On Futility

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I had to further investigate into the Actual Freedom matter.

My investigation brought forth some of the worst information I could possibly find about any group of people.

While the method itself seems valuable, the “culture” surrounding the whole matter seems dubious at best. 

The more I researched, the more stressed I became in some regards.

But at the same time, I ended up shedding layers of myself and had to be (brutally) honest with myself- including my pursuit of Christianity and so on.

The reality is that there is a whole host of things associated with Christianity that I find dubious in a similar way, and frankly, I seemed to waste more energy trying to defend what’s good in Christianity (hint: it isn’t a whole hell of a lot) and affirm that I agree with everyone about the bad parts of Christianity.

So, point-blank, I’m now “lost” in a very real sense; it isn’t that I’m no longer Christian or that I’m not an actualist or whatever, it’s…well, it’s that everywhere I turn to find out what life is all about, some kind of problem arises and destroys any chance of that.

But I HAVE come away knowing what to do: I now know how to proceed on the “mystical” path, as it were, and the answer’s been within me all along. There are more than enough reference points online for me to use, and so, here I go. I’m lost, yet I’m not forever lost- I will find my way out of this and make sense of things.

Stevo

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Actual Freedom Revisited and More Things

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Just some notes to bring people up to speed. 

I’ve revisited the whole Actual Freedom site and the whole concept with a “fresh” eye, as it were. I’m not entirely sure why I returned there, but it was perhaps maybe to face the fear that I felt with regard to the whole thing and the sense of “extreme” materialism I found there.

HOWEVER…

I will say that at this age, I can look at things with a more critical eye and can make my own decisions for myself. What I can also say is that I’m working on a kind of overall articulation of the problems I find with how the system is presented and the grandiose claims that Richard makes as being the absolute, 100% first person to come upon what he terms “actual freedom.”

Okay. So I don’t buy that claim, but whatever- whether or not he’s the first person is entirely beside the point

Here is a point that is undeniable and evident and highly important- Richard is the first and only person according to what I know to advocate that the path itself to liberation from suffering is feeling good itself. 

Stated another way, most religions, spiritualities, traditions, and so on advocate instead for other methods, including various kinds of suffering, but none that I know of advocate that you should start off by doing things you like and trying to get into a good mood and trying to make sure you stay in a mood for most (and eventually, in theory, all) of the time. 

This brings me to one part of my “overall criticism” of the AF website- I don’t know if it’s a fault in my own reading comprehension or the fault of other people or actually a poor organization of the AFT, but it definitely took me a while to figure out that the path IS feeling good, followed by careful consideration of one’s social identity that works against feeling good and so on.

For a long time, I had this weird impression that Actual Freedom was about drowning out the emotions with the senses- which seemed stupid. Well, no; it is IS stupid. And I also had the impression that it was about trying to get people not to feel anything- about eliminating those dog-goned “passions” that were the source of the “emotions” that cause ALL the ills of humanity and so on.

But it’s also not about that. 

Instead, and Richard clarifies this in places, he advocates the elimination of Being- the sense of self and so on- which is the source of the feelings and such, and he clarifies elsewhere that a person who tries to “not feel” will go psychotic, end of story.

Final note before I go: last night, I had an experience of Jesus. He was physically larger than I, and we were standing on the beach. (I should note my family and I were out at the beach yesterday.) I didn’t feel immense waves of love or compassion or anything, only infinity there with Jesus- and He said nothing, just stared over the ocean.

I take that experience to mean something mystically and so on instead of just chalking it up to a “dream” or “delusion” or whatever other label the Actual Freedom Trust might throw on it. More later.

Steve

PCE? Nirvana? Enlightenment? Moksha? Liberation? Freedom?

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How the experience began, I won’t bring myself to say just now, but we’re going to be discussing a few different things that happened, starting last night.

 

First, I phoned my friend Rheana; we had discussed hanging out and doing spiritual work, but she was rather tired and couldn’t. She mentioned a certain meditation involving the Heart Chakra called the Twin Hearts meditation, which involves visualizing the Earth in your hands and sending love from the Heart Chakra into the Earth, covering everything with love and giving love to every being in the world.

 

I took it upon myself to do this meditation later in the evening, and then, I tried to go to sleep.

 

That’s when the vibrations began.

 

If you’ve read Daughter of Fire by Irina Tweedie, she talks of these vibrations coming at night quite frequently.

 

Necessarily, the energy was coming from the Root Chakra and the Sex Chakra- largely where the kundalini is stored.

 

The energy created all kinds of wonderful feelings of bliss and happiness, of pure infinitude and purity and love and goodness. The intensity was such that it was exhausting the ego, and I must say that I do like this method of destroying the ego with too much happiness more than destroying he ego with too much suffering.

 

My dreams were not as pleasant, which was a surprise. A few different issues came up, most of which I was able to confront when I awoke, but not totally.

 

Then when I awoke today, I was getting ready for work, had gone to the kitchen, and the Grace of God HIT, just in a moment. One second it wasn’t there, and the next second it was, and good grief, it just got better and better and better and I felt happier and happier and happier. The bottom two chakras again seemed to “loosen up,” and the energy moved up to my head.

 

What exactly was going on there, I can’t explain. Reality seemed okay on every front. I think the Higher Self may have disappeared temporarily in addition to the Ego.  Maybe this is the PCE of which the Actual Freedomists speak. However, I noted that I didn’t come to the same conclusions as other people who claim the state of No-Self, but then again, I wasn’t in it for longer than half an hour.

 

One thing that I did notice was that there’s a sense of friendliness with the universe. To put it bluntly, the experience was like being best friends with every atom in the universe. There was no loneliness or isolation or low self-esteem; everything was as it should be, and life was great. My energy or matter was in harmony with all energy and matter.

 

Another aspect of the experience was the relaxation, the calmness. No tension in the body, no stress, no unpleasantness, no sense burden of Self. Very, very intriguing.

 

I wish that experience would happen again. I’ve waited and waited for the wonderful, clear world to return. It’s just all-around GOOD.

 

Beaux

 

More on Bernadette Roberts

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To anyone who is into mysticism and more specifically Christian mysticism (which is largely oriented towards the great Catholic and Gnostic traditions), I highly suggest picking up a copy of Bernadette Roberts’s book What is Self?

Her perspectives end out upside the doctrinal boundaries of mainstream Christianity for the most part and challenge positions posited by Carl Jung and various mystical systems in the world, which may seem somewhat threatening on the one hand, but she does so in concluding that humanity is ultimately diverse, and she also takes care to spell out the differences in the use of terminology.

However, her own philosophy that is offered is extremely novel and refreshing, and I think that much makes it worth the read.

Her ultimate conclusions are something I encountered in Actual Freedom and from U.G. Krishnamurti, and it’s no wonder that she’s specifically “dealt with” on the Actual Freedom website- her perspectives are so incredibly analogous to what they say that she naturally challenges their dogma, and as Richard and his ilk are not the sort of people who enjoy being challenged (or rather, ridicule anyone who argues with them).

But the real thing that sets them apart is that Bernadette comes from a Christian perspective in which the individual soul is not God. Richard in the Actual Freedom Trust comes from the Eastern perspective that ultimately, the soul is God and God is the soul, and thus if one eliminates or goes beyond the Higher Self, one necessarily goes beyond God.

Bernadette simply says that the experience of God ceases- that ultimately, the experience was all of the Self and not of God. You can see how this can be problematic for the Eastern systems.

But she also goes on to say something that U.G. says- the body is eternal. There is an eternal body, in other words- an aspect of the body that we don’t readily apprehend through our senses and so on, and so that only death that ever occurs is the “death of the Higher Self.”

It’s all very confusing, and I wonder sometimes if I go through the whole journey, what will happen, what I will encounter, what I will report back to everyone else.

Certainly, I plan to not be dogmatic or run around with a superiority complex over it- as this seems to be problematic with some of the people who actually make the journey. I’ve yet to understand how people who claim to have no ego and no self can be so absolutely arrogant in the way that they are.

For the Gnostic, the concept that the body and not the soul is eternal is somewhat problematic because of the idea that spirit is superior to matter. However, perhaps it can be said that it is not matter that is the problem, but the systems and limitations imposed on matter. Bernadette seems to find the reconciliation in saying that the Higher Self is actually the “veil” that separates us from absolute reality and the knowledge of Christ and matter and so on.

She also deals with the idea of “Christ is matter,” which she said is an error, but that it’s at least a closer approximation than a lot of ideas that go around.

I’ll continue reading and continuing searching, and I’ll go receive Christ in the Holy Eucharist as often as possible.

Beaux


Vibes and a Chart

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One of the weird things about progressing spiritually is the acquisition of sensitivities to things of which other people don’t have a conscious experience. That or most people have a conscious experience of those things, and I’m completely unaware of it.

The vibes of different systems appear to me now. I’m not really sure how to explain it. Going to the Actual Freedom website, I can feel myself being roped in by the particular thought forms that they (unknowingly) impress on the world. It seems I’m much more tuned into the vibes of Sufism and Gnosticism.

I wish I could simply pick a system, remain committed to it, and go with it, but again, every direction to which I go seems to have a barrier come up very quickly. The other option is to create my own system, which is quite likely the most difficult possible thing to do and has no guarantee of working.

Everyone has their various opinions and perspectives on things. The Actual Freedom Trust is filled with the biggest world of straw man arguments I’ve ever seen in my life. But what is it that causes people who attain Nirvana to say that no one else has ever gone as far as they?

Bernadette Roberts, the Catholic mystic, says much the same of her own experience with Christianity and the Christian mystics, though she also says that the journey can be made in any tradition, and she also goes on to say that likely the Christian mystics didn’t detail the “no-Self” experience because the Church would have attacked them for it. Roberts herself certainly espouses a number of views that are unorthodox.

Making diagrams, charts, and maps is an extremely dangerous thing to do on one hand, because to do so usually creates a conjecture that the mind tries to fit itself into, and in other cases, the diagrams and such are maps that have been written on the territory one has personally traveled.

However, for the sake of the mind having something to grab onto and not completely rejecting the ability to make the mystic’s journey in the first place, it is sometimes (note that I said sometimes) useful to make diagrams, and sometimes it’s also good to write out things so others understand.

So let us attempt to make out a chart here with me.

In so far as I understand it, the mystic’s journey happens something like this:

First, the ego surrenders to God or the Soul or the Higher Self. The ego eventually becomes burned away and remains only as a sort of shell for the Soul. The Soul then becomes united to Christ or the Cosmic Self. Eventually, this unity with God burns away even the Higher Self, and one is left as a vehicle of complete cosmic reality- many people experience this as a Nothingness. (In Sufism this is what it is termed.)

And then, and only then, one enters into the final state, which is totally Other.

Most people, when they refer to Enlightenment, tend to refer to the dropping away of the ego and the revelation of the Higher Self. This is often experienced as expanded awareness, bliss, love, and so on. It is, however, not the final state, and I think not realizing this is the mistake that a lot of the New Age crowd makes.

As to whether or not the Absolute State can be experienced while still in the body is also a huge matter of debate.

These are my thoughts for the moment.

Beaux


Memoirs of My Religion IV

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After the terrible experiences with the Actual Freedom Trust and the struggle of my young mind to once again learn how to think for itself, I floated through the ether of world religions for a while. I knew I needed a spiritual path to walk, that I needed something that could give an expression to what I experienced within myself, but it was increasingly difficult to trust any system.

One thing I noticed is that for a long time, religious experience had, for me, been all about swallowing certain beliefs and never taking any kind of action. I came to dub this process “the measuring of spaghetti” and will blog on it later.

One of my former friends made a statement that I considered: it would be better to follow a path that is from the Judeo-Christian-Islamic world view than it would be to go with something foreign like Buddhism.

But the Judeo-Christian-Islamic traditions remained quite repugnant to me in many regards: it spoke of the idiocy and fundamentalism of my childhood, of the constant wars in the Middle East, of the atrocities committed by the leaders of these religions in the past.

Around the Autumn of 2007, I had a series of epiphanies. The first I remember happened while I was driving home one night.

While on Fortner Street, I remembered the love of Jesus in my heart. I remembered the depth of the love, and initially, I tried to fight the experience- then I realized I had to go through it, that I couldn’t just ignore what I was being told.

And it was true, a large part of my experience in being Christian when I was younger was simply in the desire to help other people- the overwhelming compassion that I felt for humanity due to Christ’s presence in my heart.

That night, or a night not long after, I had another epiphany as I was falling asleep. I realized that the Wiccan God was indicative of Nature and the Seasons, much in the same way as the Dying and Resurrecting Savior Jesus Christ indicated the Sun, Nature, and the Four Seasons (the Four Points of the Cross and the Sol Invictus, you see). They were one and the same Archetype within me- God truly was ONE!

That night, I had a dream that the Earth itself was Christ. I remember being in an airplane, and seeing a bright lava running over the face of the Earth- only to realize it wasn’t lava, it was blood, and upon landing, we saw these strange bubble-fruits that were like blood cells. This was the blood of Christ.

So I began looking into Christian Mysticism, starting with Bernadette Roberts, who was the first Catholic Mystic of whom I could think.

Needless to say, if you read anything by Bernadette Roberts, she’s REALLY a mystic- saying all kinds of things about Reality that are so far out of bounds from what Catholicism seems to normally teach that she would likely be declared a heretic if she ever reached a high level of popularity. But she has a strange balance between Orthodoxy and her Extreme Mysticism, which is very confusing.

Next, of course, came Gnosticism. This was before I realized that Gnosticism wasn’t a coherent, singular movement, and the first group I came upon was actually kind of, well, homophobic and seemed lumped in with the “sex is bad” Gnostics. Later on, I came to realize this group wasn’t related to Gnosticism as it relates to Christianity, and therefore I had no business messing with them in the first place.

Then I happened upon the Ecclesia Gnostica, which translates to Gnostic Church. I read an article by the +Bishop Stephan Hoeller called “The Gnosis of the Eucharist,” which can be found below.

The Gnosis of the Eucharist

I recalled in one of my history classes my teacher had been an Episcopalian, and she had explained that Roman Catholics and Episcopalians go to church to take Communion- that this is reason they attend church, as opposed to the Protestants going to “hear preaching.”

So, everything suddenly fit in my mind. Something snapped. The Holy Eucharist made sense to me- going to take God in the Eucharist was something that made sense on a level that my mind couldn’t fully reach (and still can’t.)

This was the active component that I had been searching for- I had all the theory of Christianity, or at least the gist of it, and now I knew what I had to do, what was going to be done.

I voraciously began to consume all material I could on Gnosticism, Roman Catholicism, Anglicanism, and the Eastern Orthodox churches. I romanced Christianity and had many dreams about taking Communion. I searched for a rosary, I romanced the liturgical year, I watched Mass on EWTN.

Thus began the modern “era” or “chapter” of my religion and its experiences. There are, however, a few more bumpy aspects to it, as we shall see.

Beaux


Memoirs of My Religion III

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During my post-Christian era, the major religions that came to the forefront for me were Wicca and Buddhism. What I liked about them specifically, I’ll try to spell out here, as they were symbolic of the larger struggle that I experience even to this day.

Wicca appealed to me for the sake of power and by virtue that all was related to nature. Allow me to first back up, though, and bring out something else:

When I was in 5th grade, the movie The Craft came out. Magic had always interested me, specifically the kind you see wizards and witches using (I was obsessed with the Wicked Witch of the West as a child), and The Craft, when I finally saw it, brought out a theological point that I didn’t quite understand.

Namely, that theological point occurs when Sarah asks about Manon.

Nancy explains that Manon is like God and the Devil- that it’s everything. It’s the moon, it’s the rocks, it’s the trees. If God and the Devil were playing football, Manon would be the stadium they played on, it would be the Sun that shown down on them.

And provided, this concept of God resonates heavily with the concept of Brahman from the Hindu traditions, and the reality is that it magnifies God to be much larger and more inclusive than the evangelical Christian idea of God. There’s not a lot of room for argument on that.

Thus, Wicca was in. In the more orthodox sense of Wicca (if such a statement can be made), there is actually the worship of a God and a Goddess. They are, however, synonymous with Nature in most cases, and the question of whether they’re actual anthropomorphic spirits, personified energetic currents, archetypes, or symbols is often a moot point in the actual practice of Wicca.

The structure of Wiccan ritual was neatly defined. The theology was laid out, and as far magic and casting spells went, this was largely left up to the practitioner.

There’s an entire blog I’ll have to write about the politics within Wicca and the larger Pagan and Neo-Pagan community, along with the realm of arguing who is and isn’t Wiccan and who is and isn’t a witch.

Naturally, as a teenager outside the mainstream, using the edgier term “witch” was totally in with me. Also, I had a tendency to be drawn more towards spells and spell-books, and naturally I missed the deeper spiritual current that existed in Wicca.

The other majorly influential religion at this time was Buddhism. Buddhism was and is part and parcel of Japanese culture as well as the culture of East Asia in general. Buddhism also afforded me something that seemed more realistic- the concept of Nirvana, a state of being in which one experiences bliss, compassion, and wisdom. The ethical arguments of the Buddhists, the principles of meditation and the rational explanations that were given appealed to my highly skeptical mind.

But Wicca and Buddhism had serious theological conflicts. Now that I look back, I see they are in reality not as conflicted as I thought, and I have managed to gather what the crux of the problem is, glossing over it in other entries.

In the end, it went something like this: I was Buddhist as my religion, but not Wiccan as my religion. I practiced magic, yes, but not in terms of a religious structure.

Around this same time, a former friend, the same one who introduced me to comparative religion and the Astrotheology I had been so avid about a few years before, began to pursue Sufism because of his philosophy teacher.

Sufism, in a nutshell and by most people, would be classified simply as Islamic mysticism. The current of Sufism my friend brought was not quite like that.

Sufism was all about love. Love, Longing, and God. God was everything, and everything was God. The concepts were highly analogous to Buddhism but made use of Western religious words and imagery. The Sufis largely were everything that the fundamentalist Muslims were not- loving, embracing, tolerant, filled with a love for God and all mankind and wanting peace in the world.

The current of Sufism affected me, somehow. I’m still not sure when it took, when it began to happen, but I firmly believe even now that God cried out to me then in a way that I had never heard Him.

Then came the dark era. The same friend introduced me to a website called the Actual Freedom Trust. The AFT claimed to be a new, non-spiritual way to find liberation. Their leader, Richard, claimed to have found a state no one else had ever been in and developed a method to find that state.

Somehow, they really brought me to a point of fear, a point of, “What if when we die, we really do just stop existing?” that caused me to become one of their blind followers. The only solution, if we just die when we die, is to seek out this state Richard’s talking about!

This was my next real experience with cults.

My critical thinking skills were not sharp enough at the time, and inability to question authority except in extreme cases of abuse led me to swallow huge amounts of Actual Freedom “dogma.” Intuitively, I knew something was wrong, though I was unable to articulate exactly what it was about the AFT that bothered me so much.

I fought against their concepts but felt the pressure of the authority prevented me from thinking for myself.

At this time, I declared myself an avowed atheist, I became more arrogant and self-righteous than I had ever been (after all, I suddenly found the “right” religion again), and I was literally more miserable than I had ever been before.

Off and on again there was an internal battle with Actual Freedom, and finally at the beginning of 2006, I managed to completely shirk the 3 year long battle and move on with my life.

One of my first assessments of the AFT prior to my swallowing their dogma was that they were simply parroting mysticism of old, and even though it was repackaged and resold teachings of all the world’s traditions, they acted like they had something new- but it wasn’t. It was simply mysticism put in extremely materialistic terms. Numerous people would say things to get approval, and numerous other people said stupid things to try to explain to the poor idiotic fools who didn’t agree with them just why they were wrong.

Making an open comparison between Actualism and Mysticism was tantamount to heresy and created all kinds of ridicule of just how wrong people were.

Eventually the abuses, the lies, the contradictions, the blatant superiority complex of Richard and his followers, and failure of the method to deliver what it promised it would deliver to me caught up with me, and I rightly left that path.

That brings us almost into the modern era of my spirituality- almost, but not quite, which is to say we probably have two or three more blogs on this subject.

Beaux