Physical world vs Spiritual worlds

If “spiritual worlds” are nothing but the imagination of one’s ego how can I be sure that also this “physical world” (which is a construct as well) is not my imagination only? Dream within a dream within a dream…

Also how is it possible that people can experience (as some reports suggest) the so-called spiritual worlds together (shared ludic dreaming, shamanic traveling, psychedelic trips, etc.)? This suggests the objectivity of spiritual worlds.

I am not stating that the spiritual worlds exist objectively, I just don’t see how it makes sense to say that the physical world is objective and spiritual worlds are not.

Of course, that is an interesting theoretical objection that has run through philosophy since its beginnings. But Actual Fredom is not a doctrine that tries to speculate on questions already long treated, but a practical discipline that tries to achieve a concrete and radical transformation in the individual.

With this perspective in mind, perhaps this excerpt will help you to better understand the position of AF regarding the subject (just in case, “RESPONDENTS” were participants of the old mailing list who wanted to remain anonymous and asked or commented this kind of things to Richard):

RESPONDENT No. 20: The view you express about all we have of the world being mental sensations can lead in several directions. Buddhism seems to be fixed to the ‘conceptualist’ path, by which I mean that they assume that this negates existence of the world. The long tradition in the West which is called Empiricism, also starts at this same point, but does not assume this. Based on what is available to us, it makes far more sense to look at things as existent, then things as not existent.

RESPONDENT: Buddhism starts from awareness of undivided, unchanging Absolute. Empiricism starts from the premise that the objects of the world have a self-existing objective reality. If the empirical method actually started from the factual observation that all we have ever had of the ‘world’ is sensations within mind, it could go nowhere. Thought must take a leap of faith to impute the objective world. This necessary first step of the empirical method violates the empirical method.

RICHARD: This word ‘impute’ is almost ubiquitous on this Mailing List. When used by ‘I’ as an intellectual refuge to avoid facing matter-of-fact actuality, its efficacy in obfuscation and dissimulation is unrivalled and unique. But is its usage contagious or what?

Empiricism does not ‘start from a premise’ at all; it starts from an obvious facticity. There is no need for thought to ‘take a leap of faith to impute an objective world’. No imputing at all is required to determine objective reality’s self-evident factuality. There is a simple experiment that will demonstrate the actuality of the objective world in a way that a thousand words would not:

  1. Place a large spring-clip upon your nose.
  2. Place a large piece of sticking plaster over your mouth.
  3. Wait five minutes.

Now, as you rip the plaster from your mouth and gulp in that oh-so-sweet and actual air, I ask you: Do you still believe in Mr. Gotama the Sakyan’s revered wisdom?

• Exit: spirituality and religiosity.
• Enter: facts and actuality.

Seeing the fact will set you free to live in actuality.
Mailing List 'B' Respondent No. 15

Thank you for the response, Miguel. This snippet from Richard actually triggered my question so I am familiar with his “argument” to try to hold the breath for 5+ minutes. I am not sure how this “proves” the objectivity of the physical world. One can have similar experiences of drowning, etc. in dreams as well.

True: that’s why I had said that it is important to keep in mind that AF does not try to prove philosophically anything; it tries to make us experience that a good part of those philosophical and existential questions are generated by the very entity that AF invites us to eliminate: the self (or selves, if one wants to get more “technical” -you can search about it in the AFT site-).

Of course, there is nothing objectionable about the questions themselves: the important thing is, on the one hand, to look within yourself for the origin of the emotional need to answer them; on the other hand, to look for experiential evidence that in certain states of consciousness either the emotional load of these questions disappears, or the questions themselves disappear. It is because in those states the self/identity is in abeyance and temporarily ‘allows’ the flesh and blood body a glimpse into the actual world.

So, have you ever had a PCE? (I don’t know if you have been able to read about them on the AFT site yet).


Our senses and brain interpret the physical world but it is there and it is something, a phenomena of some form. Ultimately, whether it is real or a simulation is unknown. If you had a lucid dream and thus became aware that it is not the real world, is there some experience in day to day living in which you find yourself becoming lucid and thinking this world isn’t real? The dream world is malleable in a way which disregards physical laws. But by then becoming awake from a lucid dream you realise this world in which I am typing this sentence has primacy over that internal dream state. In the future, as we understand the brain more we might be able to record dreams and then even interfere and influence them, because they are a process of neurons interacting. Something measurable, tangible in this physical universe (be it a simulation or not)

In this physical world I have never been able to fly like superman or alter matter at my whim.

As I have mentioned before, to me the only big 2 questions have always been:

  1. Why is there something rather than nothing?
  2. How do I know this is real and not a simulation?

The question of how best to live in this actual physical world be it a simulation or not is still a pertinent question. If you could end your suffering in a simulation it would still be worthwhile, no? The question of the optimal way of living still has some validity whether or not this reality is a simulation or not.

It is always just subjective reports, but nothing of any tangible evidence. The entirety of the universe openly allows itself to be scrutinised except this esoteric spiritual realm where only special select people can know and traverse it, how convenient. To me the universe is open and knowable, not closed off to anyone or anything, some things are simpler and easier to understand and some aspects more complex and require deeper analysis to understand, so our intellect might limit us in understanding something but it is still knowable.

The reports of these events are always people who have a shared belief system as well. Growing up in multi cultural London suburbs (not to be confused as a place of rich people like American suburbs thanks for the distinction @JonnyPitt , in London the poorer people live in the suburbs too lol) the exposure to so many people of different beliefs was fascinating. There was never any spiritual event that crossed the line of all people believing something different though. It would be a group of Christians who saw Christ’s face in a cloud. Muslims who had some shared vision of Mohammed, etc.

Now if an agnostic, atheist, spiritualist, Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, Jain, Sikh or any other denomination experienced a shared spiritual experience even if it contradicted their belief system, that might perk my interest.

The people who have reported these things already primed each other to have the same types of belief, so is it that unlikely that they end up having the same delusion. This to me would show validity and objectivity to spiritual worlds, if a mixture of people of different backgrounds had a shared belief, not a group of people with the same collective belief having some conveniently similar belief experience.

I don’t really believe people either. People lie, exaggerate, bullshit, fantasise and so what they say and they describe in a subjective experience I don’t take with that much validity. It doesn’t hold much weight. Of course, again a delusion not shared is seen as insanity, the person who thinks they are Jesus or God and who ends up sectioned, nobody is going I bet they really are Jesus or God. People still cherry pick what things they choose to believe and what they don’t. To me all belief is arbitrary. From what I can see is most people have a belief because it was taught to them by their parents, education system, society or peers or because it was a belief that made them feel good and they reject beliefs when it doesn’t make them feel good or were rejected by their family, education system, society or peers.

The physical world of matter, anti-matter and energy in which everything else exists is knowable. Where current science can’t explain some phenomena there are incomplete theories as regards dark matter and dark energy. This physical world in which you live, breathe, eat, drink, poop, work, learn, create, emote, etc, is done so in a universe that can be recorded, measured, information shared. I could understand a phenomena like fire or distillation of water and share that information with you anywhere else in the world and you can repeat the same process, because this physical universe appears to follow a set of physical laws in how this matter and energy interact. It is knowable, the only thing limiting you in understanding the world around you is your own intellect, curiosity and awareness.

What first dented my belief in anything spiritual was realising that life, organic matter, arose from inorganic matter. If life first arose from the inorganic then how did a soul evolve? Do single cell bacteria have souls? Do parasites have souls? Do plants have souls? Do insects have souls? Does Covid have a soul?

Then I ask what is the spirit, people say to me energy. But energy is never one thing, it is constantly in flux, from kinetic, potential, chemical, nuclear, thermal, gravitational…
Not only that but the consequence of Einstein’s famous equation E = mc^2 is that Energy and matter are interchangeable too, matter can become energy and energy can become matter. The consequences of which led to nuclear fission power and the nuclear bomb.

So, in this observable universe there is no special type of infinite and eternal energy that doesn’t flux and change. The conditions of all existence are built up in the components that exist in this world, the molecules that make your DNA and RNA, it’s ability to transcribe and create the specific proteins needed for all of the different cell types and functions.

Until somebody can explain transparently how to experience a spiritual world like everything else in the universe can be understood, then I will approach it with a pinch of salt.

People say your mind isn’t open the rest of the universe doesn’t require my mind to be open to experience it, know it, learn from it. However, there is special realm I have to be open too…I genuinely don’t even know what that means anymore. I don’t have to be open to the wind, to rain, to heat, to cold, to bright, to dark, to stinky, to tasty, to everything else that makes up the entirety of my collective experience…so why should this be any different.


I’m open to the idea that imaginal worlds, dreams, fantasies etc. have some sort of fuzzy existence; some sort of ‘reality quotient’ if you like that is not quite on par, not as substantial or concrete as material reality. I guess that Richards categorising of the world into actuality and reality is tacit support for this – although I’m not quite sure he would agree with me.

In the history of philosophy and metaphysics there are some very elaborate, impressive metaphysical works in support of idealism, materialism and just about every -ism in between. Its a rabbit hole that can be fun to get into or alternatively invite migraines :sweat_smile: (see: Drawing the line between feeling and fact for the mother of all discussions on a very similar line of enquiry) … but which ultimately gets one nowhere fast and makes very little difference in your day to day existence. As Miguel said, actualism is not philosophy. Its about rolling one’s sleeves up and seeing if you can contact actuality via the PCE – from where you can either confirm or refute Richard’s conclusions for yourself.


I used to be in love with this idea from comic book writer Alan Moore in his comic A disease of language, it was basically that there is this Ideaspace in which our imaginations, dreams, fantasies interact and the source of all possible ideas derive from. In this realm, geography in that world is not akin to ours, easy and common ideas are easily within reach but those special, unique ideas are harder and farther to reach.

“Obviously there is more to our experience of a place than the bricks and mortar. Our reaction to various locations seemed to me to depend upon the richness of the web of association that we connected w/ these sites…. If you are a practicing magician or poet [then] you have a web of symbol systems w/ which to decode even chance appearances in this area…
“…this hypothetical “space,” which I have labeled Ideaspace…. Maybe our individual and private consciousness is, in Ideaspace terms, the equivalent of owning an individual private house… the space inside our homes is entirely ours, yet if we step through the front door we find ourselves in a street, in a world, that is mutually accessible to everyone…. This would explain dubious phenomena such as telepathy or knowledge-at-a-distance…. The actual ideas represent the equivalent of solid objects in terms of that space. An idea may be a pebble, a rock, a mountain or a whole continent in terms of its stature…. Distances could only be associational in Ideaspace. Lands End and John O’Groates, while famously far apart in the physical world, are usually mentioned in the same sentence and thus are right next to each other, associatively speaking…. Time, as a phenomenon, doesn’t apply in the same way to the realm of the mind as it does to the time-locked material realm. We can think as easily about events ten or twenty years ago as we can about something that happened this morning, or we can think about something that might happen tomorrow…. If this were so, then this would explain, at a stroke, such phenomena as ghosts, premonitions, apparent memories of previous lives… even… de-ja-vu.
“Ideaspace, where philosophies are land masses and religions are probably whole countries, might contain flora and fauna that are native to it, creatures of this conceptual world that are made from ideas in the same way that we creatures of the material world are made from matter. This could conceivably explain phantoms, angels, demons, gods, djinns, grey aliens, elves, pixies…”

I wanted there to be something more to my ideas, stories, fantasies…imaginings.

These dreams though are formed from the same families of neurons involved in creating an experience of the universe. So, it is like a self-perpetuating simulation.

Well if you drown in a dream, you wake up. What if you drown in waking state? Do you ‘wake up’ again? If you try the holding your breath, you will quickly see in a very tangible way that this oxygen you are breathing while awake, is necessary to life, in a rather different way than that in which it may happen in a dream :smiley:

Disclaimer: I don’t encourage anyone to kill themselves to see if there is something ‘after’ :slight_smile: . One way to think of it is we will all die anyway one day so we will get that opportunity whether we like it or not. But until then best to make the best of this life!

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Related to this topic - what about the “psychic world” mentioned by Richard. How does this differ from the spiritual worlds?

Not sure whether I have had PCE. I have had several intense experiences which have been definitely altered but since I did not know the actualism model at that time, I cannot corelate them to PCEs.

Does meditation (relaxation & deepening the silence of body/mind) lead to PCEs?

Yes, it’s not so easy sometimes to identify them retrospectively.

It did not happen to me in my time of meditations (Buddhism and MBRS). But since PCEs can happen at any time, of course they could happen while meditating (you can look on the AFT site for testimonies that it has happened). The problem with meditation is that it is more likely to lead to other states of consciousness than PCEs.

So the main question is - How do PCEs and ASCs actually differ? How can one distinguish one from the other? Is there also term for the “ordinary” consciousness (internal dialogue)?

Avoiding the classifications of psychology and psychiatry, and sticking to AF uses, I think these links will help you:

Awesome, Miguel! Thank you very much.

Just reasking the question since it got “lost” while discussing the other topic.

I misread sorry, didn’t spot the “mentioned by Richard” part .

They are generated by a sense of “self” and the emotional spectrum of states possible within the human condition. When you have that feeling, there is a bad atmosphere here. Or that person is looking at me like he wants to punch me in the face. For me vibes have always related to information I have taken in from my surroundings, interpreting body language, visual cues, etc. There are vibes I have created from my own paranoia, and imagination too but there seems a different quality to these self generated vibes and those inferred or influenced by other people. Getting to experience a genuine scenario of mass hysteria was eye opening on the transmission of emotional states between people as well. Like a flock of animals fleeing a predator.

This section here in the Actualism and the Weird topic, @claudiu did a nice breakdown.

I have never experienced a spirtitual world therefore I am not able to really give a fair appraisal. How would you define and describe a spiritual world exactly? Do you see emotions and spirit as akin to one another?

RICHARD: All sentient beings, to a greater or lesser extent, are connected via a psychic web … a network of energies or currents that range from ‘good’ to ‘bad’. Feeling threatened or intimidated can result from the obvious cues – the offering of physical violence and/or verbal violence – or from the less obvious … ‘vibe’ violence (to use a ‘60’s term) and/or psychic violence. Similarly, feeling accepted can occur via the same signals or intimations. Power trips – coercion or manipulation of any kind – whether for ‘good’ or ‘bad’ purposes, are all psychic at root … the psychic currents are the most effective power plays for they are the most insidious (charisma, for example).

Frequently Asked Questions – Vibes and Psychic Powers?

This psychic web that Richard is referring to is created as an epiphenomenon out of the instinctual emotions, which in an individual form a self and in a group form a social ‘self.’ Really they are the same thing, but in groups there are certain interactions occurring. Those interactions take place primarily in the form of the psychic web.

The psychic web is a very strange thing, that ‘Actualism and the Weird’ has good discussions about it, its implications, etc. as well as the AFT. Richard is very clear that it’s something that happens entirely on what he calls the plane of ‘reality’ (everything created by the instincts / self) with no physical cause whatsoever. At the same time, it definitely causes people to do some very strange and observable things, and at least in subjective reports, sometimes at a distance. How does it work? I have no idea!

The instinctual emotions and the self also create the entire spiritual world and ouvre, which is wide-ranging both in possible phenomena, description, and fantasies. So the psychic web could be viewed as an aspect of this spiritual world.

Confusing things further, it appears that the ‘actual world,’ which is made up of matter & energy (in the straightforward, scientific sense) is also capable of great weirdness, for example this description of Vineeto becoming fully free:

Then, at the moment she became essentially the same as me (how I have been, on my own, all these years) there was a tremendous upwards surge of that energetic immanence, in and around my head and shoulders region, of such a potency, of such a strength, as would previously (on some occasion) render me utterly passive, completely immobile, and scarcely able to bear with it, to contain its immensity.

On this occasion, however, it was able to flow freely – it was as if a circuit had been formed betwixt the two of us – and a second, equally potent, surge of that existential immanence followed the first (again in an upwardly direction in and around my head and shoulders region) a short while later.

Regarding that reference to a circuit having been formed, I am reminded of first being shown, as a child in High School, how a magnet produces a magnetic field by holding a sheet of paper over it and sprinkling iron-filings upon its surface; as there is a potent field now operating it is as if the two of us, a male and a female, are the ‘north’ and ‘south’ poles of a magnet; alternatively, the effect could perhaps be likened to the ‘anode’ and ‘cathode’ of a battery generating an electric current (and thus producing an electric field) when a circuit is completed.

Be that as it may be: those potent surges were of such a magnitude that a rather remarkable man on another continent experienced what he had earlier reported as being a ‘gentle energy’ (which he had further described, then, as being ‘totally harmless’) pouring into him, transfixing him in a sort of immobility (not of the body) and overwhelming him to such an extent that he communicated with me four days later, via email, and we were able to establish, with all due care taken in respect to time-zone differences, that the two events were congruent.

How does that work? Who knows! It’s weird!

It’s worth noting that many things that we take for granted at this stage of humanity are also extremely weird, such as: magnetism, electricity, gravity, neutron stars, radioactivity… I could go on. But because we’ve heard of them, have some understanding of how they work, they’ve become quotidian in our minds… it’s pretty funny really. These things are deeply weird too! But then again, all of existence is when you have the eyes for it.

It’s a very strange situation that we wander around dreaming in a physically-existing world of scintillating infinite depth (& breadth). Much to be discovered :slight_smile:


Hahaha. Exactly. It is refreshing to know that actualism also takes into consideration the ‘weirdness’ of the world and psychic experiences.

@henryyyyyyyyyy I really didn’t like what was said about this.

In fact, this exact quote you posted made me turn away from actualism for awhile. I didn’t accept there was any such phenomena to allow this to happen, it sent alarm bells in my head. In fact, I still don’t really get what he was talking about if I am honest.

How can they differentiate that it wasn’t just pure coincidence? In the end, it comes down to that same scepticism I always have of anybody’s subjective experience. Unless I ever experience anything of a similar nature I guess I will always be incredulous about what was described.

Ultimately, how best to live my day to day experience and remembering of PCE’s and EE’s brought me back.

I have studied Physics, so I am aware of the weird and wonderful in the quantum realm, non-locality, entanglement, decoherence, etc.

I have had some weird experiences too, that I can’t explain. Once I had a dream and this weird American man told me that I was about to receive an important phone call from my sister and she is not well. I woke up and instantly our house phone called. It was my sister (who was on holiday in Cyprus) and was really ill. She ended up in ITU due to extreme allergic reaction to something.

I have had moments of sensing my siblings when in random locations and then seeing them and what was weird when confirming with them they weren’t talking so I didn’t hear them. I have a terrible sense of smell, so I doubt I could smell them lol. I can acknowledge I have some subjective experiences I can’t explain. My natural response is to doubt the validity of my own experiences though.

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