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.