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Practices Inspired by Actualism

Questions and Concerns about AF and Richard

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I'm interested in AF/Actualism, but it seems that there are some questions and concerns that to my knowledge have not been answered. I was hoping that someone could comment or respond to the following. I know Claudiu, Not Tao, and others have found Actualism helpful so I'd be curious to know how they've dealt with the following.

1. Concerns about Richard.

There are numerous reports of concerning behavior from Richard - as Daniel put it, the stories about him sound like the Psychopaths section of Saints and Psychopaths. For instance, a couple, Peter and Vineeto, went to visit him, and somehow Vineeto ended up with Richard while Peter left... breaking up people's relationships is not appropriate or acceptable behavior from a spiritual teacher. Richard claims to and has been observed to have no emotions, and is generally said to exhibit extreme disregard for the rights of others, marks of a sociopath.

Shinzen Young, in a YouTube video, discusses seeing a homeless guy and noting that the body language of the homeless guy was very similar to, though not identical to, the body language of an enlightened person - whatever had happened to him had messed up his "self" to the point where there was almost no one there, though not in a positive or healthy way. He didn't mention whether the homeless guy had an Australian accent ;) Seems Richard, who has been reported to possibly suffer from past traumatic experiences or past mental breakdowns, may be in a similar position.

There are just so many disturbing reports and stories that it is hard to trust any philosophy or theory coming from him, especially considering...


2. The Proprietary Nature of AF and Refusal to Combine it with Buddhist or Other Practices

Richard claims complete control over what AF is and how it is defined. He makes rather grandiose claims about being the first person to achieve such a state, it being an entirely new thing that changed the course of humanity, despite the obvious similarities to the Dharma and other philosophies. Statements to the effect of AF being completely separate from Buddhism or 180 degrees opposed to it are similar.

He refuses to acknowledge any similarity between AF and other systems - typical of more cult-like and less legitimate philosophical movements (Ayn Rand is a good example here; she similarly claimed to be the originator of a new, objectively correct system, founded a cult, and refused to recognize that philosophers for thousands of years prior had discussed,classified, and argued against her ideas). Generally, reasonable and sane teachers encourage the criticism of their ideas and the blending of philosophies, whereas the insistence that one's perfect ideas be kept pristine is the mark of a cult leader or someone obsessed with control.

This leads to the problem where Richard can change definitions and make declarations about other people. For instance, Tarin had claimed AF and then afterwards stated that he had no idea what AF actually was, other than what Richard defined it to be.

Again, these are significant concerns that raise serious doubts about his ideas, although obviously that doesn't mean that Actualist-inspired practices can't be of value.

3. The Often Incoherent Nature of the AF Website

The AF website, to put it mildly, is very difficult to read. It's full of neologisms and opaque sentences and at times reads much like the Time Cube website or something like that. It's pretty much impossible to look at it and get a clear idea of what AF actually is or how to practice it, other than to visit Richard and do what he says. It makes it seem more like a crazy cult than a sane spiritual practice.

For instance, I have no idea what a PCE is or how I would get there. Richard says something to the effect that most people have had and can remember a PCE - wtf? I'm pretty sure I haven't, but I'd love to read a clear explanation of what one is or how to get there.

4. Philosophical Issues

There are some strange philosophical ideas relating to AF that, well, just don't make any sense. The idea that somehow AF can put you in touch with the "actual world" rather than the perceived world, or that various facts about the existence of the real world can be understood simply by experience, are just plain inaccurate. It should be clear that everything you experience comes from perception, and you can be wrong about perception, yet AF doesn't seem to address this or take it into account.

5. Concerns about Emotional Suppression

Some AF practitioners have reported that AF practices suppressed their emotions - for instance, Jill (TJ Broccoli) made a post on the DhO about coming out of AF and realizing that she had been deluded into suppressing her emotional states and thinking it was helpful or healthy. AF, of course, is a Limited Emotions Model, and is therefore subject to all the criticisms in MCTB of those models. As Daniel puts it, ditching the split is possible and a good idea, but ditching one's stuff (emotions) isn't possible or a good idea... as long as you're alive, there will be stuff that comes up.


Despite all of the above, I find many of the ideas and practices inspired by Actualism to be interesting, and I'd like to learn more about them. I'd be curious to know how others overcame the above obstacles. Seems to me the ideal is to practice vipassana with a bit of actualist-style practices added in. I believe Thusness and An Eternal Now have a theory which to the best of my understanding is something to the effect that Buddhism contains both non-dualistic and luminous parts, the non-dualistic parts similar to MCTB, and the luminous parts similar to Actualism, so it would make sense that Daniel, after becoming an arahat, would seek out other practices that emphasize the remaining parts and focus on the joy and wonder of life.

I'm not an arahat yet, so maybe once I become one this will all make more sense. My plan is to first become an arahat and then explore the other side of things, but I'm also considering incorporating actualist-inspired practices... I'd love to hear some suggestions or comments.

RE: Questions and Concerns about AF and Richard
Answer
10/31/14 5:36 PM as a reply to J C.
Alright, I'll answer each of your concerns as is most immediately obvious to me.

Overall, I suggest you be extremely careful when you use the word "cult". That word gets thrown around quite a bit, and it's not clear what people mean by it except "something bad". As such it amounts to an ad hominem attack, which has no valid logical basis. There are legitimate cults out there and it cheapens their suffering to throw the word around and accuse something that isn't a cult as being a cult.
J C:
I'm interested in AF/Actualism, but it seems that there are some questions and concerns that to my knowledge have not been answered.
Actually, all of these questions and concerns have been answered, some of them multiple times. There are pages and pages on the AFT devoted to discussing why actualism is 180 degrees opposite from buddhism, for example. If you weren't aware that these pages existed, here are some links. There are even pages devoted to Buddhism, and you can follow that topic page to all the links on the left to read even more. Here is a page specifically pointing out how actual freedom is different from enlightenment, with Richard's more up-to-date understanding of Buddhism. If you were aware of their existence, and you read them, yet weren't satisfied, then my words here won't help either. I'm not sure what you would expect, in that case.

===
J C:
1. Concerns about Richard. 

There are numerous reports of concerning behavior from Richard - as Daniel put it, the stories about him sound like the Psychopaths section of Saints and Psychopaths. For instance, a couple, Peter and Vineeto, went to visit him, and somehow Vineeto ended up with Richard while Peter left... breaking up people's relationships is not appropriate or acceptable behavior from a spiritual teacher. Richard claims to and has been observed to have no emotions, and is generally said to exhibit extreme disregard for the rights of others, marks of a sociopath.
The salient mark about most of the concerning reports is that the people reporting them have no credibility. Some of them originated from somebody who claimed to be Richard's dead ex-wife. Someone who is willing to lie about that is clearly willing to lie about other things.

As to Richard "breaking up" Peter and Vineeto, my understanding is that Peter and Vineeto broke up of their own accord many weeks before-hand, as they deemed it necessary for them to progress. I am pretty sure this is written somewhere on the AFT but I haven't been able to find the page. Thus whether Richard ended up with Vineeto or not is besides the point as Vineeto was not with Peter at that point, and, both Richard and Vineeto being single, they can do whatever you want. Note that I am not confirming or denying whether they were or are together as I simply do not know. It's entirely possible.
J C:
Shinzen Young, in a YouTube video, discusses seeing a homeless guy and noting that the body language of the homeless guy was very similar to, though not identical to, the body language of an enlightened person - whatever had happened to him had messed up his "self" to the point where there was almost no one there, though not in a positive or healthy way. He didn't mention whether the homeless guy had an Australian accent ;) Seems Richard, who has been reported to possibly suffer from past traumatic experiences or past mental breakdowns, may be in a similar position.
Richard openly admits to having had mental breakdowns. He considers his entire 11 years of enlightenment as him having been insane as he considers full enlightenment a form of insanity. As to whether he is still suffering from them - he's still "suffering from" the effects of what he calls his latest breakdown which he calls actual freedom. I think "suffering from" is the wrong term to use though as he is having a blast, and evidently so for anyone who meets him.
J C:
There are just so many disturbing reports and stories that it is hard to trust any philosophy or theory coming from him, especially considering...
Here's another one: Richard reportedly enjoys finding small mammals and torturing them to death. I have it on reliable authority from reports I heard from a person I trust - though I can't divulge who that is nor can I publicly air those reports as it would be a violation of privacy - that Richard goes out hunting in the wilderness of Australia, finds baby mammals - kittens and puppies in particular - captures them, and slowly tortures them. He thinks their cries of pain are funny. He doesn't see it as malicious because it's just the universe doing its thing. He's laughing the entire time.

But I don't think this discounts actual freedom since he isn't hurting any people.

Oh wait - I just made that up! See how easy this is? There being a lot of reports doesn't mean anything if they aren't substantiated. I'd ask you to track down the source of those reports. Mike, on the virtualconvivium yahoo group, recently talked about those reports. I asked him to share them and he hasn't so far.

Here's one of Richard's more recent messages on the topic of those reports. It was in response to someone publicly posting an email that Richard wrote to them in private:
RICHARD: G’day No. 25, I cannot help but notice how you draw no distinction between your private correspondence and your public correspondence inasmuch, without any by-your-leave, you (unilaterally) proceed to make public knowledge text which is obviously communicated to you in a non-public manner.
I will therefore take this opportunity to request that you similarly make public knowledge a vital portion of text from your private correspondence with [No. 4], on October the 7th, 2011, during the period Sep-Oct of that year when he was putting into action his <quote> ‘warn a few friends’ (#136xx) reaction upon having <quote> ‘felt like I’d been duped’ (#136xx).
I am specifically referring to two paragraphs of text to be found in the following email you sent to Vineeto (and Cc’d to me) on March 26, 2012.
Vis.:
          From: Respondent No. 25
          Sent: Monday, March 26, 2012 2:31 AM
          To: Vineeto
          Cc: Richard
          Subject: Fwd: Conversation about actualism
          • : Keep in mind that the responses I wrote at the time were my perceptions of the situation and information AT THAT TIME – I do not necessarily agree with them currently. And as I’ve stated, I am bracketing the things I don’t understand and doing my best to balance the information you’ve provided me.
          -[No. 25]
          •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••
          Forwarded message
          From: Respondent No. 4
          Date: Fri, Oct 7, 2011 at 11:12 PM
          To: Respondent No. 25
          Subject: Re: Conversation about actualism
          [...snip...].
          • : I am curious as to how you became acquainted with ‘[female identifier deleted].’
          • [Respondent No. 4]: [female identifier deleted] was personally acquainted with [...2 paragraphs or 176 words or 777 characters withheld...] galore).
          [...snip...].

Please note that all what is required is those 176 withheld words in those two paragraphs – and nothing else as all the rest of the text in any of those eight emails you forwarded is worthless – because those 176 words contain the key to comprehending how this whole sorry saga (aka ‘the mother of all kerfuffles’) was triggered.

In other words, once those two paragraphs (those 176 withheld words) are public knowledge I will be able to demonstrate, step-by-step, how [No. 4]’s actions at that time effectively led to wrecking another’s life (her exact words, in message #10555, are ‘wrecked it’) resulting in her fearing for her life (‘grave consequences, such as with my life’, in message #10563, plus ‘eliminate me physically’, message #10750) were she to fly to Australia as planned the next month ... or even ever.
Of course, Mike did not take him up on that offer.

====
J C:
2. The Proprietary Nature of AF and Refusal to Combine it with Buddhist or Other Practices

Richard claims complete control over what AF is and how it is defined.
This is like saying Joe claims complete control over what the Empire State Building is and how it is defined, or Sally claims complete control over what fear is and how it is defined, etc. Actual freedom is an objectively existing state which Richard and a few others are currently experiencing it. They don't define it - it is precisely that which they are experiencing it. As such they describe it, from experience, whenever they talk about it. He cannot define actual freedom as anything other than what it is. It is not in his control what actual freedom is. This will become more obvious the more actually free people there are. It should already be obvious as there are multiple people that are actually free. Richard could say they weren't, if he wanted to - though I don't see why he would - but that wouldn't change whether they are actually free or not. Actual freedom exists separately from Richard. Richard could and will die, yet when that happens that won't change what actual freedom is.
J C:
He makes rather grandiose claims about being the first person to achieve such a state, it being an entirely new thing that changed the course of humanity, despite the obvious similarities to the Dharma and other philosophies. Statements to the effect of AF being completely separate from Buddhism or 180 degrees opposed to it are similar.
As to him being the first, I agree that he is. I don't agree that he is because he wants to be special and I believe that he is special because belief in that is required to practice Actualism. I agree that he is because I haven't found anything else like it. As to the obvious similarities to the Dharma, well that's what many of the conversations here are about. Nobody has been able to satisfactorily show how they are similar. You can claim they are similar, but that doesn't make it so. You would have to prove your claim. More follows.
J C:
He refuses to acknowledge any similarity between AF and other systems [...]
This is like saying somebody refuses to acknowledge any similarity between apples and giant robots made of steel. Yes... because they are different things. You can't acknowledge something that isn't true, unless you're a liar and you're trying to deceive people. Again, first you would have to show that they are similar. You can't just claim they are similar and expect to have proven a point. You might like to peruse the links I put in above about 180 degrees opposite.
J C:
[...] - typical of more cult-like and less legitimate philosophical movements (Ayn Rand is a good example here; she similarly claimed to be the originator of a new, objectively correct system, founded a cult, and refused to recognize that philosophers for thousands of years prior had discussed,classified, and argued against her ideas).
You're not making an argument here. This is not a valid point. You aren't actually saying anything substantial here. If you want to show that Actualism is a cult, then make the case that it is a cult, don't just say things are cult-like without proving why. For this claim to succeed you would have to show how actualism is *not* 180 degrees opposite from buddhism, which you haven't provided any evidence for at all thus far.
J C:
Generally, reasonable and sane teachers encourage the criticism of their ideas and the blending of philosophies, whereas the insistence that one's perfect ideas be kept pristine is the mark of a cult leader or someone obsessed with control.
This is like saying that someone insisting that 2 + 2 equals 4 and refusing to blend it with the idea that 2 + 2 equals 5 is the mark of a cult leader or someone obsessed with control. Is it that, or is it the mark of someone vitally interested in making sure his fellow human beings have the right information? Again this comes back to you having to prove that actualism and spirituality are not 180 degrees opposite.
J C:
This leads to the problem where Richard can change definitions and make declarations about other people. For instance, Tarin had claimed AF and then afterwards stated that he had no idea what AF actually was, other than what Richard defined it to be.
Just because Tarin says that actual freedom is what Richard defines it to be, does not mean that actual freedom is what Richard defines it to be. It doesn't support the point that Richard can change definitions and make declarations about other people. As such this criticism is invalid. I will also point out that when someone experiences something on a daily basis and writes reports about it, you would expect those reports to be accurate. You would also expect that if he hears reports of something and he thinks that it's different from what he's experiencing, he would probably be right about that too. It doesn't mean he would be right 100% - it doesn't mean that whatever he says is right - it just means you would expect him to be right simply because he has the experience. Consider the analogy to anyone with expertise in any field.

===
J C:
3. The Often Incoherent Nature of the AF Website

The AF website, to put it mildly, is very difficult to read. It's full of neologisms and opaque sentences and at times reads much like the Time Cube website or something like that. It's pretty much impossible to look at it and get a clear idea of what AF actually is or how to practice it, other than to visit Richard and do what he says. It makes it seem more like a crazy cult than a sane spiritual practice.
I did have difficulty with the actual freedom trust at first, as well, and it seems a lot of other people do too. Maybe someone else could communicate the ideas better. But actually I find nowadays that it makes quite a lot of sense, and I can easily engage people in discussion about this section or that section and have a dialogue about it to clarify it. I find the largest impediment to making sense of the AFT website was my preconceived notions about what actualism was. For example, if you currently hold that actualism and spirituality are the same, the AFT website will not make sense to you. That doesn't mean you should start believing they are the same without any evidence or critical thinking. But it means one of the first impediments, for you, is to resolve that issue by seeing how they are not. If you think they're the same then you will simply ignore all of the things that make it different as being unimportant or weird or quirky or whatever, whereas in fact those are the things that are actually important.

You compare it to the Time Cube website, yet the Time Cube website makes no rational sense. It is impossible to figure out what he is saying. On the other hand, Richard, Peter, and Vineeto say very specific things which are rational, internally consistent, sensible, factual, etc. Give me any excerpt and I am almost sure I will be able to show how this is the case.

You don't have to visit Richard to understand what actualism is about. There are plenty of people who haven't ever met Richard, who understand actualism - like Alan, for example (has various correspondences with Richard on the AFT).

And it's not a matter of "doing as says". Richard has said this multiple times, it's the PCE which is the guiding light, not what Richard says. It's your experience you follow. Richard just points out that there is a thing that is the PCE in order to help you recognize it. Then he gives advice - what worked for him - the actualism method. Whether you follow it is up to you. You see for yourself whether it works. It's not a matter of uncritically doing what Richard recommends for reasons you don't understand.

I have shown how all the points that made it seem like a "crazy cult" to you are invalid... If you agree, I hope you will now have some integrity and withdraw that claim.

There is one thing you got right, though - the AFT site does not make actualism seem like a "sane spiritual practice". That's because it isn't a spiritual practice.
J C:
For instance, I have no idea what a PCE is or how I would get there. Richard says something to the effect that most people have had and can remember a PCE - wtf? I'm pretty sure I haven't, but I'd love to read a clear explanation of what one is or how to get there.
Okay... instead of me providing you with a myriad of links to pages that explain what a PCE is and how to get there, could you instead tell me what you've done on your own in order to figure out what a PCE is?

===
J C:
4. Philosophical Issues

There are some strange philosophical ideas relating to AF that, well, just don't make any sense. The idea that somehow AF can put you in touch with the "actual world" rather than the perceived world, or that various facts about the existence of the real world can be understood simply by experience, are just plain inaccurate. It should be clear that everything you experience comes from perception, and you can be wrong about perception, yet AF doesn't seem to address this or take it into account.
Put simply, there is an objective reality, the senses are an accurate perception of this objective reality, the way knowledge is obtained is via the senses plus logic, where the rules of logic are based on the way objective reality behaves (e.g. an object can't be two things at the same time; it can't exist and not exist at the same time; objects have constancy; etc.) This isn't necessarily actualism-specific. I would argue it's the only rational understanding of the world, though. Just because you can be wrong about perception doesn't mean that perception is invalid as a whole.

I'm not sure if there are any correspondences where they discuss this issue of perception. I don't remember having come across any in particular. We can discuss it, if you like.

To clear up a point, the "actual world" isn't different from the "perceived world". The actual world is just the world as it is without the affective filter/without the filter of 'identity'. The perceived world with an identity is filtered - that's not the actual world. The perceived world without an identity is not filtered - that's the actual world. You still "access" the actual world via "your" senses. Actually, you are your senses - which is insanely fascinating.

===
J C:
5. Concerns about Emotional Suppression

Some AF practitioners have reported that AF practices suppressed their emotions - for instance, Jill (TJ Broccoli) made a post on the DhO about coming out of AF and realizing that she had been deluded into suppressing her emotional states and thinking it was helpful or healthy.
Yes, and Tommy as well. I guess I have to say it - here's the hint - they weren't practicing actualism. Richard specifically addresses the point over and over again that you should *not* repress and/or suppress your emotions. If you then go about doing just that - that isn't because of anything Richard suggested.
J C:
AF, of course, is a Limited Emotions Model, and is therefore subject to all the criticisms in MCTB of those models. As Daniel puts it, ditching the split is possible and a good idea, but ditching one's stuff (emotions) isn't possible or a good idea... as long as you're alive, there will be stuff that comes up.
Okay, if you're just going to say that actual freedom is impossible, then why are you even interested in it?
J C:
Despite all of the above, I find many of the ideas and practices inspired by Actualism to be interesting, and I'd like to learn more about them. I'd be curious to know how others overcame the above obstacles.
I overcame them by figuring out that they have no basis in fact.
J C:
Seems to me the ideal is to practice vipassana with a bit of actualist-style practices added in.
Oh God... oh God no... please... why would you do that? Do you really want to go about suppressing your emotions like Jill and Tommy did? Did you even read Tommy's post where he talked about the repercussions of that?
J C:
I believe Thusness and An Eternal Now have a theory which to the best of my understanding is something to the effect that Buddhism contains both non-dualistic and luminous parts, the non-dualistic parts similar to MCTB, and the luminous parts similar to Actualism, so it would make sense that Daniel, after becoming an arahat, would seek out other practices that emphasize the remaining parts and focus on the joy and wonder of life.
Well, maybe there are superficial similarities, but are they really the same?
J C:
I'm not an arahat yet, so maybe once I become one this will all make more sense. My plan is to first become an arahat and then explore the other side of things, but I'm also considering incorporating actualist-inspired practices... I'd love to hear some suggestions or comments.
I would really suggest keeping your spiritual practice entirely separate from actualism. The fact is that you can't blend the two - they simply don't mix at all (because they're 180 degrees opposite) - so any attempt to do that is bound to fail. Or more precisely, you'll come up with something spiritual that maybe sort of looks like actualism, but isn't, and you're going to end up confusing yourself and others in the process. Aren't the failures of Jill, Tommy, Tarin, Trent, Daniel, etc., to attain actual freedom - and often in extremely harmful ways (see Jill & Tommy) - enough to deter you?

I will also point out that in my estimation, becoming an arahat will make it more difficult to make sense of actualism and to attain actual freedom.

My suggestion is you spend as much time as it takes to figure out what actualism is about. I assure you, it's different from spirituality, but definitely don't take my word for it. If you still come to the conclusion that it is similar, then just go for spirituality. If you come to the conclusion that they're different, then figure out which one you'd rather pursue and pursue that one.

RE: Questions and Concerns about AF and Richard
Answer
10/31/14 4:35 PM as a reply to J C.
I see Beoman wrote you a big response (EDIT: looks like I did too, HA!), and I'm sure he went into lots of detail about everything fact-related, so I'll just give you my personal perspective.

When I first came to the forum here, I was already practicing in a way that was identical to Actualism. After hearing about Actual Freedom stuff, I went to the website and read a lot of Richards advice and found the methods and tips all worked very well. So I never spent any time reading about or learning about Richard as a person.

I simply don't think Actual Freedom is a completely new part of the human mind that Richard discovered, and I don't really think his claims that the universe is Infinite and Eternal have any bearing on my own practice, so I just ignore that. I think Richard probably is a little loopy, and he isn't as divorced from spiritual ideas as he portrays himself. I've seen him talk about "vibes" and reading people's minds and that sort of thing. I was actually a bit disappointed, since I don't really have any interest in spiritual or magical ideas, myself. He keeps that out of most of his writings, though, so I didn't encounter it until someone linked it on the forum here.

I really can't tell you if he's Actually Free or not, and it doesn't really matter much to me. I'm basing my practice off of the PCE, which I feel is sufficient proof that a person can live without suffering. I don't know if this is a permanent state, and I don't know if it is equivalent in any way to Buddhist practices - since I've never been able to pin down what Dzogchen and Zen are actually talking about.

So here is my position:
There is a way of looking at the world (called the PCE by Richard) that is completely without stress/need/desire/want/etc because the sense of identity goes away. This way of looking at the world is the result of letting go of all problems and inhibitions and allowing the attention rest in "nowness" - or the clear space that the senses occupy when we let ourselves appreciate being alive at this moment in time. By picking apart our beliefs and thoughts about the world, we can minimize the negativity we feel, directly, by changing how we actually see and experience the world. As more and more of our past/future-think is dismantled, we have less distractions to overcome and simply being here now and enjoying the experience of being alive becomes much easier. After a bit of consistent exposure to "nowness" the feeling centers - or emotional tensions - drop away completely and the world is experienced in a way that is completely satisfying, fulfilling, and perfect. This state is self-perpetuating so long as the mind has nothing to pull it away.

Because of the experiential facts above, I've concluded that it is possible to spend most, if not all, of my time in this state so long as I am willing to get rid of the rest of the emotional motivators I've felt the need to rely on over the years - like anger, worry, excitement, attraction, desire, etc. I can allow myself to let go of these motivations because the feeling of contentment is so perfect in the PCE that I don't need to worry about keeping myself in line. I don't need to motivate myself to do things I don't want to do in the PCE, I don't need to stop myself to chasing after unhealthy or useless things, I don't need to try to behave well, I don't need to control myself in any way . These problems simply cease to exist in the PCE - the mind is just clear and satisfied.

My personal method is fairly simple. When I notice that I don't feel perfect, I try to understand why and let go of source of the problem. This is something Nikolai actually stressed on his blog, but there is always a discernible source for every bit of discontent we are feeling. There is no such thing as "formless" negativity. When I've done the best I can to identify the problem. I bring my attention back to "the now" and try to rest here. Sometimes this can actually reveal the source of the problem as well, since the mind will pull away. The point is that we cannot force ourselves to rest, we will only come to rest when we've let go completely. Negative mind states belong to us, they ARE us, so the only real way to change them and get rid of them is to change ourselves. We have to change our mind about how we feel.

An example: I used to feel angry when my roommate would make noise at night since it would keep me awake. I finally made the decision that it wasn't going to bother me, so every time I heard sounds, I would watch the anger as it started up, take ownership of it, and decide to drop it. It took a little time, but the feeling itself actually changed and no longer arises. I can go to sleep even with noise. emoticon A simple example, but apply it to everything and there you go!

Because these successes have built up over time, I no longer trust my emotional reactions. I am much more aware of them now, and when they arise I immediately identify them. They don't go away on their own and it isn't easy to change them, but that lack of trust, specifically, is what allows me to forget them and come back to that "nowness" that leads to the PCE. I've found that, if I truly don't feel like it's important that I stay worried about something, it will be very easy to let go of it as long as I have something else to put my attention on (i.e. the present moment).

So, if this all makes sense, then just forget where it comes from, I say. It doesn't matter because the logic of it is self-contained. If Actual Freedom as a permanent event doesn't really exist, this method is still going to create the most comfortable mind we could live in.

As to whether you can mix it with vipassana - I don't think that will work. With vipassana, the goal is to dis-identify with all sensations, bad or good, and let go of the central control process. If you are doing that, then you can't take responsibility for negative feelings, and trying to change them will interfere with trying to see through them. Richard makes a good point when he says spirituality and Actual Freedom are different, I think.

Some AF practitioners have reported that AF practices suppressed their emotions - for instance, Jill (TJ Broccoli) made a post on the DhO about coming out of AF and realizing that she had been deluded into suppressing her emotional states and thinking it was helpful or healthy.


You'll have to decide for yourself, of course, if this is true, but maybe you can see from my descriptions above that suppressing emotions won't work to get to the PCE. You have to be able to let go of everything and put complete trust in the world to rest your attention in "this moment of being alive." The PCE is a completely open state - like being naked in the world. Suppressing emotions will only drive the mind further away from the here and now because it's trying to escape how it feels.

The common DhO impression of Actualism is that it's a kind of hard core paying attention to the physical senses - and this could definitely cause emotional suppression. But really, the method is about becoming vulnerable, naive, innocent, and naked to the world. It's about allowing the emotions through and resolving them so that the attention is free to rest in the here and now. One of Richard's main bits of advice is, "Neither suppress nor express the emotions." You need to work them all out for the PCE to surface - the PCE doesn't drive emotions away.

I hope this helps! emoticon

EDIT:
This is like saying somebody refuses to acknowledge any similarity between apples and giant robots made of steel.


This made me giggle. emoticon

RE: Questions and Concerns about AF and Richard
Answer
10/31/14 4:31 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
Nice response Not Tao! I just wanted to clarify one point you brought up:

Not Tao:
I think Richard probably is a little loopy, and he isn't as divorced from spiritual ideas as he portrays himself. I've seen him talk about "vibes" and reading people's minds and that sort of thing. I was actually a bit disappointed, since I don't really have any interest in spiritual or magical ideas, myself. He keeps that out of most of his writings, though, so I didn't encounter it until someone linked it on the forum here.

To be clear, actually free people can't experience vibes. He's referring to the fact that feeling-beings can and do experience vibes. He doesn't deny that these things are felt to be real. He doesn't deny that spirituality exists - how could he if he was enlightened for 11 years? The psychic experiences etc. refer to the time when he was enlightened. The main point is that these things aren't actual. In the most practical terms: these things can't be experienced in a PCE.

One more thing, you say:
Not Tao:
[...] I don't really think his claims that the universe is Infinite and Eternal have any bearing on my own practice, so I just ignore that.

It's probably not the most important thing at this point, but if you're curious, try contemplating whether the universe is infinite or eternal next time you are having a PCE, see what happens.

RE: Questions and Concerns about AF and Richard
Answer
10/31/14 5:12 PM as a reply to J C.
For instance, I have no idea what a PCE is or how I would get there. Richard says something to the effect that most people have had and can remember a PCE - wtf? I'm pretty sure I haven't, but I'd love to read a clear explanation of what one is or how to get there.


I hadn't had a solid one until very recently (the beginning of this year) - it's what made me start practicing, actually!

The lead-in has a very "holiday" type feeling to me.  I think of when I was a kid and it was a summer evening and I didn't have anything I had to do.  Or, my family used to do a "family rake" every fall at my grandparent's house, and most years I'd spend the afternoon building a nest of leaves once they'd all been raked up.  These times were very unworried, lazy, uncommitted, etc.  The mind is clear and it isn't thinking about anything in particular, so it's just present without any emotional distractions.

@Beoman: What about that conversation he had with you about some kind of "quickening" where he could sense when people where joining him in the actual world?

RE: Questions and Concerns about AF and Richard
Answer
10/31/14 6:06 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
Not Tao:
@Beoman: What about that conversation he had with you about some kind of "quickening" where he could sense when people where joining him in the actual world?

Oh right, that. Well it isn't a vibe thing, nor was he reading other people's minds... I also don't think he ever said he could sense when people where joining him in the actual world, per se, though I've read things to the effect that he can tell when somebody is having a PCE because he can figure out that he's now talking directly to the actual flesh and blood body - and that the flesh and bloody body is talking back - vs. that he's talking to an identity (whose vibes and emotions he can't register on an emotional level, though he can tell if someone's feeling emotional based on tone of voice, body language, etc.)

This is a relevant a thread as any, do you want to bring out a particular quote that had you concerned?

RE: Questions and Concerns about AF and Richard
Answer
10/31/14 8:48 PM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
He is like the last Rinpoche.
Good for some.  Dangerous for others.

I am beyond him.
Not Tao and Dragon are as well.

Also, four others in DhO are beyond him.

Let him be.  

RE: Questions and Concerns about AF and Richard
Answer
10/31/14 8:50 PM as a reply to J C.
JC, you astound me.  Thank you for everything you do!

RE: Questions and Concerns about AF and Richard
Answer
10/31/14 10:50 PM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
Blah, forum ate my post.

Basically, he was saying that he could feel an "upsurge of energy" when vineeto joined him in the actual world, and he was the only one who would feel it because he was the first to discover a completely new form of consciousness.  He also talked about a world-wide mental network that transfers vibes.  So, yeah, he's a bit mystical.

RE: Questions and Concerns about AF and Richard
Answer
11/1/14 1:26 AM as a reply to J C.
J C:
Despite all of the above, I find many of the ideas and practices inspired by Actualism to be interesting, and I'd like to learn more about them. I'd be curious to know how others overcame the above obstacles. Seems to me the ideal is to practice vipassana with a bit of actualist-style practices added in. I believe Thusness and An Eternal Now have a theory which to the best of my understanding is something to the effect that Buddhism contains both non-dualistic and luminous parts, the non-dualistic parts similar to MCTB, and the luminous parts similar to Actualism, so it would make sense that Daniel, after becoming an arahat, would seek out other practices that emphasize the remaining parts and focus on the joy and wonder of life.

I'm not an arahat yet, so maybe once I become one this will all make more sense. My plan is to first become an arahat and then explore the other side of things, but I'm also considering incorporating actualist-inspired practices... I'd love to hear some suggestions or comments.

My 2 cents on these matters...

Attention Wave, Vippassana, and 180 Degrees Different

There is a flaw with 4th path as described in the MCTB. Something that people here call the 'attention wave' persists. Even though there is full insight into subject/object non-duality, it is a bit like looking at something in a room where the lights are constantly flickering on and off.

The normative state of mind has constant pinging back and forth of attention, almost like a constant low level anxiety of self. The rapid noting / vipassana works by interference patterns in this grasping and helps attain insight.  But the interference just modifies the pattern. No matter how many insight cycles you go through the problem cannot get completely resolved by creating more interference patterns.

The attention wave sucks, atleast in comparison not-having an attention wave. 

Actualist inspired practices eg. bare attention, sensousness etc. work quite well for resolving these attention wave patterns. This is a part of the reason that Actualist inspired practices are so popular here.

Of course there are other Buddhist practices that also work very well for resolving attention wave issues. But the general attitude here was that the 4th path is a universal culmination of spiritual partice or something along those lines. So the other practices were generally seen somewhat dismissively as less effective, non-hardcore, alternative to Vipassana.

In a way the 180 degrees different, non-spiritual, position of Actualism helped it gain acceptance here as well.


AEN and Thusness' Map

Wei Yu (AEN) classifies both 4th path in the MCTB and AF at the same place on his map (stage 5).

I have chatted with him about this. And about how profound of an experntial shift it is to drop the attention wave. And how it is a bit confusing to have them both classified in the same place.

He didn't seem to have an experential understanding of the attention wave, which leads me to belive it might be something that is exxagerated due to noting. Or perphaps it is becasue he realized I AM first and later Annata which somehow soothed out these pattern earlier.

So it understandble that they most notable shift for them wasn't the attention wave but more a of letting go a grandiose ultimate subject and embracing the sensory experience in its own accord.

Someone who had 4th path, presumable would already know that. Nevertheless I think this is a weakness in their map, and something to be aware of if you have a Vipassana background.


Misuses of Bliss

The transformative power of consiousness is underestimated by most people.

So when there is a group whose practice works well, but philosophical ideas are messed up, it can be a problematic combination.

If someone  has a little bit of success with attianing bliss with the pratices advocated, there is a tendency for that person to become overly attached to everything that is espoused by that movement. You end up with smart, educated, people who bascially buy into all kinds of crazy ideas.

This happens in Christiantiny, in Buddhism, in Islam, in Scientology, and yes even in Actualism.

It is hard to avoid falling into thist trap, when you experience how profoundly enjoyable these sorts of experiences can be.

But with the right training and view it is possible, to let go of rigid notions of conceptual truth and avoid such a trap.

RE: Questions and Concerns about AF and Richard
Answer
11/1/14 12:32 AM as a reply to Not Tao.
Not Tao:
Blah, forum ate my post.

Basically, he was saying that he could feel an "upsurge of energy" when vineeto joined him in the actual world, and he was the only one who would feel it because he was the first to discover a completely new form of consciousness.

Hmm I am pretty sure you are mixing different quotes up and thinking he said something he didn't. I'll have to ask for a specific quote.

Not Tao:
He also talked about a world-wide mental network that transfers vibes.  So, yeah, he's a bit mystical.

Right, you're referring to the psychic network or to psychic currents.

I'm not sure if it's quite correct to say that he's mystical by talking about those things. He isn't spiritual by talking about the 'soul' (aka seat of emotions) of feeling-beings, which is what the 'spirit' in 'spiritual' refers to, is he? And to be clear he doesn't experience psychic currents currently because they aren't actual. But he did experience them when Enlightened - I think that's how he figured that they 'exist' (in the sense that it's something that occurs between feeling-beings).

I will admit I haven't had experiences of the psychic network in the way that I've had experiences about vibes. Although it might be what comes off when you read obscenely insulting posts on the internet - that sort of raw rage - or maybe it's that which prompts that in me. Or maybe it's just my reaction to the words.

But maybe it is mystical to say they exist in the sense you were using the word. What do you mean to say exactly when you say he's a bit mystical?

RE: Questions and Concerns about AF and Richard
Answer
11/1/14 1:08 AM as a reply to (D Z) Dhru Val.
DZ, I do actually like that explanation of an "attention wave" - I would say that's probably exactly what I'm working with right now.  If anyone is interested, I think this attention wave is directly linked to becoming the subject of thoughts.  So, thoughts aren't just mental constructs, but we actually inject ourselves into the imagination and become the subject in the situation we're imagining - just like it's actually happening to us in real time.  This is why is feels like a veil has lifted when we come back to "nowness" or stop this bouncing between thoughts - we are no longer seeing in our head, we are seeing what's in front of us (as well as hearing and etc).  Bare attention isn't my favorite term - I think it implies doing an action, like paying close attention.  We're already here, so the only thing that really needs to happen is a recognition.  (And anyone can recognise "nowness" - there isn't anything special about it.  It's just where you are right now.)

If this path does, eventually, lead to anatta, I think it should be more heavily advocated for than vipassana meditation, since it doesn't have any kind of dark night.  Personally, I don't think you can use the same map for the two in any meaningful way.  If it's not two seperate mountains, it's at least two opposite sides of the mountain. They're only going to line up at the very top, at best.

@Beoman: Check the page with your emails with Richard on the AFT.  It's hard to link on my tablet. emoticon

RE: Questions and Concerns about AF and Richard
Answer
11/1/14 1:11 AM as a reply to (D Z) Dhru Val.
I'm pretty sure Ingram's fourth path lines up with Bernadette Robert's "unitive state".

I claim fourth path, or this "unitive state", the funny thing is (and this happened or was realized within the past few months): growing up and waking up are non-different.

Although I practiced hard, and within a religious context, I became far more ordinary, mature and grounded, and most of all: my experiences (which were interpreted in a Buddhist or Christian framework) were like... irrelevant in hindsight.

What I'm saying is: fourth path is common, this so-called "special", "non-dual" (non-dual is in scare quotes because there really is no "supramundane", "transcendental" whatever about it, it leads to no "cognitive", "intellectual" knowledge) state, is not special at all.

It really is ordinary, in fact it is the ordinary human destiny of all people, provided no one explicitly prevents this growth from occurring. I'm really really, surprised, that this doesn't occur with time.

But, my 2 cents.

RE: Questions and Concerns about AF and Richard
Answer
11/1/14 3:20 AM as a reply to J J.
It is not common.

RE: Questions and Concerns about AF and Richard
Answer
11/1/14 4:57 AM as a reply to J J.
J J:
I'm pretty sure Ingram's fourth path lines up with Bernadette Robert's "unitive state".

I claim fourth path, or this "unitive state", the funny thing is (and this happened or was realized within the past few months): growing up and waking up are non-different.

Although I practiced hard, and within a religious context, I became far more ordinary, mature and grounded, and most of all: my experiences (which were interpreted in a Buddhist or Christian framework) were like... irrelevant in hindsight.

What I'm saying is: fourth path is common, this so-called "special", "non-dual" (non-dual is in scare quotes because there really is no "supramundane", "transcendental" whatever about it, it leads to no "cognitive", "intellectual" knowledge) state, is not special at all.

It really is ordinary, in fact it is the ordinary human destiny of all people, provided no one explicitly prevents this growth from occurring. I'm really really, surprised, that this doesn't occur with time.

But, my 2 cents.
Bernadette Robert's 'unitive stage' is like the I AM stage. MCTB is not about that.

Bernadette Roberts describes non-dual experience, but she talks about no-self as sort of like a stage of experience. There is no indication of insight into anatta as a dharma seal.

As discussed in http://dharmaconnectiongroup.blogspot.com/2014/02/no-mind-and-anatta-focusing-on-insight.html

RE: Questions and Concerns about AF and Richard
Answer
11/1/14 1:07 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
Not Tao:
@Beoman: Check the page with your emails with Richard on the AFT.  It's hard to link on my tablet. emoticon

Ah sorry I will have to insist that you link/quote the particular part. I am in no hurry, I can wait until you're at a computer. I don't mean to be rude, but if you don't properly formulate the criticism then I don't have anything to address. I don't want to expend the energy to figure out what exactly you're criticizing for you.

RE: Questions and Concerns about AF and Richard
Answer
11/2/14 10:35 AM as a reply to J C.
Richard is a liar and he proves it himself on the AFT website. On one hand he says that 'mindfulness' is a Buddhist term that he never uses but on the other hand, he uses it in his writings on the AFT website and also in his journal.

RE: Questions and Concerns about AF and Richard
Answer
11/2/14 9:38 PM as a reply to Change A..
He is not.