@dhowell brought this passage to my attention in the biological vs. non-actual response thread, and I found it an extremely lucid and concise treatment of the overall thrust of actualism.
Here is the passage:
Peter: The aim of ‘How am I experiencing this moment of being alive?’ is to become aware of exactly how one is experiencing the world and to investigate what is preventing one from being happy and harmless in this moment. It is therefore important to discriminate between the pure sensate sensual experiences, as in sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch, and the cerebral thought and affective feeling experiences that are sourced in the instinctual animal survival passions.
Feelings are most commonly expressed as emotion-backed thoughts – thoughts arising in response to the flooding of chemicals that originate from the animal instinctual brain, the amygdala. As the amygdala quick-scans the incoming sensorial input it is programmed to automatically respond with an instinctual reaction – essentially those of fear, aggression, nurture and desire.
The instinctual reaction is such that response-chemicals are almost instantly pumped into the body and neo-cortex and are most usually ‘felt’ in the head, heart and stomach areas.
Fear produces hormones which quicken the heartbeat, tenses the muscles, and heightens the senses – ready for either ‘fight or flight’. When neither option is exercised one ‘freezes’ and the ongoing chemical input results in feelings of helplessness, doubt, angst, depression or dread. Jealousy, based on the nurture instinct, prepares the body to attack one’s competitor. Sexual desire similarly causes well-known reactions in the sexual organs, and so on. It is important to recognize that these reactions, while felt in the body as sensations, and interpreted by the brain as feelings, are actually instinctual passions in action – they are the very substance of ‘who’ we feel ourselves to be, deep down at a bodily level, in both heart and gut.
It is this emotional ‘self’-centred experiencing that prevents our direct sensate-only sensuous experience of the actual world of sensual delight, purity and perfection. ‘Who’ one thinks and feels oneself to be is but an elaborate extrapolation of this instinctual, fear-full animal ‘self’. This emotional, feeling interpretation – based on the sensations of chemicals flowing in the body and brain – results in feelings of loneliness, separateness and alienation from the world as it is. It is as though there is a veil or film over the actual that one yearns to break through – to become free of – in order to be fully alive, to actually be here, now.
It is entirely new territory to dare to question feelings, both those we arbitrarily denote as ‘good’ and those we label ‘bad’, but there is a fail-safe method of navigation through the maze of sensations produced by instinctual passions. The aim is always to facilitate in oneself peace and harmony – to become happy and harmless – and this sincere intent will prevent one from settling for anything less than the genuine article. The genuine article is you, the flesh-and-blood-body-only you, that seeks freedom from the feelings of malice and sorrow that ruin your happiness.
The path to Actual Freedom now offers a realizable and actual freedom from the insidious grip of instinctual passions.