eva Nie 9/28/14 2:30 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 9/29/14 11:38 AM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Not Tao 9/29/14 1:04 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Psi 9/29/14 5:40 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 9/29/14 6:27 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Bill F. 9/29/14 6:30 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 9/30/14 12:47 AM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Psi 9/30/14 10:38 AM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 9/30/14 11:37 AM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Psi 9/30/14 12:09 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Not Tao 9/30/14 2:49 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 9/30/14 3:29 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Psi 9/30/14 4:56 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Not Tao 9/30/14 8:47 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 10/1/14 11:34 AM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Not Tao 10/1/14 12:19 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 10/1/14 12:36 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Not Tao 10/1/14 1:04 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Bill F. 10/1/14 5:45 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Bill F. 10/1/14 6:01 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 10/1/14 6:40 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Not Tao 10/1/14 8:00 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 10/1/14 11:01 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Bill F. 10/2/14 6:08 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 10/3/14 1:33 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Bill F. 10/3/14 6:05 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Not Tao 10/3/14 7:11 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Bill F. 10/3/14 10:32 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Felipe C. 10/4/14 3:04 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Not Tao 10/5/14 12:28 AM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Felipe C. 10/3/14 8:42 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Eva Nie 10/4/14 12:02 AM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Eva Nie 10/1/14 1:43 AM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Eva Nie 9/21/14 3:41 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Daniel - san 9/22/14 7:30 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Psi 9/18/14 3:40 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Psi 9/19/14 12:29 AM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 9/19/14 9:44 AM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Psi 10/5/14 7:58 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Not Tao 10/5/14 2:59 AM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Eva Nie 10/5/14 10:45 AM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Bill F. 10/5/14 2:55 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Nikolai . 10/5/14 3:30 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Not Tao 10/5/14 3:27 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Bill F. 10/5/14 6:08 PM
RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom Psi 10/5/14 8:06 PM
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Not Tao, modified 7 Years ago at 9/12/14 9:15 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/12/14 5:50 AM

A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

Posts: 995 Join Date: 4/5/14 Recent Posts
Hi guys,

I haven't been on here in a while.  I left a while back because I realized I wasn't adding much to the forum, but I'd like to rejoin the community and try to make some useful posts since I've found so many on here over the past year.

Something I've noticed about Actualism is that there isn't a great variety in the way it's presented, and this is, maybe, what leads to so much confusion about it.  I've spent a lot of time over at the AFT website recently looking things up as I encounter them, and I've really come to enjoy how lucid and simple a lot of it is.  My hope for this post is that I can help more people benefit from the ideas, and maybe give any practicing actualists a new set of ideas to work with.

Anyway, the way I've come to see Actualism is that it is a set of tips, ideas, and practices aimed at dismantling the "guard", or the habitual reactionary process that happens when we experience things.  This guarding, or tension, is both physical and mental, and it's always related to self-protection.  As we go about our day, there is an alertness sitting at the back of our minds that is actively scanning for dangers, and a person's personality is, essentially, the result of how many things they see as dangerous, and the way they've come to protect themselves agaisnt these things.  An anxious person sees danger in saying the wrong thing, doing the wrong thing, making mistakes, etc, and protects himself by avoiding and running away from situations that might present these things.  An angry person sees danger in having their ideas, authority, or power challenged, and deals with the danger by making himself large and loud to scare off the threats.

Actualism, then, works in a two fold manner to disable the guard in the short term, and then remove the triggers that cause the guard to appear.  After a bit of practice, the ongoing question in the mind of an actualist is whether or not they see danger in anything in their experience.  When something is encountered that trigers this guarding mechanism, it is examined until it is seen that this thing doesn't need to be taken seriously, and the emotional negativity is resolved.  This weakens the reactivity each time it's done until the reaction simply doesn't happen anymore.

This often turns into a philosophical and ethical examination, and this is where the PCE is important.  After either having or remembering a PCE, a person will realize that the very core of human nature, when it's been stripped of all defense mechanisms, is a mind that is both benevolent and content.  This benevolence is born from contentment, so it's effortless and needs no "guard" (or morality) to persist, and the contentment is so perfectly satisfying that it is known, viscerally, that the mind truely needs nothing.

All moral or ethical guards, like guilt and shame, are seen as pointless because the mind can actually FEEL a perfect kindness towards all things without effort.  Guilt and shame also have negative side effects, like resentment leading to harmfulness, whereas the "check" on our malevolence in the PCE is the contentment that comes from needing nothing at all.  It's only logical to conclude that there's no reason to take guilt and shame seriously.

Anger is seen as pointless because, not only does it feel bad compared to the PCE, but it destroys interpersonal relationships and tends to prevent us from living well with other people.  There is also no need for it because, as seen in the PCE, we don't really need anything to be content - there are truely no threats to protect against.

An interesting realization for me, personally, was how useless anxiety is.  I was laying in bed worried about money, and I had thoughts about how, tomorrow, I would work harder to finish my project so I could become more prolific and maybe scrape by.  These kinds of thoughts were looping in my head when I suddenly realized I had spent most of the day thinking about the same things rather than working.  The irony of the situation was so ridiculous I lost the anxiety completely.  If we were to spend all our time in a PCE, we'd easilly be able to work 12 hour days no-problem, and we'd enjoy the work!

So, at it's core, Actualism is the process of learning to trust spontenaity.  It's about going through your problems, piece by piece, and realizing that none of them are actually serious or important.

But what about the good emotions?  This is something a little harder to understand, I think, but emotions like love and compassion are also reactionary and defensive.  There's a self absorption that is intrinsic to emotions (and I mean that in the normal way, not in the buddist "self" way).  When we experience love, it is a tension, both physical and mental, and it causes us to take possetion of another person.  Most importantly, it causes us to guard against anything that might hurt the feeling.  Compassion is a defense mechanism where the mind learns to enjoy sadness.  In fact, most positive emotions have a negative counterpoint, which is why the emotional experience can be so volitile and confusing.

This way of talking about positive emotions can be very confusing, though, because the PCE is often described in emotional terms like "delight", "wonder", "felicity", etc.  I've found it's best not to be too involved in questioning whether or not I'm experiencing an emotion in particular, though, and instead focus on whether there's any part of my experience that is unpleasant.  This allows the mind more freedom in what it examines, because there's no lable like "love" to skim over.  What I've often found is that, once the negative aspects of a positive experience like love are skimmed away (jealosy, fear of loss, desire to be closer, desire to possess), you're left with the simple benevolent contentment of the PCE anyway.  The love isn't gone so much as transcended.  A good analogy to this is that, because everything is perfect in the PCE, art loses all it's meaning.  That's not because the art-object has dulled, but rather because everything else has increased in beauty to meet it.  Even the idea of beauty is transcended.  The art and the wall behind it are both perfect.  As an artist, I have to say that I think the PCE is where our idea of beauty actually comes from.

The PCE, then, finally happens when the guard is down long enough for the mind to become thoroughly fascinated by the senses.  This fascination takes the mind completely out of the guarding mechanism, and this gives the PCE a "now" and "here" feeling.  It's perfectly possible to think, but the thoughts aren't coming out of that danger-seeking alertness, so even the most inflamatory ideas and events no longer carry emotional weight.  The mind is finally at ease.

I see the PCE, rather than "Actual Freedom", as the goal of the practice.  The reason for this is because the whole purpose of the thing is to let go of that tendancy to watch experience like a hawk.  I've been launched right out of PCEs by trying to figure out why they happened.  I've also wasted a lot of time rehersing negative feelings and trying to stop having them.  It can be helpful to know that there are Actually Free people in the world if you're going through a difficult time and need inspiration, but it's always better, as a practice, to look for freedom now rather than in the future.

I hope this is helpful to people and maybe serves to displace some of the misconceptions there are.  A few of the misconceptions I've had are:

- Actual Freedom is about becoming emotionless.
While it's true that the PCE is emotionless, it's not because the person experiencing it tried to get rid of their emotions in some way.  Anyone who is experiencing a PCE has temporarily let go of their defenses, which is the opposite of suppression.  I used to call it "acceptance" except you aren't accepting the negative emotions, you're accepting that there's nothing you really need to worry about, thus erasing negative emotions.

- PCEs are caused by paying attention - i.e. bare awareness.
I spent a lot of time doing a kind of zazen earlier this year, and while just sitting CAN lead to a PCE, it isn't because of deep concentration but rather deep appreciation.  Concentration is always going to be an exercise in suppresion, and that isn't going to make any deep changes to habitual patterns.  Eventually, even the most concentrated bliss becomes unsatisfyting, whereas the PCE is, itself, satisfaction.

- I must pay close attention to how I feel.
This one is a particular problem for anyone practicing any kind of mental development.  There's no bigger trap than ruminating about feelings.  I've been there a lot in my life, so I understand it.  The actualism method can often sound like rumination, as well.  We're supposed to examine our feelings, no?  But that's why I like to make the particular distiction that actualism is about letting down the guard.  It's impossible to ruminate about that, and it points directly to the problem - which is rumination itself.  By examining emotions dispassionately, we can sort out the the triggers that cause them, but searching wildly for some cause of a negative emotion in the moment is just a waste of time.  It is expressing the negativity to panic and look for a cause.  A better response is to neither express nor suppress the emotion - which is letting down the defenses.  I've found the best thing to do if you're ruminating about something is to distract yourself.  Do something physical or go be social for a while.  Come back to the problem later when you aren't so embedded in it.

I think that's it.  I'm on my tablet right now, so I probably have a lot of spelling errors and typos.  Hopefully that doesn't grate on anyone too much. :3
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Dream Walker, modified 7 Years ago at 9/12/14 2:06 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/12/14 2:03 PM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

Posts: 1448 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
I like your take on it....I tend to agree with your interperetation. Can emotions be vipassanaized by investigation?

There seems to be a dukkha/stress/fight or flight center in the brain. There seems to be many many "things" that are wired to it. I am leaning towards the idea that you can Vipassanize just about anything that is wired to this center and rewire it so that sensations no longer have to meet the stress threshold to get to conscious awareness. It seems you can rewire by seeing the "thing" clearly or rerouting the signals thru the love center of the brain. There are lots of techniques out there to choose from and some will work better/faster than others for some people.
~D
Adam , modified 7 Years ago at 9/12/14 2:14 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/12/14 2:14 PM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

Posts: 613 Join Date: 3/20/12 Recent Posts
thanks, i like this summary.

it is indeed about dropping the guard (a phrase which I think occurs somewhere in the official AFT writings) in my experience. Often it seems like that dropping is something that I can't predict or cause and it just naturally comes out of circumstances when not resisted, and those experiences are wonderful. getting it to happen through intention is a very counterintuitive thing.

sometimes it happens after intense experiences where some aspect of a fascade or a layer of identity can no longer be upheld because it is simply too difficult. other times it happens when circumstances come together very nicely and the world just seems very safe.

often the idea of actual freedom can actually appeal to the "guard" because it can seem like a way to make "me" independent and powerful... but this is a misinterpretation that consistently leads to suffering and confusion.

genuinely dropping the guard in an intentional way requires a willingness to lose everything I think. when I come close to that (but resist it) I often feel like an astronaught whose tether to a spacecraft was lost... floating lost and alone. or I feel like I will become an outcast in society and a failure. the guard only persists because we think it is useful in these ways and I guess investigation is about uncovering those false assumptions. when I don't resist the lowering of the guard though, there is no question that I have moved into a fresher, clearer, easier way of being.

"A better response is to neither express nor suppress the emotion - which is letting down the defenses."
would you mind sharing exactly what this means in practice for you? for me it basically means feeling the emotion in the body without thinking about it.
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Not Tao, modified 7 Years ago at 9/12/14 6:58 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/12/14 6:29 PM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

Posts: 995 Join Date: 4/5/14 Recent Posts
Dream Walker:
Can emotions be vipassanaized by investigation?


Is vipassana investigation, though? From how I've seen it explained, noting practice, or "noticing" practice, is passive observation of any sensation, and the goal is to see that sensation as being "empty" or selfless or impermanent. This is eventually supposed to lead to the realization that all things are empty and impermanent. Actual Freedom practice is very simple, it just posits that all unpleasantness is caused directly by a belief or an idea about the world, and that by changing those views the unpleasantness will no longer happen. Richard talks about "self" a lot, but this isn't the Buddhist concept of a self. He's simply referring to the idea that there is something that needs to be protected from the outside world. In the PCE, there is no sense of identity, and therefore nothing to protect, but there is very definitely a self in the Buddhist sense. Vipassana doesn't seem to have much to do with emotions at all if you consider the descriptions of the various levels of attainment in the pragmatic dharma circles. It's about how the world is experienced (self vs. no-self).

Conversely, If you're investigating emotions, looking at what caused them and how to change those causes, you probably aren't practicing vipassana.

This is only my understanding of it though.

Dream Walker:
There seems to be a dukkha/stress/fight or flight center in the brain. There seems to be many many "things" that are wired to it. I am leaning towards the idea that you can Vipassanize just about anything that is wired to this center and rewire it so that sensations no longer have to meet the stress threshold to get to conscious awareness. It seems you can rewire by seeing the "thing" clearly or rerouting the signals thru the love center of the brain. There are lots of techniques out there to choose from and some will work better/faster than others for some people.
~D


I've seen that said a number of times here, but I'm not quite sure what it means. If you're "seeing the thing clearly", to me that would mean you are seeing the conceptual trigger - a thought, concept, or belief - and you are seeing how that trigger is not important, not valuable in your experience. Actualism practice hasn't ever been about anything particularly mystical in my experience. It's very obvious why certain problems that I used to have no longer bother me. I simply made the effort to disabuse myself of trigger. An example might be, I used to be afraid of spiders, so I spent some time looking at pictures of spiders and being around living spiders in my house. Now spiders no longer bother me. This might sound stupidly straightforward, but if that fear can change, why can't all fear, and hate, and anger, and boredom, etc. It really does work, it just takes a bit of time and effort - and a bit of persistence. There aren't that many things in our lives that really bother us, we just spin around the same old troubles endlessly. So dramatic changes seem to happen with every harmful belief you get rid of, even if the belief itself is something small.

Adam . .:
"A better response is to neither express nor suppress the emotion - which is letting down the defenses."
would you mind sharing exactly what this means in practice for you? for me it basically means feeling the emotion in the body without thinking about it.


This is something I ask myself a lot, haha. It can be hard to pin down, though. Feeling it in the body without thinking about it... I think that is probably a kind of suppression (if I'm interpreting what you're saying correctly). If you consider the PCE, one of its most striking characteristics is how the mind simply isn't bothered by the things it normally would be. It's a true freedom because there's no need to avoid anything or run away from any thoughts. I think this is actually a good pointer to why the state happens. It's counter-intuitive to think you might get there by tuning out a sensation. If you were to suddenly think about the sensation again, you'd lose the PCE instantly. Not that I haven't tried what you're proposing. During a particularly dark period a while back, I was doing a practice where, whenever I felt negativity, I'd simply ignore the emotional qualities and come back to the senses. It became almost automatic to "physicalize" the emotions, or turn off the internal sense of being connected to them. I started falling into these unsettling states where the body seemed to be expressing emotional qualities and feelings, but they didn't have any emotional feeling connected to them. It almost felt like painful muscle spasms. I stopped that practice because it didn't seem to be going anywhere promising. If you're doing something different from this, though, and want to know if it will get you to the PCE, just ask yourself if the practice itself is related to what happens in the PCE. Things like effortlessness, openness, spontaneity, and fearless curiosity lead towards the PCE because they are aspects of the PCE.

Most of the time, letting down the defenses is the simplest and easiest thing you can consider doing with your experience. I mean that literally. Like, if you consider your experience as it is right now, and ask yourself how you can be the least involved in controlling it, that's neither suppressing nor expressing. If the emotion is very bad, it can feel like giving up and giving in completely. All the little tricks and strategies fail one by one until you finally give in and acknowledge that "yes, here I am, feeling like crap", and then it finally stops. You realize at that point that the whole reason it sucked in the first place was because you were fighting against some event or thing in your life. It's the grand reveal, in a way. Our emotions are trying to tell us something, and as long as we're trying to make them go away we're ignoring their purpose. It's like an alarm is going off in our head, and all we need to do to turn it off is read the message and correct the malfunction, but instead we throw things at the speaker, or muffle it with pillows or something. The actualist trains himself to listen to the alarm and read the message as quickly as possible so he can make repairs and move on.

Haha, this post seems to betray my recent star trek marathon...

Adam . .:
often the idea of actual freedom can actually appeal to the "guard" because it can seem like a way to make "me" independent and powerful... but this is a misinterpretation that consistently leads to suffering and confusion.


I can relate to this, definitely! I think it's a bit of a phase, though. After a while you just want to go back to feeling good again, you know? The whole concept of being "freer than thou" or maybe even "free to do what I want!" is so counter to the PCE, that it starts to feel like a direct obstacle.
John Wilde, modified 7 Years ago at 9/12/14 6:36 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/12/14 6:35 PM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

Posts: 501 Join Date: 10/26/10 Recent Posts
I like your emphasis on the causes and consequences of guardedness. It gives you a practical handle on current reactive tendencies, and it seems like a pretty good entry point for deeper inquiry into the causes. I'll be interested to read about your results over time. (I'd suggest you look at both the self-defensive and self-assertive tendencies as different expressions of guardedness).

On a more pragmatic and political note, if it were me, I'd avoid using any AF terminology unless/until this thing actually leads to an actual freedom from the human condition exactly as Richard describes it. If that happens, great, you've devised an innovative and demonstrably effective path to the same place, and it'd be wonderful to have a different presentation and a different path. But if your experience at some point diverges from AF, you will not have inadvertently misrepresented their (AFT) message, and will have not muddied the waters for others. I say this because it's happened before, and the likelihood of it happening again is high.
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Not Tao, modified 7 Years ago at 9/12/14 6:54 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/12/14 6:54 PM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

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Haha, I realized the risk when I took the plunge. We'll see what the dragon emu has to say about my interpretation.

Really, though, it would be against the message to talk about "lowering the guard" for a whole post and then add disclaimers about non-affiliation to the AFT at the end, don't you think. :3
John Wilde, modified 7 Years ago at 9/12/14 7:30 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/12/14 7:11 PM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

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Not Tao:

Really, though, it would be against the message to talk about "lowering the guard" for a whole post and then add disclaimers about non-affiliation to the AFT at the end, don't you think. :3

No, not at all. There's a difference between blind affective guardedness versus a pragmatic concern for not repeating history in ways that aren't beneficial to anyone. (Speaking personally, I've been present through all the controversies and have had exposure to all flavours of AF/'actualism' so it makes no personal difference to me; it was just a suggestion based on what has happened in the past).
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PP, modified 7 Years ago at 9/12/14 10:08 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/12/14 10:07 PM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

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Best AF thread I've read in quite a long time.

A sincere question to you all, how this practice differenciates with focusing in the Buddhist's 2nd Characteristic, Dukkha? As a point of comparison, what I do is be aware of both attraction and aversion of body sensations, thoughts and emotions, not trying to modify them in any way (2nd C)  but surf the whole wave from arising till passing (1st C), plus resting in the (body's, mind's and emotions') emptyness in the in-between moments/space (3rd C) until another thing pops up.
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Psi, modified 7 Years ago at 9/12/14 11:46 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/12/14 11:46 PM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

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Hey Not Tao,

What you have explained is basically what I have always taken to be Right Mindfulness, and/or Bare Attention, or some call Pure Mindfulness/ Pure Awareness.   Also, same technique applied to use the escape hatch in Dependent Origination where one stops the process just before the craving initiates.  Have you ever read The Heart of Buddhist Meditation by Nyanaponika Thera?  Or listened to Dhamma Talks by the late Ayya Khema?  Or read The Magic of the  Mind by Nyanananda Thera ?  If you haven't you would probably enjoy them, as it touches upon what you are describing.  

Anyway good post.

Psi Phi
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Not Tao, modified 7 Years ago at 9/13/14 3:25 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/13/14 3:23 AM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

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Pablo . P:
Best AF thread I've read in quite a long time.

A sincere question to you all, how this practice differenciates with focusing in the Buddhist's 2nd Characteristic, Dukkha? As a point of comparison, what I do is be aware of both attraction and aversion of body sensations, thoughts and emotions, not trying to modify them in any way (2nd C)  but surf the whole wave from arising till passing (1st C), plus resting in the (body's, mind's and emotions') emptyness in the in-between moments/space (3rd C) until another thing pops up.


The main difference is that letting down the guard is used specifically to stop the negative emotion as quickly as possible and reveal the source of the emotion so it doesn't have to be felt in the future. As I've come to see it, mindfulness as discussed on the dho is the study of sensations, and the partcular goal of mindfulness is to delegitimize sensation by seeing it as an everchanging and impersonal field of awareness.

Here's an analogy that might illustrate the difference:
An Actualist and a Theravadan are sitting in boats on a lake. Strong waves are rocking the boats. The Theravadan uses acceptance to aclimitize his body to the sensations of rocking back and forth, and after a cycling period of sea-sickness, he gains his sea legs. The Actualist rides the waves, searching for the calmest waters. He eventually finds land and is never bothered by waves again.

The Theravadan may make arguments like, "Seventy percent of earth is covered by water, and I have drifted over all of it and seen the world!" But the actualist would respond with, "Sure, but all I ever wanted was to stop being sea sick. Humans are meant to live on land, not water."


@Psi Phi: I watched a number of Ayya Khema's talks back when I was going through the jhanas every day. I really liked her back then, but I don't really meditate anymore. Anyway, maybe the above illustrates the difference between bare awareness and Actualism? The Actualist is not a passive observer, they are always steering towards shore. Bare awareness also strikes me as "paying attention" which is the "guard" itself. The Actualist is trying to stop that sort of thing and simply enjoy themself.

Maybe it's important to point out that if the negative ruminations don't end, then the guard is still there. The guard is, itself, the origin of the problem, and letting go of the seriousness attached to whatever caused a negative emotion is specifically what makes it end. There is success and failure in the application of the Actualist method (though, I wouldn't focus too heavily on tallying success and failure, as that is, itself, a rumination). Bare awareness allows an emotion to go on until it ends on its own - there's no way to fail, you just watch whatever happens.
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Psi, modified 7 Years ago at 9/13/14 1:54 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/13/14 1:54 PM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

Posts: 1094 Join Date: 11/22/13 Recent Posts
Not Tao:
Pablo . P:
Best AF thread I've read in quite a long time.

A sincere question to you all, how this practice differenciates with focusing in the Buddhist's 2nd Characteristic, Dukkha? As a point of comparison, what I do is be aware of both attraction and aversion of body sensations, thoughts and emotions, not trying to modify them in any way (2nd C)  but surf the whole wave from arising till passing (1st C), plus resting in the (body's, mind's and emotions') emptyness in the in-between moments/space (3rd C) until another thing pops up.


The main difference is that letting down the guard is used specifically to stop the negative emotion as quickly as possible and reveal the source of the emotion so it doesn't have to be felt in the future. As I've come to see it, mindfulness as discussed on the dho is the study of sensations, and the partcular goal of mindfulness is to delegitimize sensation by seeing it as an everchanging and impersonal field of awareness.

Here's an analogy that might illustrate the difference:
An Actualist and a Theravadan are sitting in boats on a lake. Strong waves are rocking the boats. The Theravadan uses acceptance to aclimitize his body to the sensations of rocking back and forth, and after a cycling period of sea-sickness, he gains his sea legs. The Actualist rides the waves, searching for the calmest waters. He eventually finds land and is never bothered by waves again.

The Theravadan may make arguments like, "Seventy percent of earth is covered by water, and I have drifted over all of it and seen the world!" But the actualist would respond with, "Sure, but all I ever wanted was to stop being sea sick. Humans are meant to live on land, not water."


@Psi Phi: I watched a number of Ayya Khema's talks back when I was going through the jhanas every day. I really liked her back then, but I don't really meditate anymore. Anyway, maybe the above illustrates the difference between bare awareness and Actualism? The Actualist is not a passive observer, they are always steering towards shore. Bare awareness also strikes me as "paying attention" which is the "guard" itself. The Actualist is trying to stop that sort of thing and simply enjoy themself.

Maybe it's important to point out that if the negative ruminations don't end, then the guard is still there. The guard is, itself, the origin of the problem, and letting go of the seriousness attached to whatever caused a negative emotion is specifically what makes it end. There is success and failure in the application of the Actualist method (though, I wouldn't focus too heavily on tallying success and failure, as that is, itself, a rumination). Bare awareness allows an emotion to go on until it ends on its own - there's no way to fail, you just watch whatever happens.

You seem to get it, but don't seem to get it in Theravadan terms, which is okay, but kind of a mystery.  You are describing,minddfulness and perhaps clear comprehension, and also describing the practical use of understanding dependent origination, i.e. (the cutting off at the root before craving initiates) and by repeating this process each and every time the root is weakened and finally extirpate.

It is a pretty funny viewpoint that Theravadans, are practicing the same meditation skill level as that of a frog, i.e. (frog sits still on a log while the waves go up and down)  As comapared to your view of Actual Freedom , where one gets up and walks across the water like Jesus on a cool summer night.  That is just an incorrect viewpoint, that is based upon mis-understanding.

You said that Bare Awareness allows emotions to go on until it ends on its own.  This is not true, with Bare Awareness, the emotional stage does not get it's chance to arise, i.e. Bare Attention allows the cessation of encountered phenomenon to be known as it is BEFORE one starts to get emotional ( Not wanting (anger/aversion)  and wanting (greed/attachment).  This should also coupled with Clear Comprehension.


Anyway, I am happy for you, despite whatever definitions or vocabulary you want to use.  I am stopping here, trying to keep my posts shorter.

May you maintain Pure Consciousness, 

Psi Phi
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Bill F, modified 7 Years ago at 9/13/14 2:31 PM
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RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

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We ultimately are always limited by our own understanding and perception of our experience. Every non-conceptual experience in being talked about is changed into a product of our own cognitive processing. To that end, what I say is entirely irrelevant or relevant to your experience.
 
Love and compassion are not self-referential emotions, and to the extent that we are describing emotions as subjective reactions, they can not accurately be described as emotions. Love exists because there is. It is not for something else or from something or somebody. 
Those who would describe it in such tepid terms have not yet experienced or recognized love, and are describing the heights of affection. Love shits on your shallow displays.
Eva Nie, modified 7 Years ago at 9/13/14 3:54 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/13/14 3:54 PM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

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Love and compassion are not self-referential emotions, and to the extent that we are describing emotions as subjective reactions, they can not accurately be described as emotions. Love exists because there is. It is not for something else or from something or somebody. 
Those who would describe it in such tepid terms have not yet experienced or recognized love, and are describing the heights of affection. Love shits on your shallow displays.
A lot of it comes down to definition.  The term 'love' as commonly used in society seems to denote a clingy wanting possessive kind of emotion where you typically expect things in return or are hurt and angry if you don't get them.  Compassion often denotes a thing where you feel bad because the other person feels bad.  If you are going to use a definition that is not the common societal use, then don't be surprised if others are confused and don't understand you!  ;-)  That's probably why other terms like 'unconditional love,' 'agape,' and 'understanding' often come into use in such circumstances. 

Anyway, on the general subject, I suspect that a lot of the process of enlightenment has to do with dealing with the things/habits we have that are getting in the way.  Deal with those issues and it clears the path for our inner nature to shine.  I don't think there is just one and only one way to do that which is best for everyone.  One potential way is to look directly for the things in the way and use various methods to try to deal with them,  a nonjudgemental dispassionate approach seems to be a common suggestion as part of that process and I do agree that not all ways of looking seem as efficient as others. 
IMO, you need to be willing to look at all things about self especially including the unflattering ones but not to get all sucked into that negative feedback loop. 

Another general method I see is to try to see directly to our true nature without spending so much time on that which might be obscuring, for instance by looking at the 3 characteristics, with the assumption that the stuff in the way will become less relevant if we can do that.  And while everyone seems to have their emphasis one way or another, I haven't really seen anyone that does purely and completely one way without ever ever doing any aspects of the other way ever.  Maybe the two ways are complimentary to each other.  ;-)
-Eva 
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Not Tao, modified 7 Years ago at 9/13/14 4:17 PM
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RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

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Psi Phi:

You seem to get it, but don't seem to get it in Theravadan terms, which is okay, but kind of a mystery.  You are describing,minddfulness and perhaps clear comprehension, and also describing the practical use of understanding dependent origination, i.e. (the cutting off at the root before craving initiates) and by repeating this process each and every time the root is weakened and finally extirpate.

It is a pretty funny viewpoint that Theravadans, are practicing the same meditation skill level as that of a frog, i.e. (frog sits still on a log while the waves go up and down)  As comapared to your view of Actual Freedom , where one gets up and walks across the water like Jesus on a cool summer night.  That is just an incorrect viewpoint, that is based upon mis-understanding.

You said that Bare Awareness allows emotions to go on until it ends on its own.  This is not true, with Bare Awareness, the emotional stage does not get it's chance to arise, i.e. Bare Attention allows the cessation of encountered phenomenon to be known as it is BEFORE one starts to get emotional ( Not wanting (anger/aversion)  and wanting (greed/attachment).  This should also coupled with Clear Comprehension.


I think you missed the key difference I pointed to. The idea behind bare awareness is that we can "hack the system" by focusing our experience into a certain level and tuning out the rest. This has nothing to do with trying to understand the content of an emotion, it's more like a form of selective awareness and concentration. The Actualist want's to see the emotion clearly so he can figure out what's causing it, and this is why he neither suppresses nor expresses the emotion. Bare awareness actually gets in the way of this because it tries to short circuit the process itself and disconnect the emotional part of the mind from awareness.

In my experience, the PCE isn't a bare awareness, but rather a complete contentment that allows for the enjoyment of the senses. I think these really are two different states of mind. I was practicing something a while back that might be called bare awareness, and it had a very jhanic feel - a kind of expanded mind hyper-sensitivity. The PCE, on the other hand, has a very ordinary quality, you are just here, and it is just now, and everything is perfect. I know these things can sound the same, but I don't think they are. The PCE is like Christmas morning or a sunny fall day. Bare awareness seemed more like being on mushrooms or watching high definition TV. I think this is why Richard spends a lot of time saying a PCE isn't an altered state of consciousness. It doesn't take any kind of concentration to create or maintain a PCE, it just requires you to let down your defenses completely.

I think there is something to be said for the way Richard describes his "Actual World" as a fairytale dreamland. Before I encountered Actualism, I was calling the PCE "elf mind". In short, it makes me feel like I am an elf wandering in the woods. Everything is just lovely and magical - but not in a dramatic way. The fact that it's so ordinary is part of what makes it so magical.

I'm sorry if I offended you somehow with my analogy. I thought it was actually a pretty good comparison, myself... You should note I'm using Pragmatic Dharma's interpretation of Theravada, where one continues to cycle through dark nights (the waves in my analogy) after reaching the end of the practice.

William Golden Finch:
We ultimately are always limited by our own understanding and perception of our experience. Every non-conceptual experience in being talked about is changed into a product of our own cognitive processing. To that end, what I say is entirely irrelevant or relevant to your experience.

Love and compassion are not self-referential emotions, and to the extent that we are describing emotions as subjective reactions, they can not accurately be described as emotions. Love exists because there is. It is not for something else or from something or somebody.
Those who would describe it in such tepid terms have not yet experienced or recognized love, and are describing the heights of affection. Love shits on your shallow displays.


I always have a hard time explaining why emotionlessness tops positive emotions for me. If you're really interested in why I might feel this way, though, you'll need to read what follows with the idea that I'm not trying to insult you or your feelings, and I'm not trying to subtly insinuate that my range of experience is somehow superior to yours. I can only say, as you pointed out, what is in my experience, and try to be as lucid as possible about it.

Now, I think the purity of the kindness experienced in the PCE is only possible because it has no emotional component. Kindness, perhaps, sounds like an emotional component, but it's only kindness as an afterthought if you compare it to the emotional mind. Love, as an experience, is self-referential simply because it is an experience. Love happens somewhere in the body as a physical manifestation of pleasure - probably in the heart. This means that "I feel good about that". I am seeing this pleasure inside myself, and because I am consumed by the pleasure, I have a more favorably view of whatever has attracted my love. So I am "looking within myself" so to speak. My attention is on myself and my feeling of love. This isn't to say people who are in love are self-centered, in the traditional meaning of the word, it means they are self-focused, or maybe self-aware.

In comparison, the PCE happens specifically when there is no identity left to capture the awareness. The identity, being the sum of all emotional judgements, is temporarily forgotten and all that's left is a tension-free sensate experience - the experience of being without inhibitions or worries. This experience is pure contentment with everything, and thus there is a benevolence towards everything. So, in this way, the indifference itself is what makes the kindness altruistic in the PCE. There is no emotional connection to any object, so the objects themselves are as free as the mind experiencing them. The most important part of my argument here is that NOTHING has an emotional attachment. With the normal mind, if we have no attachment to something, our other attachments make it invisible to us. We either ignore it completely or find it boring. In the PCE, because there is no emotional drive to steer the awareness, the mind is at rest wherever it lands. So the relationship between the the person experiencing the PCE, and the people interacting with him is completely different. He sees them restfully, and because of that, the experience is kind and benevolent no matter what that other person might say or do.

Eva M Nie:
Another general method I see is to try to see directly to our true nature without spending so much time on that which might be obscuring, for instance by looking at the 3 characteristics, with the assumption that the stuff in the way will become less relevant if we can do that. And while everyone seems to have their emphasis one way or another, I haven't really seen anyone that does purely and completely one way without ever ever doing any aspects of the other way ever. Maybe the two ways are complimentary to each other. ;-)
-Eva


Speaking personally, I don't think the three characteristics have much to do with our true nature, and I don't see them as particularly helpful in self-improvement. I'm not sure that any part of my practice these days is related to an inward quest like this. Maybe I'm a bit cynical, but I just don't think there's a quick fix or shortcut anymore.
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Bill F, modified 7 Years ago at 9/13/14 4:07 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/13/14 4:07 PM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

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I think it would have been impossible to not have read what I wrote as a critique to you. It was triggered by a runnin theme I have come across in pragmatic dharma circles, which is the conflation of "love" with "affection". I was responding to that idea in your post, not you per se. I liked most of what you wrote.
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Bill F, modified 7 Years ago at 9/13/14 4:16 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/13/14 4:09 PM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

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I think we should disband with the ";)" emoticon as it is generally in my experience a way to try to covertly make a passive agressive comment. I think communication would be more effective if we did not use that. Then again...who am I?
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Bill F, modified 7 Years ago at 9/13/14 4:16 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/13/14 4:12 PM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

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Compassion is derived from the Greek: "Com" with and "passion" feeling, or "suffering", depending on whom you ask. So this is to feel "with". Separation is gone. Me feeling bad for you is pity. If that is a common misunderstanding then good that I correct the errors of the common man (or woman). Then again...who am I?
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Psi, modified 7 Years ago at 9/13/14 4:41 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/13/14 4:41 PM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

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Well, maybe what I thought of as Theravadan may be different than your interpretation, I thought Theravadan was "School of the Elders"  and used the Pali-Canon, the suttas.  Anyway, was pretty sure I understood the state of being you were describing and was happy for you, terminology and verbal formations being set aside.  On that note, I will now slip back into my non-craving state as best as can be expected, and get some excercise and sunshine.  Gotta go outside and Play!!  Woop woop!!

Bye
John Wilde, modified 7 Years ago at 9/13/14 4:54 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/13/14 4:54 PM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

Posts: 501 Join Date: 10/26/10 Recent Posts
Not Tao:

I think you missed the key difference I pointed to. The idea behind bare awareness is that we can "hack the system" by focusing our experience into a certain level and tuning out the rest. This has nothing to do with trying to understand the content of an emotion, it's more like a form of selective awareness and concentration. The Actualist want's to see the emotion clearly so he can figure out what's causing it, and this is why he neither suppresses nor expresses the emotion. Bare awareness actually gets in the way of this because it tries to short circuit the process itself and disconnect the emotional part of the mind from awareness.

In my experience, the PCE isn't a bare awareness, but rather a complete contentment that allows for the enjoyment of the senses. I think these really are two different states of mind. I was practicing something a while back that might be called bare awareness, and it had a very jhanic feel - a kind of expanded mind hyper-sensitivity. The PCE, on the other hand, has a very ordinary quality, you are just here, and it is just now, and everything is perfect. I know these things can sound the same, but I don't think they are. The PCE is like Christmas morning or a sunny fall day. Bare awareness seemed more like being on mushrooms or watching high definition TV. I think this is why Richard spends a lot of time saying a PCE isn't an altered state of consciousness. It doesn't take any kind of concentration to create or maintain a PCE, it just requires you to let down your defenses completely.


Now that you clearly do understand the difference, it'll be really interesting to see whether your technique of "letting down your defenses completely" delivers the right results. Please keep us posted!
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Psi, modified 7 Years ago at 9/13/14 5:57 PM
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RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

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Okay,  don't use the ego to read this, it will save alot of dukkha,  I went over to the AF website and read the definition for PCE, and here is my take.  This is Buddhism with a funny twist and unreal adverbs, like "the magic fairy tale like paradise the earth actually is", "glancing lightly with sensuously caressing eyes" "the delicious wonder of it all".  

But anyway, it is, in my opinion, teaching Anatta, which is seeing while seeing, washing dishes while washing dishes, this is NOT new, as self-proclaimed by the author, it even describes the six sense bases, and experiencing the world with self and no-self.  I am sorry, this is not new and earth ain't no fairy tale, By the Gods the fairies are back!

But, sure the techniques probably work , there are probably different ways to "awakening", to various levels of "awakening".

I just don't see anything new here, from my experience, "knowing by direct experience, unmoderated by any self whatsoever", to quote from website, this sounds  like a form of Buddhism.....

Psi Phi

p.s. not trying to blasphemy any new religion or anything, it's just that if something is borrowed or brought over one should give credit where credit is due, If the AF originator was from an island and never encountered Buddhism I can understand, so If he is and didn't know I apologize in advance.  

P.s.s.  I will look into this more, for maybe I mis-stated some things, or judged too fast, or too harshly,  But I feel everyone has the right to investigate everything.
Eva Nie, modified 7 Years ago at 9/14/14 12:04 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/14/14 12:04 AM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

Posts: 831 Join Date: 3/23/14 Recent Posts
Not Tao:

In comparison, the PCE happens specifically when there is no identity left to capture the awareness. The identity, being the sum of all emotional judgements, is temporarily forgotten and all that's left is a tension-free sensate experience - the experience of being without inhibitions or worries. This experience is pure contentment with everything, and thus there is a benevolence towards everything. So, in this way, the indifference itself is what makes the kindness altruistic in the PCE. There is no emotional connection to any object, so the objects themselves are as free as the mind experiencing them. The most important part of my argument here is that NOTHING has an emotional attachment. With the normal mind, if we have no attachment to something, our other attachments make it invisible to us. We either ignore it completely or find it boring. In the PCE, because there is no emotional drive to steer the awareness, the mind is at rest wherever it lands. So the relationship between the the person experiencing the PCE, and the people interacting with him is completely different. He sees them restfully, and because of that, the experience is kind and benevolent no matter what that other person might say or do.
What dl you think is the difference between PCE as described and nondualism?
Speaking personally, I don't think the three characteristics have much to do with our true nature, and I don't see them as particularly helpful in self-improvement. I'm not sure that any part of my practice these days is related to an inward quest like this. Maybe I'm a bit cynical, but I just don't think there's a quick fix or shortcut anymore.
I don't recall anyone saying 3Cs was a quick fix or shortcut.  Seems like it takes a while!  ;-P
-Eva
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Psi, modified 7 Years ago at 9/14/14 12:50 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/14/14 12:47 AM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

Posts: 1094 Join Date: 11/22/13 Recent Posts
Just adding:

From AF website:


I
t says: The vowed aim of meditation is to escape the world transcend the ego and "become" the soul etc etc For full AF comment see below

This view, proposed as a fact is just complete non-sense, where does someone ever get this idea, to even say this about such a broad subject such as meditation, it's simply preposterous.  One doesn't even have to believe in a soul to meditate.

Also, to put forth the idea that the vowed aim meditation is to escape the world is mis-leading and deceptive, possibly even causing harm to others well being, it is also a very non-compassionate and thoughtless statement.  If I ever make such an error, please correct me so I may try to set things straight, I am human and prone to errors.

 Some of the thoughts seems good and some of the thoughts seem to come not from a Pure Conscious Awareness, but from a Limited Pure Conscious Awareness, perhaps a mind that has found some release but still restricted by one's own mental formations and viewpoints.  Perhaps the author still has some social instincts of their own to investigate and eliminate, as do alot of us.

Link to Kalama Sutta, if anyone is interested

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/soma/wheel008.html



Contemplation, not meditation ...

The vowed aim of meditation is to escape from the world, transcend the ego and ‘become’ the soul – an imaginary and delusionary shifting of one’s identity from mortal to Immortal, from animal to Divine. Whereas the whole point of the process of actualism is to be aware of, identify, investigate and eliminate both one’s social and one’s instinctual identity – both ego and soul – for both are the source of one’s malice and sorrow. The goal is to become actually happy and harmless, on earth, in this very lifetime.

An actualist’s naiveté and pure intent, firmly based on the purity and perfection evident in the Pure Consciousness Experience, will ensure that one avoids the instinctual lust for the power of feeling oneself to be God as well as the seductive lure of being worshipped as such by others.

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Psi, modified 7 Years ago at 9/14/14 12:59 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/14/14 12:59 AM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

Posts: 1094 Join Date: 11/22/13 Recent Posts
It's quotes like these that make me wonder, how does he know what "anything anyone else has lived before"  even was?

Richard:

I find this actual freedom to be eminently superior to anything anyone else has ever lived before.

'Nuff Said

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Not Tao, modified 7 Years ago at 9/14/14 8:21 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/14/14 8:18 AM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

Posts: 995 Join Date: 4/5/14 Recent Posts
William Golden Finch:
Compassion is derived from the Greek: "Com" with and "passion" feeling, or "suffering", depending on whom you ask. So this is to feel "with". Separation is gone. Me feeling bad for you is pity. If that is a common misunderstanding then good that I correct the errors of the common man (or woman). Then again...who am I?


Compassion causes you to treat people well. When there are no feelings at all, a person acts compassionately without feeling compassion because there is nothing driving them away from helping. The higher mind is free to operate without any drivers from the heart. So the emotionless person sees someone in need, and goes to help quite effortlessly because that's what he wants to do. In this way, the OUTCOME of the two states is identical.

However, compassion is also a feeling, and being a feeling, it separates this from that. You are compassionate towards something in particular. In this way, you will be driven to feel malice towards the thing that is causing pain in the person you feel compassion for. An example might be, you feel compassion for the prisoners in a Nazi concentration camp, and you feel malice towards the guards. An emotionless person would feel no malice, even though they would still be inclined to help the prisoners. So in this way the emotionless state is more secure in its potential for true freedom.

An argument people often make against this idea is, "If you have no emotions, why would you do anythig at all." While this question seems logical at first, if you exampine your experience, you'll see that there's often a conflict between what you want to do, and the emotions you are feeling. Consider writer's block. A person wants to write, but their emotional inhibitions about their abilities and the quality of their work stop them from writing. It seems that our desires and our actions aren't based on emotional drives, but rather intellect.

Finally, in my personal experience, the feeling of emotionlessness is more enjoyable than the feeling of compassion. So if you combine my arguments, the two options look like this: a person wants to help other people, so they could either develop compassion or become emotionless. Emotionlessness is a more comfortable state to live in, and it has no potential to create malice, so it seems like a superior goal to me. (Using the word "superior" here means I personally find it to be a better goal. You're free to decide whether or not you agree.)

As to whether compassion is a stepping stone to complete emotionlessness - that's hard for me to say. The way the buddha talks about the bhrama viharas, it certainly seems like it (if you equate equanimity with emotionlessness), but to me it just seems like an extra step.

Psi Phi:
But anyway, is, in my opinion, teaching Anatta, which is seeing while seeing, washing dishes while washing dishes, this is NOT new, as self-proclaimed by the author, it even describes the six sense bases, and experiencing the world with self and no-self. I am sorry, this is not new and earth ain't no fairy tale, By the Gods the fairies are back!


The main problem here, I think, is that Richard's concept of "self" is very different from "self" in anatta. Another problem is that buddhism is not actually unified on what "self" means, as well. So I'm going to compare three different ideas of self. I'll use the terms ActualSelf for what Richard is talking about, TheraSelf for the theravada concept of anatta, and SuttaSelf for the "self" I believe the buddha is talking about in the sutta pitaka.

ActualSelf is made up of two parts - the identity and the soul. This is actually pretty simple. The identity is things like "I am a vegetarian", "I am a man", "I am an Actualist" - and this is seen as the trigger for the emotional thinking, which is the soul. So ActualSelf is personal labels and emotions, nothing else!

TheraSelf is an illusion, and it encompasses everything but EVERYTHING! The whole point of Theravada Buddhism is to see through this illusion clearly and definitively so that nothing is identified with. In the end, there is no self at all.

SuttaSelf is the five aggregates. These five aggregates don't include nirvana, which is the unconditioned, so nirvana is a final liberation and resting point. The Buddha often says that nirvana can be attained in this lifetime - which always led me to believe there would be a permanent freedom from suffering. Depending on who you talk to, people interpret this in many ways...

I think the reason there might be some confusion is because Richard isn't talking about the enlightenment that everyone here talks about. When he says he was enlightened for 11 years, he seems to be referring to the modern Indian concept of Self-Realization. This is always described as the Self (with a capital S) replacing the self (with a lower s) and the Self is Being-Consiousness-Bliss. Richard says he later realized this Self was a grand delusion - a kind of complete emotional absorption - and he had to abandon it as well as the identity to achieve Actual Freedom.

So ActualSelf is something you get rid of, and it's made up ONLY of the personal adjectives and the emotions. Actual Freedom, as seen in the PCE, does not require dis-identification from the body or the mind. Richard often says he IS a flesh and blood body and an apperceptive awareness. TheraSelf is the illusion that anything is self, and once you are an arahant, there is nothing left that identifies with anything. SuttaSelf is unclear, and the Buddha doesn't actually go into it very often or very deeply.

Eva M Nie:
What dl you think is the difference between PCE as described and nondualism?


I don't think I can answer that, TBH. I originally thought my PCEs were non-dual experiences, but the more I've read about non-duality, the more confused I was about what it was actually supposed to be. The whole focus on anatta in general is the main reason I lost interest in Buddhism. If they are the same, I can only conclude that the vast majority of people who have written about non-duality have no idea what they're talking about. Richard's descriptions of what a PCE is have matched my experience identically, so that's why I call them that.

Eva M Nie:
I don't recall anyone saying 3Cs was a quick fix or shortcut. Seems like it takes a while! ;-P


Maybe I meant to say "mystical" fix. Anatta is something you suddenly understand, and it changes your whole concept of reality. Actualism is a simple process of elimination, you have to come to terms with all of your problems and understand them completely.

Psi Phi:
Just adding:

From AF website:


I
t says: The vowed aim of meditation is to escape the world transcend the ego and "become" the soul etc etc For full AF comment see below

This view, proposed as a fact is just complete non-sense, where does someone ever get this idea, to even say this about such a broad subject such as meditation, it's simply preposterous. One doesn't even have to believe in a soul to meditate.


Like I said before, Richard wasn't a pragmatic dharma Buddhist - what he's referring to here is actually a very popular concept. In fact, the term "enlightenment" is probably more associated with what Richard describes than what's talked about on here - ask anyone from India, or any New Ager. You can just conclude that his understanding of meditation doesn't apply to you. Same word, different cultural background and concept.

I should probably point out here again that this is the big source of misunderstanding when Richard talks about there being "no self," as well. He's not referring to anatta, he's referring to the "Self" and the "ego." Ironically, this also seems to me what the Buddha is talking about in the Sutta Pitaka, and people have run with the concept over the centuries.

Psi Phi:
It's quotes like these that make me wonder, how does he know what "anything anyone else has lived before" even was?

Richard:

I find this actual freedom to be eminently superior to anything anyone else has ever lived before.

'Nuff Said



HA! True enough. Though, in context, he's referring to cults, specifically.
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Bill F, modified 7 Years ago at 9/14/14 10:27 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/14/14 10:27 AM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

Posts: 556 Join Date: 11/17/13 Recent Posts
Good morning. I know perhaps I am only repeating, but you do not understand what is meant by compassion. The example you gave demonstrates this. In the example you gave compassion is felt as much for the suffering that exists in the guard as the prisoner as oneself. It is not localized, centralized or subjective. It can not even be said to be felt for the guard, the prisoner or oneself. It is a somatic response and as such fails  easy answers.

My perception of your defense of why the emotionless state is more efficacious, is that you have chosen a path and are trying to fit square pegs into a round hole. There is no need to do so, or to defend one's choices. Live your life. I did not even request that you explain further and said I liked much of what you wrote, but I hit upon some area of insecurity that caused you to later reply. Much of the thought you applied was subjective and anecdotal at best, and did not correspond to my own observations and experience. Perhaps I am too direct in how I write. There is no real feeling of judgment or anger in this, it just doesn't look very well thought out, and it seems like you are trying to convinve yourself of something and applying very flimsly logic to do so.
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Not Tao, modified 7 Years ago at 9/14/14 11:17 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/14/14 11:17 AM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

Posts: 995 Join Date: 4/5/14 Recent Posts
I was just responding further because I thought you were interested. emoticon  In all honesty, I'd really like to find a good way to explain the emotionless state because it's so incomparably lovely to me.  I don't have anything against compassion, or happiness, or love, I just think the PCE really is the "peak experience."  The argument I presented for you is how I came to put more trust in the PCE, because I would sometimes wonder if aiming for it would make me some kind of layabout who doesn't care about anything.  (This was usually if a longer period of time had past since I last had one.)  The truth is, though, that the core of our human nature is both helpful and curious, so anyone who spent a majority or all of their time in the PCE would display all the positive emotional qualities of compassion and kindness and hapiness, even thought the feeling itself is best described as emotionless.

The way I see compassion now is that it is an emotional crutch to express the core of our nature, when really our core nature can just BE without any assistance.  I see spontenaity as the solution.  Even if you see your compassion as all-pervading, aren't you still putting a requirement on why you are kind to people?  If it's a feeling, you're always going to be relating to them through a lense or a filter.  When they talk to you, they will see a compassionate person.  Compare this to if you related to them without any filter.  You would just be there with them, and they would have all of you.
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Bill F, modified 7 Years ago at 9/14/14 11:28 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/14/14 11:28 AM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

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You are not responding to what I have written, but your own thoughts. As such, it would not seem to be beneficial to continue as I would be doing the same thing. Keep well.
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Not Tao, modified 7 Years ago at 9/14/14 12:57 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/14/14 12:30 PM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

Posts: 995 Join Date: 4/5/14 Recent Posts
William Golden Finch:
You are not responding to what I have written, but your own thoughts. As such, it would not seem to be beneficial to continue as I would be doing the same thing. Keep well.


Feel free to try me again if I misunderstood you in some way. emoticon Since you used the word "compassion", I assumed you were talking about a psycho-physical manifestation of pleasure related to the desire to help or assist other people you perceive to be suffering.

EDIT: Looking back, you compared compassion to suffering/feeling along with someone else. I'd call this empathy, myself, but the word isn't so important. I think my arguments work for empathy as well. Even if you see other people as a part of yourself, or if you see yourself joined to them, or if you see them as a part of a whole that you are also a part of, or if you see both you and them as completely non-existant but also luminous, or if you believe there is only ever one thing and so other people's suffering is your own, it still means you are relating to them through a feeling.

Compassion or empathy, as feelings, make it difficult to see the "actual" clearly. Relating to a person on the level of empathy or compassion entails making a judgement about them. It means feeling "towards" or at them, and they will pick up that "this person in front of me is feeling compassion towards me." The emotionless person, by comparison relates to people with no feeling between them. The other person is free to be who they are.

Consider the nuance in conversation. If you are talking to a compassionate person, there will be a tone, or a color, to the way you relate to them. You will maybe be on your best behavior, or you will adopt a compassionate stance. If you talk to a sad or angry person, you create a different tone. If the person you're talking to sends no colors or tones your way, you're free to set whatever color or tone you want. This is a freer way of relating to people. The emotionless person is able to remain who they are, and so is the person they're talking to. A truer empathy can be developed because of this.
Felipe C, modified 7 Years ago at 9/14/14 1:32 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/14/14 1:23 PM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

Posts: 221 Join Date: 5/29/11 Recent Posts
Hi, Not Tao,

While I don’t fully agree with the way you are presenting things, it may be useful for William and you to consider the difference between feeling caring vs. actually caring.

Richard:
In short: feeling caring is incapable of delivering the goods.

As being sincere in the context under discussion is to have the pure intent to enable peace-on-earth, in this lifetime as this flesh and blood body, it would therefore take a perspicuous awareness of what is unadulterated, genuine, and correct (seeing the fact) to be sincere ... rather than an instinctive feeling of what is unadulterated, genuine, and correct (intuiting the truth). The feeling of caring (be it a pitying caring, a sympathetic caring, an empathetic caring, a compassionate caring or a loving caring), being primarily the feeling being inside one flesh and blood body caring for the feeling being inside another flesh and blood body (or for an anthropomorphised feeling being called mother earth for instance), is insincere by its very nature. And to realise that such feeling caring is a ‘self’-centred caring – and thus corrupt and/or tainted – is the first step towards sincerity.
 
In other words, when one feels that cares one’s attention is focused on the feeling inspired by the situation. On the other hand, when one actually cares, one’s attention is focused on the situation per se. With the former, one judges something or someone though one’s own values, beliefs and feelings, and with the latter, one meets the whole circumstance spontaneously, freshly, impartially, individually, in all its uniqueness.

As for the debate on compassion, although William says to you ‘you do not understand what is meant by compassion.’, I would argue that you grasp it a lot more clearly than him and so it seems actually that the opposite is the case. For instance, he first says:

Love and compassion are not self-referential emotions, and to the extent that we are describing emotions as subjective reactions, they can not accurately be described as emotions. Love exists because there is. It is not for something else or from something or somebody.

And then he says:

Compassion is derived from the Greek: "Com" with and "passion" feeling, or "suffering", depending on whom you ask. So this is to feel "with". Separation is gone. Me feeling bad for you is pity.

So, how can compassion be felt and yet not be an emotion?

But getting closer to topic again, regardless of his explanation, it doesn’t matter if you ‘feel with’ or ‘feel for’, with compassion what one’s doing is feeling other’s feeling or at least feeling a feeling inspired by the other’s feeling, so, again, one’s focus suddenly changes tracks and therefore one loses sight of the original situation that originated it. In a given situation with a suffering person, this implies not only a reaction to be considerate mainly because one has the need to respond to a feeling of one’s own {so this is indeed a self-referential activity}, but also, as a result, one could just superficially mitigate or even fully misguide the other person by being sympathetic and not precisely useful or honest, for instance.

As a corollary, I would suggest to those interested in actual freedom to keep this Richard’s phrase in mind at all times: 'If I am driven by some force – no matter how Good that force be – then I am not actually free.'
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Not Tao, modified 7 Years ago at 9/14/14 1:44 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/14/14 1:40 PM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

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Felipe C.:
Hi, Not Tao,

While I don’t fully agree with the way you are presenting things...


I'd love to know where!  emoticon

EDIT: Good quote, btw. That really sums it all up.
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Bill F, modified 7 Years ago at 9/14/14 2:13 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/14/14 2:13 PM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

Posts: 556 Join Date: 11/17/13 Recent Posts
Felipe: You do not understand what I am saying. The body "feels". The self referential emotion that results is the conceptual overlay on what is a boundless experience. If you have not experienced this, you will continue to confuse what I am saying.
Felipe C, modified 7 Years ago at 9/14/14 2:31 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/14/14 2:31 PM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

Posts: 221 Join Date: 5/29/11 Recent Posts
Hi, William,
Felipe: You do not understand what I am saying. The body "feels". 

According to dictionary definitions, 'feeling' usually means an affective or a sensate state or reaction. I guess that with 'the body feels' and going by the rest of your response, you are referring to a sensate reaction or state? If this so and there is no emotional aspect to it, could you explain to me exactly with which of the human senses are you feeling your compassion? 

Or, perhaps, are you saying that you can feel with something which is not sensate or affective? If that's the case, how so?
Eva Nie, modified 7 Years ago at 9/14/14 2:36 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/14/14 2:36 PM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

Posts: 831 Join Date: 3/23/14 Recent Posts
Not Tao:

Compassion causes you to treat people well. When there are no feelings at all, a person acts compassionately without feeling compassion because there is nothing driving them away from helping. The higher mind is free to operate without any drivers from the heart. So the emotionless person sees someone in need, and goes to help quite effortlessly because that's what he wants to do. In this way, the OUTCOME of the two states is identical.
That seems so from what I've seen, ie that outcome tends to be the similar ( but I would not say exactly the same) for various types of compassion.  Just that each person tends to have their own version of what 'compassion' means, for some it will be what they personally experience, for some it will be how society commonly assumes it to be, for some it will be what they think compassion SHOULD be like, etc.  Such that when one person talks about compassion, he/she may be talking about a somewhat different thing than one another person uses the same term. 
However, compassion is also a feeling, and being a feeling, it separates this from that. You are compassionate towards something in particular. In this way, you will be driven to feel malice towards the thing that is causing pain in the person you feel compassion for. An example might be, you feel compassion for the prisoners in a Nazi concentration camp, and you feel malice towards the guards. An emotionless person would feel no malice, even though they would still be inclined to help the prisoners. So in this way the emotionless state is more secure in its potential for true freedom.
Now we are getting back to more terminology definitions.  Whereas many might consider 'emotionless' to be like a robot, you guys have a different definition.  Which means each time you use the term 'emotionless' in your way, you will often confuse people unless a complicated explanation of your definition is also given and a goodly portion of listeners may not give enough patience and attention to the explanation either, instead tending to stick with their preferred and more established definition that they had from before.  It's a side effect of trying to redefine a common word.  Many developers of new systems get around this problem by inventing novel terminology that has no commonly assumed definition, such that people have less tendency to assume wrong when they hear the word. 
An argument people often make against this idea is, "If you have no emotions, why would you do anythig at all." While this question seems logical at first, if you exampine your experience, you'll see that there's often a conflict between what you want to do, and the emotions you are feeling. Consider writer's block. A person wants to write, but their emotional inhibitions about their abilities and the quality of their work stop them from writing. It seems that our desires and our actions aren't based on emotional drives, but rather intellect.
IMO, intellect and emotions are intertwined.  Things you say to yourself, aka self scripts, influence emotion and emotion influences things you say to yourself.  I don't think you can isolate one from another as the effects are intertwined in a sort of feedback loop.  I agree with you in your description of writer's block problems but I don't agree that PCE is an emotionless state. I guess I don't agree with your definition of emotionless.  I think there are still emotions, just ones that have evolved and morphed and developed such that the experience feels different from before when the emotions were all tangled and at crosssroads with eachother and fighting against eachother. 
Finally, in my personal experience, the feeling of emotionlessness is more enjoyable than the feeling of compassion. So if you combine my arguments, the two options look like this: a person wants to help other people, so they could either develop compassion or become emotionless. Emotionlessness is a more comfortable state to live in, and it has no potential to create malice, so it seems like a superior goal to me. (Using the word "superior" here means I personally find it to be a better goal. You're free to decide whether or not you agree.)
If there is no emotion, then how can you experience enjoyableness and comfortableness?  Why are you using emotion words to describe the feelings of the state if there is no emotion there?

The main problem here, I think, is that Richard's concept of "self" is very different from "self" in anatta. Another problem is that buddhism is not actually unified on what "self" means, as well.
Yeah, I have not had much luck getting that pinned down either.  There is a lot of talk about this and that not being self because you can watch it as if from another place.  But that does not preclude it being a part of self, just that it is not the whole self.  It influences me, I influence it, seems to me that indicates a connection. Also, despite the talk about this and that not being self, no word that I can find on what is self.  Even if we are created from an assortment of other confluences instant by instant, seems to me still that is something that exists and operates and what we call 'self' even if I don't understand all the parts of it.  But I have not had any luck so far getting people to talk about that kind of thing here!  What is self if those things are not self?  ;-P

So I'm going to compare three different ideas of self. I'll use the terms ActualSelf for what Richard is talking about, TheraSelf for the theravada concept of anatta, and SuttaSelf for the "self" I believe the buddha is talking about in the sutta pitaka.

ActualSelf is made up of two parts - the identity and the soul. This is actually pretty simple. The identity is things like "I am a vegetarian", "I am a man", "I am an Actualist" - and this is seen as the trigger for the emotional thinking, which is the soul.
So the definition put forth is that the soul is only 'emotional thinking'  Although that is said to be simple, I am not sure what emotional thinking is.  I can see 'emotions' but isn't 'thinking' what you just said makes up identity? 

So ActualSelf is personal labels and emotions, nothing else!
Are you saying the definition then is 'labels' and emotions or is it 'thinking' and emotions?  What if I am thinking about something that is not identity, is that thinking or is that emotions?  Or is it emotional thinking?  What if I am thinking about something that has no obvious emotions or connections to identity?

TheraSelf is an illusion, and it encompasses everything but EVERYTHING! The whole point of Theravada Buddhism is to see through this illusion clearly and definitively so that nothing is identified with. In the end, there is no self at all.
So is this a self that buddhism says IS the self, instead of not self (anatta?)
SuttaSelf is the five aggregates. These five aggregates don't include nirvana, which is the unconditioned, so nirvana is a final liberation and resting point. The Buddha often says that nirvana can be attained in this lifetime - which always led me to believe there would be a permanent freedom from suffering. Depending on who you talk to, people interpret this in many ways...
So the suttaself is the self that the sutta says is not self (anatta)? 
I think the reason there might be some confusion is because Richard isn't talking about the enlightenment that everyone here talks about. When he says he was enlightened for 11 years, he seems to be referring to the modern Indian concept of Self-Realization. This is always described as the Self (with a capital S) replacing the self (with a lower s) and the Self is Being-Consiousness-Bliss. Richard says he later realized this Self was a grand delusion - a kind of complete emotional absorption - and he had to abandon it as well as the identity to achieve Actual Freedom.
So what does he say is the real self then, the nondelusional one? 

So ActualSelf is something you get rid of, and it's made up ONLY of the personal adjectives and the emotions. Actual Freedom, as seen in the PCE, does not require dis-identification from the body or the mind. Richard often says he IS a flesh and blood body and an apperceptive awareness.
So what does he say happens when the flesh and body dies?  No more flesh and body then what is self?

TheraSelf is the illusion that anything is self, and once you are an arahant, there is nothing left that identifies with anything. SuttaSelf is unclear, and the Buddha doesn't actually go into it very often or very deeply.
Yeah, confuses me as well.  I can see the argument that nothing I can identify clearly seems to be self and that things that are often identified as self, such as emotions and identity are temporary states, but are they saying there is no such thing as self anywere?  If we are just a string of temporary instances, where does the illusion of continuity and self come from if it is just an illusion and there is no self to start with? How can something that does not exist delude itself into thinking it exists?
Eva M Nie:
What dl you think is the difference between PCE as described and nondualism?


I don't think I can answer that, TBH. I originally thought my PCEs were non-dual experiences, but the more I've read about non-duality, the more confused I was about what it was actually supposed to be. The whole focus on anatta in general is the main reason I lost interest in Buddhism. If they are the same, I can only conclude that the vast majority of people who have written about non-duality have no idea what they're talking about. Richard's descriptions of what a PCE is have matched my experience identically, so that's why I call them that.
Yeah, confuses me too.  Some seems to describe their 'enlightenment' such that it sounds like your version of PCE.  I experienced PCE once and it sounds just like what you are describing as well.  But I am not sure on the nonduality thing and how that is diff from PCE. 
Anatta is something you suddenly understand, and it changes your whole concept of reality.
Really, it is supposed to happen all at once suddenly?  From reading the 4 paths descriptions, I got the impression is a gradual deepening understanding.
Actualism is a simple process of elimination, you have to come to terms with all of your problems and understand them completely.
How is that different than some forms of psychology?
-Eva
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Daniel - san, modified 7 Years ago at 9/14/14 3:03 PM
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RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

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Hey Not Tao,
I wanted to chime in here because I think the confusion that is happening here (as happens a lot) is due to definition and words we're using, not the experience at all
What you describe as bare awareness is not my experience
What you describe in dropping all guards to the moment as it is in real time is my experience, and my practice - I call that bare awareness (you call it something else)
In bare awareness (my kind) I had the insight that we don't actually let go of clinging, pure consciousness/awareness does that on it's own - that is it's nature, we stay present to what is. Accepting if you like, it's still the development of equanimity and awareness, our nature, nothing is manufactured, perhaps cultivated, probably more like discovered. It's there at the core
I also have to say that your descriptions of love and compassion are not the love and compassion of the 'pure' brahma viharas, not at all
You've probably read about the 'close enemies' of pure mindstates, as was stated earlier, pity is the close enemy of compassion and is selective and personal in it's application, pure compassion just goes out in all directions, to the killer and the killed, although in wisdom it doesn't conflate the actions of the aggressor, but still sees the violent actor motivated by fear and delusion and unhappiness. You have been describing something closer to pity
What you describe of love is how most people generally experience love (love for their spouse or their children). But, unconditional love, as a saint may experience it, or you or I may experience it, if we are so lucky, is 'a one way street' (as Goenka says) it just goes out
You can picture the love of Jesus for instance (again Goenka's example). Even as those confused and violent people are mutilating him and causing enormous pain to his body, he feels nothing but love and compassion for them, that is all he has in his heart, he can't even feel anger because he is fully realized, it doesn't manifest in his heart - his heart is purified 
The emptiness of the Mahayana is countered by the fullness of the Vajrayana, they're same thing but from a different viewpoint (I get this from Chogyam Trungpa and my own experience). What is this emptiness/fullness? It is the Brahma Viharas - love, compassion, joy and equanimity. Strip everything away, including yourself, that is what is left
I'm responding to you because much of what you write is very much inline with my own experience (including acceptance, PCEs, dropping all guards, being inclusive in perception etc). The problem here (as I said and it happens quite commonly) is the language. When you talk of love and compassion and bare awareness you have a different definition of those words, when you describe a PCE as being kind and wondrous, that is our natural state (the brahma viharas). There is also joy and unconditional love there (if we are describing the same thing)
I've talked with lots of friends about my own experience of unconditional love and I found it's an experience that is extremely rare (they look at me funny), most have not had it - I would imagine many people reading this however have - here in the DhO. This is the love that allows your girlfriend to break up with you without a fight even though it is the last thing you could ever possibly want, you love her (personally) so much, you want to always be with her. You don't argue because wisdom sees it clearly, you want her to be happy. You feel joy at her happiness, you feel compassion and kindness towards the Israelis and the Palestinians - you see them both wrapped up in confusion and ignorance. Actualism is nothing new, just like Buddhism isn't, we're using words to describe human development and experience. Wisdom sees that
The couple red flags I have about Actualist teaching are (besides the weirdo presentation and religious-like anti-spiritual views that smack of Scientology v. psychology) are the idea that love and compassion and joy and equanimity are to be discarded, Buddhism tells us these are the highest virtues, and I'd have to agree. Also, trying to maintain a heightened state, whatever it is (PCE) leads to subtle clinging. Equanimity can abide in any state. I would be interested to see if a PCE can be maintained while suffering from the chronic pain of illness, which we'll all need to face.
Buddhism also teaches that anything that is compounded and created is subject to end (including the PCE). What then? I would submit that the PCE is just another name for pure conscious awareness (hardly even another name) and many here know all about it - maybe they call it pure consciousness or bare awareness, or (as I do) simply meditation. Since most people are practicing some subtle effort in their meditation (jhanas) they mean something else by this word than I do, and we talk past each other. It's like when someone says God, I translate it to mean the creative force inherent within all, and the sermon makes sense. Many think it's a personal creator being, and so we are talking about something else entirely. IMHO you veer off the path when your interest goes toward maintaining certain states of consciousness (the PCE) and banishing emotion. Emotion exists, your practice of being with it in it's entirety in real time as your practice without trying to fix or change anything is also my practice. It's called being in the reality of the moment and effortless effort. Just the words are different
Sorry for the ramble, others here have all said the same thing but using their own words 
Daniel
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Bill F, modified 7 Years ago at 9/14/14 2:44 PM
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RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

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Do you really want to privilege Merriam Webster over direct experience? I already answered that with the previous post. You are selectively reading what I am writing and responding to what I am writing with your own concepts. 
Felipe C, modified 7 Years ago at 9/14/14 3:32 PM
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RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

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I’m not privileging anything except clear communication. Merriam Webster is an excellent tool as it provides a base from which we can understand each other as human beings, because words do have specific meanings. If you are of the idea that some things are ineffable or that this kind of feeling of compassion is non-affective and non-sensate, perhaps you need to stop referring to it as a feeling and trying to come with a new word for it. Because I take it by your response that it’s neither affective nor sensate? Could you at least answer that?
 
As for the direct experience, I practiced and meditated 3 years in a Tibetan Buddhist tradition which emphasizes compassion as one of its main tools. I also have been practicing Actualism for the last 3 years, so I’m fortunately in a position where I can contrast and compare the nature, approach and flavors of both. From there, I have no problem in classifying such experiences in accordance with common definitions because it’s not that difficult to discern if I’m operating from an affective energy from within {either a feeling or a feeling-based thought} or not {merely sensate}.
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Daniel - san, modified 7 Years ago at 9/14/14 3:20 PM
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RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

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Felipe "So, how can compassion be felt and yet not be an emotion?"
As long as one is conscious, how can any experience not be felt?
By your definition every feeling is an emotion, all of this is semantics
You (Actualists) say they experience kindness and wonder but those aren't affects?
Something doesn't add up here...
Felipe C, modified 7 Years ago at 9/14/14 3:54 PM
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RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

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Hi, Daniel, please take that quote according to its context and follow the rest of the discussion with William, where I try to clarify further if he refers with that term to an affective or a sensate experience. Do you agree with this conventional categorization? If not, what kind of feeling are you feeling with compassion if not a sensate or an affective one?

EDIT. To be even more specific with the context I'm referring to, keep in mind that we are talking about compassion, and in particular something that William said...
Compassion is derived from the Greek: "Com" with and "passion" feeling, or "suffering", depending on whom you ask. So this is to feel "with". Separation is gone. Me feeling bad for you is pity. 
So, as I said, either feeling bad FOR you {pity} or feeling bad WITH you {compassion} obviously require an affective activity, as it implies a connection between two psyches regardless of power positions {'for' vs. 'with' you}, just as empathy and sympathy do. 
John Wilde, modified 7 Years ago at 9/14/14 3:47 PM
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RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

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Felipe C.:
Hi, William,
Felipe: You do not understand what I am saying. The body "feels". 

According to dictionary definitions, 'feeling' usually means an affective or a sensate state or reaction. I guess that with 'the body feels' and going by the rest of your response, you are referring to a sensate reaction or state? If this so and there is no emotional aspect to it, could you explain to me exactly with which of the human senses are you feeling your compassion? 

Or, perhaps, are you saying that you can feel with something which is not sensate or affective? If that's the case, how so?


Although clearly affective in nature, what Bill means by love and compassion are probably more akin to states of being than to emotions. Richard experienced them that way too when he was 'enlightened'.
Felipe C, modified 7 Years ago at 9/14/14 3:52 PM
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RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

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Hi, John, nice to see you again.

Although clearly affective in nature, what Bill means by love and compassion are probably more akin to states of being than to emotions.

Fair enough. Let's stay with the broader terms 'affection' and 'affective feeling', then? The point still stands though, and I'm still curious if William thinks compassion is an affective feeling or not.
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Daniel - san, modified 7 Years ago at 9/14/14 4:22 PM
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RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

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Hi Felipe,
I did read back over your distinction between affect and sensate, thank you for clarifying. I think we’re getting too wrapped up in words – what I mean is, there is the experience, and then there are the words that we use to try to get at what that was, the finger and the moon
I think this goes to the paradox at the heart of life/spirituality however and is expressed in the emptiness teachings of Mahayana vs. fullness teachings of the Vajrayana – they are both at play and two ways of viewing life
One could have realized No Self (or obliterated emotions/the self as Actualism prescribes) and still be compassionate. If there is no self (you don’t perceive a psyche here at least on this side of the equation) who is compassionate with who? It’s like if a tree falls in the woods. It’s there even if there’s no sense of self, a natural expression that we are blessed to take part of (my views).  Awareness feels pain (sensate) and sees the pain in another person, compassion naturally arises. Emptiness teachings can get rather dry, and so they’ve been balance out by fullness teachings. Neither one is completely True, they are perspectives looking at the Mystery of Life which you can never quite wrap your arms fully around, or get into language completely, so we have metaphor and poetry.
I prefer to think in terms of personal vs impersonal however and this is demonstrated by the idea of personal love vs. unconditional love. I wouldn’t follow a teaching that promises the obliteration of that, I think it’s a shame (hopefully not pity ;)
If you feel (haha) more in alignment with Richard’s teaching than the Buddha, or Jesus, or anyone else we revere in our culture (Martin Luther King, Jack Kornfield etc…) than I think it’s good that you follow his teachings and the more power to you. I find his teachings odd and culty – for instance when someone says they’ve discovered something totally new and this newly discovered human experience is something no one else knows about etc. I hear 'danger danger'. We are talking about inner human development that has gone on for thousands of years and loads of words have been used to describe loads of states and experiences. I also don’t call myself a Buddhist because I’m averse to religion in general - I vibe with people who see the mystery and don't know the answers to all the questions. I personally see religion (a belief structure to be taken on faith) in Actualist teaching. There is a philosophy to believe and words are re-defined to make an argument to support a pre-ordained conclusion – not the mark of an open mind or scientific method
In my experience compassion and kindness, equanimity and unconditional love describes the empty state of bare awareness, and I revere those teachers and have affinity for those aspects of being (not really emotions but that is a definition also) that engage with humanity on all levels and teach us to have a full view of this explosive mess that we call life. I see suffering out there, I see impermanence, I see us concocting images out of ourselves and each other, these teachings make sense to me on a deep level, maybe not to you
When I read about emotionless states and not experiencing love or compassion (or seeing them as expressions of being to be abandoned) I feel compassion for those that would want to do that – it’s sounds like taking drugs or some type of jhana, it's a mind state. There is pain and suffering in life – you just need to look at it, all around us every day on every level. I’ve myself experienced high levels of equanimity that had no love or compassion and it felt alien-like, as if I were a giant spock praying mantis – not something I wanted to cultivate. I’m not saying a PCE is like this (I've experienced PCEs judging from their written descriptions), but if wonder and contentment are being cultivated in your state of consciousness I would argue there is an affect and not just a sensation – and that’s a good thing! A PCE full time sounds nice, like heaven, but it’s still a ‘mind mod’ as Daniel Ingram referred to it in passing. It’s a conditioned state subject to laws of impermanence like everything else. Or you can change the definition of the words to suit the arguement 
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Not Tao, modified 7 Years ago at 9/14/14 4:46 PM
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RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

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In an effort to keep the post from being giant, I'm just going to quote snippets.

All of these are from Eva:
Whereas many might consider 'emotionless' to be like a robot, you guys have a different definition.

I agree with you in your description of writer's block problems but I don't agree that PCE is an emotionless state. I guess I don't agree with your definition of emotionless.

If there is no emotion, then how can you experience enjoyableness and comfortableness? Why are you using emotion words to describe the feelings of the state if there is no emotion there?


I don't think we can know what a robot might feel like, haha, but I get what you mean is that the word emotionless implies coldness. I think the key, here, is to understand that without emotions, the experience becomes purely physical and senate. We can say that the taste of sugar is sweet, and that's a pleasurable experience. It's not because we're emotionally involved with the sugar, it's just a good sensation.

Something that I realized after having PCEs is that emotions are always sensate, and they usually appear in the body as muscular contractions. These contractions are actually kind of painful if you pay attention to them. The transition into a PCE usually involves a physical release of tension for me, accompanied by a feeling of space in the chest where I usually feel emotions. The feeling itself is, quite literally, emotionless, and it's such a relief. The feeling we call "relief" is actually the sudden loss of an emotional contraction, so "complete relief" is also a good description for the PCE.

Are you saying the definition then is 'labels' and emotions or is it 'thinking' and emotions? What if I am thinking about something that is not identity, is that thinking or is that emotions? Or is it emotional thinking? What if I am thinking about something that has no obvious emotions or connections to identity?


Haha, I refuse to believe it was really that complicate to understand for you. I'll rephrase it though: any group you would put yourself into is your identity (old, athletic, young, fat, beautiful, stupid) - essentially any adjective you'd apply to yourself. The soul is what feels emotions.

I don't think you should use me as a source for the various view of self in Buddhism, I've never understood all of it very well. As far as I can tell, though, anything you might identify with should be seen as "not self" in Theravada parlance.

So what does he say happens when the flesh and body dies? No more flesh and body then what is self?


How could he know?

How can something that does not exist delude itself into thinking it exists?


This is why I lost interest in that path. It didn't seem to help me with stress reduction.

How is that different than some forms of psychology?


It's not. emoticon


The following is from Daniel:
What you describe in dropping all guards to the moment as it is in real time is my experience, and my practice - I call that bare awareness (you call it something else)


The difference, IME, comes from what causes the guards to drop. If you use concentration to drop the guard, you end up in a concentration state, like the jhanas. If you use appreciation and enjoyment to drop the guard, you end up in a PCE. The difference might seem subtle, but it seems to make all the difference in my experience. Is what you're calling bare awareness emotionless? That's a good litmus test.

Think of it this way, say you go into a movie with high expectations. Your experience of the movie is going to different from if you went in without expectations. In the same way, concentration on the present moment produces a hyper aware state, relaxing in the present moment produces a contentment that allows the mind to stay still. The two might seem like the same thing, but the difference is the key. The PCE is effortlessness itself. You can't create effortlessness by trying, you have to create it by becoming spontaneous and removing your negativity.

What you describe of love is how most people generally experience love (love for their spouse or their children). But, unconditional love, as a saint may experience it, or you or I may experience it, if we are so lucky, is 'a one way street' (as Goenka says) it just goes out


The main crux of the arguments I was making were about how feeling of any kind is self-referential. Boundless universal love is just a grander form of love. I'm not completely ignorant of these states. They are lovely for sure, but they simply don't compare for me to how genuine the benevolence of the PCE is. It's like discovering the very core of our human nature sees all things favorably due to its perfect ease and comfort. In comparison, love of any kind feels disingenuous. All my personal opinion, again.

When you talk of love and compassion and bare awareness you have a different definition of those words, when you describe a PCE as being kind and wondrous, that is our natural state (the brahma viharas). There is also joy and unconditional love there (if we are describing the same thing)


The easy way to know if this is true is to check whether what you are calling unconditional love and joy are without emotion or psycho-physical feeling. The state that I refer to as the PCE is completely devoid of the "heart center" feeling. Love, when I have felt it, usually registers as a pleasant tightness in the chest. in the PCE, there is nothing there at all. It seems impossible to me that anyone would call it love or joy. That's not to cast aspersions on love and joy, it's just to say that the PCE really is nothing like any emotional experience. The delight manifests physically in the same way rolling yourself into a warm blanket would. The whole body relaxes, the senses open, there is only now and here.

...are the idea that love and compassion and joy and equanimity are to be discarded, Buddhism tells us these are the highest virtues, and I'd have to agree. Also, trying to maintain a heightened state, whatever it is (PCE) leads to subtle clinging. Equanimity can abide in any state. I would be interested to see if a PCE can be maintained while suffering from the chronic pain of illness, which we'll all need to face.


They aren't discarded mindlessly or out of aversion, they're discarded because it's know that there is something better. It's impossible for me to imagine clinging to a PCE. The whole concept of the PCE is that you have resolved your personal war against the world and finally stopped worrying about things. It's a bit like saying we might cling to letting go. Emotions, themselves, are a good indicator of clinging, I think. As for pain, I have some limited experience of pain in the PCE that tells me you can be in pain without being emotional about it. They're two separate things anyway.

Buddhism also teaches that anything that is compounded and created is subject to end (including the PCE). What then?


Isn't that a bit defeatist? What's the point of doing anything, then? I'm just going to have to hope Buddhism is wrong. :3 Even if I knew it was right, though, I'd still spend my time cultivating PCEs. They're that lovely. emoticon

IMHO you veer off the path when your interest goes toward maintaining certain states of consciousness (the PCE) and banishing emotion. Emotion exists, your practice of being with it in it's entirety in real time as your practice without trying to fix or change anything is also my practice. It's called being in the reality of the moment and effortless effort. Just the words are different


I think you've misunderstood my practice. I'll try to state it differently in a nutshell for you, so you can see it all at once. When I notice I am having a negative emotional reaction, I aim to understand why its happening so I can end it as soon as possible. To understand why it's happening I have to make sure I'm not trying to ignore it, nor express it in some unrelated way. After watching for a moment I might say, "Ah, this anger was triggered when the neighbors slammed the door downstairs." I instantly lose any trace of anger because I realize it's ridiculous to keep myself from being content simply because a loud noise happened. If I were to watch it without judgement or without the intention to change it, I may never even know why it happened. So, every time the door slammed, I'd get angry again.

After doing this diligently, the sense of ease and contentment increase until the mind finds little need to focus on anything except what's happening here and now.

This isn't to say that trying to maintain some kind of awareness is completely different, it's to say that the entry point of complete ease and contentment is specifically what makes the PCE worthwhile. It shows that, yes, the path itself is correct and it will eventually end in a PCE baseline when all of the emotional triggers are worked through.
John Wilde, modified 7 Years ago at 9/14/14 7:36 PM
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RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

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Felipe C.:

Although clearly affective in nature, what Bill means by love and compassion are probably more akin to states of being than to emotions.

Fair enough. Let's stay with the broader terms 'affection' and 'affective feeling', then? The point still stands though, and I'm still curious if William thinks compassion is an affective feeling or not.

Yeah.

Pending Bill's comments, a few more thoughts...

Given that our entire lives (almost) are composed of affective states, it can be hard to recognise something as affective in nature, except by contrast, e.g., when it's suspended. (Does a fish know water if it's never out of it?) Within that ocean of affective states there's a wide range of possibilities. Some are so different from the normal, petty, contracted, defensive/assertive emotional states that they feel like they're of a different order altogether, something that isn't merely personal, something that might be cosmic or universal or foundational or intrinsic to the way things are. And considering these transcendent feelings/states have been humanity's highest aspirations and greatest hopes so far, the tendency to ascribe them a beyond-personal status is strong. (I'm not entirely convinced that Richard hasn't fallen prey to a variant of that himself, in a way, but I don't feel I have a strong enough handle on that to argue it persuasively, and don't want to make it my business any more anyway).

If someone who has transcendent feelings is talking to someone who doesn't, and says "no, no, you don't understand, this isn't an emotion", they're right. But if someone who who knows the difference between all feeling states and none at all says "no, no, you don't understand, what you're talking about is still an affective state", they're right too. (In my opinion).
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Daniel - san, modified 7 Years ago at 9/14/14 5:11 PM
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RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

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Hi Not Tao
You have a gifted way of describing your experience and your practice
I think I wrote to you because I have the same practice as you do for the most part, it's like you're describing my experience (sometimes) some call it effortless effort or bare awareness, those words make sense to me but I'm not sure if I'm right 
It actually wasn't taught to me, I practiced meditation diligently (two hours a day and a few 10-day Goenka retreats) for two years before I decided to relax wherever there was a contraction. Through experimention I noticed the stress/contracting in any kind of efforting, so I became aware of that (in a contented equanimous state) and contractions dissolve on their own. I'm pretty sure this decribes non-dual training as well
We're just using different words to describe our experiences (and I'm sure we experience things a bit differently as well)
My experience is that within the effortless/aware state there is an underlying joy (call it benevolence that's good too), love for life and beings (whether they 'exist' or not) compassion for those that suffer and feel pain and a deep abiding equinimity. These are just words that seem to align with my experience. Your description of your practice sounds like exactly what I do and the freeing effect I feel. It is not striving to achieve jhanas or anything, it's simply letting go (actually it's awareness on it's own that does the letting go, 'we' can't let go ourselves, that's more subtle effort if we 'try' to let go) 
The heart center contraction (which I am very aware of generally on a sensate level) is the mark of attachment, non-clinging abides in the expansion you describe.
I agree with you that jhanic states involve a contraction because there is a self-created modification there, many teachers not in the meditative tradition (like Byron Katie) teach that the heart center contraction is a sign that there's a lie happening, you are not in line with reality and you are ego building. Many practioners do what we do (I'm pretty sure it's not so complicated emoticon and use different words and teachings to describe it
Equanimity (in my view and experience) is being in sensate pain (or pleasure) and being expansive and non contracted, non-grasping (a tenant of Buddhism) and you can even experience this contentment and benevolence within pain (more difficult in pleasure they say)
I'm pretty sure what you're practicing is nothing new, it certainly vibes with my practice (although not specifically taught to me in the Burmese Buddhist tradition), I think it's Dzogchen and Choiceless Awareness but I'll leave that to others (much more informed than me) to be the judge
Good luck with your practice, I actually stopped calling it practice because it seems more like sane living, the present moment is all there is, so we're really not 'practicing' for anything. More words of course emoticon
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Not Tao, modified 7 Years ago at 9/14/14 5:47 PM
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RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

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That's a good point, John.  I was trying to say something like that with my boat analogy, but I like your direct description better.

I think it's also hard not to be insulting when talking about these things.  We can be very attached to positive emotions, and that's completely understandable.  They're the only way "out" of negativity if you haven't found the PCE.  But soemthing to point out is that Richard says the best way to get a PCE is by being happy and harmless.  If being emotionless was really a terrible experience, why would it come out of happiness?

(I'm not entirely convinced that Richard hasn't fallen prey to a variant of that himself, in a way, but I don't feel I have a strong enough handle on that to argue it persuasively, and don't want to make it my business any more anyway).


I know what you mean here, but the good part of Actualism is that it doesn't matter. The only reason I use the terminology is because it matches perfectly. The concepts are all verifiable and testable. Richard might spread his brand better if he wasn't quite so theatrical in his presentation, but hey, he never claimed the methods erased personality, haha. We'll never know if he's really Actually Free, but then, we'll never know if the buddha was enlightened, or anyone else's personal experience of the world.

EDIT: You snuck a post in there Daniel. ^^

It does sound like we're doing something similar. The main point that seems to be different is that you allow tensions to dissolve on their own, and in actualism we specifically try to find out what they are. The reason I've personally found this important is that I discovered a few neurosis I didn't even know I had. One example is that I realized I had an extreme aversion to getting my clothes dirty - basically a type of OCD. I can consciously let go of this obsession now that I'm aware of it. It was a surprising thing to discover because I had been suppressing it for so long, but I realized it contributed to a lot of my daily discomfort and anxiety. Maybe this is something you do as well, but if not it certainly would take much to add it if it seems helpful to you.

The underlying joy that you're referring to, is it physical or does it have a psychic component?

EDIT2: You said, "'we' can't let go ourselves, that's more subtle effort if we 'try' to let go"
I can understand this viewpoint, and it does work eventually in the moment, but for me in didn't seem to solve problems. I realized pretty recently that, if I can't let go of something, I haven't yet discovered its cause or I still see the cause as important. I used to think I just had random anxiety before, but once I embraced the idea that all negativity had a cause, I was able to discover that OCD habit I had. It really is as simple as understanding what the cause is and realizing it isn't worth the worry. The anxiety ends instantly. It's also weakened so that next time it doesn't seem quite so bad. I worked through arachnophobia this way too. The method shares a lot with therapy - it just assumes we're mentally ill until our experience is perfect.
John Wilde, modified 7 Years ago at 9/14/14 5:40 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/14/14 5:38 PM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

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Daniel Leffler:

The heart center contraction (which I am very aware of generally on a sensate level) is the mark of attachment, non-clinging abides in the expansion you describe.
I agree with you that jhanic states involve a contraction because there is a self-created modification there, many teachers not in the meditative tradition (like Byron Katie) teach that the heart center contraction is a sign that there's a lie happening, you are not in line with reality and you are ego building. Many practioners do what we do (I'm pretty sure it's not so complicated emoticon and use different words and teachings to describe it

There's contraction, there's expansion, and there's... absence.

The way I'm reading this, you (Daniel) are writing as if Not Tao is talking about expansion, whereas s/he (?) is talking about absence [of affective states].
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Not Tao, modified 7 Years ago at 9/14/14 5:51 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/14/14 5:48 PM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

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John Wilde:
There's contraction, there's expansion, and there's... absence.

The way I'm reading this, you (Daniel) are writing as if Not Tao is talking about expansion, whereas s/he (?) is talking about absence [of affective states].


How would you frame the difference? I'm not sure if I'm talking about expansion or absence. I don't know that I've experience expansion, actually...

(He, BTW emoticon)

EDIT: Maybe naivete is expanded?
John Wilde, modified 7 Years ago at 9/14/14 6:09 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/14/14 5:56 PM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

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Not Tao:
John Wilde:
There's contraction, there's expansion, and there's... absence.

The way I'm reading this, you (Daniel) are writing as if Not Tao is talking about expansion, whereas s/he (?) is talking about absence [of affective states].


How would you frame the difference? I'm not sure if I'm talking about expansion or absence. I don't know that I've experience expansion, actually...

Okay, suppose you're upset about something (angry, worried, whatever); you intentionally relax (or otherwise rise above) that contracted feeling, and it gives way to a nice, open, warm, friendly, benign, okay-come-what-may, no longer hurting, well-wishing feeling state which, if it expands all the way, turns into Love and Compassion (with capital letters). That's what I mean by contraction -> expansion. By contrast, absence is when there's nothing to be contracted, and nothing to be expanded. That whole zone of 'being' in which feelings can contract or expand is simply not 'there'. But it's not a blank or a void..... it's a PCE.

EDIT: Maybe naivete is expanded?

Hmm... for me naïvete doesn't feel either expanded or contracted or neutral-equanimous as such. It feels simple, happy, direct, artless, curious, uncomplicated, well-meaning, well-wishing (but not in a bleeding heart way), and untroubled (but not in an I'm-above-it-all / Ive-transcended-the-world way).
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Daniel - san, modified 7 Years ago at 9/14/14 6:14 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/14/14 6:04 PM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

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John Wilde:
Daniel Leffler:

The heart center contraction (which I am very aware of generally on a sensate level) is the mark of attachment, non-clinging abides in the expansion you describe.
I agree with you that jhanic states involve a contraction because there is a self-created modification there, many teachers not in the meditative tradition (like Byron Katie) teach that the heart center contraction is a sign that there's a lie happening, you are not in line with reality and you are ego building. Many practioners do what we do (I'm pretty sure it's not so complicated emoticon and use different words and teachings to describe it

There's contraction, there's expansion, and there's... absence.

The way I'm reading this, you (Daniel) are writing as if Not Tao is talking about expansion, whereas s/he (?) is talking about absence [of affective states].
Hi John,
Expansion was just a word I used - but it's not absence either, if by that you mean absence of sensation. It is absent of reaction however, and I mean that as absent of the creation of more sensations/stress. I haven't 'experienced' cessation so I guess that would be real absence, although I have cleared the channels and heavy 'energy' in the body (another kind of absense), but this can be done by effort, and that's not my practice 
What actually happens with me is I am with the sensation and awareness dissolves efforting, or transmutes it or...I'm not sure of the actual mechanism, more words - but it's whatever heart contraction isn't - non-effort. The sensations actually clear, although I have been in a kundalini process for seven years now so I've only been totally clear of bodily sensation on long retreats, years ago, and I've found a 'clear' body doesn't have the same satisfied fearless feeling as the cultivation of awareness and equinimity, regardless of the sensations present in the body or the mental state. Still my head has been clear from the neck up all that time, the heart center still produces sensation and keep the rest of my body clogged - I guess eventual enlightenment (or death?) will take care of that 
More explicitly 'I' am not even with sensation as far as being separate from it, because I notice subtle stress in that duality/witnessing as well, it's more a sinking into the moment, and being it. That's why I somewhat understand (I think) Actualists saying they are the emotions, as there is subtle stress in watching it, maybe that's why I thought maybe it's the same as non-dual practice. But to say we are the emotions is a philosophy/interpretation of experience IMO. Dropping conception and sinking into awareness, as that, is what happens. Words are tough emoticon
John Wilde, modified 7 Years ago at 9/14/14 6:25 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/14/14 6:23 PM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

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Daniel Leffler:

Hi John,
Expansion was just a word I used - but it's not absence either, if by that you mean absence of sensation. It is abesnt of reaction however and I mean that as absent of the creation of more sensations/stress. I haven't 'experienced' cessation so I guess that would be real absence, although I have cleared the channels and heavy 'evergy' in the body (another kind of absense), but this can be done by effort, and that's not my practice 
What actually happens with me is I am with the sensation and awareness dissolves efforting, or transmutes it or...I'm not sure of the actual mechanism, more words - but it's whatever heart contraction isn't - non-effort. The sensations actually clear, although I have been in a kundalini process for seven years now so I've only been totally clear of bodily sensation on long retreats, years ago, and I've found a 'clear' body doesn't have the same satisfied fearless feeling as the cultivation of awareness and equinimity, regardless of the sensations present in the body or the mental state. Still my head has been clear from the neck up all that time, the heart center still produces sensation and keep the rest of my body clogged - I guess eventual enlightenment (or death?) will take care of that 
More explicitly 'I' am not even with sensation as far as being separate from it, because I notice subtle stress in that duality/witnessing as well, it's more a sinking into the moment, and being it. That's why I somewhat understand (I think) Actualists saying they are the emotions, as there is subtle stress in watching it, maybe that's why I thought maybe it's the same as non-dual practice. But to say we are the emotions is a philosophy/interpretation of experience IMO. Dropping conception and sinking into awareness, as that, is what happens. Words are tough emoticon

Sorry if I'm creating confusion here. What I mean by absence is not the cessation of all sensation, but the absence of all feeling states, whether they're contracted or expanded. A PCE doesn't lie anywhere on the contracted -> expanded feeling scale.

Typically, relaxing contraction does not result in a PCE.... it results in a more expansive state of being. (Which sounds to me like what you're describing. Whether you and Not Tao are indeed talking about the same thing remains to be seen. My current impression is no, but time will tell. I'm curious to see how this unfolds...)
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Not Tao, modified 7 Years ago at 9/14/14 6:35 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/14/14 6:35 PM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

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Interesting...

So, yeah, the experience I'm talking about is an absence.  It's like becoming physically empty.  The idea of expansion threw me because it feels like a space opens up, but it's not a heart type feeling, it's entierly different.  Like someone vanished the whole deal.

My experience with expanded states is somewhat limited, but I think that's because they only started appearing for me recently, and I'm not really aiming for them much.  I spent some time one night a little while ago laying on my couch loving the world, but I still want to call that contracted because it feels like the heart is squeezing.  It was an interesting experience because it was very pleasant, but I wanted it to stop so I could have a PCE. XD

Daniel, now that we're getting into the nitty gritty of it, I think there are differences in the experiences.  It's likely I don't know the feeling states that you do very well.  It'd be pointless to try to figure out which of us has something better.  I'm curious if you can't remember a PCE, though.  You said you felt an equanimity that made you feel like an alien, haha, but I don't think that's quite it.  Back when I was doing the jhanas, I'd get something like that if I stuck with the fourth for a while.  The complete absence of an internal world is the cue to look for.  I'm not sure the other parts of the description, like contentment and beauty, are quite so definitive, since they can also happen in other states.
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Daniel - san, modified 7 Years ago at 9/14/14 7:06 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/14/14 6:49 PM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

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Not Tao:

EDIT: You snuck a post in there Daniel. ^^

It does sound like we're doing something similar. The main point that seems to be different is that you allow tensions to dissolve on their own, and in actualism we specifically try to find out what they are. The reason I've personally found this important is that I discovered a few neurosis I didn't even know I had. One example is that I realized I had an extreme aversion to getting my clothes dirty - basically a type of OCD. I can consciously let go of this obsession now that I'm aware of it. It was a surprising thing to discover because I had been suppressing it for so long, but I realized it contributed to a lot of my daily discomfort and anxiety. Maybe this is something you do as well, but if not it certainly would take much to add it if it seems helpful to you.

EDIT2: You said, "'we' can't let go ourselves, that's more subtle effort if we 'try' to let go"
I can understand this viewpoint, and it does work eventually in the moment, but for me in didn't seem to solve problems. I realized pretty recently that, if I can't let go of something, I haven't yet discovered its cause or I still see the cause as important. I used to think I just had random anxiety before, but once I embraced the idea that all negativity had a cause, I was able to discover that OCD habit I had. It really is as simple as understanding what the cause is and realizing it isn't worth the worry. The anxiety ends instantly. It's also weakened so that next time it doesn't seem quite so bad. I worked through arachnophobia this way too. The method shares a lot with therapy - it just assumes we're mentally ill until our experience is perfect.


Nice - I like that you have insight into that distinction between passivity and going after causes - I'm definitely letting nature just do her thing
It's interesting to me to know the cause of our 'stuff'. I do that in day to day life as reactions of aversion and clinging come up I suppose. If you've ever been on a Goenka retreat, he describes old sankharas rising to the surface to meet new ones that are created, and by staying aware and equanimous in the moment we not only cease creating new karma but we dissolve a stock of the old sankharas that we've been carrying around, related to that real-time case of reaction. I think that's why practice in daily life off-the-cushion is so important so that awareness and equinimity meet real life challenges and we can lighten our emotional load a bit at a time. 
I very much like the idea of consciously letting go of my stuff though (not waiting for situational life to bring it to us like you did with spiders) and being more proactive about uprooting it. I've never gone to traditional therapy, and for some reason I feel like it is difficult for me to make an actual connection between what's bugging me and my sensate reactions, like just being gloomy for no apparent reason - but (example of when I did) - when I was about 10 years old a friend of mine had some cigars he wanted to smoke. We went into an abandoned gas station bathroom to be sneaky and the steel metal door (with no handle) closed and locked behind us. We were stuck in there for hours and it was cold, no one could hear us scream though we could see people pass by through a small hole in the door - we thought we were going to die and took turns freaking out/consoling each other. Eventually (late that night) a passerby heard our screams and let us out. After that I developed various phobias - the biggest one being claustrophobia. I realized through introspection that my root fear was a fear of death/annihilation and read books about reincarnation etc, made peace with my fear of death and eventually all of my new phobias withered away. I'd like to do that with other reactive emotions and have considered trying hypnotherapy, as that may connect up somewhere as well, for buried/forgotten memories   

"The underlying joy that you're referring to, is it physical or does it have a psychic component?"
Hmmm, not sure what you mean by a psychic component, but it is physical, as all things are. I'd say it's more like a deep contentment, the absence of creating sensations/stress if that makes sense. It's like a fullness in the body or heart, a deep knowing that that life is perfect just the way it is in the midst of whatever storm is going on. The trick (for me) is to bring myself into the moment through awareness of bodily sensation, and knowledge that, (paraphrasing someone) if you can do something to change your situation there's no reason to stress, because it can be fixed, if you can't do anything to change your undesirable situation, there's no reason to worry, since there's nothing you can do about it. Would that be the psychic component? It's kind of underlying though and not necessary expressed in thought forms
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Daniel - san, modified 7 Years ago at 9/14/14 7:17 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/14/14 7:17 PM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

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Not Tao:
Interesting...

So, yeah, the experience I'm talking about is an absence.  It's like becoming physically empty.  The idea of expansion threw me because it feels like a space opens up, but it's not a heart type feeling, it's entierly different.  Like someone vanished the whole deal.

My experience with expanded states is somewhat limited, but I think that's because they only started appearing for me recently, and I'm not really aiming for them much.  I spent some time one night a little while ago laying on my couch loving the world, but I still want to call that contracted because it feels like the heart is squeezing.  It was an interesting experience because it was very pleasant, but I wanted it to stop so I could have a PCE. XD

Daniel, now that we're getting into the nitty gritty of it, I think there are differences in the experiences.  It's likely I don't know the feeling states that you do very well.  It'd be pointless to try to figure out which of us has something better.  I'm curious if you can't remember a PCE, though.  You said you felt an equanimity that made you feel like an alien, haha, but I don't think that's quite it.  Back when I was doing the jhanas, I'd get something like that if I stuck with the fourth for a while.  The complete absence of an internal world is the cue to look for.  I'm not sure the other parts of the description, like contentment and beauty, are quite so definitive, since they can also happen in other states.
The emptiness you're feeling must be related to the energy system, which I have experience in the past, where there's no reaction to something because it's not possible to react, you're just cool with stuff
My kundalini experience threw my energy system off (I think) but I know the empty non-reactive feeling, it's like there's nothing there to react, sensation-wise coming from the heart center. I am still clogged with sensation emanating from my heart as (supposedly) kundalini is clearing out all my deeply buried sh*t on her own - that's what they say anyway, and that would be nice to be on auto-pilot if it's true emoticon. I have become less reactive and more patient over the years
The thing about not feeling love or compassion or equanimity or joy still throws me though - these are not heart contracted states in my experience - when they are non-personal. Maintaining the PCE also seems like clinging would develop, as it's still a state, but if it's the state of non-clinging I suppose that would be impossible - I have definitely experienced that. Interesting how this lines up with energy work and how your chakras and channels are doing when you feel non-reactive/empty. Clear and spinning? emoticon
Also not sure how necessary the so-called PCE is in all of this, if the goal is contentment and non-clinging 
The feeling of beauty and wondrousness and awe was what I identified with in the descriptions of the PCE, I had them more often when my meditation practice was more structured, compelling me to practice more these days anyway
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Psi, modified 7 Years ago at 9/14/14 9:49 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/14/14 9:46 PM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

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Even if I were to explain succintly craving, the emotions involved, the non-nourishment thereof, and the cessation thereof.

And if I were to succinctly to explain Bare Attention as commonly understood, not your understanding.

And were then to show the similarities between the various experiences described by the words:  PCE, Bare Attention, Emotions, Emotionless State, Equanimity, Cessation, Anatta, etc, etc, 

And then even if you were then having the same experiences described above, it seems that you would still disagree.  Perhaps there is some view out there that some humans are superior or inferior to other humans, when we are all perfect at being what we are in the present moment.  Like the snowflakes, up close they look different, and no two are the same, (this might have been refuted by modern science) but snowflakes from afar, (the universal view) they are basically the same.

Perhaps there is the belief out there that someone has discovered something new to all humans, and that they are the first and only to have done so, and out of compassion they strive to teach this new technique to the common folk.  But also perhaps, there is a reality out there that shows this is not the case, that merely re-wording, and cut and pasting from various methods, does not make something new. 

If someone in the world is proclaiming to be the "one and only bringer of the light", then there is probably a sense of "me" involved.  This is not to say they would not have something to offer, a method or some such.  But a method is a method by any means and methods are not the end result.

Anyway, you could research the topics of Equanimity, Bare Attention, and Right Mindfulness.  But that is just a suggestion.

The experience you have described, sorry to inform you, is common in spiritual circles, as you have probably noticed that most of the advanced practioners here do not even reply to your elatedness, they already know the folly and stand on the sidelines, probably barely amused.

Anyway, I have tried to expalin to you briefly about Bare Attention , and Pure Mindfulness, but you keep coming up with a refutation about some ideas you have about Bare Attention and Pure Mindfulness.

Tips:  Also release Physical Formations, there is tension and tightness in the head, ( meninges), the "furrowing" of the brow is a common one, "setting" the jaw, chest tension, ears held back, (sounds funny, but true), thumb pressing on hand/finger, abdominals tensed and ready, breath held shallow, chest tension Relax the heart area.  This helps to maintain the Wholesome State (PCE)

Also, Verbal Formations, if words are arising in the mind, the mind is not in Full PCE, learn to relax the langauge center of the brain and leave it calm, One doesn't need to narrate every phenomena in life, this will help you to maintain your PCE (Wholesome State/ Equanimity)

And Emotional Formations, keep them balanced, this is called  Equanimity, there is no reason to react in anger if you spill a drink, it already happened , and people on the other side of the world are unaware anyway, universally these occurrences are non-events.  the emotional reactions are not warranted and are just negative mental habits that can and should be immediately released, and by doing so they will lose their energy and eventually disappear altogether.  the same goes with reacting with greed and lust when one is aware of something pleasant or nice, a soda , a new car, or whatever, by using Bare Attention, one does not react, but stays Equanimous towards all formations, this is called Guarding the Sense doors, and will help you to stay within PCE, or Wholesomeness.

Also, don't forget to write at Christmas, very important.

And Breathe, don't forget to breathe.

Your a good kid Not Tao, what you have learned you have learned on your own, you may have heard some tips, and practiced some of this and a little of that, but in the end we have to forge the path ourselves, we are independent, spirtual progress is a do-it-yourself job.  

Maybe now you shou be Now Tao

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like. ”  Lao Tzu

Pie Too
J J, modified 7 Years ago at 9/14/14 9:47 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/14/14 9:47 PM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

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I've warmed up a little more to AF as of late, the dogma of suttic Buddhism really put me off, especially the whole anal morality mentality that the Pali Canon has, one of the prerequisites of streamwinning is moral perfection.

As a side note I just had my first PCE in ages, while enjoying a cigarette, was really nice.

Cheers,

James
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Psi, modified 7 Years ago at 9/14/14 9:56 PM
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RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

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You smoke the  Wacky 'Backy ?  you from Colorado?
J J, modified 7 Years ago at 9/14/14 10:13 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/14/14 10:04 PM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

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Is that what they call it there? No, not regularly. I have in the past. I don't see the spiritual application of it.
J J, modified 7 Years ago at 9/14/14 10:41 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/14/14 10:37 PM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

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I find that Richard's warnings about ASCs are pretty on-point as well, although according to him there seem to be no more potent embodiments of the divine or the diabolical. Ever since his self-immolation in 1992, there haven't been any wild, crazy, potent God-men, which is probably why we have recently watered down the standards of awakening, such that it would now be possible for people to claim it.

Figures such as Adi Da Samraj, Chogyam Trungpa, Aleister Crowley and so on and so forth come to mind when I think of these types of people.

I experience visions of being the Buddha in December of 2013 and a grand confidence that I was in fact the next Buddha, looking back this seems to fit Richard's description of awakened beings having a messiah-complex or saviour-mentality, but of course such potent, toxic consciousness doesn't seem to have a hold anymore, as per his extinction of being, which he seems to imply has affected everyone who is an affective being.

Regards,

James

Note: The December visions were also accompanied by classic experiences of the Tevijja, such as feeling that I had transmigrated hundreds of lifetimes, experiences of possessing the greatest knowledge and vision of all human beings. It was disturbing when I took such "revelations" literally, but now I just treat them as another set of experiences.
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Psi, modified 7 Years ago at 9/14/14 11:12 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/14/14 11:12 PM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

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Hey again , ( I posted this last March, it's part of the N8fold Path, it's the formula for Right Effort) and I almost forgot, it seems you were descibing this method also:

Right Effort , as I remember anyway, the formula,

First , to abandon an unwholesome state that has already arisen.

Second, to not let unwholesome state arise that has not yet arisen.

Third, to arouse a wholesome state that has not yet arisen.

Fourth, to maintain a wholesome state that has already arisen.

This formula, when practiced , without fail, every mindful moment one is capable of , should not be taken lightly. 

With proper practice, one will eventually easily dismiss, anger, jealousy, etc etc (insert unwholesome state) And replace and sustain wholesome states, equanimity, joy, etc etc

Of course you will probably disagree with me that this is part of what you are practicing/doing, even though this is what you said you were doing.

Pop Eye
Eva Nie, modified 7 Years ago at 9/15/14 12:43 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/15/14 12:43 AM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

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Daniel Leffler:
Hi Felipe,
I did read back over your distinction between affect and sensate, thank you for clarifying. I think we’re getting too wrapped up in words – what I mean is, there is the experience, and then there are the words that we use to try to get at what that was, the finger and the moon
Yeah, I think that is a lot of it, different attempts and terms used cause confusion and even arguments. 
I prefer to think in terms of personal vs impersonal however and this is demonstrated by the idea of personal love vs. unconditional love.
Whereas someone else might say the words used should be emotional vs emotionless.  My personally take is evolution of emotions such that the emotions have less 'I' in them.  (very similar to your 'impersonal'  but I see it happening more on a gradual continuum)  Ironic really that some of these arguments are probably people having the same aims and goals but just using diff terminology and so confusing eachother!  ;-P

I wouldn’t follow a teaching that promises the obliteration of that, I think it’s a shame (hopefully not pity ;)
If you feel (haha) more in alignment with Richard’s teaching than the Buddha, or Jesus, or anyone else we revere in our culture (Martin Luther King, Jack Kornfield etc…) than I think it’s good that you follow his teachings and the more power to you. I find his teachings odd and culty – for instance when someone says they’ve discovered something totally new and this newly discovered human experience is something no one else knows about etc. I hear 'danger danger'. We are talking about inner human development that has gone on for thousands of years and loads of words have been used to describe loads of states and experiences. I also don’t call myself a Buddhist because I’m averse to religion in general - I vibe with people who see the mystery and don't know the answers to all the questions. I personally see religion (a belief structure to be taken on faith) in Actualist teaching. There is a philosophy to believe and words are re-defined to make an argument to support a pre-ordained conclusion – not the mark of an open mind or scientific method
Well that probably describes most Buddhism too!  Most of it probably started out in similar ways, branches off of branches off of branches of teaching, and the circular reasoning is there too.  ;-)   Really, any belief system can become a cult.  A lot of has to do with who is leading the party.  Also, seems to me that the most powerful cults have a lot of really good teaching in there, that is what hooks in the followers, they feel deep inside that parts of it are true and they get results, good feelings, etc from it, so they become 'believers.'  The problem is once someone becomes a follower, that person may no longer notice the few parts that are less true or that are just down right manipulative.  It's actually a super classic advertising technique to hide an untruth or a manipulation amongst many truths where it is most likely to go unnoticed.  If cult leaders are not fully aware of their dark side, they may even not be fully aware of their own manipulations.  It may be something as simple as a leader liking attention and adoration and if that's all, it may not become too troublesome, but sometimes that taste of power just unleashes desire for more and more and the leader becomes increasingly unstable.  Any group can become cultlike if the leader is both charismatic and unbalanced.  That doesn't mean that the other 97% of the teachings were wrong or bad though, it only needs to be a tiny bit that poisons the well water. 

When I read about emotionless states and not experiencing love or compassion (or seeing them as expressions of being to be abandoned) I feel compassion for those that would want to do that –
Again, as I stated before, I think it's a case of him using 'emotionless' to describe something else than what the average person assumes to be 'emotionless.' 

 PCE full time sounds nice, like heaven, but it’s still a ‘mind mod’ as Daniel Ingram referred to it in passing. It’s a conditioned state subject to laws of impermanence like everything else.
Really, do we know this for sure? Seems like they come on their own?  I don't recall doing anything special to get mine, it was really quite a bit of a surprise.  How do we know PCE is not a natural state?
Eva Nie, modified 7 Years ago at 9/15/14 1:03 AM
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RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

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EDIT2: You said, "'we' can't let go ourselves, that's more subtle effort if we 'try' to let go"
I can understand this viewpoint, and it does work eventually in the moment, but for me in didn't seem to solve problems. I realized pretty recently that, if I can't let go of something, I haven't yet discovered its cause or I still see the cause as important. I used to think I just had random anxiety before, but once I embraced the idea that all negativity had a cause, I was able to discover that OCD habit I had. It really is as simple as understanding what the cause is and realizing it isn't worth the worry. The anxiety ends instantly. It's also weakened so that next time it doesn't seem quite so bad. I worked through arachnophobia this way too. The method shares a lot with therapy - it just assumes we're mentally ill until our experience is perfect.
That whole thing about try and not try, I noticed can be used in contradictory ways.  Like I've heard that some things aren't good because they involve 'trying' and trying is apparently wrong or bad.  Instead you supposedly  have to allow or let go.  But doesn't the paths involve TRYING to see the 3Cs and trying and practicing other things?  After a while, it gets to sound like 'trying' is only allowed if the trying corresponds with what we some people decide is worth trying, but no other things.  Really, I don't how anything can get done preenlightenment without at least some occasional trying.  ;-)

Anyway, despite my nitpicking, what I do I think is rather close to what Actual Freedom does, except I didn't make a whole belief system out of it nor did I work out any special terminology.  But the basic concept of looking at thoughts and emotions and trying to figure out the cause of any negative ones, does work.  You just have to keep drilling down until you get to the root of each thing.  The more I understand the cause, the more the problem seems to kind resolve on it's own as if those wayward segments of me, once understood, are able to integrate or something.  I don't think you can really 'try' to get rid of negative thoughts and have it work, instead those negative issues seem to just refuse to leave the building, but if you instead 'try' to understand the negativity, then THAT seems to work for both understanding AND resolving.  But it's not like I thought up the system all on my own, I heard bits and pieces of it here and there and tried different things and found that one seemed to work.  And I do think this is a very useful tool and method that will lead far, but just not sure if it's all that will ever be needed and will teach all that can ever be learned.      
-Eva
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Not Tao, modified 7 Years ago at 9/15/14 11:55 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/15/14 11:49 AM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

Posts: 995 Join Date: 4/5/14 Recent Posts
Daniel Leffler:
I very much like the idea of consciously letting go of my stuff though (not waiting for situational life to bring it to us like you did with spiders) and being more proactive about uprooting it. I've never gone to traditional therapy, and for some reason I feel like it is difficult for me to make an actual connection between what's bugging me and my sensate reactions, like just being gloomy for no apparent reason - but (example of when I did) - when I was about 10 years old a friend of mine had some cigars he wanted to smoke. We went into an abandoned gas station bathroom to be sneaky and the steel metal door (with no handle) closed and locked behind us. We were stuck in there for hours and it was cold, no one could hear us scream though we could see people pass by through a small hole in the door - we thought we were going to die and took turns freaking out/consoling each other. Eventually (late that night) a passerby heard our screams and let us out. After that I developed various phobias - the biggest one being claustrophobia. I realized through introspection that my root fear was a fear of death/annihilation and read books about reincarnation etc, made peace with my fear of death and eventually all of my new phobias withered away. I'd like to do that with other reactive emotions and have considered trying hypnotherapy, as that may connect up somewhere as well, for buried/forgotten memories


Yes, this sounds more like how I see Actualism. Something that helps tremendously with phobias or obsessions in particular is negative visualization. (As a side note, negative visualization is not part of Actualism. I actually got it from modern therapy techniques.) Essentially, once you have identified the phobia - which can be half the battle - you can practice confronting it with your imagination. For my spider phobia, I looked at pictures on google images, and then I would sit with my eyes closed and imagine spiders crawling on me. There is an initial fear that comes up, but if you remain calm, it goes away very quickly. It only took about 5 days of doing this, and the fear was gone. Part of the effectiveness of using your imagination is that it's the imagination that creates most of our fear, so by practicing negative visualization you are aiming at the root of the problem. I see spiders in my house a lot these days, and I always make a point to let them crawl on my hand. This reinforces the new paradigm in my mind. I really don't see the phobia coming back, though, it's just gone. I actually kind of like spiders now. :3 I'll have to try some bigger spiders soon and see how that goes.

The whole experience was pretty eye-opening though. I'd been afraid of spiders for many years, and there were nights I couldn't sleep because I had seen a spider earlier and was looping thoughts in my mind like, "a spider is going to come crawl on me, I can't close my eyes!" Sometimes even an image on TV would set it off. It only took 5 days to cure it! If I could change some thought pattern that was that fundimental so quickly, I really think it's possible to change anything.

Daniel Leffler:
"The underlying joy that you're referring to, is it physical or does it have a psychic component?"
Hmmm, not sure what you mean by a psychic component, but it is physical, as all things are. I'd say it's more like a deep contentment, the absence of creating sensations/stress if that makes sense. It's like a fullness in the body or heart, a deep knowing that that life is perfect just the way it is in the midst of whatever storm is going on. The trick (for me) is to bring myself into the moment through awareness of bodily sensation, and knowledge that, (paraphrasing someone) if you can do something to change your situation there's no reason to stress, because it can be fixed, if you can't do anything to change your undesirable situation, there's no reason to worry, since there's nothing you can do about it. Would that be the psychic component? It's kind of underlying though and not necessary expressed in thought forms


I guess I'm not sure what I meant by psychic component, haha. All I can say is that, since I am a human and you are a human, we can probably agree on what emotions are in general. When I say the thing I call a PCE is truely emotionless, it means I can't conceive of using a word like joy to describe it. However, there is another state that I've experienced that has a sort of mental sweetness to it, almost like an effortless jhana you can walk around with. I got that a lot when I was doing jhana meditation everyday and practicing radical acceptance. If I stick with that it can erupt into a kind of full body sensual bliss - basically jhana. It has a love-like quality with a sensation like a glowing warmth in the chest. I wrote a poem about it once and I called it, "a glowing coal of patience in my chest." Does this sound like what you're talking about?

I think I'd call that a sutta jhana. The buddha always called the third and fourth jhanas "calm abodes" - which strikes me as meaning once they happen, you can stay there. Undoubtedly it's a very positive way to live, and if that's your ongoing situation then I applaud your accomplishment. It isn't a PCE, though. Also, a very hard fourth jhana - where you are completely blank and spock-like - that isn't a PCE either.

The thing I call a PCE has no inner sensations whatsoever. There is no emotional experience in the body. Even if I were to look for where my heart center is, or what I'm feeling, there would be nothing to find. Everything turns to jelly because it's so relaxing - like going beyond the idea of positive and negative to an entirely new mental paradigm. This might sound alien or cold or horrible, but all I can say is that it's perfect in my experience.

Daniel Leffler:
Maintaining the PCE also seems like clinging would develop, as it's still a state, but if it's the state of non-clinging I suppose that would be impossible - I have definitely experienced that.


I really don't know if this is true or not (states can't last), but think of it this way - the only way to have a PCE is by resolving all conflicts and tensions that cause emotions. Once they're resolved, the PCE happens because that's just the most basic part of the mind. It's not a state, like happiness or sadness, it is just resolution of all conflict, unification of all opinions, the complete abandonment of inhibitions. So there's nothing really to cling to unless I am no longer in the PCE, whereupon I'll ask myself what caused me to leave it, and resolve whatever conflict happened. My practice is more about my baseline, than about "permanence." I do have a default state of being that constitutes most of my waking life. The goal is to raise this until the baseline is a perfect experience. This is called "virtual freedom" by Richard. It's only logical to assume that, if you can remain in a happy and harmless baseline, it will only continue to deepen. If I happen to be angry again after years of not being angry, then I would just apply the actualist method to the anger - figure out what it is, and realize it isn't worth being unhappy about - and go back to my happy baseline.

Important to mention again is that, while the PCE is emotionless, that's just a description, not a method. The Actualist doesn't try to get rid of emotions, he tries to enjoy himself as much as possible. The PCE comes out of this enjoyment and appreciation of simply existing.

@Psi Phy: I took your suggestion and did some research on bare awareness. From what I've read, I still think there is a difference (minor or major, you can decide) in what I am doing now. I don't really know your history with Actualism, but it seems like you have a lot of negative opinions about it. Personally, I don't mind whatever words are applied to my practice, so let's say for a moment that I am following no tradition or path in particular and I have come up with everything I'm doing through trial and error (because, really, that's the truth of it anyway). You can forget, for a moment, that there's a guy out there named Richard who believes he's the "one and only bringer of the light", since that bothers you. You must already do the same thing if you read the Buddhist suttas, no? I think that line is used verbatim in a number of places, haha.

So here I am, just me an my practice. Now if you can further assume I'm not stupid (which maybe you do, judging by the tone of your post), then, as I am capable of reading, thinking, and reflecting, I might have a legitimate reason for saying there's a difference, don't you think? I gather from quotes like this...

Psi Phi:
The experience you have described, sorry to inform you, is common in spiritual circles, as you have probably noticed that most of the advanced practioners here do not even reply to your elatedness, they already know the folly and stand on the sidelines, probably barely amused.


...that you've already made up your mind about my opinions and ideas. But maybe we can start over. My main interest with this thread is helping people see that there really is another way of practicing and thinking about mental development.

Psi Phi:
Anyway, I have tried to expalin to you briefly about Bare Attention , and Pure Mindfulness, but you keep coming up with a refutation about some ideas you have about Bare Attention and Pure Mindfulness.


As I said, I took some time to read about bare awareness and mindfulness on Access to Insight. I'll will directly reference this article and show how my process is different: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/nyanaponika/wheel121.html

By bare attention we understand the clear and single-minded awareness of what actually happens to us and in us, at the successive moments of perception. It is called "bare" because it attends to the bare facts of a perception without reacting to them by deed, speech or mental comment.


I do not attend to the bare facts of my perceptions. In fact, I only pay attention to one aspect of existence - the emotions. I specifically question myself as to why my emotional state is the way that it is. I do not just note, "anger, sadness, confusion," (as well as "seeing, feeling," etc.) I say, "Ok, I'm angry, what caused it? It was caused by that guy cutting me off in traffic. Is that worth being unhappy? Is that really important? Am I served by this anger in any way?" The answer is always "no," and I am very quickly out of my anger. The emotion is examined, and the reason is found and cured.

But in the methodical development of mindfulness aimed at the unfolding of its latent powers, bare attention is sustained for as long a time as one's strength of concentration permits. Bare attention then becomes the key to the meditative practice of satipatthana, opening the door to mind's mastery and final liberation.


My practice doesn't involve any concentration because, as humans, we are already completely focused on our emotional state. It doesn't need to be maintained. It is, instead, a self-reflection exercise aimed at figuring out why a negative feeling (or positive passion) is present. It is therapy, not meditation.

But how are we to deal with that unwieldy, tangled mass? Usually we try to ignore it and to rely on the counteracting energies of our surface mind. But the only safe remedy is to face it — with mindfulness. Nothing more difficult is needed than to acquire the habit of directing bare attention to these rudimentary thoughts as often as possible.


I am also seeking to face my problems, but not with mindfulness or bare attention. Instead I judge the quality of each emotion, and if it is judged negatively, I seek to understand the trigger so I can disable it. Bare attention does not go further than directing awareness onto the sensation itself, as seen here:

The working principle here is the simple fact that two thoughts cannot coexist at the same time: if the clear light of mindfulness is present, there is no room for mental twilight. When sustained mindfulness has secured a firm foothold, it will be a matter of comparatively secondary importance how the mind will then deal with those rudimentary thoughts, moods and emotions.


In bare awareness, the goal is to ferret out all aspects of existence and see them clearly. I don't share this goal. I'm only interested in understanding the cause of my emotions, and disabling those causes.

When the facts and details of the mind's conditioned nature are uncovered by meditative practice, there is an increased chance to effect fundamental changes in the mind. In that way, not only those hitherto unquestioned habits of the mind, its twilight regions and its normal processes as well, but even those seemingly solid, indisputable facts of the world of matter — all will become "questionable" and lose much of their self-assurance.


This is a major theme in buddhism - metaphysics. There is no self, all matter is empty and luminous, awareness is not separate from sensation, etc. I don't spend any time or energy investigating any part of my experience except the emotions, as that is all that's important to living freely.

I'm going to move on to your tips now. I think they show that what you are calling a PCE is not the same as what I'm calling a PCE.

Psi Phi:
Also release Physical Formations, there is tension and tightness in the head, ( meninges), the "furrowing" of the brow is a common one, "setting" the jaw, chest tension, ears held back, (sounds funny, but true), thumb pressing on hand/finger, abdominals tensed and ready, breath held shallow, chest tension Relax the heart area. This helps to maintain the Wholesome State (PCE)


If it is a state that needs to be maintained, it isn't a PCE. The PCE only happens when all emotional conflict has been resolved, and the mind is free from tension. If there are physical tensions, they are a good sign that there is an emotional experience happening, and they can be examined. To relax them intentionally without trying to understand the cause would be a kind of suppression and an opportunity to discover and eliminate an emotional trigger would be missed.

Psi Phi:
Also, Verbal Formations, if words are arising in the mind, the mind is not in Full PCE, learn to relax the langauge center of the brain and leave it calm, One doesn't need to narrate every phenomena in life, this will help you to maintain your PCE (Wholesome State/ Equanimity)


If you need to suppress thought to enter or maintain a specific state, it isn't a PCE. One of the most remarkable aspects of the PCE is that you can think about things that would normally upset you, and they have no effect on you. This makes the PCE a good place to challenge beliefs you're holding on to. It will give you a simple solution you can remember for the next time you have trouble with said beliefs.

The PCE is not an altered state of consciousness. It is our normal waking consciousness without emotional filters. Thought happens or doesn't happen depending on the needs of the moment.

Psi Phi:
And Emotional Formations, keep them balanced, this is called Equanimity, there is no reason to react in anger if you spill a drink, it already happened , and people on the other side of the world are unaware anyway, universally these occurrences are non-events. the emotional reactions are not warranted and are just negative mental habits that can and should be immediately released, and by doing so they will lose their energy and eventually disappear altogether. the same goes with reacting with greed and lust when one is aware of something pleasant or nice, a soda , a new car, or whatever, by using Bare Attention, one does not react, but stays Equanimous towards all formations, this is called Guarding the Sense doors, and will help you to stay within PCE, or Wholesomeness.


I aim to question anything that causes anger. Your description here might be one way to delegitimize your anger. However, I don't seek to release anger. I don't try to calm myself down, or relax, or ease tension. Instead, I specifically try to find the cause, and I know I have found the cause when the tension goes away. Think of it like this analogy, there is a strong light that is bothering my eyes. To ease the tension, I might hold up my hand (relax physical tensions) or close my eyes (stop thoughts) or let my eyes adjust (acceptance). What I do instead is unplug the lamp (delegitimize the cause).

Actualists believe that every single tiny insignificant little problem has a cause. They investigates every single little problem to find the source so they can unplug the lamp. They are their own psychologist, delving into everything as fully and deeply as they need to. It isn't bare awareness, it's deep psychological exploration.
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Daniel - san, modified 7 Years ago at 9/15/14 2:23 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/15/14 2:17 PM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

Posts: 308 Join Date: 9/9/14 Recent Posts
Daniel Leffler:
Not Tao:
Daniel Leffler:
"The underlying joy that you're referring to, is it physical or does it have a psychic component?"
Hmmm, not sure what you mean by a psychic component, but it is physical, as all things are. I'd say it's more like a deep contentment, the absence of creating sensations/stress if that makes sense. It's like a fullness in the body or heart, a deep knowing that that life is perfect just the way it is in the midst of whatever storm is going on. The trick (for me) is to bring myself into the moment through awareness of bodily sensation, and knowledge that, (paraphrasing someone) if you can do something to change your situation there's no reason to stress, because it can be fixed, if you can't do anything to change your undesirable situation, there's no reason to worry, since there's nothing you can do about it. Would that be the psychic component? It's kind of underlying though and not necessary expressed in thought forms


I guess I'm not sure what I meant by psychic component, haha. All I can say is that, since I am a human and you are a human, we can probably agree on what emotions are in general. When I say the thing I call a PCE is truely emotionless, it means I can't conceive of using a word like joy to describe it. However, there is another state that I've experienced that has a sort of mental sweetness to it, almost like an effortless jhana you can walk around with. I got that a lot when I was doing jhana meditation everyday and practicing radical acceptance. If I stick with that it can erupt into a kind of full body sensual bliss - basically jhana. It has a love-like quality with a sensation like a glowing warmth in the chest. I wrote a poem about it once and I called it, "a glowing coal of patience in my chest." Does this sound like what you're talking about?

I think I'd call that a sutta jhana. The buddha always called the third and fourth jhanas "calm abodes" - which strikes me as meaning once they happen, you can stay there. Undoubtedly it's a very positive way to live, and if that's your ongoing situation then I applaud your accomplishment. It isn't a PCE, though. Also, a very hard fourth jhana - where you are completely blank and spock-like - that isn't a PCE either.

The thing I call a PCE has no inner sensations whatsoever. There is no emotional experience in the body. Even if I were to look for where my heart center is, or what I'm feeling, there would be nothing to find. Everything turns to jelly because it's so relaxing - like going beyond the idea of positive and negative to an entirely new mental paradigm. This might sound alien or cold or horrible, but all I can say is that it's perfect in my experience.
Not Alien Not Cold Not Horrible Not Tao, and it lines up with a couple experiences I've had years ago, something very familiar here, hmmm...
If anything I find this conversation fascinating, and potentially extremely useful to myself and maybe others reading
The sutta jhana you describe is closer in tone to the benefits accrued from my daily 'bare awareness' practice, achieved through bare attention, dropping guards, equanimity and allowing everything to just happen, not through concentration or anything manufactured, but I also don't get there through happiness, as you describe. An inner peace does develop however (not heart constricted at all) and a slight smile happens on it's own many times, but my hands also naturally form mudras (I think to balance the energy which my body is packed to the brim with from a kundalini s- storm and my emotional load is lightened : )
The PCE experience, which I clearly need to read more about now (the kool aid sounds delicious, may I please have a glass?! ;) sounds like Satori - I woke up this morning thinking that, although as I read about that experience online, different people even mean different things by that word, it's so hard to know if we're all talking about the same thing! I wonder if Daniel I's PCE is similar to yours in his write-up?
http://integrateddaniel.info/my-experiments-in-actualism/
I've always been confused by the 'blip' description of nirvana of Mahasi/MCTB and why it's so valued (sounds like deep sleep) and I don't think that's the teaching of enlightenment in Zen, but they are a tricky bunch to figure out! Still, the emotional perfection model (although debunked by MCTB ) is the teaching of the Buddha (for arahats) and the reason many got into meditation in the first place I'd say, not to discuss the existence of fairies with sawfoot! Though it is an epic thread  emoticon
http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/4835855
Relatedly, I think there’s some intellectual dishonesty at play with the fact that so many acquire a new religion (Three C’s, Rebirth, the Big Blip etc) forgetting the fact that they got into meditation because of just one C in particular – dukkha! The other Cs are meant to be the salve for that (so says Buddha) but those that call themselves totally done say otherwise, emotions still arise. Conundrum!
I guess I'm looking for parallels with other words/traditions since the PCE seems like a relatively easy experience to set oneself up for and others must have written about it before Richard. There’s thousands of years of practice here and millions of practitioners, surely this isn’t something new?!
I'm also really interested to hear if you have any thoughts about the energy system and all of this? (Or if anyone else smart and non-foofy has an intelligent thought?) I have experienced myself the emotionlessness PCE-seeming state where life is magical and beautiful and vibrant (in momentary glimpses here and there) and a knowing that fear (or anger or elation...) could not possibly arise because there was no knot at the heart to meet the external reaction, just being cool, a cool motherf-er
I've also experienced sensations leaving the body just as reactions manifest, as though they couldn't be held (after meditating intensely at retreat for 10 days). Do you have any thoughts on the energy system and the part it plays in actualist practice/the PCE? Do you think your energetic system is clear and chakras spinning when a PCE ensues? It has been discussed before (I really gotta read this stuff myself lol)
http://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/5227446
http://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/93663
Also, how long do your PCEs last? What else should I read? (besides everything?) Ok, I really need to get back to work now...noting aversion! ;)
Daniel
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Daniel - san, modified 7 Years ago at 9/15/14 2:36 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/15/14 2:36 PM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

Posts: 308 Join Date: 9/9/14 Recent Posts
Eva M Nie:

Danel Leffler PCE full time sounds nice, like heaven, but it’s still a ‘mind mod’ as Daniel Ingram referred to it in passing. It’s a conditioned state subject to laws of impermanence like everything else.
Really, do we know this for sure? Seems like they come on their own?  I don't recall doing anything special to get mine, it was really quite a bit of a surprise.  How do we know PCE is not a natural state?
I agree with everything you wrote in your two posts Eva - for example, not throwing the baby (Actualist method) out with the bathwater (Richard's philosophy lol). I also think the PCE sounds like a non-clinging state by definition, so 'natural' could very well be the case, although I know some think anything outside of straight up cessation and the ceasing of the time/space continuuim that it's all a mind mod - getting philosophical, danger!
Anyway, your analysis and insights are quite well received and I detect big amounts of wisdom and understanding coming from 'you' through these bits and bytes and the whole series of tubes. I hope I'm not massaging your ego here, anyway, there is no spoon! 
Best, Daniel
Felipe C, modified 7 Years ago at 9/15/14 5:48 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/15/14 3:49 PM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

Posts: 221 Join Date: 5/29/11 Recent Posts
Hi, Daniel,

Daniel:

 I think we’re getting too wrapped up in words – what I mean is, there is the experience, and then there are the words that we use to try to get at what that was, the finger and the moon.

I think this goes to the paradox at the heart of life/spirituality however and is expressed in the emptiness teachings of Mahayana vs. fullness teachings of the Vajrayana – they are both at play and two ways of viewing life

I think it’s much more than semantic.
 
Daniel:

One could have realized No Self (or obliterated emotions/the self as Actualism prescribes) and still be compassionate. If there is no self (you don’t perceive a psyche here at least on this side of the equation) who is compassionate with who?

You have to consider that compassion is an emotion or a state classified as ‘good’, just like love, sympathy, empathy, etc. In other words, it’s driven by passional motivations which then give rise to ideologies such as ‘putting the others before one’ or ‘turn the other cheek’.
This is NOT harmlessness in the actualist sense.  Harmlessness is the absence of both good and bad feelings. In other words, feeling compassionate is to actively seek to feel and alleviate other’s suffering and harmlessness is being completely carefree in the emotional level but considerate and intimate in the actual one, as there are no self-centered forces that impede one to be and behave well-meaningly, attentively, kindly, etc. In the absence of malice, the antidotes are redundant and futile. They don't even arise anymore as the affective energy is completely null.

Another interesting point to consider is that to an actually free person there is no agenda, there is no drive whatsoever to be this or that, so this implies that there is nothing deep to do for the rest {peace is a natural state to the AF anyway, so no need for morality}, because, at the end, everyone is responsible for their own wellbeing. This is in flagrant contrast with the idea to be compassionate, and here I remembered a very old post of mine that is precisely about all this. I recommend you check it out, as it also responds to other methodological points you raise later in your post.

Daniel:
I find his teachings odd and culty – for instance when someone says they’ve discovered something totally new and this newly discovered human experience is something no one else knows about etc.

Yeah, the same thing happened to Galileo, and yet the Earth moves. Do you actually believe there is no more space for human innovation?
 
Daniel:

I hear 'danger danger'.

Surely you agree with me that, just like there are actual dangers out there, we are programmed to hear all kinds of things as true and yet they are often result to be ropes and not snakes at closer inspection. Are you sure where exactly the burden of the danger you perceive is?
 
Daniel:

We are talking about inner human development that has gone on for thousands of years…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appeal_to_tradition
 

Daniel:
and loads of words have been used to describe loads of states and experiences…


Don’t underestimate Richard on this one, as he has passed years reading all kinds of reports from traditions all over the world to compare notes. He even studied pali etymology in an effort to grasp what’s meant originally by the Buddha.

 
Daniel:
I also don’t call myself a Buddhist because I’m averse to religion in general

Regardless of how you consider yourself, do you hold Buddhist beliefs?

Daniel:
 
- I vibe with people who see the mystery and don't know the answers to all the questions.

Specifically in this topic, I vibe with people who see solutions and do know the answers to eradicate human suffering, not because I take it by faith from them but because I’ve put their words to work personally and I’ve been seeing with my own eyes and heart what’s been possible just in three years of human life, and if I follow the pattern it’s just a matter of time.

Humility is not equal to intellectual honesty. 

Daniel:

I personally see religion (a belief structure to be taken on faith) in Actualist teaching. There is a philosophy to believe and words are re-defined to make an argument to support a pre-ordained conclusion – not the mark of an open mind or scientific method

Have you tested that yourself by wholeheartedly trying the actualist method here or you are just busy reacting? I say it because you use terms such as ‘philosophy’ and ‘belief’ which are just the contrary of the spirit of the actualist method.  If you want to have proof of what you are saying, I suggest that you give the method a shot but not in the intellectual level, but in the experiential/existential one. That would indeed be a mark of an open mind and a scientific method from your part.

Daniel:

When I read about emotionless states and not experiencing love or compassion (or seeing them as expressions of being to be abandoned) I feel compassion for those that would want to do that – it’s sounds like taking drugs or some type of jhana, it's a mind state.

I’d suggest that you take a look at this but in the opposite direction. Think of how you are addicted to feelings, how you seem to need them to give meaning to your life, how they make you think that there’s nothing valuable away from them, how they make you predictable, acting by instinct just like any other animal but in more sophisticated ways.

Daniel:
There is pain and suffering in life – you just need to look at it, all around us every day on every level.

See the post I referred to earlier, but in summary, I’ll say that regardless of how I feel about it, the world is what it is. I can do things to make it better but my influence is very limited, so in the end everyone is responsible for their own wellbeing. 

Can you see how this attitude is more pragmatical and hands-on by making a radical change in oneself and only then being helpful by not adding problems to the world, and the compassionate one implies that one puts the others before and therefore loses sight of his own problems and malicious contributions?

And speaking of emotional junkies, and quoting from the other post I mentioned, here is a pretty nasty addiction

Felipe:
Let's see a couple of examples from the same author Lama Zopa:

'The same thing applies to the entire path to enlightenment taught by the Buddha. Actualizing this path depends on the kindness of sentient beings. Without the existence of suffering sentient beings there is no way to generate loving kindness and compassion, no way to actualize bodhicitta, no way to progress along the path. There’s no way to actualize the Mahayana path, to complete it, to eliminate all the defilements and achieve all the qualities of cessation, to attain all realizations without depending on the kindness of sentient beings. No way.'

So, we need the suffering of other beings to get enlightened. Pretty perverse if you ask me. You need that suffering to fuel your compassion. 


Daniel, in summary, you yourself counter your argument of this being pure semantics when you react strongly against the very idea of being a free human without affective drives such as love and compassion. A feeling is a feeling and it requires an affective faculty regardless of personal or impersonal aspects. It's just something you feel from the heart and inspired by your affective connection to other feeling beings and by your raw instinctual passions. Just as you find actual freedom limited, I see the spiritual freedom as limited {as it keeps the possibility of all kinds of feelings arising}, conditioned {by my feelings and other's feelings} and driven {with affective agendas and missions}.

I guess at least we can agree that these methods {spiritual and actualist} are different both in their ways and in their results. Obviously, if I want to build muscle, I’m going to lift and consume a ton of proteins, but if I want to lose fat, I’d rather do cardio. In that same way, by feeling good feelings, you are doing exactly that: building your affective muscle, and that’s very different from thinning them and then losing them by neither express nor repress them, as the actualist method proposes. It's illogical to think that I'll be free from an affective being when I've been empowering the affective elements that conform it the whole time.
 
From here, you can see how your phrase ‘One could have realized No Self (or obliterated emotions/the self as Actualism prescribes) and still be compassionate’ doesn’t make any sense. You can’t equate both results {no self and actual freedom} and their effects {an actually free person can be considerate in a given situation but never compassionate}. Compassion and consideration operate in two whole different levels, at least from the results showed by AF and the PCE, just like one can be productive at work without being stressed or being caring without being loving or fleeing for one's life without being fearful.

Anyway, of course everyone has the right to choose to be slim or muscular, spiritual or actualist, and in that regard I wish you the best in whatever endeavor you choose for yourself.

Cheers!

Felipe

EDIT: Corrected links
J J, modified 7 Years ago at 9/15/14 4:26 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/15/14 4:24 PM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

Posts: 225 Join Date: 3/31/14 Recent Posts
Long rant:

I find it bizarre how people are unable to differentiate actualist and Buddhism dogma, actualism is simple:
  • There is a self.
  • Said self is the cause of all suffering (in Richard's words: war, suicides, suffering etc)
  • The extinction of said self, is the end of suffering.

Any good Buddhist (and by good I don't mean morally good) should be able to see that that is simply miccha-ditthi (wrong view), as per the Alagaddupama Sutta found on Dharmafarer:



It is thus blatantly obvious that actualism (as formulated by Richard), is thus incompatible with Buddhism.

Once someone possesses non-dual insight it becomes increasingly obvious that a "self" is not the problem, which is why I can never fully take up actualism, it simply doesn't work.

The Buddha states that the end of suffering is contingent upon an unborn, uncreated. According to Richard an actual freedom is contingent upon an unborn, uncreated universe, the matter, space and time of which is permanent.

In practice terms, actualism simply doesn't work, the method is to enjoy this moment of being alive, but the drive enjoy sensual pleasures simply is not that strong. Moreover Richard is overly logical and rational, and attempts to appeal one's logical/rational side of being, pragmatically speaking, his teaching (which he would loathe it being called) simply, does not, work.

Happiness is overrated, sure I'm happy, so what? I'm not actually free, Richard identifies his 'self' with emotions themselves, a Buddhist faux pas.

He makes nearly every mistake in the book.

Note: ironically Richard claims to enjoy sense-pleasures without sensual lust (anhedonically), this is not possible.
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Not Tao, modified 7 Years ago at 9/15/14 4:42 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/15/14 4:37 PM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

Posts: 995 Join Date: 4/5/14 Recent Posts
Daniel, if you can remember a PCE, it's generally the best teacher for Actualism as a whole.  It sounds like you may remember one.  Hard to say, though.  It's the kind of thing that slaps you across the face as "Ohh, ok." because it does fit the descriptions perfectly.  It's hard to imagine being emotionless, but it's pretty clear once it happens.  Being a cool cucumber is a good description, haha.

@ Felipe: Since you seem to have a handle on the method, would you mind going into "nipping it in the bud", as that's something I don't think I understand fully.  Often times I have a "same old thing" emotion, and even though I understand the cause of it and don't think it needs to be examined further, I still seem to be holding on to it.  If I spend too much time focused on it, it just turns into rumination and philosophizing.  Is nipping in the bud a direct refusal to bother with it further, like turning your mind to somethig else, or what do you actually do for that?

It seems like there's a conflict between the idea of minimizing emotions, and neither supressing nor expressing them.

EDIT: Hello James.  You always confuse me with your posts, haha, you seem to have two opposite opinions at once in the same threads.
J J, modified 7 Years ago at 9/15/14 4:59 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/15/14 4:59 PM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

Posts: 225 Join Date: 3/31/14 Recent Posts
Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes. - Whitman


My actual opinion on actual freedom (no pun intended) is that it is blatantly a heretical doctrine (to use Buddhist terms). I made a thread about this a while back but I was reverse-trolled so no discussion took place. Actualism commits several faux pas, one of which is the notion that there are two genuine goals (and by genuine I mean real or categorical): being ASCs (Awakening) and Actual Freedom.

According to the Buddha, the goal is one, not many.

I found it so strange that so many of the members here somehow succumbed to the influence of this doctrine, which is probably due to a lack of grounding in Buddhist dogma. The Buddha warns against interpreting meditative experiences without a grounding in right view, moreover he warns against using rationality/logic purely by itself to derive view. (Re, the Brahmajala Sutta)

Richard no doubt had powerful experiences, but in all likelihood, derived a bunch of strange views from his PCE, moreover his "perfection" is diametrically opposed to the Buddha's dukkha.

The various strange experiences that meditators experiences (lol) on this forum is probably due to a lack of right view as well, intense concentration and attentiveness, without any grounding in dogma or knowledge can lead one astray, Re: Dogen's story of the monk of the fourth stage of meditation.

As such, this is my lion's roar: Actualism sucks.

Of course if that's not enough for you, you could try it yourself and personally be dissatisfied with the doctrine.

Regards,

James
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Daniel - san, modified 7 Years ago at 9/15/14 5:21 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/15/14 5:21 PM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

Posts: 308 Join Date: 9/9/14 Recent Posts
Not Tao, yeah I guess I had a lot of questions in there haha
I am really interested in the energetic system aspect of actualist experience however, but I guess it would be conjecture on your part anyway
take it easy! D
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Not Tao, modified 7 Years ago at 9/15/14 6:07 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/15/14 5:55 PM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

Posts: 995 Join Date: 4/5/14 Recent Posts
Oh, I'm sorry Daniel, I read your post and forgot you had questions in there.

Daniel Leffler:
I wonder if Daniel I's PCE is similar to yours in his write-up?


Here's a quote from his article:

That said, it was not that long before I was having some experiences that were very impressive, wondrous, in which everything was just totally fascinating and amazing, all experiences seemed to delight the sense doors, and the only obvious feeling was one of strong wonder, at least initially, until that would give way to fear that the experience would end, which they all did after some minutes or occasionally hours. On the slightly lighter side, I began to feel that I was able to get into a second mode of experiencing reality, something sort of like a muted version of a full PCE, something I thought of as the PCE-mode, and, if I could get into that, the whole rest of my day would be much more enjoyable and easy, timeless in some way, lighter, and clearly better.


This doesn't match how I would describe the PCE. You use delight and wonder to get into a PCE, but the PCE wouldn't have wonder in it. The experience is very "positive", but that's only because of the physical relief it provides. I think the state Daniel is talking about here can be entered through concentration practice. For a while earlier this year, I was doing a practice where I would sit and watch something intently until this kind of state locked in. The PCE is different, yet similar. The beauty of the world is revealed, yes, but that's because there is no emotional involvement. Daniel said he felt fear the experience would end, which is a disqualifier for me. Whenever I have had a PCE, it seems to last the rest of the day most of the time. There's just nothing much to be bothered about - even losing the PCE. I don't know what his PCE-mode might be.

I've generally taken issue with Daniel's article because he doesn't seem to be describing Actualism in any way. I don't know what Tarin was doing, but he must have focused almost exclusively on concentration on the present moment when he told Daniel about it. The PCE is a result of feeling carefree and uninhibited, and you can't be like that if you're trying to concentrate.


Daniel Leffler:
I'm also really interested to hear if you have any thoughts about the energy system and all of this


I don't know what the energy system might be. If I take a wild stab at guessing what you mean, I've had a lot of interesting physical experiences while doing the jhanas. You might be interested in this post I made: http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/5537323

Truth be told, I don't think it's much related to what I'm doing now. I haven't been meditating that way for a number of months, and I haven't had any "energy" type experiences. Energy and meditation are linked as far as I've seen. I've never read much about chakras, and while I have had feelings in different places, like the throat, heart, third eye, lower abdomen, I never really gave them much thought.

Something to consider, during the PCE, the heart "lump" seems to disappear, so it's possible the rest would as well for you if you're more aware of them. Is this open and spinning? IDK, really...

Here are some good link about the path:
http://actualfreedom.com.au/actualism/path1.htm
as you read along you can click the links on the side to see everything in more depth.

Also, something I'll do is just google a word along with "actual freedom" and you'll usually get a few hits on the site. This list is sorted by topic, so you could skim and see if anything looks interesting:
http://actualfreedom.com.au/richard/selectedcorrespondence/index.htm
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Daniel - san, modified 7 Years ago at 9/15/14 6:30 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/15/14 6:22 PM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

Posts: 308 Join Date: 9/9/14 Recent Posts
Cool Not Tao thank you!
I'm very intrigued and I obviously have a lot of reading and procrastinating to do : )

@Felipe I wrote a whole snappy retort to your post (and it imploded into cyberspace without a trace! Anicca anicca...) where I basically drew a firm line between Richard's philosophy and his practice and implored that they not be conflated as I believe you are doing by making him a superman (ie he could be a total whack job and a terrible writer but his teaching may be sound - keep an open mind anyway). I also compared him to Adi Da (just trying to get an emotional rise out of you). I said 'culty' because I don't think one needs to buy into Richard's philosophy to experience a state that is clearly a part of human development, no matter what words you use. 
You say an innate 'harmlessness' keeps you from hurting other people, I call that compassion. This is what I meant by semantics. I look for commonalities and you are looking for differences, I sense it's because Actualists (and people in general) want to feel they have discovered something totally revolutionary and they are super-special that no one else has any experience of, and I doubt that very much. Of course we're all beautiful snowflakes here anyway : ) I am ready to be proven wrong of course, and I'll do my homework
As I said, the kool aid sure looks good, and I think you should pass it over this way, because clearly you've had enough 
btw since you claim non-affectiveness and a lack of emotion entirely (99% of the time?) I feel like I can insult you and your guru to my endless delight. I'm LOLing and
Cheers to you as well my friend,
Daniel
Felipe C, modified 7 Years ago at 9/15/14 6:55 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/15/14 6:55 PM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

Posts: 221 Join Date: 5/29/11 Recent Posts
 Not Tao:
 @ Felipe: Since you seem to have a handle on the method, would you mind going into "nipping it in the bud", as that's something I don't think I understand fully.  Often times I have a "same old thing" emotion, and even though I understand the cause of it and don't think it needs to be examined further, I still seem to be holding on to it.  If I spend too much time focused on it, it just turns into rumination and philosophizing.  Is nipping in the bud a direct refusal to bother with it further, like turning your mind to somethig else, or what do you actually do for that?
 
It seems like there's a conflict between the idea of minimizing emotions, and neither supressing nor expressing them.
 
 
I suggest that you read what’s on the AFT website to get a correct understanding, here.

But I’ll say a couple of things on how I made that process a lot easier as time passed:

The part of going back to feeling good is pretty important, because, if you don’t, you’ll end up expressing or suppressing them by thinking about them or acting on them in several worse ways.

Now, that’s not easy at first, so what I did in my first times practicing this, when emotions were particularly challenging by their intensity and duration, I’d investigate the hell out of them by just staying with them, deeply, trying to flavor them enough and making notes to recognize them again next time and then cut them before they become the monsters they can be {from a subtle feeling can come a strong emotion and then a permanent mood}.

It was curious, though, that sometimes, when doing that for hours, it resulted in the sudden disappearance of the emotions, as if my body and mind said: ‘well, we had the information we needed, let’s get this over with’. The miracles of the bright light of awareness  I guess!

It’s important not to become an investigation junkie, as this investigation doesn’t lead anywhere if it’s not taken with the intent of returning to be happy and harmless as soon as possible. So take sufficient notes of each emotion, and each time you get across them again remember your prior investigations and stop fueling them again. You can measure your success as that nipping in the bud becomes effortless and automatic with certain feelings that used to cause you a lot of trouble. And this is a huge relief! Pat yourself in the back whenever you note that, see how this thing works. If a feeling you thought you had it already resolved comes again, don’t be desperate. Be patient but mostly be curious about your feeling, as each one becomes an opportunity to know yourself better.

Apropos of curiosity, another useful tool is to contemplate how all emotions are not that important. They don’t come from something ultimate or profound, but basically from an instinctual program. That program, being software, is just running predictable actions with the information that comes to it, so it all starts from certain basic rules that can be changed as it is not hardwired. Another thing is the program is there for a reason not related to you as individual, so no fault or guilt at that. It’s just a set of rules set by nature to perpetuate the species, just instincts like any other animal have and nothing divine, ultimate or transcendent. This down to earth approach will help you to not react with the shell of your social identity, to not be serious about those feelings, to be your best friend and to be considerate with yourself, but mostly to strip those feelings from all their credibility.

Once you experientially noticed that they don’t deserve the credibility we humans invest in them, also because you’ve tasted them enough in your investigations to know that they suck, everything will be easier. As you {at least partially} know that there are no solutions within the human condition, also by contrasting it with the purity and perfection from the brief experiences you lived outside such human condition, it just becomes the obvious thing to do to step out from any good or bad feeling at all, and invest that remaining energy in ways that emulate the PCE or get you closer to it.

It’s like a common sense at its best: just as it’s obvious to get your hands out of hot pan in the instant you feel it, you’ll nip them in the bud immediately after becoming aware of them, as they always are problematic in one way or another. So, you can guess that this takes a lot more work with positive emotions, as they don’t necessarily show their true colors that early or that easily.

In the end, what this reflection produces is that you become sincere in your endeavor to be happy and harmless and then you can do whatever it takes to get to your aim, without any remorse or guilt for you letting go of your good and bad feelings and daring to be felicitous and innocuous at all times no matter what. You just need to take that decision each time again and the minimization comes naturally due to lack of use. Indeed, those cerebral connections seem to die as you don’t fuel them enough and then, progressively, the other kinds of feelings begin to becoming your default mode.

At least, that’s been my experience so far, although there’s still a long way to go!

Hope that helps,

Felipe
Felipe C, modified 7 Years ago at 9/15/14 7:42 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/15/14 7:42 PM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

Posts: 221 Join Date: 5/29/11 Recent Posts

I wrote a whole snappy retort to your post (and it imploded into cyberspace without a trace! Anicca anicca...)

Oh man, that sucks! That happened to me as well a couple of times recently, haha.
 
where I basically drew a firm line between Richard's philosophy and his practice and implored that they not be conflated as I believe you are doing by making him a superman (ie he could be a total whack job and a terrible writer but his teaching may be sound - keep an open mind anyway).

This is interesting. Could you expand on why do you think there is a philosophy in actualism? How that relates to its ‘practice’ aspect? Why exactly do you think I’m conflating ‘Richard's philosophy and his practice’?

By the way, I don’t think he is a superman, and it’s cool that you specified that you ‘believe’ that that is the case, as your belief is simply that, it doesn’t have correspondence with my reality. In other words, and to repeat, I speak from the personal results of a guideline that an Aussie dude posted on the Internet. I tried with other methodologies and I didn’t get the results I’m getting with this one in particular, that’s all. 

I said 'culty' because I don't think one needs to buy into Richard's philosophy to experience a state that is clearly a part of human development, no matter what words you use.


Oh, I don’t doubt nor Richard doubts about the universality of the PCE itself. It’s a pretty common happening. Actually, I could launch my actualist practice years thanks to a PCE I had in a trip to Barcelona. At that time {2007}, I didn’t know absolutely anything about actualism nor eastern spirituality.

The uniqueness and merit of this method, though, is to identify the incredible value of such experience and trying to actualize it 24/7/365. If you think that this is delusionary or clingy, it just shows how different is from other spiritual methodologies.
 
You say an innate 'harmlessness' keeps you from hurting other people, I call that compassion. This is what I meant by semantics. I look for commonalities and you are looking for differences,

I disagree. The absence of malice is different from the presence of compassion. If you’re going to focus on the resultant behavior, then let’s put the whole picture and see how the compassionate ones are driven to love and help others {think of how the Tibetan gurus or Osho act}, and often at harmlessness’ expense. When one is free from malice and sorrow in a PCE, that drive or any affective drive does not exist. It’s different to say ‘I don’t harm you because I love you’ than ‘I don’t harm you because I’m incapable of feeling malice’.

 
I sense it's because Actualists (and people in general) want to feel they have discovered something totally revolutionary and they are super-special that no one else has any experience of, and I doubt that very much.

Well, instead of psychoanalyzing actualists and the supposed self-aggrandizing impact of the novelty effect on them, I suggest that you take the words of actualists at face value and inform yourself both intellectually and existentially about them to make an informed opinion. That’s the least you could do if you really want to talk about it.
 
btw since you claim non-affectiveness and a lack of emotion entirely (99% of the time?)

Nope, I’m not there yet, but I've had PCEs and life is only getting better.
 
I feel like I can insult you and your guru to my endless delight.
 
Hehe, not my guru but sure, go ahead if you like!
 
I'm LOLing and Cheers to you as well my friend,
 
Cheers, dude!
 
Felipe
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Psi, modified 7 Years ago at 9/16/14 12:16 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/16/14 12:16 AM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

Posts: 1094 Join Date: 11/22/13 Recent Posts
Not Tao:
[quote=
]



@Psi Phy: I took your suggestion and did some research on bare awareness. From what I've read, I still think there is a difference (minor or major, you can decide) in what I am doing now. I don't really know your history with Actualism, but it seems like you have a lot of negative opinions about it. Personally, I don't mind whatever words are applied to my practice, so let's say for a moment that I am following no tradition or path in particular and I have come up with everything I'm doing through trial and error (because, really, that's the truth of it anyway). You can forget, for a moment, that there's a guy out there named Richard who believes he's the "one and only bringer of the light", since that bothers you. You must already do the same thing if you read the Buddhist suttas, no? I think that line is used verbatim in a number of places, haha. 


 

So here I am, just me an my practice. Now if you can further assume I'm not stupid (which maybe you do, judging by the tone of your post), then, as I am capable of reading, thinking, and reflecting, I might have a legitimate reason for saying there's a difference, don't you think? I gather from quotes like this...

Psi Phi:
The experience you have described, sorry to inform you, is common in spiritual circles, as you have probably noticed that most of the advanced practioners here do not even reply to your elatedness, they already know the folly and stand on the sidelines, probably barely amused.


...that you've already made up your mind about my opinions and ideas. But maybe we can start over. My main interest with this thread is helping people see that there really is another way of practicing and thinking about mental development.

Psi Phi:
Anyway, I have tried to expalin to you briefly about Bare Attention , and Pure Mindfulness, but you keep coming up with a refutation about some ideas you have about Bare Attention and Pure Mindfulness.


As I said, I took some time to read about bare awareness and mindfulness on Access to Insight. I'll will directly reference this article and show how my process is different: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/nyanaponika/wheel121.html

By bare attention we understand the clear and single-minded awareness of what actually happens to us and in us, at the successive moments of perception. It is called "bare" because it attends to the bare facts of a perception without reacting to them by deed, speech or mental comment.


I do not attend to the bare facts of my perceptions. In fact, I only pay attention to one aspect of existence - the emotions. Then you are too late at this point, with pure mindfulness, you would have already cut off the root of the problem.I specifically question myself as to why my emotional state is the way that it is. I do not just note, "anger, sadness, confusion," (as well as "seeing, feeling," etc.) If your verbal, again, your too late, you are working at a later and less efficient stage than bare attention.I say, "Ok, I'm angry, what caused it? It was caused by that guy cutting me off in traffic. Is that worth being unhappy? Is that really important? Am I served by this anger in any way?" The answer is always "no," and I am very quickly out of my anger. The emotion is examined, and the reason is found and cured. That is correct, abandoning the unwholesome state and arousing and maintaining the wholesome state.

If you were using bare attention anger would not arise nor develop.  emoticon

But in the methodical development of mindfulness aimed at the unfolding of its latent powers, bare attention is sustained for as long a time as one's strength of concentration permits. Bare attention then becomes the key to the meditative practice of satipatthana, opening the door to mind's mastery and final liberation.


My practice doesn't involve any concentration because, as humans, we are already completely focused on our emotional state. It doesn't need to be maintained. It is, instead, a self-reflection exercise aimed at figuring out why a negative feeling (or positive passion) is present. It is therapy, not meditation.

But how are we to deal with that unwieldy, tangled mass? Usually we try to ignore it and to rely on the counteracting energies of our surface mind. But the only safe remedy is to face it — with mindfulness. Nothing more difficult is needed than to acquire the habit of directing bare attention to these rudimentary thoughts as often as possible.


I am also seeking to face my problems, but not with mindfulness or bare attention. Instead I judge the quality of each emotion, and if it is judged negatively, I seek to understand the trigger so I can disable it. Bare attention does not go further than directing awareness onto the sensation itself, as seen here:

 Right because that is where emotions arise from, sensations, you have to train your mind to be more aware and quicker to catch the process at this stage, or it will go into the emotional sate, which you then have to work on from that point forward.

The working principle here is the simple fact that two thoughts cannot coexist at the same time: if the clear light of mindfulness is present, there is no room for mental twilight. When sustained mindfulness has secured a firm foothold, it will be a matter of comparatively secondary importance how the mind will then deal with those rudimentary thoughts, moods and emotions.


In bare awareness, the goal is to ferret out all aspects of existence and see them clearly. I don't share this goal. I'm only interested in understanding the cause of my emotions, and disabling those causes.

The cause of your emotions is reactions to sensations, bare attention disables the cause of of emotions at a very early stage in thier formation.

When the facts and details of the mind's conditioned nature are uncovered by meditative practice, there is an increased chance to effect fundamental changes in the mind. In that way, not only those hitherto unquestioned habits of the mind, its twilight regions and its normal processes as well, but even those seemingly solid, indisputable facts of the world of matter — all will become "questionable" and lose much of their self-assurance.


This is a major theme in buddhism - metaphysics. There is no self, all matter is empty and luminous, awareness is not separate from sensation, etc. I don't spend any time or energy investigating any part of my experience except the emotions, as that is all that's important to living freely.

I don't really get too much into metaphysics, there can be fun discussions, to be sure.  You say you don't spend any time or energy except investigationg emotions, but why not go a step further and investigate the actual cause of emotions, the sensations, the sensations are the trigger, not psychological baggage.
 


I'm going to move on to your tips now. I think they show that what you are calling a PCE is not the same as what I'm calling a PCE.

Like I said earlier, even if I agreed with you, you would have a problem with it, 
Psi Phi:
Also release Physical Formations, there is tension and tightness in the head, ( meninges), the "furrowing" of the brow is a common one, "setting" the jaw, chest tension, ears held back, (sounds funny, but true), thumb pressing on hand/finger, abdominals tensed and ready, breath held shallow, chest tension Relax the heart area. This helps to maintain the Wholesome State (PCE)


If it is a state that needs to be maintained, it isn't a PCE. The PCE only happens when all emotional conflict has been resolved, and the mind is free from tension. If there are physical tensions, they are a good sign that there is an emotional experience happening, and they can be examined. To relax them intentionally without trying to understand the cause would be a kind of suppression and an opportunity to discover and eliminate an emotional trigger would be missed.  The cause is the tension, the rest is just mental storytelling.



Right, that is why the tips, the physical formations are and external indicator of  the internal.  Sometimes the external formations actually are the cause of internal unrest, why play with them just eliminate at the root.
Psi Phi:
Also, Verbal Formations, if words are arising in the mind, the mind is not in Full PCE, learn to relax the langauge center of the brain and leave it calm, One doesn't need to narrate every phenomena in life, this will help you to maintain your PCE (Wholesome State/ Equanimity)


If you need to suppress thought to enter or maintain a specific state, it isn't a PCE. One of the most remarkable aspects of the PCE is that you can think about things that would normally upset you, and they have no effect on you. I do this anyway.  This makes the PCE a good place to challenge beliefs you're holding on to. I don't believe in anything, I only know what I know.  It will give you a simple solution you can remember for the next time you have trouble with said beliefs.

If you do not have a silent peaceful mind in PCE, then one would be incorrect into thinking that was the best stae of experience, there's better.

The PCE is not an altered state of consciousness. It is our normal waking consciousness without emotional filters. (one-third as pure as  bare attention, but not quite as pure as bare attention)  Thought happens or doesn't happen depending on the needs of the moment.

Thoughts arise due to previous causes and effects.

Psi Phi:
And Emotional Formations, keep them balanced, this is called Equanimity, there is no reason to react in anger if you spill a drink, it already happened , and people on the other side of the world are unaware anyway, universally these occurrences are non-events. the emotional reactions are not warranted and are just negative mental habits that can and should be immediately released, and by doing so they will lose their energy and eventually disappear altogether. the same goes with reacting with greed and lust when one is aware of something pleasant or nice, a soda , a new car, or whatever, by using Bare Attention, one does not react, but stays Equanimous towards all formations, this is called Guarding the Sense doors, and will help you to stay within PCE, or Wholesomeness.


I aim to question anything that causes anger. Your description here might be one way to delegitimize your anger. However, I don't seek to release anger. I don't try to calm myself down, or relax, or ease tension. Instead, I specifically try to find the cause, and I know I have found the cause when the tension goes away. Think of it like this analogy, there is a strong light that is bothering my eyes. To ease the tension, I might hold up my hand (relax physical tensions) or close my eyes (stop thoughts) or let my eyes adjust (acceptance). What I do instead is unplug the lamp (delegitimize the cause).

Anger is caused by habitual reactions to sensations, you don't have to be angry about anything ever.  

Actualists believe that every single tiny insignificant little problem has a cause. They investigates every single little problem to find the source so they can unplug the lamp. They are their own psychologist, delving into everything as fully and deeply as they need to. It isn't bare awareness, it's deep psychological exploration.

Sounds like fun, bare awareness is just one part of my practice, want to talk about Right Effort, and how to use it when one slips from Bare Attention?  It's pretty much the same thing as Actualism.....

It's been fun discussing this stuff with you,  and I am about as clear on Actualism as I need to be right now.  It is about not having emotional reactions, and living that way, because it feels good, unemotionally, ... 

Bye Bye

I am glad you are finding peace, perhaps if you had experienced Bare Attention, and I had experienced PCE we could find more common ground and common definitions for the experiences, though there is always the chance I am a chimpanzee typing and this just happens to be the words that come out.  Wonder if a chimp is in PCE or Bare Attention, does it think it has a Self?  Cousins.  

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Daniel - san, modified 7 Years ago at 9/16/14 12:55 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/16/14 12:26 AM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

Posts: 308 Join Date: 9/9/14 Recent Posts
Felipe C.:

I wrote a whole snappy retort to your post (and it imploded into cyberspace without a trace! Anicca anicca...)

Oh man, that sucks! That happened to me as well a couple of times recently, haha.
 
where I basically drew a firm line between Richard's philosophy and his practice and implored that they not be conflated as I believe you are doing by making him a superman (ie he could be a total whack job and a terrible writer but his teaching may be sound - keep an open mind anyway).

This is interesting. Could you expand on why do you think there is a philosophy in actualism? How that relates to its ‘practice’ aspect? Why exactly do you think I’m conflating ‘Richard's philosophy and his practice’?

By the way, I don’t think he is a superman, and it’s cool that you specified that you ‘believe’ that that is the case, as your belief is simply that, it doesn’t have correspondence with my reality. In other words, and to repeat, I speak from the personal results of a guideline that an Aussie dude posted on the Internet. I tried with other methodologies and I didn’t get the results I’m getting with this one in particular, that’s all. 

I think I assumed a lot in my post Felipe, I actually came back online to delete it bc I thought it may have been presumptive and over the top, maybe even a little mean. I was actually being snarky (emotion or not? discuss...)
The philosophy I was referring to was Richard's apparent disdain for 'spiritualism' (as he sees it) and his idea that not everything is impermanent. But I'm really too ignorant about Actualism to speak with any real authority


I said 'culty' because I don't think one needs to buy into Richard's philosophy to experience a state that is clearly a part of human development, no matter what words you use.


Oh, I don’t doubt nor Richard doubts about the universality of the PCE itself. It’s a pretty common happening. Actually, I could launch my actualist practice years thanks to a PCE I had in a trip to Barcelona. At that time {2007}, I didn’t know absolutely anything about actualism nor eastern spirituality.

The uniqueness and merit of this method, though, is to identify the incredible value of such experience and trying to actualize it 24/7/365. If you think that this is delusionary or clingy, it just shows how different is from other spiritual methodologies.

I think I've had a couple of 'accidental' PCEs in my day as well, but I will read up on the stuff and get to work, it all sounds very familiar anyway. 

 
You say an innate 'harmlessness' keeps you from hurting other people, I call that compassion. This is what I meant by semantics. I look for commonalities and you are looking for differences,

I disagree. The absence of malice is different from the presence of compassion. If you’re going to focus on the resultant behavior, then let’s put the whole picture and see how the compassionate ones are driven to love and help others {think of how the Tibetan gurus or Osho act}, and often at harmlessness’ expense. When one is free from malice and sorrow in a PCE, that drive or any affective drive does not exist. It’s different to say ‘I don’t harm you because I love you’ than ‘I don’t harm you because I’m incapable of feeling malice’.

When I say compassion I am speaking from my experience, but I do understand how the dictionary definition that you laid out is not exactly how I would define the compassionate aspect of the brahmavihara. Imagine caring for others without ego, without an idea of image or gain or loss. I have experienced the state of incapable of feeling malice for long periods of time as well and it was the result of bare awareness practice. I could feel the sensations and/or the lack thereof. I think you assume a lot sometimes as well and hold a bit too tight to your definitions. btw Osho was a freak IMO, but so was Adi Da, and maybe even Richard. That doesn't mean their teaching is any less authentic, just that there are ginormous shadows and unconciousnesses sometimes regardless. I am speculating again...

 
I sense it's because Actualists (and people in general) want to feel they have discovered something totally revolutionary and they are super-special that no one else has any experience of, and I doubt that very much.

Well, instead of psychoanalyzing actualists and the supposed self-aggrandizing impact of the novelty effect on them, I suggest that you take the words of actualists at face value and inform yourself both intellectually and existentially about them to make an informed opinion. That’s the least you could do if you really want to talk about it.

Well, I was reacting to the way you tend to see differences instead of commonalities, for example, I went into detail about my experience of compassion and unconditional love (without a heart center reaction, without an affective reaction) and you kept on trying to make a point by using your definition. I stand by my assertion that more listening needs to happen and definitions need to be made clear. For instance, I consider wonder and benevolence to be emotions, but no need to argue with me, and no need to belabor this, I feel like I'm getting a sense of the teaching here as I've experienced at least extremely similiar things to PCE and maybe 'sub-PCE' states
I appreciate very much how descriptive you and Not Tao are in your explanations but I also sense (from you) wanting to possess something for yourself that is special and discounting the fact that if Actualism is what you say it is (a natural unmanufactured state to paraphrase) than many many people have had at least glimpses.

 
btw since you claim non-affectiveness and a lack of emotion entirely (99% of the time?)

Nope, I’m not there yet, but I've had PCEs and life is only getting better.

That's good, I hope it gets better and better for everyone! (Buddhist joy in the happiness of others expressed in that sentiment) and if life brings terrible things I will hopefully have compassion ;) 

 
I feel like I can insult you and your guru to my endless delight.
 
Hehe, not my guru but sure, go ahead if you like!

No I was just trying to be funny. Aussies are weird all around, so they get the benefit of the doubt to begin with haha

 
I'm LOLing and Cheers to you as well my friend,
 
Cheers, dude!
 
Felipe

Live long and prosper and nanu nanu emoticon
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Not Tao, modified 7 Years ago at 9/16/14 4:48 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/16/14 4:48 AM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

Posts: 995 Join Date: 4/5/14 Recent Posts
@Felipe: Thank you for the detailed response. emoticon  I've actually read that page (and others) a number of times, and I still didn't understand it very well.  I think I've had a bit of a breakthrough, though, and your post confirms I'm on the right track now.  The key seems to be putting complete trust in the PCE.  There's no need to come up with new solutions to every problem.  We can just remind ourselves that, not only is the PCE a perfectly pleasant state of mind, but it allows us to solve problems creatively in the moment.  We can safely forget our problems and just be free - the emotional reactions are completely useless.  Maybe I'll make another thread about it.

@Psi Phi: While I'm sorry that you don't seen value in the methods, I'm glad you can at least see that they're different.  You spent most of your post telling me I was doing things wrong, and while that's true from a Buddhist perspective, it isn't true for my practice - this obviously means they're not the same thing.  Since the practices aren't the same, it makes sense to conclude the results aren't the same as well.
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Psi, modified 7 Years ago at 9/16/14 10:06 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/16/14 10:06 AM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

Posts: 1094 Join Date: 11/22/13 Recent Posts
Not Tao:
@Felipe: Thank you for the detailed response. emoticon  I've actually read that page (and others) a number of times, and I still didn't understand it very well.  I think I've had a bit of a breakthrough, though, and your post confirms I'm on the right track now.  The key seems to be putting complete trust in the PCE.  There's no need to come up with new solutions to every problem.  We can just remind ourselves that, not only is the PCE a perfectly pleasant state of mind, but it allows us to solve problems creatively in the moment.  We can safely forget our problems and just be free - the emotional reactions are completely useless.  Maybe I'll make another thread about it.

@Psi Phi: While I'm sorry that you don't seen value in the methods, I'm glad you can at least see that they're different.  You spent most of your post telling me I was doing things wrong, and while that's true from a Buddhist perspective, it isn't true for my practice - this obviously means they're not the same thing.  Since the practices aren't the same, it makes sense to conclude the results aren't the same as well.

Oh, I do indeed see the value in "your" methods,  I have been using "your actual freedom method" for many years now, and alot of which I developed on my own without any outside help, then later found it to match up with other teachings.  But, I do not call them "my" teachings, or "Actualists" or "Buddhists" though it may seem that way.  So there is no "Buddhist perspective"  , it is only that the terms and explanations Buddha uses tend to line up with reality.  So, no , you are not doing things wrong, you are doing things right, if emotions have already arisen, you have found a method that works to reduce the negative emotional responses, until eventually they will arise no more, and have found a nice baseline state to return your awareness to, (PCE).  There is absolutley nothing wrong with that, it is very beneficial and you will procedd effectively upon your spiritual path in this way.  I was mostly poking fun at you to try and get you to rid yourself of clinging to an idea that this is all new and only Actual Freedom People are special etc, etc, This leads to a superiorit complex, and while it might make you feeld good, it is pity , and I don't need pity.  We are all humans and no-one is special, too bad.  And yes spiritual practice is the same, just different verbage, results are the same, same human minds, same spiritual developments.  But one needs to view this from a Universal viewpoint first, and not from a "my" practice standpoint, or "my" teacher said such and such.  Or ONLY Actual Freedom self-labled peoples are the best, or only Buddhist are the best, that is all non-sense.  

Again , your practice is NOT new, Also there are the naturally happy people, they are just not bothered by negative emotions, they are just born that way.

So anyway , sorry if you keep mis-reading me, and again let's just be glad for everyone that has found a way to progress spiritually, it's not so easy for alot of people to even get started and keep on track, much less quibble about which way is better to eliminate or reduce unwholesomeness, or quibble about if this or that is the same.

Personally, what you have explained, I feel that I have been there done that, and am doing, and have found the same types of methods in multitudes of places.   Again, a method is just a method, use whatever works, it will eventually get you to the same shore.

So, thank you for your time and patience.

Psi Phi
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Not Tao, modified 7 Years ago at 9/16/14 10:43 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/16/14 10:42 AM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

Posts: 995 Join Date: 4/5/14 Recent Posts
Psi Phi:
I was mostly poking fun at you to try and get you to rid yourself of clinging to an idea that this is all new and only Actual Freedom People are special etc, etc, This leads to a superiorit complex, and while it might make you feeld good, it is pity , and I don't need pity.


I'm a bit curious to know where I displayed any superiority complex. I don't believed I have one. At least, I don't feel one towards you. You have elevated yourself pretty far above me with each of your posts, so if anything I feel like you see me as an inferior. You kept saying I was a Buddhist who is doing things wrong, so I just wanted to make sure you at least saw my methods weren't the same as Buddhism. I don't think I said anywhere that Actualism was new or I believed I was special, either, so I'm just a bit perplexed, haha...

If it makes you feel better, the only thing I've felt while talking to you on this thread is the desire to make things clear.

Also, I only said it was "my" practice to take ownership of it. You seemed to get offended by the very idea of Actualism, so I tired to remove that obstacle for you.
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Daniel - san, modified 7 Years ago at 9/16/14 11:16 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/16/14 11:02 AM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

Posts: 308 Join Date: 9/9/14 Recent Posts
@Psi Psi
Here are the facts to date that I find perplexing and intriguing:
You say that Not Tao's practice of Actualism is the same as bare awareness practice and that's what it seemed (sometimes seems) like to me. I practice bare awareness myself and it is not concentration - it involves awareness and equanimity and letting things just be (please correct any errors I make here as I gather you are a higher level practitioner than me, this is IMO) Guards are dropped through acceptance (or awareness) and everything happens on it's own. 
Not Tao goes into detailed descriptions about his former practice of 'radical acceptance' and describes 'sutta jhanas' of deep contentment that are (according to him) not the PCE event at all. A few times in my life I've experienced a vivid brilliance that seems in line with the PCE experiences I have read about and they are different from the peaceful contentment and fearlessness developed through my bare awareness practice. My working hypothesis is that there is a different flavor to the experience when accessed through equanimity (as I do) compared to what you would experience if you accessed that 'natural state' by focusing on happiness (as I believe Not Tao and Actualists do)
Just to further complicate things, Daniel Ingram spent years practicing 'Actualism' with close friends that were very engaged and learned in the teaching and has a lot to say about it. He says the PCE/Actualist method is a different beast all together and not something he had experienced prior, nor something that he found lined up with Buddhist practice teachings or maps (though it was 'Buddhist' as far as leading to more and more wholesome mind states and an investigation and penetration into 'reality') and something that affected his feel for jhanas quite markedly and seemed to change his life and outlook and baseline in quite major ways (all in his personal website if you haven't read it)
I take all three of your experiences respectfully and am trying to make sense out of the disagreements. I gather you have a lot of wisdom, knowledge and time-on-the-cushion in 'spiritual practice' from many vantage points and you may be the one closer to the actual truth (it makes the most sense in my mind thinking logically about everything). Still, when I read Not Tao, he seems like an intellectually honest person to me (fairies are fake!) and he also seems quite down to earth, rather intelligent and experienced enough to draw distinctions between various consciousness-altering experiences - he takes the time to describe his experience well in a detailed fashion. Daniel Ingram is an extremely gifted (IMO) meditator, better yet at describing his experience to others, recalling moment-by-moment events clearly and honestly, and delineating them, classifying them, and writing about them pretty well (minus the excrutiating run-on sentences and over-the-top rants : ). Still, Not Tao says that Daniel's accounts of PCEs don't sound authentic mainly because Daniel developed a fear at some point that the experience would end (a 'disqualifier' as far as Not Tao was concerned by I don't know about that)
I don't want to muddy the argument and say it's all the same. Yes, the goal and effect seem to be the same. I dwell in awareness and equanimity and old cravings and aversions dissolve on their own over time - Not Tao apparently just recently decided that remaining in a PCE would have the same effect and he didn't need to be so literal and proactive about routing out specific fears and compulsions. Maybe Kundalini is doing my heavy lifting for me (who can say), it certainly is an f-ing uncomfortable experience that's been going on for years and years and surrender seems the only way out for this snake stuck in some long ass tube : )
So where is the truth? I find Not Tao, and especially Daniel Ingram, extremely good at patiently describing their various conscious states and experiences, but something isn't adding up. I want you to address specifics where you see correlations in bare awareness and PCEs, or something. I would also imagine there is some idiosyncratic element at play here (as D Ingram suggests in his write up) and the conflation of verbiage and definition (as I suggest in the exhausting preceding back and forth with me and the cult members haha), but there still seems to be something there. Something not lining up or something. Is there no there there? What about known unknowns and especially unknown unknowns? ;)
ok, off to work, I'm pretty sure my mortgage is decidedly not an illusion... 
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Psi, modified 7 Years ago at 9/16/14 2:55 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/16/14 2:55 PM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

Posts: 1094 Join Date: 11/22/13 Recent Posts
Not Tao:
Psi Phi:
I was mostly poking fun at you to try and get you to rid yourself of clinging to an idea that this is all new and only Actual Freedom People are special etc, etc, This leads to a superiorit complex, and while it might make you feeld good, it is pity , and I don't need pity.


I'm a bit curious to know where I displayed any superiority complex. I don't believed I have one. At least, I don't feel one towards you. You have elevated yourself pretty far above me with each of your posts, so if anything I feel like you see me as an inferior. You kept saying I was a Buddhist who is doing things wrong, so I just wanted to make sure you at least saw my methods weren't the same as Buddhism. I don't think I said anywhere that Actualism was new or I believed I was special, either, so I'm just a bit perplexed, haha...

If it makes you feel better, the only thing I've felt while talking to you on this thread is the desire to make things clear.

Also, I only said it was "my" practice to take ownership of it. You seemed to get offended by the very idea of Actualism, so I tired to remove that obstacle for you.

Your old post:

Not Tao - 2014-04-27 00:31:42 - RE: How has your freedom held up over the years?


I was actually interested to see if anyone had claimed it outside of the AFT, since, to be perfectly honest, it just seems very culty and self-aggrandizing on their site.  I've read a lot of Tarin's posts, but it looks like he's not posting around here anymore?  I saw the post where he withdrew his claim, but it seemed more like he was saying "well, nothing has changed fro me, but I'm not interested in being part of these politics anymore," which makes sense.

Anyway, I'm mainly interested in Actualism because it mostly lines up with the practice I'm already doing, and seems to have delivered the results I suspected it would for other people.  After 3 years how would you describe your day-to-day experience?  What's your practice look like?

Psi Phi Today:

And so Actualism lined up with the practice you were already doing, as I had explained myself, For me my practice lined up with the Right Effort formula in Buddhism, which seems to have some correlation to your practice and to Actualism.  When I try to explain my experiences in terms, you have basically become defensive with your definitions, and perhaps I have mirrored that myself, and looking back to what you previously viewed as culty and self-aggrandizing, maybe you can then see why that view is projected, though denied.

We all change moment to moment, spiritual progress is a path, time is short.

Perhaps, Actualism is a modern revival of Epicureanism, and not coinciding with Buddhism at all, I could be wrong on both counrs, as I haven't read much on Actualism , yet.  And as I have actually enjoyed your writings, I have also enjoyed Epiurus as well.  But I am seeking between pleasure and pain, though find the value of cultivating the wholesome to bring things into balance first.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epicureanism

Epicurus believed that what he called "pleasure" is the greatest good, but the way to attain such pleasure is to live modestly and to gain knowledge of the workings of the world and the limits of one's desires. This led one to attain a state of tranquility (ataraxia) and freedom from fear, as well as absence of bodily pain (aponia). The combination of these two states is supposed to constitute happiness in its highest form. Although Epicureanism is a form of hedonism, insofar as it declares pleasure to be the sole intrinsic good, its conception of absence of pain as the greatest pleasure and its advocacy of a simple life make it different from "hedonism" as it is commonly understood.
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Not Tao, modified 7 Years ago at 9/16/14 3:23 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/16/14 2:55 PM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

Posts: 995 Join Date: 4/5/14 Recent Posts
I know you directed that at Psi, but since you seem to be working to draw the threads together, I can maybe point out a few things to help you.

Daniel Leffler:
I practice bare awareness myself and it is not concentration - it involves awareness and equanimity and letting things just be...Guards are dropped through acceptance (or awareness) and everything happens on it's own.

Daniel Leffler:
Yes, the goal and effect seem to be the same. I dwell in awareness and equanimity and old cravings and aversions dissolve on their own over time - Not Tao apparently just recently decided that remaining in a PCE would have the same effect and he didn't need to be so literal and proactive about routing out specific fears and compulsions


I think you might have misunderstood me here. It's actually the opposite. My practice used to be exactly like yours. I would accept everything without paying attention to or judging the content. This would lead me through the jhanas when meditating, and then "off the cushion" (I used a chair, haha), the jhanas would follow me around during the day. I only meditated for about 30 minutes a day, but since the method to do jhana was radical acceptance, it was easy to maintain practice through the day. This led to periods of incredible "sweetness" where simply breathing felt like eating chocolate. In DhO parlance, it was all very A&P - thought it seemed to go on for months. However, the problem with this practice is that it didn't "heal" anything. The same old problems kept creeping up on me, and I had to struggle between extremes of mood.

What I am doing now is opposite. I don't try to achieve any states or even "insights" through meditation. Instead, I examine the emotions with the specific intent of disabling them through reasoning and comparing them to the PCE. This has led to a slow and steady improvement of my baseline existence.

Now, I do have some experience with altered states of consciousness, and I understand that these things are very messy. But this is why I'm trying to be precise. I can point to 3 or 4 separate states of mind that might be called PCEs (I believe they are "mistaken" for PCEs), and then there are the formless jhanas which, if you have good concentration from practice, can be maintained on a low level while up and walking around. They can even lock in and make it feel like you're on a different plain of existence - everything is beautiful, the world is panoramic and open, etc.

But for the last 8 months, I've always been aiming at one thing in particular - the emotionless state. I stumbled into it on New Years Eve this year, and nothing can compare to it. All of my efforts have been aimed at it since it happened, and before it happened my interest in meditation was dabbly at best. It is its own category and world. While it shares qualities of concentration states and the expanded emotional state in terms of the "fireworks" (hereness, nowness, sensory effects), the key, the grand daddy, the epitome of the state that sets it apart from everything else is the emotionless aspect of it. It's the cause of all the special effects, and it's the instruction from which the whole practice of Actualism comes from.

So maybe the following is made more clear:

Daniel Leffler:
Still, Not Tao says that Daniel's accounts of PCEs don't sound authentic mainly because Daniel developed a fear at some point that the experience would end (a 'disqualifier' as far as Not Tao was concerned by I don't know about that)


There are other things Daniel describes in his practice summary that don't have anything to do with Actualism. He describes paying close attention to the senses and trying to unite the sensory field. He also describes going through an "Actualist Dark Night". This is impossible, because the whole purpose of Actualism is to examine your emotions and root out the cause. The Dark Night is a symptom of rumination and a heightened awareness of negative emotions without resolving them. You don't use any kind of meditation or concentration or heightened awareness to practice Actualism. You simply watch your emotional reactions and correct them as you go through your day.

Maybe I'm harping on the point a bit, but it's all I've been trying to say this whole time. I began the thread by talking about lowering the guard. This isn't something you do TO the emotions, it's something that happens when you delegitimize the emotions. The PCE happens, you don't make it happen. Lowering the guard happens, you don't make it happen. Instead, you pick apart every emotion you have until there is nothing left. What remains is the PCE.

The PCE is actually very simple. The ordinariness is what makes it so relaxing. It's not "timeless", you just realize there's all the time in the world. It's not "non-dual", it's just intimate, like a fall day. It's not vivid and clear and bright, it's painterly, like the golden light at sunset. Most importantly, it's not equanimity, balance, or emotional stillness, it's complete emotionlessness. It's emotionless because you've finally given up the emotions, not because you snapped your mind into a different way of seeing the world. The emotions are worked through and the PCE is left. If emotions appear, the PCE is gone. So if you fear you are going to slip out of a state, it isn't a PCE, and if you have a Dark Night, it isn't Actualism.

The whole point of Actualism is to understand yourself on a psychological level. It isn't a spiritual practice like bare awareness, it's simply self-examination. You seek to understand the emotions, and the PCE is the result of proper practice.


@Psi Psi: It's interesting you say that because I've noticed a lot of similarities to Epicurean philosophy as well! After I started doing negative visualization, I looked it up on Google to see if anyone had written about it, and it's was apparently used by the Stoics. I'd be comfortable saying Actualism was epicurean. Maybe on this forum I could switch to calling myself an epicurean and see if people react better. emoticon

EDIT: After a bit of reading, I'm going to take that back a bit. The Epicureans were rather ascetic. It actually sounds more Buddhist, on a second viewing. I'll have to re-read some of these things.
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Psi, modified 7 Years ago at 9/16/14 4:03 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/16/14 3:44 PM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

Posts: 1094 Join Date: 11/22/13 Recent Posts
No, I am not a high level practioner, at least I don't think so, my mind is different than before, anger is now irritations, and greed is now mostly habits, I still buy stuff, and then usually don't even do anything with the stuff.  So anger and greed, while still present,really only occasionaly arise in more subtle forms,  and if it does can be easily dismissed, like shooing a fly, most of the time.  But, then again maybe I am just a meat robot preprogrammed for hunting and gathering., snuffling in the dirt, for the rest of my wretched existence... nah, just kiddin'

"There is no snuffling in the dirt and that is the law"  Island of Dr Moreau, H.G. Wells, (from memory, paraphrased)

Yeah , I am totally with you on Bare attention and mindfulness, maybe there is one thing in practicing that is different:  Four Supreme Efforts, which Actualists kinda describe, but will say otherwise even if it was same, Or maybe y'all won't)

First is this Mindfulness (Bare Attention) we could all agree on?  Bhante Gunaratana link

http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma4/mpe13.html

This is Ayya Khema's little discourse on the Four Supreme Efforts:

http://www.vipassana.com/meditation/khema/hereandnow/supreme_efforts.php

Right Efforts summarized:

http://www.imsb.org/buddhalists/FourRightEfforts.pdf


This is as far as I see Actualism going, but I have not yet looked deeply, and have more practice of my own to develop and consolidate.  I don't know how deeply Actualism goes into or ignores, the 37 factors of enlightenment, looks like Samma Samadhi is a taboo, and I am not too sure on the extent of  development of the Wisdom Paths.  It could be just fine to Mind/Body Hack the Human system and sustain a state of blissful awareness, maybe thats it.  Maybe it's just the dropping of the "I", and happiness (un-emotional happiness) is what's left.  Maybe Actualist aren't describing the "taste of the Mango", but are describing the "taste of an Kiwi"


But the Right Efforts as a 24/7 practice, which needs mindfulness as a foundation, is probably the main link-up that I am referring to repeatedly, that you may be questioning / inquiring about.

Or possibly the Factor of Piti (joy) and it's arousal from within, and being a joy independent of external factors is also a possible key to this mystery. But to translate it would have to be an "emotionless joy"??, Mahasi Sayadaw does differentiate between wholesome joy and unwholesome joy, as an aside.

Which , by the way, I wish Sayadaw's full treatise was available in English, "The Progress of Insight" is but one, yes ONE chapter of a two volume 700 page tome, and look at the results from one chapter of instruction.

http://www.buddhistgeeks.com/2010/04/the-practical-dharma-of-mahasi-sayadaw/


Anyway this is turning into a link-o-rama

Pleasure to meet you.

Psi Phi









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Daniel - san, modified 7 Years ago at 9/16/14 6:36 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/16/14 6:33 PM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

Posts: 308 Join Date: 9/9/14 Recent Posts
Not Tao:
I know you directed that at Psi, but since you seem to be working to draw the threads together, I can maybe point out a few things to help you.
Awesome Not Tao, very happy to collect from multiple sources

Daniel Leffler:
I practice bare awareness myself and it is not concentration - it involves awareness and equanimity and letting things just be...Guards are dropped through acceptance (or awareness) and everything happens on it's own.

Daniel Leffler:
Yes, the goal and effect seem to be the same. I dwell in awareness and equanimity and old cravings and aversions dissolve on their own over time - Not Tao apparently just recently decided that remaining in a PCE would have the same effect and he didn't need to be so literal and proactive about routing out specific fears and compulsions


I think you might have misunderstood me here. It's actually the opposite. My practice used to be exactly like yours. I would accept everything without paying attention to or judging the content. This would lead me through the jhanas when meditating, and then "off the cushion" (I used a chair, haha), the jhanas would follow me around during the day. I only meditated for about 30 minutes a day, but since the method to do jhana was radical acceptance, it was easy to maintain practice through the day. This led to periods of incredible "sweetness" where simply breathing felt like eating chocolate. In DhO parlance, it was all very A&P - thought it seemed to go on for months. However, the problem with this practice is that it didn't "heal" anything. The same old problems kept creeping up on me, and I had to struggle between extremes of mood.

What I am doing now is opposite. I don't try to achieve any states or even "insights" through meditation. Instead, I examine the emotions with the specific intent of disabling them through reasoning and comparing them to the PCE. This has led to a slow and steady improvement of my baseline existence.
I guess I was referring to your recent inquiry to Felipe about "nipping it in the bud" and I thought you said something about just dwelling in a PCE without being so psychological about it (my paraphrase)
I am not trying to achieve any states or insights at all either in meditation, I am applying bare awareness or going inward, with a focus on the bodily sensations. I guess the difference for me is I have noticed marked changed in my reactivity and baseline if you will
Still, I'm interested in your practice and I have plenty of studying to do. I've started reading the Actualist site and it's a bear. I'm going to be patient in my collecting of data

Now, I do have some experience with altered states of consciousness, and I understand that these things are very messy. But this is why I'm trying to be precise. I can point to 3 or 4 separate states of mind that might be called PCEs (I believe they are "mistaken" for PCEs), and then there are the formless jhanas which, if you have good concentration from practice, can be maintained on a low level while up and walking around. They can even lock in and make it feel like you're on a different plain of existence - everything is beautiful, the world is panoramic and open, etc.
That's very cool. I'm not nearly as good at you or Daniel at being precise with investigation or language when describing these states, although I do seem to have a knack for concentration and insight - of course I may just be a fish that's only used to experiencing the water : )

But for the last 8 months, I've always been aiming at one thing in particular - the emotionless state. I stumbled into it on New Years Eve this year, and nothing can compare to it. All of my efforts have been aimed at it since it happened, and before it happened my interest in meditation was dabbly at best. It is its own category and world. While it shares qualities of concentration states and the expanded emotional state in terms of the "fireworks" (hereness, nowness, sensory effects), the key, the grand daddy, the epitome of the state that sets it apart from everything else is the emotionless aspect of it. It's the cause of all the special effects, and it's the instruction from which the whole practice of Actualism comes from.
ok, so here's what's on my mind now and it comes from my study and immersion in Buddhist training and philosophy. On the one hand you say (above) that you're not aiming for any particular states (like me), but here you say you are gunning for the PCE because it is maybe like feeling really alive? (I'm putting words in your mouth). Let's just say it's the tits. My question then has to do with the development of deep subtle craving. Let's imagine you spend the next twenty years in PCE, not necessarily blissed-out because I am getting the sense that it's a very sane state (despite the culty vibes and weirdness of it's presentation). Let's say you wake up one day and that state (which we can all agree it is) is gone. You no longer have access to it for some reason. Life becomes gray. Does all your years of practice prepare you for that and do you maintain your deep peace and contentment within those circumstances? It's a very real possibility anyway, at the end of the day none of us really has a clue with what we're dealing with here. 
I guess I ask that question because it seems to me, that in the big picture, Buddhism (as I know it) is prescribing a practice that is bigger than mind state. I think of Ajahn Chah as I write this. Sometimes life is very ordinary and grim - there's no PCE. Sometimes there's anger and pain (I think I'm speaking from both of our experiences if I may be so bold). What then? Are you better or perhaps even worse off than before?

So maybe the following is made more clear:

Daniel Leffler:
Still, Not Tao says that Daniel's accounts of PCEs don't sound authentic mainly because Daniel developed a fear at some point that the experience would end (a 'disqualifier' as far as Not Tao was concerned by I don't know about that)


There are other things Daniel describes in his practice summary that don't have anything to do with Actualism. He describes paying close attention to the senses and trying to unite the sensory field. He also describes going through an "Actualist Dark Night". This is impossible, because the whole purpose of Actualism is to examine your emotions and root out the cause. The Dark Night is a symptom of rumination and a heightened awareness of negative emotions without resolving them. You don't use any kind of meditation or concentration or heightened awareness to practice Actualism. You simply watch your emotional reactions and correct them as you go through your day.
Now my mind is a bit blown. Daniel is certainly a high level practioner capable of much of the mapped territory and maybe then some. He's also quite good at describing his experience - his experience went on for a couple of years I believe. If your conjecture is true (and I am not doubting you just probing) than did he discover a third thing?! Something else we can argue about lol? He says it was amazing and incredible and affected his outlook and the jhanic states in general. This plot is certainly getting sicker : )

Maybe I'm harping on the point a bit, but it's all I've been trying to say this whole time. I began the thread by talking about lowering the guard. This isn't something you do TO the emotions, it's something that happens when you delegitimize the emotions. The PCE happens, you don't make it happen. Lowering the guard happens, you don't make it happen. Instead, you pick apart every emotion you have until there is nothing left. What remains is the PCE.
I understand this point very much Not Tao. I would express letting go (lowering the guard) in exactly the same way. I had this insight through my personal practice years ago. I read all these spiritual books and teachers that said, just let it go. I became aware that there is a subtle effort and aversion in trying to let things go, and so I cultivated bare awareness (acceptance is another helpful word) and it seemed to me that awareness itself lets go, that the nature of awareness is to let go, sometimes little by little and sometimes just the floor dropping out from under you, but certainly as it damn well pleases

The PCE is actually very simple. The ordinariness is what makes it so relaxing. It's not "timeless", you just realize there's all the time in the world. It's not "non-dual", it's just intimate, like a fall day. It's not vivid and clear and bright, it's painterly, like the golden light at sunset. Most importantly, it's not equanimity, balance, or emotional stillness, it's complete emotionlessness. It's emotionless because you've finally given up the emotions, not because you snapped your mind into a different way of seeing the world. The emotions are worked through and the PCE is left. If emotions appear, the PCE is gone. So if you fear you are going to slip out of a state, it isn't a PCE, and if you have a Dark Night, it isn't Actualism.
I hear you and it does sound like something I've experienced - I think a big stumbling block for myself and others is that you (or Actualists) call equanimity (and love and compassion) an emotion. When you described the heart center and when Felipe went into detail describing some sort of ego-based compassion, that was not it. There is something happening with semantics here because sometimes I totally get you (above) and sometimes it doesn't add up (above referring to equanimity as an emotion). Equanimity (and the other brahmaviharas) seem to be describing Mahayana emptiness to me. Acting spontaneously without ego or self-referencing is another way of saying 'emotionless' perhaps. I think we have a problem in our definitions (for one thing at least)

The whole point of Actualism is to understand yourself on a psychological level. It isn't a spiritual practice like bare awareness, it's simply self-examination. You seek to understand the emotions, and the PCE is the result of proper practice.
ok, is it intellectual like an inner dialogue happening? Like talk therapy? Becasue vipassana meditation certainly is self-examination at a very deep level and transformative for many (me included)

Anyway, I like these 'talks'. I would have a lot less friends if I tried this shit out on them. Take care emoticon
Daniel


@Psi Psi: It's interesting you say that because I've noticed a lot of similarities to Epicurean philosophy as well! After I started doing negative visualization, I looked it up on Google to see if anyone had written about it, and it's was apparently used by the Stoics. I'd be comfortable saying Actualism was epicurean. Maybe on this forum I could switch to calling myself an epicurean and see if people react better. emoticon

EDIT: After a bit of reading, I'm going to take that back a bit. The Epicureans were rather ascetic. It actually sounds more Buddhist, on a second viewing. I'll have to re-read some of these things.
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Daniel - san, modified 7 Years ago at 9/16/14 7:19 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/16/14 6:45 PM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

Posts: 308 Join Date: 9/9/14 Recent Posts
Psi Phi:
No, I am not a high level practioner, at least I don't think so, my mind is different than before, anger is now irritations, and greed is now mostly habits, I still buy stuff, and then usually don't even do anything with the stuff.  So anger and greed, while still present,really only occasionaly arise in more subtle forms,  and if it does can be easily dismissed, like shooing a fly, most of the time.  But, then again maybe I am just a meat robot preprogrammed for hunting and gathering., snuffling in the dirt, for the rest of my wretched existence... nah, just kiddin'

You are describing my practice as well my friend (except for the meat robot part speak for yourself ;). I went without anger for years, the last few years however I worked like a dog (financial s- storm that threatened the roof over my head) and much of my anger etc came back. Although my baseline certainly isn't where it was. Anyhoo, I'm back to practice and it is supporting very much


"There is no snuffling in the dirt and that is the law"  Island of Dr Moreau, H.G. Wells, (from memory, paraphrased)

Yeah , I am totally with you on Bare attention and mindfulness, maybe there is one thing in practicing that is different:  Four Supreme Efforts, which Actualists kinda describe, but will say otherwise even if it was same, Or maybe y'all won't)

First is this Mindfulness (Bare Attention) we could all agree on?  Bhante Gunaratana link

http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma4/mpe13.html

This is Ayya Khema's little discourse on the Four Supreme Efforts:

http://www.vipassana.com/meditation/khema/hereandnow/supreme_efforts.php

Right Efforts summarized:

http://www.imsb.org/buddhalists/FourRightEfforts.pdf


I will read those links diligently and savor their meanings and maybe start a new thread in the not-too-distant future. This whole discussion has created many more questions than answers so far (go figure ;) and Buddha is turning over in his grave right now. Go sit in the dark and don't move! (he's screaming) 



This is as far as I see Actualism going, but I have not yet looked deeply, and have more practice of my own to develop and consolidate.  I don't know how deeply Actualism goes into or ignores, the 37 factors of enlightenment, looks like Samma Samadhi is a taboo, and I am not too sure on the extent of  development of the Wisdom Paths.  It could be just fine to Mind/Body Hack the Human system and sustain a state of blissful awareness, maybe thats it.  Maybe it's just the dropping of the "I", and happiness (un-emotional happiness) is what's left.  Maybe Actualist aren't describing the "taste of the Mango", but are describing the "taste of an Kiwi"

Yes maybe they are full of kiwis and us poor saps are over here with nothing but boring ass mangoes. Something doesn't sit well about that theory for me though either. With all the inner exploration and inward technology that has been practiced and disseminated since time immemorial I just can't fathom that a natural state so easily accessed could be totally left out of the picture. It is a mysterious ball of rock we're cooped up on here however...



But the Right Efforts as a 24/7 practice, which needs mindfulness as a foundation, is probably the main link-up that I am referring to repeatedly, that you may be questioning / inquiring about.

Or possibly the Factor of Piti (joy) and it's arousal from within, and being a joy independent of external factors is also a possible key to this mystery. But to translate it would have to be an "emotionless joy"??, Mahasi Sayadaw does differentiate between wholesome joy and unwholesome joy, as an aside.

Which , by the way, I wish Sayadaw's full treatise was available in English, "The Progress of Insight" is but one, yes ONE chapter of a two volume 700 page tome, and look at the results from one chapter of instruction.

http://www.buddhistgeeks.com/2010/04/the-practical-dharma-of-mahasi-sayadaw/


Anyway this is turning into a link-o-rama

Link-o-rama! I will read the ONE. Seriously, this shit is endless lol (do the Actualists not lol becasue they're not happy? tree in the woods maybe...)


Pleasure to meet you.

Psi Phi



And a great pleasure to meet you as well sir. Wishing you piti and metta, with a side of karuna. I'm gonna go eat some chocolate pudding

Daniel
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Not Tao, modified 7 Years ago at 9/16/14 8:22 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/16/14 7:42 PM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

Posts: 995 Join Date: 4/5/14 Recent Posts
Daniel Leffler:
There is something happening with semantics here because sometimes I totally get you (above) and sometimes it doesn't add up (above referring to equanimity as an emotion). Equanimity (and the other brahmaviharas) seem to be describing Mahayana emptiness to me. Acting spontaneously without ego or self-referencing is another way of saying 'emotionless' perhaps. I think we have a problem in our definitions (for one thing at least)


Haha, I'm not really sure if I caan reframe things any other way. If you think you understand what I'm say, who am I to judge you. However, if something just doesn't seem to line up, there's no need to try to make it. Why does Actualism have to fit in somehow? After doing lots of reading, I've concluded that it just doesn't. Maybe in the future I'll go back to Buddhism if it seems more useful again, but there's no need to keep trying to wedge things together.

I like Actualism because it explains the experiences I've had perfectly. If the language seems odd to you, that should be telling.
Daniel Leffler:
I guess I was referring to your recent inquiry to Felipe about "nipping it in the bud" and I thought you said something about just dwelling in a PCE without being so psychological about it (my paraphrase)


I'll try to explain what I meant better. As emotions come up, it isn't uncommon to identify them right away once the practice has been going for a while. The problem I had was that I was searching for individual solutions to each problem when it came up. A better way to negate the emotions is to compare them to the PCE directly and ask yourself what's better. The PCE always wins, and, logically, it is a more productive and healthier way to approach any situation. So I realized I could use my trust for spontaneity as a direct way to delegitimize any emotion. I think this trusting attitude is what's meant by naivete.

As I keep saying, the whole method is to see an emotion, and understand viscerally why it's no longer needed. You are telling the mind directly, "I see you have made anger in this situation. Let me demonstrate why anger isn't needed." The mind sees your reasoning and says, "Ah, okay, I understand. I don't need to be angry." Then the anger goes away instantly. In the future, it either doesn't come back, or it is weakened, eventually to be removed.

Think of it like this. Lets say you're anxious about a public speaking engagement you need to go to. (If you don't have trouble public speaking, just imagine some time in your life you had anxiety.) Now imagine what your mind would do if you suddenly got a call from someone saying the event was canceled. Your mind, upon viscerally understanding that it no longer needed to be anxious, would release the anxiety utterly and completely. This is exactly how Actualism works.

Compare that to how you describe your method:

Daniel Leffler:
I am applying bare awareness or going inward, with a focus on the bodily sensations.

Daniel Leffler:
I would express letting go (lowering the guard) in exactly the same way. I had this insight through my personal practice years ago. I read all these spiritual books and teachers that said, just let it go. I became aware that there is a subtle effort and aversion in trying to let things go, and so I cultivated bare awareness (acceptance is another helpful word) and it seemed to me that awareness itself lets go, that the nature of awareness is to let go, sometimes little by little and sometimes just the floor dropping out from under you, but certainly as it damn well pleases


Maybe you can see now, Actualism is not about letting go like this. Letting go, the way you have described it here, means letting go of control. I do have some experience with this method, and I had the same kinds of results. The emotions would disappear at their own pace, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly.

I won't judge your practice, but the problem I had with my own practice of letting go was that I had no idea what the emotions were relating to, where they came from, or why they were going away. Part of the problem is that when we say "just let go" we look at the sensation and try to let go of it. The sensation has a cause, though, and we can't let go until the cause is remedied. This is why we have to use mental gymnastics like "I can't want to let go, I just have to BE letting go" or whatever variation. I've had a lot of these kinds of ideas. The fact that you would ask something like the following makes me think you must feel like a ship lost at sea, the same way I did:

Daniel Leffler:
On the one hand you say (above) that you're not aiming for any particular states (like me), but here you say you are gunning for the PCE because it is maybe like feeling really alive? (I'm putting words in your mouth). Let's just say it's the tits. My question then has to do with the development of deep subtle craving. Let's imagine you spend the next twenty years in PCE, not necessarily blissed-out because I am getting the sense that it's a very sane state (despite the culty vibes and weirdness of it's presentation). Let's say you wake up one day and that state (which we can all agree it is) is gone. You no longer have access to it for some reason. Life becomes gray. Does all your years of practice prepare you for that and do you maintain your deep peace and contentment within those circumstances?....Sometimes life is very ordinary and grim - there's no PCE. Sometimes there's anger and pain (I think I'm speaking from both of our experiences if I may be so bold). What then? Are you better or perhaps even worse off than before?


Refer back to how I described the method before. Actualism is about understanding yourself completely. The feelings don't come and go magically. When they come, they are examined for the cause, and the cause is delegitimized. So there is no gunning for states, there is a simple process of elimination until nothing is left. I aim to be in the PCE, but I realize I can't force my way there. I have to have true understanding of my emotional situation before I can go there. If you were to spend 20 years in a PCE, it would be because you had understood yourself so completely that there were no emotional reactions for 20 years. The emotional reactions would have been completely removed long ago. It doesn't make sense to think you'd suddenly be thrown out of it. I'll entertain the idea for you, though, because your next point is actually one of the oddest parts of Buddhism to me. If you were to wake up one day and suddenly be unhappy, then at that moment in time you'd be unhappy. It wouldn't mean 20 years of contentment meant nothing. That's like saying, "If I can't have everything, I don't want anything at all." It's not very useful to use an idea like impermanence as an excuse not to try to enjoy life as much as possible, don't you think?

Another question is, does a buddhist maintain peace and contenment when they feel unhappy? No, they just feel unhappy. (And if here you say they aren't unhappy because they're maintaining equanimity, then isn't equanimity just a state as well? what happens when that ends?) Being unhappy sucks, no matter how much training you have.

But, as I said before, my main interest is in the baseline everyday experience. Even if I were to feel slightly irritated once a day, that would be far better than perpetual equanimity in cycling dark nights.

Daniel Leffler:
It's a very real possibility anyway, at the end of the day none of us really has a clue with what we're dealing with here.


Like I said, the whole point of Actualism is to get a clue what we're dealing with. It's about self-understanding and self-discovery. If you don't have a clue, everything will be mysterious, and then, yes, you might go into a state for a number of years and leave it again without any idea why.

Daniel Leffler:
If your conjecture is true (and I am not doubting you just probing) than did he discover a third thing?! Something else we can argue about lol? He says it was amazing and incredible and affected his outlook and the jhanic states in general. This plot is certainly getting sicker : )


Short answer, I have no idea, haha. Daniel has a lot of experiences no one else does - and I'm sure other people have experiences he doesn't have. Try this as a mental experiment for a moment. What if nothing had categories or names, and we could only look at each individual experience on it's own. It's like colors - we say there are 3, or 6, or 100. You can draw as many lines as you want on a color wheel, but it's infinite. End of the day, we just have to decide what we want, and figure out how to get there. I don't think anything is simple when it comes to definitions.

Personally, I beleive Daniel's descriptions of a PCE are in a different color class from Actualism.  Maybe he was practicing dzogchen.

EDIT: I'd like to mention, too, that I don't necessarily look down on or disparage radical acceptance. I practiced it for a number of years, and it does work in the moment. Sometimes I still use it if I find a particular emotion too overwhelming to investigate. It's the easiest way to pay the least attention to an emotion when you're trying to distract yourself. I don't think it solves problems, though. So if it leads to enlightenment, it's probably and all-or-nothing type thing, where complete acceptance locks in at all times, and the emotional state stays in a perpetual jhana (which sounds a lot like being-cosciousness-bliss to me).

My posts have only been intended to clarify, so if you feel I'm representing your practice negatively, it's mainly because I am trying to draw a comparison, not because I don't think anyone should practice that way.
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Psi, modified 7 Years ago at 9/16/14 11:54 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/16/14 11:52 PM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

Posts: 1094 Join Date: 11/22/13 Recent Posts
Okay, this pretty much describes what I have been trying to relate to you on, as copied below, link provided.  That, point just before craving, the cut off, the escape hatch, to "Be" and remain at, just before the emotions start their cycle, Was this " the nip in the bud" referred to earlier??  This is also explained by observing Dependent Origination in "Real Time" daily living, on and off the sitting posture.  The Right Effort Formula is also same as what you are practicing to reduce and eliminate the emotional reactions (samskaras, habitual tendencies). 

So , it does indeed seem the same, which is good, just terms are different, anyway it all works, and that is what matters.

He even uses the words Bare Awareness, (bold faced below for easy reference)
of which you said was incorrect, but alas it is correct, bare awareness is interchangeable, the truth is the truth, whatever words are used.  But, even as Richard says, this is all nort new, or "anyone's" this has always been there.

To me it is the natural state of the mind without distubances, 

For example:  The mind rests in reality, as an egg in a nest.

When one first becomes aware of something there is a fleeting instant of pure perception of sensum, just before one affectively identifies with all the feeling memories associated with its qualia (the qualities pertaining to the properties of the form) and also before one cognitively recognises the percept (the mental product or result of perception), and this ‘raw sense-datum’ stage of sensational perception is a direct experience of the actual. Pure perception is at that instant where one converges one’s eyes or ears or nose or tongue or skin on the thing. It is that moment just before one focuses one’s feeling-memory on the object. It is the split-second just as one hedonically subjectifies it ... which is just prior to clamping down on it viscerally and segregating it from pure, conscious existence. Pure perception takes place sensitively just before one starts feeling the percept – and thus thinking about it affectively – which takes place just before one’s feeling-fed mind says: ‘It’s a man’ or: ‘It’s a woman’ or: ‘It’s a steak-burger’ or: ‘It’s a tofu-burger’ ... with all that is implied in this identification and the ramifications that stem from that. This fluid, soft-focused moment of bare awareness, which is not learned, has never been learned, and never will be learned, could be called an aesthetically sensual regardfulness or a consummate sensorial discernibleness or an exquisitely sensuous distinguishment ... in a word: apperceptiveness.

http://actualfreedom.com.au/richard/articles/attentivenesssensuousnessapperceptiveness.htm

It is nice to see this explained from another viewpoint, but this is also some of what the Buddha taught, interesting.  Dhamma is Dhamma in any language.

Peace,  

Psi Phi
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Not Tao, modified 7 Years ago at 9/17/14 7:59 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/17/14 7:59 AM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

Posts: 995 Join Date: 4/5/14 Recent Posts
Haha, I'm sure you're going to say I'm being contrarian again, but the difference comes from the entry point.  Please try to see the difference rather than the similarity, here.  The description above is what happens naturally AFTER attentiveness to the emotions successfully removes them, it isn't a practice but a result.  If you are using bare awareness as a practice, then you are attempting to get to a point before the emotions exist.  In both the PCE and bare awareness there is a direct contact with sense data - that is the similarity.  The difference comes from the fact that the actualist method does not require the emotions to be accepted or let go of, or anything of that tature.  They are understood and resolved, meaning the emotional center remains unfocused.  This causes the heart center to disappear completely because there is simply nothing happening there, resulting in an emotionless state.  Bare awareness creates emotional responses in the heart center because the emotional focus is still lingering.  For me, this results in a different state completely, even though, like I said before, the fireworks are still there - like vividness, clarity, sensory unity, etc. Bare awareness has an emotional sweetness (joy, compassion, love) and the PCE removes the concept of emotion completely. The absence itself is very pronounced and, for me, the whole point of the thing.

I've done a lot of reading, an I've never seen any Buddhist texts say the goal is to become emotionless. This is why I was so confused - I just couldn't understand how this state fit in. For a while I assumed equanimity meant emotionlessness, but that just means being at peace with what happens.

Actually, the only place I've seen emotionlessness mentioned is the tao te ching. "Other people are excited, as though they are at a parade, I alone don't care, I alone am expressionless, like an infant before it can smile."
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Psi, modified 7 Years ago at 9/17/14 9:49 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/17/14 9:49 AM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

Posts: 1094 Join Date: 11/22/13 Recent Posts
No difference to me, Richard explains what happens in my experience in his words, and the Buddha explains what happens in my experience in his words.  Bare attention is the point of inflection BEFORE emotions arise, if one fails to miss this point, THEN , after that point the emotions arise,THEN one has to work from that point, with the Four Right Exertions, or what you explain as getting back to PCE , but with understanding what occurred, either way WISDOM is the key to progress.

Go with the explanation and terms you are comfortable with, if it works it works.

May the Force be with you

Psi Phi
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Not Tao, modified 7 Years ago at 9/17/14 9:57 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/17/14 9:57 AM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

Posts: 995 Join Date: 4/5/14 Recent Posts
Then you must seen the goal as becoming emotionless, as well.  That way of thinking about bare awareness is different from what I've read before.
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Psi, modified 7 Years ago at 9/17/14 10:56 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/17/14 10:56 AM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

Posts: 1094 Join Date: 11/22/13 Recent Posts
Not Tao:
Then you must seen the goal as becoming emotionless, as well.  That way of thinking about bare awareness is different from what I've read before.


This koan came from an old Zen story: a student said to Master Ichu, 'Please write for me something of great wisdom.' 


Master Ichu picked up his brush and wrote one word: 'Attention.' 
The student said, 'Is that all?' 

The master wrote, 'Attention. Attention.' 
The student became irritable. 'That doesn't seem profound or subtle to me.' 

In response, Master Ichu wrote simply, 'Attention. Attention. Attention.' 
In frustration, the student demanded, 'What does this word attention mean?' 

Master Ichu replied, 'Attention means attention.' 

Maybe now we all know, 

Maybe it should have been differentiated from the start, Bare Attention is "Bare" or "absent of other factors", There is  Attention mixed with emotions, pre-judgements, associated thoughts, etc.  then there is attention stripped away from all of that, Bare Attention.  In this way the mind is unclouded and can "be aware" clearly, Pure, undiluted in the Conscious Experience.  Currently, I am still working at this level, there are alot of subtle layers to "de-activate" or "unprogram".  It seems this process is gradual due to the fact that the process of change is a process of actually re-organizing living cells, neurons, and neuron circuit, or neural pathways,  Feed the good , starve the bad.  Hence, the ego's resistence, survival instinct, cells have to die off, through abandonment, then new patterns re-grown through cultivation in place thereof.


An elderly Cherokee Native American was teaching his grandchildren about life… He said to them, “A fight is going on inside me, it is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One wolf is evil—he is fearful angry, jealous and negative. The other is good—he is happy, peaceful, positive and content. The grandchildren thought about it for a minute, and then one asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win, Grandfather?” The Elder smiled and replied, “Whichever wolf you feed.”

Psi Phi
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 7 Years ago at 9/17/14 11:15 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/17/14 11:15 AM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

Posts: 2227 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
Psi Phi:
Maybe it should have been differentiated from the start, Bare Attention is "Bare" or "absent of other factors", There is  Attention mixed with emotions, pre-judgements, associated thoughts, etc.  then there is attention stripped away from all of that, Bare Attention.  In this way the mind is unclouded and can "be aware" clearly, Pure, undiluted in the Conscious Experience.  Currently, I am still working at this level, there are alot of subtle layers to "de-activate" or "unprogram".  It seems this process is gradual due to the fact that the process of change is a process of actually re-organizing living cells, neurons, and neuron circuit, or neural pathways,  Feed the good , starve the bad.  Hence, the ego's resistence, survival instinct, cells have to die off, through abandonment, then new patterns re-grown through cultivation in place thereof.
So ΨΦ, how do the Brahmaviharas fit into this for you? The Brahmaviharas are incompatible with a PCE. It is impossible to cultivate them if you are actually free. Is this the case for what you call Bare Attention as well? In what you call Pure Conscious Experience, is it possible - or even inevitable - that you will experience the Brahmaviharas?
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Psi, modified 7 Years ago at 9/17/14 1:54 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/17/14 12:28 PM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

Posts: 1094 Join Date: 11/22/13 Recent Posts
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
Psi Phi:
Maybe it should have been differentiated from the start, Bare Attention is "Bare" or "absent of other factors", There is  Attention mixed with emotions, pre-judgements, associated thoughts, etc.  then there is attention stripped away from all of that, Bare Attention.  In this way the mind is unclouded and can "be aware" clearly, Pure, undiluted in the Conscious Experience.  Currently, I am still working at this level, there are alot of subtle layers to "de-activate" or "unprogram".  It seems this process is gradual due to the fact that the process of change is a process of actually re-organizing living cells, neurons, and neuron circuit, or neural pathways,  Feed the good , starve the bad.  Hence, the ego's resistence, survival instinct, cells have to die off, through abandonment, then new patterns re-grown through cultivation in place thereof.
So ΨΦ, how do the Brahmaviharas fit into this for you? The Brahmaviharas are incompatible with a PCE. It is impossible to cultivate them if you are actually free. Is this the case for what you call Bare Attention as well? In what you call Pure Conscious Experience, is it possible - or even inevitable - that you will experience the Brahmaviharas?
BrahmaViharas means to me Wholesome States, And the last two  steps of the Four Right Exertions, arousing and maintaining the Wholesome States, Sympathetic Joy, Compassion, Metta, and Equanimity.  The pinnacle being Equanimity, of which in my opinion in similar if not same as what Actualism defines as PCE, though Equanimity might have to be further defined as a PURE Equanimity,  Though I could be wrong, as I have only read about Actualism a few days ago.  It seems that when the Unwholesome states are abandoned and tidied up, what naturally arises and what is left is the Brahma Viharas.  Now, I have work to do , and it could be that even the Brahama Viharas are merely more Formations, and if that is so, even these would have to be released, leaving.?.?  Cessation?  But, I am not at that level currently.

I see similarities with Actualism and Buddha's teaching, but in a way in that a Mouse footprint fits inside the Elephant's footprint, (Buddhism being the Elephant) sorry if that offends anyone, it's just my view.

And personally the Brahma Viharas require further development within my being, I have natural tendencies to be cold, uncaring, and indifferent, seeing things just as a natural impersonal process.  My compassion comes from knowing "we" are born into all this without a choice, we were "pre-programmed" by millions of years of instinct that can be very violent, greedy and selfish, for survival to pass it's genes, coupled with that, society is like a giant mental formation that  is inherently delusional.

It is like swimming upstream.....

If I did not answer your question sufficiently, then perhaps I may have evaded it successfully...

Live Long and Prosper

Psi Phi
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Not Tao, modified 7 Years ago at 9/17/14 1:52 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/17/14 1:52 PM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

Posts: 995 Join Date: 4/5/14 Recent Posts
As the whole point of the practice is to remove, rather than add, things, I'll take your mouse and elephant strategy as a sign I'm on the right track. :3
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Psi, modified 7 Years ago at 9/17/14 2:17 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/17/14 2:17 PM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

Posts: 1094 Join Date: 11/22/13 Recent Posts
Not Tao:
As the whole point of the practice is to remove, rather than add, things, I'll take your mouse and elephant strategy as a sign I'm on the right track. :3
That's funny, you got me to chuckle.

So does this mean you are on the mouse track?

Pie Pie

Hey, I'm just kiddin', seriously simplest is best
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Bill F, modified 7 Years ago at 9/17/14 9:09 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/17/14 9:09 PM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

Posts: 556 Join Date: 11/17/13 Recent Posts
I have been busy with family stuff. More interesting than my giving you an answer would perhaps be wondering why you need me to put something into one of two boxes that you are familiar with? The second I say what it is, I've lost the thing already. And the endless tail chase goes on. What would it mean if it's not something that could be put into a box.

Finally, I have been through periods where it seemed that to have ever felt an emotion or to have ever taken a thought personally was insanity. I have had experiences of love more powerful than maybe anything else, with no trace of subjectivity, just love experiencing itself, justifying itself. I am not an armchair mystic. This has all been documented on kfd and you are welcome to read more there if you'd like. At this point I understand that in calling something freedom or pure, I am self-inflicting the suffering of negation and pretending that the pain is "out there" or "in here".

Lastly, let's speak for a moment about reproducability. In order for a method to be useful it must be reproducible. It should, in effect, perform as it says it does. Do you know anyone who has practiced AF for years who you have regular contact with, who has remained in a permanent PCE? Of the many I have encountered in this scene for a number of years, I have seen one after one claim total freedom from any emotional pain, only to recant with time. They too were convinced they had found something entirely new and different, only to cash in their chips when humanness or humility returned.
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Teague, modified 7 Years ago at 9/17/14 10:18 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/17/14 10:18 PM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

Posts: 104 Join Date: 8/1/11 Recent Posts
Hey Not Tao,
  Have you read this?

It's long, but it gets into the meat pretty quick.  I'd be curious to hear what you think.  The gist is that Thusness decribes 3 stages of anatta, and that one who has realized all 3 is in a state that matches the descriptions of AF.

People say that PCEs are very nice and I believe them, but people also say that stream entry is nice and I believe them too.  I've been practicing toward SE, but I think the everyday practice of investigating emotions is also valuable (it's something I've already done, just not with über dilligence as one might in the hopes of a PCE).  I've also heard that it's easier to get PCEs and AF once one is already enlightened (or at least partially), so my thinking is to continue what I'm doing, and if buddhist enlightenment (should I attain it) ain't enough, then I'll switch gears for AF.  What was your practice before you got into AF?

It would be nice if all these roads really did lead to the same place, and we could all be one big happy enlightened actually free family.

-T
Eva Nie, modified 7 Years ago at 9/17/14 10:58 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/17/14 10:58 PM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

Posts: 831 Join Date: 3/23/14 Recent Posts
Daniel Leffler:
Eva M Nie:

Danel Leffler PCE full time sounds nice, like heaven, but it’s still a ‘mind mod’ as Daniel Ingram referred to it in passing. It’s a conditioned state subject to laws of impermanence like everything else.
Really, do we know this for sure? Seems like they come on their own?  I don't recall doing anything special to get mine, it was really quite a bit of a surprise.  How do we know PCE is not a natural state?
I agree with everything you wrote in your two posts Eva - for example, not throwing the baby (Actualist method) out with the bathwater (Richard's philosophy lol). I also think the PCE sounds like a non-clinging state by definition, so 'natural' could very well be the case, although I know some think anything outside of straight up cessation and the ceasing of the time/space continuuim that it's all a mind mod - getting philosophical, danger!
Anyway, your analysis and insights are quite well received and I detect big amounts of wisdom and understanding coming from 'you' through these bits and bytes and the whole series of tubes. I hope I'm not massaging your ego here, anyway, there is no spoon! 
Best, Daniel
LOL, you are totally massaging my ego!  I don't think a few words one way or another will make any major difference though in any egomaniacal tendencies, I do try to keep an eye on the little ego beastie so it doesn't cause too much damage.  ;-)  That being said, this is a great thread thanx to contributions of many, plus I am still trying to sort out Buddhist philosophy which perhaps is extra hard because apparently Buddhists don't agree either.  I love it when I can ask tons of questions and people might actually try to answer them!  ;-)
-Eva
Eva Nie, modified 7 Years ago at 9/17/14 11:26 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/17/14 11:26 PM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

Posts: 831 Join Date: 3/23/14 Recent Posts
Not Tao:


Refer back to how I described the method before. Actualism is about understanding yourself completely. The feelings don't come and go magically. When they come, they are examined for the cause, and the cause is delegitimized. So there is no gunning for states, there is a simple process of elimination until nothing is left. I aim to be in the PCE, but I realize I can't force my way there. I have to have true understanding of my emotional situation before I can go there. If you were to spend 20 years in a PCE, it would be because you had understood yourself so completely that there were no emotional reactions for 20 years. The emotional reactions would have been completely removed long ago. It doesn't make sense to think you'd suddenly be thrown out of it. I'll entertain the idea for you, though, because your next point is actually one of the oddest parts of Buddhism to me. If you were to wake up one day and suddenly be unhappy, then at that moment in time you'd be unhappy. It wouldn't mean 20 years of contentment meant nothing. That's like saying, "If I can't have everything, I don't want anything at all." It's not very useful to use an idea like impermanence as an excuse not to try to enjoy life as much as possible, don't you think?
Well I think you have to consider the situations that most 'Buddhists' are not technically enlightened but they are trying to understand the teachings anyway and they won't understand it the same way the enlightened ones will understand it, and even those guys don't agree fully, and the vagueness of language and issues of translation across languages will add to the confusion.  So someone that may never have experienced equanimity may still be responsible anyway for teaching it.  And my understanding is Buddhism teaches that there is dukkha normally but the interpretation of how one experiences dukkha, it at all, after enlightenment seems to vary quite a bit. Also, seems there is often a trend in these zen type things that once you understand something properly, you then get free from it.    

Another question is, does a buddhist maintain peace and contenment when they feel unhappy? No, they just feel unhappy. (And if here you say they aren't unhappy because they're maintaining equanimity, then isn't equanimity just a state as well? what happens when that ends?) Being unhappy sucks, no matter how much training you have.
I haven't heard any thinking that equanimity means lack of unsatisfactoriness, just that you feel way more mellow and chill about it, things that used to majorly bug now are like minor irritations.  Oh except for when life itself feels like infinitely boring as hell which I understand can also be part of equanimity.  And equanimity can be had prepath according to many.   
But, as I said before, my main interest is in the baseline everyday experience. Even if I were to feel slightly irritated once a day, that would be far better than perpetual equanimity in cycling dark nights.
Well yeah, I'd say so!  But I have for some time been of the opinion that DN is about a person's undealt with crap that needs to be dealt with and will keep coming up as long as it is undealt with, so if we were to assume my opinion is right on that, then dealing with your crap would be the logical way to go.  Of course, the next argument would be how that is to be done which is what we are already discussing..  ;-)
-Eva

Eva Nie, modified 7 Years ago at 9/18/14 12:00 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/18/14 12:00 AM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

Posts: 831 Join Date: 3/23/14 Recent Posts
Not Tao:


Haha, I'm not really sure if I caan reframe things any other way. If you think you understand what I'm say, who am I to judge you. However, if something just doesn't seem to line up, there's no need to try to make it. Why does Actualism have to fit in somehow? After doing lots of reading, I've concluded that it just doesn't. Maybe in the future I'll go back to Buddhism if it seems more useful again, but there's no need to keep trying to wedge things together.
Well I think it's worth keeping in mind, back in Buddha's day, there was no psychology as we currently know it and there weren't many methods developed like they are now.  We may have actually learned and organized a few things in all that time that Buddha being only one person did not know or have time to develop.  How far could he alter the minds of the people in that era before it was too much for them?  Even himself being a product of that era, how many new things could he develop in just one lifetime?  Even now, psychology is quite young and underdeveloped but I'm thinking that your method is very similar to cognitive psych and a few others that have been shown to actually work fairly reliably for some things.  But even for psych or any method, only a small percentage of the population would even being willing to put a lot of time into that kind of self search and be open to it. Such things take a lot of effort and dedication to see the truth even when it might be unpleasant. 

Daniel Leffler:
I would express letting go (lowering the guard) in exactly the same way. I had this insight through my personal practice years ago. I read all these spiritual books and teachers that said, just let it go. I became aware that there is a subtle effort and aversion in trying to let things go, and so I cultivated bare awareness (acceptance is another helpful word) and it seemed to me that awareness itself lets go, that the nature of awareness is to let go, sometimes little by little and sometimes just the floor dropping out from under you, but certainly as it damn well pleases.  Plus you can only work to let of of things if you are willing and able to first notice the thing in the first place. 
Well I think a lot of books say that and it's not that they are wrong but they don't tell you how to let go.  SOme books are written by those who are sorta naturally happy and optimistic anyway so maybe it was a bit easier for them than the normal.  Ot they are just not digging deeply into the details of their methods assuming it would be obvious to others since it was obvious to them.  Certainly there are times when I see some negative thing  in my head and am able to tell myself to just let it to but other times it's most sticky and does not so easily toddle off at the slightest command. 
Maybe you can see now, Actualism is not about letting go like this. Letting go, the way you have described it here, means letting go of control. I do have some experience with this method, and I had the same kinds of results. The emotions would disappear at their own pace, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly.
Yes, definitely.
Daniel Leffler:
On the one hand you say (above) that you're not aiming for any particular states (like me), but here you say you are gunning for the PCE because it is maybe like feeling really alive? (I'm putting words in your mouth). Let's just say it's the tits. My question then has to do with the development of deep subtle craving. Let's imagine you spend the next twenty years in PCE, not necessarily blissed-out because I am getting the sense that it's a very sane state (despite the culty vibes and weirdness of it's presentation). Let's say you wake up one day and that state (which we can all agree it is) is gone. You no longer have access to it for some reason. Life becomes gray. Does all your years of practice prepare you for that and do you maintain your deep peace and contentment within those circumstances?....Sometimes life is very ordinary and grim - there's no PCE. Sometimes there's anger and pain (I think I'm speaking from both of our experiences if I may be so bold). What then? Are you better or perhaps even worse off than before?
Kinda sounds like you are asking if your mood suddenly changed then would your mood change?  Could anyone really answer that without having experienced it?  What would happen if you thought you were fully enlightened and then 20 years later, you suddenly lost all your bliss and you no longer have access to it?  And life becomes ordinary and grim, what then?  Are you better or perhaps worse off than before?  Such questions are so packed with assumption, that it would happen in the first place and that a person now would know how he might deal with something in the future..
Refer back to how I described the method before. Actualism is about understanding yourself completely. The feelings don't come and go magically. When they come, they are examined for the cause, and the cause is delegitimized. So there is no gunning for states, there is a simple process of elimination until nothing is left.
I think the assumption inherent in the argument here is that the PCE is what happens when you get that other crap out of the way.  Assuming that assumption is correct, then the obvious thing to do if more crap came up in the future to get in the way of the PCE would be to deal with that crap the same way you dealt with previous crap. And that assumption also explains why you could argue you are not 'trying' for PCE in the future so much as trying in the now to deal with your crap and the PCE is just a natural outcome that will happen in the future IF you deal with your crap in the now.  

I aim to be in the PCE, but I realize I can't force my way there. I have to have true understanding of my emotional situation before I can go there. If you were to spend 20 years in a PCE, it would be because you had understood yourself so completely that there were no emotional reactions for 20 years. The emotional reactions would have been completely removed long ago. It doesn't make sense to think you'd suddenly be thrown out of it. I'll entertain the idea for you, though, because your next point is actually one of the oddest parts of Buddhism to me. If you were to wake up one day and suddenly be unhappy, then at that moment in time you'd be unhappy. It wouldn't mean 20 years of contentment meant nothing. That's like saying, "If I can't have everything, I don't want anything at all." It's not very useful to use an idea like impermanence as an excuse not to try to enjoy life as much as possible, don't you think?
Well I think the Buddhist assumption I hear often is that true enlightenment is permanent so they would not expect that scenario, ie 20 years of enlightened state to suddenly be broken, but the few times I have heard anything similar, the Buddhist assumption seems to have been that the person still had a bit of learning left to go and should meditate more, not that the person was back to square one or anything. 
-Eva
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Daniel - san, modified 7 Years ago at 9/18/14 5:42 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/18/14 2:58 PM

RE: A different way of thinking about Actual Freedom

Posts: 308 Join Date: 9/9/14 Recent Posts
Not Tao:
Daniel Leffler:
There is something happening with semantics here because sometimes I totally get you (above) and sometimes it doesn't add up (above referring to equanimity as an emotion). Equanimity (and the other brahmaviharas) seem to be describing Mahayana emptiness to me. Acting spontaneously without ego or self-referencing is another way of saying 'emotionless' perhaps. I think we have a problem in our definitions (for one thing at least)


Haha, I'm not really sure if I caan reframe things any other way. If you think you understand what I'm say, who am I to judge you. However, if something just doesn't seem to line up, there's no need to try to make it. Why does Actualism have to fit in somehow? After doing lots of reading, I've concluded that it just doesn't. Maybe in the future I'll go back to Buddhism if it seems more useful again, but there's no need to keep trying to wedge things together.

I like Actualism because it explains the experiences I've had perfectly. If the language seems odd to you, that should be telling.

I think you are right that it's important to follow teachings that you vibe with. And I'm not saying everything has to line up, but we are dealing with the/a natural state of being and that (IMO) is what Buddhist practice is all about. I understand that for you and some others Buddhist teachings don't do the trick - hence many other teachings, practices and religions

Daniel Leffler:
I guess I was referring to your recent inquiry to Felipe about "nipping it in the bud" and I thought you said something about just dwelling in a PCE without being so psychological about it (my paraphrase)


I'll try to explain what I meant better. As emotions come up, it isn't uncommon to identify them right away once the practice has been going for a while. The problem I had was that I was searching for individual solutions to each problem when it came up. A better way to negate the emotions is to compare them to the PCE directly and ask yourself what's better. The PCE always wins, and, logically, it is a more productive and healthier way to approach any situation. So I realized I could use my trust for spontaneity as a direct way to delegitimize any emotion. I think this trusting attitude is what's meant by naivete.

As I keep saying, the whole method is to see an emotion, and understand viscerally why it's no longer needed. You are telling the mind directly, "I see you have made anger in this situation. Let me demonstrate why anger isn't needed." The mind sees your reasoning and says, "Ah, okay, I understand. I don't need to be angry." Then the anger goes away instantly. In the future, it either doesn't come back, or it is weakened, eventually to be removed.

Think of it like this. Lets say you're anxious about a public speaking engagement you need to go to. (If you don't have trouble public speaking, just imagine some time in your life you had anxiety.) Now imagine what your mind would do if you suddenly got a call from someone saying the event was canceled. Your mind, upon viscerally understanding that it no longer needed to be anxious, would release the anxiety utterly and completely. This is exactly how Actualism works.

Compare that to how you describe your method:

Daniel Leffler:
I am applying bare awareness or going inward, with a focus on the bodily sensations.

Daniel Leffler:
I would express letting go (lowering the guard) in exactly the same way. I had this insight through my personal practice years ago. I read all these spiritual books and teachers that said, just let it go. I became aware that there is a subtle effort and aversion in trying to let things go, and so I cultivated bare awareness (acceptance is another helpful word) and it seemed to me that awareness itself lets go, that the nature of awareness is to let go, sometimes little by little and sometimes just the floor dropping out from under you, but certainly as it damn well pleases


Maybe you can see now, Actualism is not about letting go like this. Letting go, the way you have described it here, means letting go of control. I do have some experience with this method, and I had the same kinds of results. The emotions would disappear at their own pace, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly.

It's true that my method involves letting go of control (and everything else), that's why I thought 'dropping the guard' was the same thing. I find there is a slight tension (heart center contraction) in trying to control ones experience (anything outside of completely letting go), so bare awareness lets things be just as they are and nature takes over.
Funny you should mention public speaking however. I do have issues with it and it's the one thing (so far) that I would actively like to 'fix'. Perhaps Actaulism practice (or NLP or...) would be the thing to practice in that scenario where there are specific fears/phobias to overcome. Budhism teaches that a root fear is death/clinging to existence and general delusion about the nature of reality (among other deeply held subconscious tendencies perhaps). The promise is (that none of us have realized yet at least permanently as far as I can tell so who can really say) that those basic tendencies can be transcended ultimately and once and for all. But you and I are apparently mere mortals at least : )


I won't judge your practice, but the problem I had with my own practice of letting go was that I had no idea what the emotions were relating to, where they came from, or why they were going away. Part of the problem is that when we say "just let go" we look at the sensation and try to let go of it. The sensation has a cause, though, and we can't let go until the cause is remedied. This is why we have to use mental gymnastics like "I can't want to let go, I just have to BE letting go" or whatever variation. I've had a lot of these kinds of ideas. The fact that you would ask something like the following makes me think you must feel like a ship lost at sea, the same way I did:

True - sometimes I feel like a ship lost at sea, most of the time I do not. Strong beliefs in something (religion, Actualism, Vipassana) tend to negate those groundless feelings in perpetuity and that's why people love views, they cling to things like guns and religion (and Actualism). It alleviates that sense of groundlessness for a time, as long as those delusional ideas (delusional according to Buddhist teaching like the nature of reality, Three Cs etc) are held tightly to. People find comfort in God and Actualism and all sorts of isms becasue it removes that sense of groundlessness. Groundlessness (however) could very well be a fact of life (things are not permane