The Basis for Happiness

In a message to a friend and fellow actualist who has committed themselves to feeling good come what may, I had the opportunity to commend them on some of their recent successes along those lines, keenly aware that, due to recent setbacks, I could not say the same for myself. Yet still there remained buried under the muck of animal apprehension a fragment of intelligence that dimly discerned that, because nothing endures in the long run, ultimately all was in fact well. That dim discernment provided enough of a counterbalance to my apparently grim prospects to prevent me from losing the plot entirely.

What follows is a segment of the exchange, spruced up a bit, where I dived (dove?) a little further into a less discussed but no less important principle which arguably constituted the cornerstone of Richard’s success with the actualism method.


[Rick]: Personally don’t feel anywhere close to that right now. Of course, commitment is still there. The mission is clear. But situations have formed to damper the spirit and suck out all the cheer despite the"degree to which one applies oneself" to feel otherwise.
My greatest thoughts today, the most redemptive aspect of these scenarios, have centered on the contemplation of how none of this really matters in the long run. Details are unimportant. That line of thinking brought a modicum of relief to the tumult I crashed into this morning.
All is quite OK in that (grand) sense of things.

[Anon]: I think this is in line with what I wrote here [snipped], in particular: “I took a more direct route, and saw whole affective part of it all to be just a real-world narrative (in contrast to what’s actual). Stopped taking it seriously. Stopped “believing” so much in the whole thing.”

“Details are unimportant” and thus you can take a direct route seeing the whole thing (regardless of details) as a chimera, stop taking it seriously and thus stop believing in it and move on.

[Rick]: Richard also took this approach, though clearly with more finesse than I’m achieving right now.

[Richard]: I did everything I could to be as happy and harmless (as free of sorrow and malice) for as much as is humanly possible. This was achieved by first putting everything on a does-not-really-matter-in-the-long-run basis.

Note he says that this is what he did “first” in order to fulfill his commitment/intention to feeling good/happy/harmless. This “in-the-long-run” perspective was, according to him, the “basis.” In short, the basis—i.e. the foundation—for feeling as happy and harmless as humanly possible.

Basis

[Oxford]: (1) the underlying support or foundation for an idea, argument, or process: "“trust is the only basis for a good working relationship”; the system or principles according to which an activity or process is carried on.

[Merriam Webster]: (1) the bottom of something considered as its foundation. (2) the principal component of something. (3a) something on which something else is established or based. (3b) an underlying condition or state of affairs. (4) the basic principle.
Synonyms: base, bottom, footing, ground, keystone, underpinning, bedrock, cornerstone, foundation, groundwork, root

[Cambridge]: (1) the most important facts, ideas, etc. from which something is developed: “This document will form the basis for our discussion.” (2) a way or method of doing something. (3) the most important facts or principles or ideas that support something. (4) a fact or situation that makes it possible for something to exist, happen, or develop in a particular way. (5) the way things happen, or are done or organized. (6) the reason why someone does something or why something happens.

[Collins]: (1) the base, foundation, or chief supporting factor of anything. (2) the principal constituent of anything. (3) the fundamental principle or theory, as of a system of knowledge. (4) the principal constituent; fundamental ingredient.

[Britannica]: (1) something (such as an idea or set of ideas) from which another thing develops or can develop. (2) a reason for doing something. (3) a fixed pattern or system for doing something: “People are seated on a first-come, first-served basis.

[American Heritage]: (1) A fact or circumstance on which something is established. (2) The chief constituent; the fundamental ingredient: “The basis for most liquids is water.” (3) The fundamental principle: “Objective inquiry is the basis of science.” (4a) A pattern or schedule for proceeding: “on a weekly basis.” (4b) A condition for relating or proceeding: “a first-name basis; a friendly basis.

[Wordnet 3.1]: (1) footing, . . . , ground (a relation that provides the foundation for something) “they were on a friendly footing"; "he worked on an interim basis.” (2) base, foundation, fundament, groundwork, cornerstone (the fundamental assumptions from which something is begun or developed or calculated or explained) “the whole argument rested on a basis of conjecture.” (3) base (the most important or necessary part of something) “the basis of this drink is orange juice.”

This “long run” vantage, i.e. this “ultimate sense” perception, is alluded to in a few other places:

[Richard]: [N]othing really matters in the long run and, as nothing really does matter (in this ultimate sense) it is simply not possible to take life seriously … sincerely, yes, but seriously? No way … life is much too much fun to be serious!

RICHARD: Life here in this actual world, the world of the senses, is much too much fun to be serious – sincere, yes, but in no way serious – irregardless of what occurs in the course of daily life because, in the long run, nothing really matters. . . .

Note above how for Richard life is much too fun irregardless of events in daily life “because” (alluding to that basis or foundational principle again) nothing really matters in the long run.

[Richard]: All these words . . . will perish and all the monuments . . . will vanish . . . nothing will remain. . . . Which means that nothing really matters in the long run and, as nothing really does matter (in this ultimate sense) it is simply not possible to take life seriously … sincerely, yes, but seriously?
No way … life is much too much fun to be serious!

[Richard]: [I]t is a living actuality for this flesh and blood body that nothing really matters in the long run. . . .

More on this “long run” aka “ultimate sense” of things:

[Richard]: The advantage of living in freedom is that none of this matters. In an ultimate sense it does not matter what anyone believes in or what mayhem their belief causes.

Q(1): Where you said then that it doesn’t matter to you what happens in the world …
R: In an ultimate sense.

[Richard]: This is the peculiar part about an actual freedom. Utter security. The absolute certainty that nothing can go wrong in an ultimate sense brings completion. This is perfection … but not in the human concept of perfection. For them perfection means disease-free.

RICHARD: The absolutely undeniable fact of physical death means that, in an ultimate sense, nothing really matters: as nothing lasts forever (matter arranges and rearranges itself endlessly totally wiping out whatever came before) there is nothing worth dying for. Hence playfulness … I could not be solemn if my life depended upon it.

RICHARD: [T]he fact of death means that, in an ultimate sense, nothing really matters: hence playfulness. Also, the universe, being infinite and eternal, means that eternity is already always here … now.

RICHARD: Perhaps if I were to put it this way: if, upon ordering buttered toast at a café the waiter/waitress brings hot, golden-brown toast covered with butter just beginning to melt and drip, in contrast to bringing cold, charred-black toast covered with butter long-ago melted and now congealed, I would rate the former as being 10, on a scale of 1-10 and the latter as being 1 on the same scale … howsoever that is a relative scale as the very stuff of both the former and the latter, being the very stuff of infinitude itself, is incomparable (peerless).
Thus, in the ultimate sense, everything is perfect here in this actual world.

(Ha, he used this same illustration above with Pamela in the DVD.)

RICHARD: As you initially asked about the sensate experience of a ‘huts-made street in Bombay’ then essentially every thing on the Indian subcontinent is pristine – pure and perfect – as it is anywhere. Vis.:
Thus, in the ultimate sense, everything is perfect here in this actual world.

Interesting to see above how the “pristine” and “perfect” preception of everything, including the streets of Bombay, is derived from or inheres in that “ultimate sense”, i.e., that “long run” vantage.

RESPONDENT: Richard, you say [quote] ‘If it were not for physical death one could not be happy … let alone harmless’ [endquote]. How is that possible? . . . You haven’t experienced physical death. . . . How does it have anything to do with being happy and harmless?
RICHARD: It basically has to do with endurance and, therefore, seriousness. As no body endures it means that nothing really matters in the long-term and, as nothing actually is of enduring importance (in this ultimate sense), it is simply not possible to take life seriously. . . .

In the excerpt above Richard substitutes “long run” with “long-term”. With the opposite of long-term being short-term, the notion of time and temporality enters into it, with eternity representing the longest-term possible.

[Richard]: [I]f everything alive today were to all-of-a-sudden endure forever then everything would matter in the long-term (everything would be of enduring importance (in this ultimate sense) and, therefore, life would be a serious business.

There’s also some relation between this long-run/long-term/ultimate-sense perspective and a “grand scheme” awareness where everything is falling correctly/perfectly/appropriately into place:

[Richard]: The actual world is epitomised by a perfection that is unassailable … whatever happens is appropriate to the circumstances. Being here now as-I-am enables one to be aware of the grand scheme of things, and everything falls into place.

And because nothing endures there is freedom to frolick. One has to see how one does not endure over time. All past “me’s” indeed all past events are dead, done, and gone; and future events have no existence. With no past and no future, there is no present, for it only exists in relation to past/future:

[Richard]: Only this moment actually exists, for there is no lasting ‘I’ present which would make the past and future real. The freedom from enduring over a time known as the past, the present and the future, leaves one completely able to appreciate the impeccable purity of being here now.

Absent that long run vantage where nothing whatsoever can possibly last, one gets bogged down in immediate concerns that take on the appearance of having lasting/enduring effects and consequences. This is one of the most essential aspects of what “I” am and what “I” do.

[Richard]: Thus the past, the present and the future become less and less real as the sense of ‘I’ as an enduring entity, continuing over time, is dependent upon emotion-backed reverie and speculative apprehension fuelling the fires of malice and sorrow.

[Richard]: As this specific moment has never happened before, so too has this specific body called Richard never happened before … everything is constantly changing. Thus I – like this moment – am ever-new, fresh, unique, peerless, original, unrivalled, matchless and novel. Thus I – this new I of this moment – can say, quite validly, ‘I am happening for the very first time’. The ‘I’ that appeared to exist over time was a mental/emotional construct … or as I am inclined to say: A psychological entity that endures through psychological time. Whereas I have never been here before. … and neither has this moment.
It is all very priceless.

So endeth—like all things must—a modest endeavor to collect scattered quotes pertaining to that which formed the basis for the happiness Richard sought and attained.

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I suppose the salient question is: as you make the case that the “basis”/“foundation”/“cornerstone of Richard’s success with the actualism method” (“feeling as happy and harmless as humanly possible”) was this “putting everything on a does-not-really-matter-in-the-long-run basis”, and you yourself report that you have established this same basis (“buried under the muck of animal apprehension a fragment of intelligence that dimly discerned that, because nothing endures in the long run, ultimately all was in fact well”), then what differentiates Richard from you such that Richard had success with the actualism method while you “could not say the same for [your]self”?

Speculatively, whereas my discernment is dim, his was bright and clear.

buried under the muck of animal apprehension a fragment of intelligence that dimly discerned that, because nothing endures in the long run, ultimately all was in fact well

What prevents your discernment from un-dimming?

Time?

RESPONDENT: Do you understand gradually?
RICHARD: As more than a few of the things I have ever understood have taken some time to sink in and take effect it could be said that the understanding came gradually, but as the moment it takes effect (the dawning of the understanding so to speak) is always now, then the actual moment of understanding is this moment.
RESPONDENT: Understanding is always immediate, now, or is it an accumulative process?
RICHARD: An insight is always immediate (else it be not an insight) but understanding, as I have already observed, can indeed be a process until it takes effect.

Or just a lack of insight.

RICHARD: An insight is a function of the human brain in action in the human skull … it is a rapid penetration into the character, nature, disposition or quality of a situation or circumstances; a sudden apprehension of the solution to a problem or difficulty; an immediate cerebral view or disclosure; it is when one mentally ‘gets’ something one has not properly understood before; it is a cognitive ‘seeing’ of something important to comprehension that comes with the understanding that the insight reveals what theoretical or abstract or conceptual thinking was unable to arrive at by the use of – sometimes laborious – sequential thought.

~

RICHARD: An insight is a sudden seeing … a flash of understanding that by-passes the regular process of thinking through an issue by scrolling through thought’s memory; sorting data collected; evaluating the new idea against the known; weighing the pros and cons and so on until arriving at a satisfactory conclusion. . . .

~

RICHARD: Yes, reflection … after all, that is what we are doing now, thinking about thinking. Which is: we are reflecting upon expressive and rational thought.
RESPONDENT: Yes , we are thinking about thinking, rather than seeing or perceiving thinking.
RICHARD: Ah, yes … ‘seeing’. By ‘seeing’, do we mean as in an insight? Which is an understanding in a flash? Which is to short-cut the thinking process? If so, then, no … that is not reflection.

Speaking of insight. His profound insight into the infinite and eternal character of the universe would have certainly granted him an especially bright and clear discernment of the “long run” or “long-term,” i.e. that “ultimate sense,” that “big picture,” that “grand” or “vast scheme of things,” upon which basis he could apprehend with unprecedented clarity—unprecedented as no one evidently ever saw it as clearly as he did—how nothing was to be taken seriously as nothing really mattered for nothing really lasted.

RICHARD: An insight into the infinite and eternal character of this universe and the implications of that in regards to one’s situation in the scheme of things can indeed set something profound in motion.

It’s the “infinite and eternal character” of the universe that corresponds to the full “scheme of things,” and it is what has implications for “one’s situation.” To wit:

RICHARD: [I]t matters not, in what has been described as ‘the vast scheme of things’ or ‘the big picture’, and so on, whether none, one or many peoples become actually free from the human condition (this planet, indeed the entire solar system, is going to cease to exist in its current form about 4.5 billion years from now).
All these words – yours, mine, and others (all the dictionaries, encyclopaedias, scholarly tomes and so on) – will perish and all the monuments, all the statues, all the tombstones, all the sacred sites, all the carefully conserved/carefully restored memorabilia, will vanish as if they had never existed … nothing will remain of any human endeavour (including yours truly).
Nothing at all … nil, zero, zilch.
Which means that nothing really matters in the long run and, as nothing really does matter (in this ultimate sense) it is simply not possible to take life seriously … sincerely, yes, but seriously?
No way … life is much too much fun to be serious!

So while a dim discernment/ unconsummated understanding/ cloudy comprehension/ or opaque perception such as I possess of the “vast scheme of things” is quite sufficient to bring me back from the ledge when the going gets hard, I lack the clear and bright insight into same by which Richard profited so abundantly.

As to why I or anyone else might lack such a penetrating insight? Just unlucky I guess.

RICHARD: One can thank the lucky stars for having had a glimpse of (an insight into) the condition of not ‘me’, and get on with the business of unravelling one’s ‘self’ by applying matter-of-fact thought to the challenge of not ‘being’. For one has a definite goal, born out of one’s own experiential seeing of it, to aim for. . . . It is the goal of one’s own insight. The insight is a benefaction.

I gather that you’ve taken a sort of back-seat approach here. You have the basis needed to succeed but only dimly. It’s just luck or serendipity whether you can see it more clearly. Nothing you can do about it.

I think this approach is what is hindering your greater success. Actualism is a very vital and intensive approach to life that really takes your full energy, being and vitality to execute! If you aren’t coming to it with that level of energy then you know there’s something you can do to succeed more with it.

That is a good reminder, something that I re-discovered lately.

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If by the actualism “approach to life” you mean “feeling good come what may,” then as I’m always all-the-time 24/7/365 fully committed/ devoted/ dedicated to and intent on feeling good come-what-may, and thus giving every last drop of energy, being, and vitality I possess to execute or make happen or bring about the object of that commitment/ devotion/ dedication/ intention, then any failure or ineffectualness in executing or making happen or bringing about that object has nothing whatsoever to do with the withholding of some available or hidden store of energy, being, and vitality.
Look, Boss, search me. Whatever I’ve got, I gives it. I don’t hold back. If it’s not enough to get the job done then the job just don’t get done is all.

In any case, the main point of this thread was to bring to light, for those interested, a potentially overlooked basis or foundation for successful attainment of those aims of actualism. Namely:

[Richard]: I did everything I could to be as happy and harmless (as free of sorrow and malice) for as much as is humanly possible. This was achieved by first putting everything on a does-not-really-matter-in-the-long-run basis.

Since my dim discernment of that long-run basis was applied to good effect, I perceive an advantage for maneuvering further in that direction so as to perhaps increase the odds (yes, with a bit of luck) that any dim discernment might materialize into a bright and clear insight.

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You had me (as in, you had me convinced) until this part :grin:

There isn’t any facts underlying these “I just can’t do it” or “I just don’t have enough energy” or “the energy I have isn’t enough” or “I just can’t see it clearly enough” beliefs you appear to hold. They are beliefs. They feel real and true, but they aren’t.

There is no factual, objectively existing thing, that is holding you back from having “enough to get the job done”. Such a thing simply doesn’t exist. There is no “it’s impossible” that is a fact.

In this case the issue isn’t a lack of vitality or energy, but this self-defeating belief. The task then is to dismantle the belief by seeing the fact. And the fact is that there’s no good reason whatsoever to let whatever it is take away from your enjoyment & appreciation of this moment of being alive! Nothing else is required than seeing this. And seeing this means looking at the specific thing that currently in this moment is preventing that full enjoyment, and asking yourself and seeing why you hold that specific thing so dear such as to allow yourself to let it take away from the full enjoyment that is possible!

There’s no “luck” to this, you just have to keep going and not stop with any “Just unlucky I guess” or “If it’s not enough to get the job done then the job just don’t get done”. Next time you find yourself at that point, just keep going! You will find something beneath even that, underlying that. You can go further. But it requires you to let go of something you hold near & dear to your heart, something about yourself you currently value more than enjoying and appreciating the ongoing fact of being alive.

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I’ll comment more on what you wrote once I have more time to do so.
In the meantime, a question for you: Do you fancy that you know me better than I know myself?

I fancy I know the human condition better than you know it. What I wrote wasn’t personal but a general thing that applies to how the human condition works in general.

I sense a reaction somewhat of defensiveness to this probing I instigated — this is a sign there is something there that is indeed worth exploring.

Of course I can’t do it for you, and if you just want to convince me that in fact indeed you are giving your all and your luck is simply not good enough or your total energy just isn’t working and that’s just the fate you have and there’s nothing you can do to change it, there’s really no need. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy so you only have to convince yourself about it for it to be ‘true’!

I won’t comment on the discussion unfolding, except to say I appreciate this thread. Part of my own current effort is getting back to the “devil may care” approach I had in my twenties regarding the nature of infinity and eternity.

Rick’s encyclopaedic knowledge of Richards words never fails to impress.

There has to be an angle from which all the otherwise sound and sensible AFT statements can be enacted.

This thread is an example of a very good starting point for exploring that.

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Yeah this is kind of circling what I keep coming back to recently. I was watching ‘one day’ on Netflix and there was 1 bit that kind of summed it up. It was a convo between the 2 main characters, one of which was an aspiring writer and doing anything but actually writing. The other character mentioned that as a writer you are either writing or you are wasting time.

So with actualism there are all these subsidiary things that you might end up doing but they are not the thing. And it seems the common trajectory is to put the cart before the horse with all those ‘extra things’ being confused with the application of the method.

So then it’s like - “I have ticked all the boxes and still it’s not working”, but there is 1 big thing missing here which is the actual doing of it.

It seems the same with any genuine pursuit, for example weightlifting, there are countless training programmes, exercises, diets etc and yet it seems that the guys who do well were always going to do well regardless of which specific approach they applied. Because there is something fundamental driving their progress, which is a full commitment to doing the thing over and over, actually doing it.

The problem seems to be that the rest of us who prefer to sit on the fence will look at these persons who succeeded and then try to deduce ‘things’ they did that made them successful. “Oh its because he always did A followed by B but never C on Sundays - this is the recipe”

And isn’t this specifically the master/disciple structure? That there is 1 individual who blasts through to something which others can only seek to emulate but never live. The best the disciples can do is to parrot the masters teachings and hope for a reward or get disillusioned when it is never granted.

But this is forgetting that the one who went all the way did not go through ‘the teachings’, they were always going to go all the way regardless.

This is something that I was always very poor at and still am, there is a cowardice to it of only being able to step forward if the way ahead has already been revealed. Then I am still not actually moving forward, I am just sitting back forever and playing with things in my mind.

I was putting this question to myself yesterday - “Why do I need to ‘know’ in advance as opposed to actually finding out”

For example I am working this new bunch of BJJ techniques and I was driving home and going over and over in my head, trying to imagine how they will gel together (even though I have not practiced these sequences before), there was this compulsion to feel (via imagining) like I know the answer already before the experience has been had.

Then there was this thought of, “why not actually find out, and then I can know with certainty”?

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Oh a good example here is Geoffrey mentioning that he never did the HAIETMOBA thing. But isn’t this a core aspect of the method? Isn’t this what Richard used etc? Geoffrey was going to do it HAIETMOBA or not.

And this makes more sense why all the people who have written and communicated about their success with actualism had a different ‘flavour’ to their writings. They are accounts of how these particular human beings went about the task of becoming free of the human condition. The problem is the account becoming divine, which is back to front. Then you can have the scholars of actualism agonising over some way to unify those accounts into 1 system, and still they are missing the main thing.

The funny thing is that when I am having success with the method I have no interest at all in any recipes, because I am too busy doing the thing. Sometimes I might miss all those ‘essential steps’ and I am still enjoying and appreciating, the recipe is not the same as actually doing the thing.

@Kub933 This projection nonsense you are doing is getting really out of hand.

OK well maybe if you can elaborate then I can actually understand and reply?

I intend to. But I thought I’d just suggest a stop to it before it went any further.

I just wanted to share a bit of experience here. Maybe it should be a new topic “Obstacles to Happiness”, but I think it fits with Rick’s reflections on “nothing really matters in an ultimate sense” and also with Claudiu’s response to Rick.

A few years ago when I was trying to feel consistently good and couldn’t get the hang of it, I came up with a question that gave me a key to the lock.

What conditions am I imposing on my own well-being? What conditions must life meet before I’ll agree to be happy?

Moment by moment, the answers came thick and fast. They were absurd. It showed me what kind of person I am.

“I am the kind of person who will not feel good until other people stop being irrational, unreasonable or unfair.”

“I am the kind of person who will not feel good unless everyone likes or respects me at all times and shows it.”

“I am the kind of person who will not feel good unless I’m always No.1 in her eyes.”

“I am the kind of person who will not feel good unless it’s always 15-25 degrees Celsius.”

I phrased things this way on purpose to highlight how ridiculous I am, because it’s actually true! I am. This is what eight billion people are doing most of the day. Variations of this.

“I won’t agree to be happy until [something impossible happens and something inevitable stops happening]”.

I know it’s not so easy to be glib and light-hearted about some things though. Maybe “I am the kind of person who will not feel good while people continue to get sick and die, especially if I’m one of them.”

Fine. Some things still feel worthy of suffering even if we know it’s irrational and it doesn’t help. If I draw a line somewhere, anywhere, I know can’t (yet) be unconditionally happy. In that case, I’ve agreed not to be, and I know it.

I think it’s useful to be explicit about it. See how it stacks up against the meaning of life in an ultimate sense. Otherwise I’m stuck struggling against myself at a feeling level, which is a drag and doesn’t work. Unless I drop the unreasonable conditions, I’ll never be happy because I won’t agree to it!

Even with more serious stuff, it’s still a choice. If there are some conditions I choose to hang onto, that’s up to me too. I’ll suffer on account of them until I don’t.

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