The regulars know me but this is to kick off the introduction category
I’m Claudiu – I came to actualism via the Dharma Overground in ~2011 or so. I am one of the “named” correspondents on the Actual Freedom Trust website – link here.
Discovering actualism really changed my life for the better. My journey started on New Year’s Eve 2009-2010 wherein I had an experience with MDMA at a trance concert that completely took me out of my normal way of being. I was a socially anxious and generally anxious 21-year-old and this experience showed me there was far more to life than my usual anxiety-ridden existence. In hindsight this might have been a Pure Consciousness Experience (or PCE for short) although it was impossible to know that at the time.
In any case drugs were obviously not the answer, so I started seeking out how I can make my day-to-day experience more like how I was that night. It seemed like there should be a way to do it. From the start for me it just always seemed like there was no real fundamental reason why it couldn’t be that way.
Unfortunately for me - and why it was unfortunate will become clear - I had just picked up a book on 8-minute meditation a few days before, and the connection was made in my mind – this must be what meditation is aiming for! This must be the purpose of the spiritual path, the point of Enlightenment. And so began the spiritual part of my journey.
Information about how to become enlightened was rather hard to find. It was essentially impossible to find anybody who actually claimed to be enlightened, or reported a practice or series of things they had actually done that resulted in them becoming enlightened. In the meantime I was meditating a lot and starting to have odd/interesting experiences such as lights flashing before my eyes (actual hallucinations, not just in my mind’s eye) and having sensations of the blackness before my closed eyes expanding.
I sought out all sorts of materials, websites, and books and eventually found The Dao Bums forum, where someone gave me actual practical advice and said I was experiencing something called the “ñanas”, and referred me to this book, Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha by Daniel Ingram. Here was somebody who actually claimed to have become Enlightened, fully Enlightened just the way the Buddha was, and he had written a book about how to go about doing it yourself!
I dove right in, in a very intense way, reading the book, participating on the Dharma Overground as “Beoman”, following the practices daily… and the results turned out to be disastrous. Although I made progress on the path described in the book, clearly reaching stream entry and getting to what they called “third path” which is the 3rd stage of the 4 stages to full Enlightenment in that model, my life itself was getting worse. Although I was becoming more skilled at meditating, able to enter trance states, attain out-of-body experiences, enter and remain in Altered States of Consciousness, and so on, in my day to day life I was unhappy with my job, unhappy with my non-existent love life, and generally miserable. The misery was reported to be just one of the side-effects, an indicator of progress on the path, and the advice was actually to change nothing about your life when experiencing this and to continue meditating, which I did fastidiously… and which didn’t improve my situation at all. There was more than one occasion where I simply burst out crying while on my own or walking somewhere.
There seemed to be no other option. I was unhappy before my spiritual life and I was now unhappy with my spiritual life, yet the advice was to continue going in the spiritual direction, that it would eventually “come to a resolution”. However around. this time people started talking about actualism and actual freedom on the Dharma Overground, and thus I came across the Actual Freedom Trust website.
Here was Richard, who not only claimed to have reached Enlightenment (see Appendix 1 here), but to have gone beyond it and discover a new way of being conscious that was even better than Enlightenment (see Appendix 2 and Appendix 3 here), which had been considered the pinnacle of what could be possible as a human up until that time. Here was someone reporting to be completely free from the human condition, not only to have transcended it but to have eradicated it entirely. And not only that but he said it was reproducible and he laid out exactly how he did it and how anyone else could do it too.
I was resistant to what I read on the site at first, attempting to morph it into an equivalent of the buddhistic path that I had been following. I started corresponding online on a mailing list with Richard, who was actively writing at the time, and he told me in no uncertain terms that I was headed exactly in the opposite direction of what he was reporting and advising me to turn 180 degrees about-face if what I really wanted was to be actually free.
One fine evening around this time I had another experience under the influence of MDMA where I saw that all of the meditation I was doing, all of my efforts on the spiritual path, were completely unnecessary if I was already happy in the first place. And the question came to my mind, “What if Richard is right?” What if he simply was correct and he had discovered something new? Writing this now it seems clear that I was in a similar state of mind as what initially triggered me down this path - that New Year’s MDMA experience - and I was able to essentially bridge the gap between what I experienced then, and the diversion into spirituality that the intervening years had been.
The experience itself didn’t answer the question, of course. I simply had to find out for myself, so in April 2012 I flew half-way around the world (from New York to Australia) to meet Richard and Vineeto. My reports of visiting them can be found here. In short what I discovered were two fellow human beings that, as far as I could tell from my senses and questioning and probing and simply being with them, were indeed actually free from the human condition, had indeed completely eradicated malice and sorrow in themselves, and were simply benign and benevolent and wanting to help any fellow human being who was interested to experience the same, without any trace of self-centered motivation or even self-centeredness in and of itself.
I had met Daniel Ingram, who claimed to be Enlightened, I had met two other practitioners Tarin and Trent, who had claimed to not only have been Enlightened but to then have become actually free as well and reported that it was the same as Buddhist Enlightenment, but this was something entirely different.
This was the turning point in my life, where I indeed stopped going down the spiritual path, turned my life around 180 degrees, and embarked upon the actualist path, the wide and wondrous path of happiness and harmlessness.
At the start my journey consisted mostly of undoing the spiritual conditioning I had spent the previous few years building up. Shortly before and for a while after there was a long period of reading everything on the Actual Freedom Trust website, digesting and understanding, but not so much implementing. It took me many years to realize that I had to actually put the understanding into practice, to get back to feeling good when I wasn’t, and to investigate just precisely those things that take away from that feeling good. It even took me another trip to Australia to realize I had spent a few years not doing that. I simply didn’t know how, from lack of practice and exposure, and my history with meditation made it all the harder. It simply eluded me, as it did many others at the time, that the actualism method is enjoying and appreciating this moment of being alive. The enjoyment is the method – and everything else is a tool to facilitate this enjoyment.
And yet my life did start to improve, for the better. I changed jobs. I started dating, got a girlfriend, got two dogs, moved to Europe with her for my work, and I am currently residing in Portugal, married and with a wonderful home and work environment. One of the biggest indicators that what I’m doing is actually on the right track is the appreciation my partner shows for me when I’m being happy and harmless. I highly recommend it for anybody interested in being happy and harmless in the world as it is with people as they are.
And here I find myself now, closer to actual freedom than ever, without any way of knowing how close or how far I am, yet at the very least no longer just waiting for more waiting, but actively drawing closer to my destiny.
So that’s my story, in a nutshell – I look forward to hearing other people’s stories, as it’s always an interesting one of how someone not only happens to come across actualism but also makes them stick to it. Cheers!