Doubt

My entire history of interaction with Actualism has been impacted by doubt.

When I was first exposed to it, I assumed it was spirituality in some other guise. I rejected it. I doubted the validity, facticity or integrity of it.

It took me 2 years to concede that I did not actually understand what was being described. That I had no reference point experientially to refute or challenge what was being described. It is never easy to admit being wrong, but I started to see sense in that concept that one can be responsible for one’s own happiness and harmlessness.

I doubted the validity of a PCE experience. I know my closest and my trusted friend swore by this experience, and had described its nature before having a name to it and searched for an equivalent description online and in books and spirituality and other areas before finding it on the AF site. I doubted the validity of my friend’s experience. For I had never subjectively known such a thing. I gave him the benefit of the doubt though.

It is tricky with the subjective, at that point I had never experienced depression or anxiety but I accepted the mountain of evidence of others experiences around me among friends, family, mental health wards (I worked at a hospital part time at this time) and historic accounts in books, medical texts, etc that these were a common shared type of experience.

I have always been a doubter. When a teenager, I didn’t believe alcohol really changed you that much and that people were just exaggerating. I learned for myself experientially at the age of 16 that it in fact did alter your inhibitions, it was not an act but a fact. I had gained experiential confirmation and changed my assumption.

The PCE didn’t have such a wealth of evidence around it. I had seen descriptions of drug experiences and other people’s descriptions of other consciousness states on other message boards and online sites that seemed to match up with the PCE, plus the AF site had a handful of descriptions. However, I could not find a match in my own memory. I always thought, so many of these people on other boards who had what sounded like PCEs may never encounter the AF site and have a new context for that experience.

When I discovered the EE definition (the site and structure that it is now, wasn’t always the case at first, it has evolved over the years) I could definitely relate to that state. It wasn’t definitely something in my own past experience.

In this same way I dismissed subjective experiences such as people saying they had an out of body experience or saw an angel, in my brain a PCE was grouped with such experiences in my mind but an EE was not.

I started to apply the method in 2006. With the focus not on the facticity of it and not from a point of being able to rememorate a PCE but on how best to experience my life. At first, it took me awhile to understand the flavour of felicity in contrast to other types of happy highs I had chased my whole life. But I experientially began to relate to what was described regarding felicity, sensuosity. Doubts were shifted.

I had my first PCE just on the walk to my work shift. An area I had already walked countless times over 2 years suddenly looked like a place I had never seen before. It was so direct and incredible, the jamais vu description being apt, the directness of everything, the hollowing out of my head. It was awesome.

It seemed in line with the other descriptions of a PCE, eventually more would come. My last one I had being a long 5 minute or so PCE.

There was no doubt now as to what was experientially described in a PCE. I had experienced.

There was still doubt though whether I would experience the states again or whether a permanent experience of such a state was even possible. A doubt over whether Richard was genuine about his experience being something permanent experienced. How could I ever measure or challenge his subjective experience, there was no way for me to know. Did it ultimately matter? Is it not in my best interest to figure out how to optimally live my own life?

Then the reports of Peter and Vineeto eventually achieving the same were still treated with doubt. Every other person who followed over the decade would invoke the same doubt. With people like Tarin and others adding to the scepticism and doubt. I would hang on to any doubt that I could, maybe only men can experience but then women did. Maybe you have to have lived longer like Richard, but people younger than him have. Any criteria I could find, well maybe you can’t if you ever had a mental health issue…

The whole points of discussion in the topic of Actualism and the weird was totally misconstrued by myself at first and I truly believed Richard had lost the plot and a newer depth to my doubt kicked off. Eventually, there was feedback from him and clarifications that satisfied some of those doubts. I have never actually expressed or discussed this with anyone. As I mentioned in that post, seeing the extreme effects of the mass hysteria in action definitely opened my eyes on the transmissibility of emotional states.

I started to accept it could be a possible state, to be actually free. But there was still this doubt that it was possible for me. I am too damaged now with depression, anxiety and messed up mental health. I can’t even get to a normal mode of operation let alone be experiencing the actual. I doubted I could be felicitous or sensuous even.

I started to stop putting so much pressure on myself though. Take things bit by bit. Joining Slack, Zulip, Slack again, here…getting involved and communicating. Being sincere again. Learning from others, sharing with others. Seeing experientially things improve, my mental health, more felicity and sensuousness and even EE’s. Still no PCE though but it is ok. I can see doubt wanting to creep in again. All this improvement, but no PCE, is it worth it, maybe you are so damaged you will never know a PCE again. Being happy and harmless is still superior to anxious and depressed.

Suddenly, I was reading something on the site, and a question regarding Richard popped into my head that I hadn’t thought yet…when Richard had his first PCE as a more self aware adult and before being fully free, did he have doubt that such a state might not be possible to achieve permanently? There was no precedent for him…he was on his own so to speak, unchartered territory.

Richard: Be that as it may be … the identity inhabiting this flesh and blood body all those years ago had no precedent to assure ‘him’ it was possible yet ‘he’ was entirely confident – with the certainty pure consciousness experiences (PCE’s) confer that it be ‘his’ destiny to manumit the body ‘he’ held in bondage.

Thus ‘he’ never had any doubt – ‘he’ was freed of doubt by that very absence of choice – an actual freedom was possible, in ‘his’ lifetime, for this flesh and blood body. (Any doubt comes from choice; for most people choice implies freedom – the freedom to chose – yet as choice means options there is always doubt; an actual freedom comes about by there being no choice whatsoever … hence the word destiny).

I only mention this as you have made it clear, both in your postings prior to that frontal leucotome/ transorbital lobotomy email (Mailing List 'D' Respondent No. 11) and after it, that you want your path to be the short-cut path – not via a virtual freedom – which means you have no other option but to invoke destiny.

However (and here comes the ‘but’ and it is a big one), your destiny cannot be invoked as long as you cling to an attitude such as the following:

• [Richard]: ‘The very fact of the propinquity of death became a pivotal element in taking the first step on the wide and wondrous path, back in 1981, when a neighbouring farmer’s fourteen-year old son was killed in a car crash. A woman from another farm, whilst telling me all about it, bemoaned the fact that his future as a potential concert-pianist was tragically cut short (quite a normal observation).

What struck me rigid for the nonce was the more valid fact that this boy had virtually missed-out on a normal childhood through being forced, by well-meaning parents of course, into endless hours of piano-practice while his siblings and peers were outside playing games (as children are wont to do). And now he was dead – it had all been for naught – and he would never, ever be able to come out and play.

From that moment on death was my constant companion; an ever-present reminder that to die without having ever lived fully as in totally fulfilled, completely satisfied, utterly content – was such a waste of a life.

I would say to people, then, that were I to live that which the PCE’s had made apparent – as in an irrevocable permanency – for only five minutes I would then happily die. That is how precious an actual freedom from the human condition is.

• [Respondent]: No, an actual freedom is not that precious.

I know that no matter what, I have always been pulled back to actualism. I cannot deny the pull from the memory of my PCE’s. The improvements in all spheres of my life when aligning with the method. So, I am not like this person in the exchange dismissing it.

For me, in contrast to Richard, there is a precedent that other people have become free, male and female included, before I have started practicing the method. Why I am not entirely confident that it is possible for me again? Even in having a PCE again let alone eventually being free?

I always thought it had to be a choice…like the Matrix says…the problem is choice. But here, Richard implies there was no choice to make. Therefore, am I doing the opposite to what he did, am I choosing to doubt? I am choosing to not be free by choosing everything else? Am I waiting for it to happen to me spontaneously like radioactive decay?

As with my own brushes with death, why did they not impel to not want to waste my life in states of fear and dread. To live the best possible life…rather than this frightened and vigilant reaction.

I think I am onto something important here. Any input would be appreciated.

The interesting thing with doubt is that it seems one of the tricks ‘I’ use to remain unchanged. It is a clever way in which ‘I’ say “well its not possible because of X so I might as well not try”, is it because ‘I’ am afraid that if I actually tried, things would change?

By saying something is too difficult I am excused from actually doing it, we see this all around in day to day life also “oh I could never get this girl because I am not good looking enough”, “oh I am too unfit to learn martial arts” etc etc. Those are very convenient ways ‘I’ ensure that ‘I’ remain exactly where ‘I’ am right now because change away from normal is what ‘I’ fear.

I also had a lot of doubt years ago which went alongside my lack of commitment to blazing my own path, like actually doing it.
It seems once I committed fully (by making an agreement with myself that I was going to do it no matter what) doubt has not been too much of an issue.

Isn’t doubt also somewhat cowardly? why not find out for sure and then know whether it is possible or not? Isn’t it somewhat cowardly to skulk in the shadows with my doubt to protect me from actually finding out through action? It seems this is what Richard did not have, he was a pioneer and had that pioneer spirit, I think this is something that might be very useful to contact for all actualists. Doubt is like sitting on the fence, where ‘I’ am safe and pardoned from making a commitment, not actually living.

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You answered the question yourself:

Yes, indeed you are :smiley: . Even if you don’t see it clearly that you are (although you do suspect that you are).

Most recently I am thinking of the way of having PCEs as “falling into the fact”. I allow myself to “fall into the fact” of what the PCE is. And then it happens (and then it did happen!). And what a thing it is! The PCE is indeed the fact… seeing this (that the PCE is the fact) is what allows me to “discard” everything else (the beliefs, ‘relationships’, ‘humanity’ etc … … all the stuff that isn’t actual).

But without seeing the PCE is the fact then there’s possible room for “interpretation”, maybe the PCE is just ‘another perspective’ and the rest is valid too… etc.

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@Kub933 this defines my whole mentality. Before when I was fit, I am not co-ordinated enough to learn martial arts, I am not strong enough to learn martial arts, I am not sociable enough to learn martial arts, I can’t communicate on the forums I am not able to articulate myself properly, so often I find myself saying “I can’t” actually. This is what I meant in my other post about being an excuse replicator.

At times, I keep thinking I am committed and all aboard and then I can see I am split. In that way that I think it was @geoffrey (sorry if paraphrasing or wrong) that said about the splitting up of the self. Then it is like I am split apart with different intents.

I am cowardly…through and through. I was a cowardly person before my accident and am more so since the depression and anxiety. I am not joking when I say that practicing the method is probably the bravest thing I have done in my life. I am not a pioneer, maybe so in the intellectual realms or creativity and learning but not in the experiential. I almost lived a hypothetical life than an actual one. Living in made up worlds. Practicing the method, it led to me doing so many things for myself for the first time in my life. I almost drift through life aimlessly blowing in the wind [insert Bob Dylan song].

I was going through some snippets I have saved, I was sure there was one I had saved before on doubt and found this from Vineeto:

Vineeto: I remember one time when I seriously doubted that I could ever become free. I had been miserable and fearful for a couple of days and could not work out how to proceed. I asked Richard for advice. I said things such as ‘I think I am too much of a coward, I don’t have enough guts, I cannot possibly ever succeed in becoming free, I am too much ruled by fear’. He listened and then said something like ‘what else are you going to do for the rest of your life?’ The question made me aware that nothing else would ever be good enough because not only had I tasted the purity of the actual world but I was also enjoying the thrill and satisfaction of doing something that is worth committing one’s life to. I knew then that I could never turn back again and occasional bouts of fear, although sometimes extremely uncomfortable, are an inevitable part of the journey to freedom.

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There is a fuzziness here, when I try and reflect on what is going on. To discern what is at play in me honestly, sincerely. I thought I was on board? Am I not, how do I discern this? How to I move on from this point? What is my way forward?

I never made that association in my head, that the PCE is the fact. Maybe, The memory of my PCE’s, I can remember only how I immediately described it when I came back to being me, the contrast in relation to being me…I can’t rememorate my PCE’s…the last one being 15 years ago this month. I can’t evoke that…

I am denying the fact, because it never happened to me… I don’t remember it…I am locked out from it…to me before…I just reached this point of everything is valid…everything just is…and then there is no accounting for discerning the facts or the optimal path…

It is like the ultimate excuse…

Maybe I am abusing your ability to explain/describe what you have already put in quotation marks, but maybe you can elaborate this a little more, or from another perspective to understand you better…

For example, maybe this question will help: does “fall into the fact” differ in your experience/perception (perhaps cognitively) from your experience/perception of pure intent?

Hmmm yes I’d say so. First of all “falling into the fact” is an action/verb, while “pure intent” is a thing/noun. But perhaps you meant how does it compare to say “tapping into pure intent/tapping into the purity”?

To compare it with that I’d say perhaps that “falling into the fact” is a way of tapping into the purity. A way of finding the PCE. But it isn’t the purity per se. It’s a way to find it. If that makes sense.

Particularly the aspect of purity that “falling into the fact” evokes for me is the utter simplicity and actual existence of the purity. It’s not a belief or perception or viewpoint that things are pure, it’s not a way of looking at it (which would be subjective)… it is, objectively, the way things are. It’s a fact! So I allow myself to see it, I “fall into” it.

It also conveys a sense of motion, as in going towards something (the fact / the purity), which is apropos. And the “falling into” way of putting it demonstrates readily how it’s a matter of “letting it happen” rather than trying to reach toward something per se.

So in short it’s a poetic/evocative phrase that allows me - allowed me at that moment - to allow a PCE to happen.

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Yes, exactly

Yes, absolutely. It seemed to me that you wanted to convey something like this.

Good, good.

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Richards PCE was obviously a very impactful PCE. A PCE can vary in intensity, duration, etc, though they have all the same main factor in common: the absence of a self/identity/whatever.
In one PCE I was aware of infinitude, in one PCE I was aware of time not moving etc. They have certainly different flavors in my experiance.

Now what about doubt? Doubt was a very tricky topic for me as well, maybe for all of us.
One cannot help but begin with some amount of trust. It sounds reasonable, it sounds practical, it makes sense, ok. But later on this trust must be replaced by something better, something solid.
The only things which were a guidance for me before my first PCE were certain ASC’s (something was possible!) and the simpel, rational approach: Does it work, or does it not? If it works and it’s repeatable then it’s a fact. Otherwise I have to change my approach or read and understand more stuff.

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I have had only 7 of them, the last one was just over 5 mins maybe and the rest were all in the range of 45 seconds to a couple of minutes. What do you mean by the intensity of them? Could you elaborate please.

So you had sufficient time to notice particular properties?

@son_of_bob What’s the problem with doubt? Doesn’t one just have to enquire and note what is causing unhappiness and get back to being happy, where the suffering characterized by unease, burdens of expectations and comparisons, bothering about trivial things, conditional happiness(which is merely about chasing dopamine hits), unpleasant past, and daydreaming about future to escape present etc., is diminished? Isn’t that a better state to live? Is that not a better and pertinent question?

Doubt is a characteristic of a questioning or inquiring mind. It can never be a problem. The problem might be the anxiety it creates that you are going after something that you are not sure of. But isn’t that a false doubt given that all your search, like everybody else, is for happiness aka freedom? Because by getting back to happiness you are fulfilling your deepest desire to not suffer.

(I’m yet to read other responses. My apologies if somebody else replied in a similar vein)

Doubt has had the power to derail my practice and turn me away from actualism. Or when making progress slow down the momentum.

Though I can see parallels in my career. I doubted at first that I could work in tech, then piece by piece built the confidence that I can get on with things and sort it out. Now I am doing relatively well in my job. Doubt derailed my career and made me take longer to get to this point.

As the doubts give way to experiential confidence I am starting to see where and how this doubt operates in me. In all spheres of my life. The excuses that I make, the procrastination, self-deprecation…the fear of the potential.

In fact @Kiman this line of realisation stemmed from your post regarding the persistent causes of unhappiness. More so as a curiosity and like a scientific experiment have been keeping track of the different types of emotions/triggers/events that stop felicity or an EE.

Trying to notice the regular issues and themes that end felicity or EE’s.

I think deep down, doubt is another excuse not to have to change or do anything…to just maintain the status quo.

There is this desire to want to know everything before trying to experience something. An utterly risk free existence. There is no such thing. But I can see there is an anxiety at play at times and maybe it ties into that hypervigilance. Otherwise, indeed I am exploring that freedom and happiness.

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What risks are you afraid of?

I think the important distinction is between doubt as a feeling , vs as a sensible ascertainment that one isn’t sure about something. The latter is extremely important and very valuable as a tool in life and in general to be able to think about things sensibly. The former is just a hindrance which has no ultimate value at all (given you have the latter).

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Wasting my life, choosing the wrong path, being wrong, causing myself more harm psychologically, etc, etc.

I think at first, I lacked the self awareness to know the boundaries of these two, because even a sensible ascertainment of the facts would trigger my emotions, because both doubt as a feeling and a sensible ascertainment was followed up with a base anxiety for me.

The whole reason I wrote this post, is on reflection I can see the impact doubt has had on my simple act of carrying out the method (as well as most areas of my life; career, relationships, parenthood). It really is as simple as trying to be as happy and harmless as possible in this moment. Trying to think of the end goal, a PCE or being totally free would again just be more projecting into the future, much like trying to force myself to rememorate a PCE was me projecting into the past. Whereas the starting point of progress is to always be doing something now.

I want to know the end result of something before I commit to it. If I never used to progress on something quick enough like when I tried drawing or music or martial arts…I would just give up…quit.

Thinking of doubt made me curious as to whether Richard had doubt as to whether he could experience a PCE again when first had one again as a more self aware adult. Which led me to read stuff I had forgotten about. Seeing for him there was this absence of doubt and an absence of a choice to be made which freed him from the doubt. For me, I didn’t make that realisation from my PCE’s. Thinking there was something I had to choose to do to make the PCE happen.

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‘Wasting my life’ as in you’ll lose the desire to move up the social hierarchy? Otherwise, how can you waste your life when you are happy?
‘Wasting’ in comparison to what?
What is the other way of life you have in mind?

This simple question surprisingly stumped me lol. Not being a success, not being exceptional or not being actually free. It is like being happy isn’t enough lol. There has to be some main win, prize…success…that is weird…like being happy isn’t enough unless I reach a PCE or being free…hmm…something to think about there.

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This one is very relatable to me @son_of_bob and it’s also been a big obstacle for me. It seems to be quite a core aspect of being a social identity, the need to be recognised as special (it is what offers ‘me’ authority/love and thus security within the group). At core this whole thing is driven by ‘my’ desperate need for security, it is the survival mechanism in operation, so a lot of layers to the onion!

What I have noticed is that this need to be special is the complete opposite of naiveté. This need to be special has seeped all the fun out of my life since I was a kid! Because now everything I do has to be thought about twice and weighed up carefully so that ‘I’ can decide how it will impact ‘my’ status within the hierarchy. Everything becomes a means to the end, with the end being to continue climbing up the ladder, or be super careful not to slip down towards a lower rung. Which means nothing is done for the simple enjoyment of it. It also means that all actions are pre-planned and then acted out - as Richard wrote somewhere ‘I’ become predictably shallow. This whole thing screams seriousness and is 180 degrees opposite to words like, fun, delight, sincere, genuine, naive.

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I don’t really belong to any group, unless one counts this forum and then maybe my family lol. I have already been the outsider/the reject etc. I don’t really care for groups.

I can see that it is already a part of me to prove that I was correct to be separate from them, because look at how well I have done. It is my own vainglorious need to be successful and exceptional. A part of me wants to show off to other people and have proof why I never needed to belong.

Maybe a part of me hopes to attract people to me, esp the opposite sex. As though success would finally break that alienation, separation from other people.

Yes, the same, it ruined my writing and creativity too. I stopped doing it for the sheer enjoyment for myself but some need to be exceptional. For me though I am out of the hierarchy, it is more like a big fuck you to the hierarchy. Like the kid who “nur, nur, nee, nur, nur!” :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

Yes, I have started to see these shallow parts of me. Which then contradicts the elements of my social identity that was so concerned with projecting an image of integrity and validity.

Yes, well said.