Peter’s Solution same as Advaita
I am reproducing quotes from Peter’s Actual Freedom Website to compare Peter’s path and show how even self-proclaimed realized beings like him can make uncharitable and unsubstantiated claims about other paths. After seeing the comparisons I draw, one can easily see that Peter is saying exactly the same thing in terms of results, almost the same in terms of method, but claiming it as if it was his personal discovery and totally misunderstanding Eastern paths like Advaita.
The rudimentary animal instinctual ‘self’ we are born with is overlaid with a ‘social’ identity, instilled since birth by our peers.
This identity consists of the morals and ethics that have been drilled into us from the time when we were first rewarded for ‘good’ and ‘right’ behaviour and punished for ‘bad’ and ‘wrong’ behaviour. We are thus taught to emphasize and highly value the ‘good’ instinctual passions and to repress and control the ‘savage’ passions.
Our social identity is in fact made up of the morals, ethics and values that are programmed into us by our parents, teachers and others to ensure that we will become a fit, useful and loyal member of the particular society into which we were born.
Usually we divide our instinctual passions into groupings of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ and try either to repress or deny the bad ones – fear and aggression – while giving full vent and validity to the good ones – nurture and desirehttp://www.actualfreedom.com.au/introduction/normalsolutions.htm
I have written about dealing with all emotions without repression in How Does A Jnani Person Deal With the Negative Impacts of the World: Part 1/3 – Titiksha/Endurance, so obviously all this is nothing new for Advaita and for the teachings of J Krishnamurti. By the time one has come to the Witness stage in Advaita, one has already discarded the social identity. Vivekachudamani says:
“Verse 254. That which is beyond caste and creed, family and lineage; devoid of name and form, merit and demerit; transcending space, time and sense-object – that Brahman art thou, meditate on this in thy mind.”
The instinctual self is further discarded in Advaita by abiding as Witness and destroying all vasanas.
Eastern spiritual belief has it that human existence on earth is a ‘necessary suffering’ and that ultimate peace and fulfillment lies ‘elsewhere’, after death…………
Extolling these primitive superstitions and beliefs of Eastern spiritualism as great wisdom or even the ‘Truth’ is to actively deny that it is the instinctual passions – both the revered Good and the repressed Bad – that are the root cause of human malice and sorrow. Indulging in the practice of denial and the belief of transcendence only serves to prevent one from undertaking the common sense investigation that can bring an irrevocable end to one’s personal malice and sorrow.http://www.actualfreedom.com.au/introduction/spiritualsolutions3.htm
Obviously, Peter is quite off the mark here as far as Advaita is concerned. Firstly, Advaita talks about ‘liberation in life’ or Jivanmukti, and not some ultimate peace after death, as Verse 300 of Vivekachudamani clearly shows. Secondly, all the verses of Vivekachudamni point to how the ego is confronted and ended rather than suppressed, repressed or denied. Lastly, Advaita talks about timeless reality, which is immune to it ever becoming “primitive” as Peter says in a condemnatory tone.
There is, however, a third alternative to either remaining ‘normal’ or becoming ‘spiritual’, and this third alternative offers a genuine and actual freedom from the Human Condition of malice and sorrow.
A way has now been pioneered to ‘re-program’ the human brain such that one can safely delete one’s instilled social programming of morals, ethics, beliefs, spiritual superstitions and psittacisms.
One is then able to ‘dig deeper’ and evince an extinction of the insidious influence of the genetically-encoded instinctual animal passions of fear, aggression, nurture and desire.
Given that each and every individual human being is both socially and genetically programmed it is therefore purely a personal task to free oneself from malice and sorrow.
One simply needs to unselfishly devote one’s life to the pioneering task of irrevocable change by seizing the immediate opportunity of investigating the Human Condition in operation in oneself … as one’s ‘self’.http://www.actualfreedom.com.au/introduction/spiritualsolutions3.htm
Well, the above is exactly what we do in self inquiry in Advaita. I don’t see anything new in what Peter is saying. Advaita does not begin with any position of reality. It is based on neti, neti (not this, not this) through an active process of self inquiry. It is totally an effort to be undertaken by an individual.
The modern scientific empirical discoveries of neuro-biology and genetics, with regard to the human brain and how it functions, have revealed two very fascinating aspects –
That the brain is programmable in the same way a computer is programmable. The program is formed by physical connections or pathways between neurons, and this program is mostly formed after birth. These pathways (synapse) are also capable of being changed at any time. The old connection simply ‘dies’ for lack of use and a new one is formed.
That the human brain is also pre-programmed, via a genetic code, with a set of base or instinctual operating functions, located in the primitive brain system which causes automatic thoughtless passionate reactions, primarily those of fear, aggression, nurture and desire, to be transmitted via chemical messages to various parts of the body including the neo-cortex. Physiological alterations that could eliminate this crude programming, as a biological adaptation to changed circumstances, are well documented within the animal species.
The first discovery accords with the practical experience of being able to radically change one’s social identity – the program instilled since birth that consists of the morals, ethics, values and psittacisms that make up our social identity. It stands to reason that a psychological identity that is malleable to radical change is also susceptible to total elimination.
The second discovery accords with the practical possibility of eliminating one’s very ‘being’ – the emotive source of the instinctual survival passions of fear, aggression, nurture and desire. This blind and senseless survival program is now well and truly redundant for many human beings and can now be safely deleted, for the human species has not only survived … it is now beginning to flourish.
Given that the instinctual animal ‘self’ in humans has morphed into a sophisticated and cunning psychological and psychic identity that appears to live within the flesh and blood body, it is obvious that the instinctual animal passions can only be eradicated by eliminating both the psychological ‘self’ and the instinctual ‘self’.
The elimination of one’s ‘self’ needs to be total – both ‘who’ you think you are as a social identity and ‘who’ blind nature has programmed you to instinctively feel you are … in spiritual terms, both the ‘ego’ and the ‘soul’.
The good news is that with the extinction of who you think and feel you are what you are will emerge – a flesh and blood human being, free of malice and sorrow and free of any metaphysical delusions whatsoever.http://www.actualfreedom.com.au/introduction/actualfreedom1.htm
The above is nothing but a précis of Peter’s interpretation of the neurological model, which I have shown can be mapped exactly to Advaita.
Everybody has had a pure consciousness experience sometime in their life where, for a brief period, one magically finds oneself in a ‘self’-less state of sensate-only experiencing and the perfection and purity of the actual world – the fairy-tale like physical universe – becomes stunningly and sensuously apparent.
A pure consciousness experience is a temporary, ‘self’-less and sensuous experience of the perfection and purity of the actual universe. A PCE offers a glimpse or window out from the ‘real’ world everyone is born into (and therefore assumes to be all there is), and one suddenly finds oneself in the unimaginable, magical, fairytale-like actual world.
For a brief period, there is no ‘self’ as a mediator, interpreter, censor or spoiler. All is directly evidenced by the physical senses to be pure, perfect, delightful. One’s intelligence is freed of any emotions and affective feelings – thinking becomes benign, clear and concise – free of malice and sorrow. The already-existing innate purity and perfection that becomes stunningly apparent in this ‘self’-less state instantly renders redundant the need for any morals, ethics or any kind of ‘self’-control. With awareness and intelligence operating totally freed from the Human Condition, ‘I’ can then be clearly seen for what ‘I’ am – a parasitical identity who is the source of ‘my’ own suffering and ‘my’ own malice.http://www.actualfreedom.com.au/introduction/actualfreedom2.htm
While Peter relies on a PCE – Peak Consciousness Experience – a mere memory, for his inquiry, Advaita relies on something indestructible, Self Knowledge acquired through insight. The Witness that Advaita relies on to uproot all vasanas is not a memory but Reality – the innate purity and perfection – which Peter is talking about, and the very reality one is trying to totally uncover by shedding vasanas/instinctual emotions. The Witness is the Pure Consciousness, Richard is speaking about, that underlies all experiences. One may read about this in my article Turiya : The Fourth State of Consciousness & End of Suffering
‘Self’-awareness is possible in human beings in that we have the ability to develop and maintain an ongoing awareness of both the social conditioning of beliefs, morals and ethics one has been instilled with since birth as well as the feelings and deep-seated emotions that are the result of the instinctual passions in operation.What one is ultimately attempting to do by sustaining an ongoing ‘self’-awareness is to eradicate ‘who’ one thinks one is and ‘who’ one feels oneself to be by the simple process of exposing both one’s social and instinctual identity to the bright light of awareness.
‘Self’-awareness is not a natural phenomenon and one will no doubt discover an innate resistance to getting it up and running – a resistance that can only be overcome by the sincere intent to become happy and harmless, as one was in a pure consciousness experience, for 24 hrs. a day, every day. Even then this ongoing attentiveness needs to be actively cultivated and then persistently practiced in order to ensure success.http://www.actualfreedom.com.au/introduction/actualfreedom3.htm
I fail to understand how this ‘Self-awareness’ is different from standing as Witness in Advaita, to uproot vasanas/instinctual emotions. The above, i.e – exposing both one’s social and instinctual identity to the bright light of awareness is exactly what we are doing in Witnessing. See verses 260 and 276 of Vivekachudamani.
The vowed aim of meditation is to escape from the world, transcend the ego and ‘become’ the soul – an imaginary and delusionary shifting of one’s identity from mortal to Immortal, from animal to Divine. Whereas the whole point of the process of actualism is to be aware of, identify, investigate and eliminate both one’s social and one’s instinctual identity – both ego and soul – for both are the source of one’s malice and sorrow. The goal is to become actually happy and harmless, on earth, in this very lifetime.http://www.actualfreedom.com.au/introduction/actualfreedom3.htm
In Advaita, one is not at all transcending anything or “becoming” the soul. It is understood in Advaita that reality, which is Brahman, is what you are – Tat Tvam Asi – I have spoken about this quite clearly in my article Tat Tvam Asi – You are Brahman. Brahman is the same reality that Peter speaks about experiencing in his PCE here: “Everybody has had a pure consciousness experience sometime in their life where, for a brief period, one magically finds oneself in a ‘self’-less state of sensate-only experiencing and the perfection and purity of the actual world” In fact the very word Brahman is also called Sat-Chit-Ananda: Pure Existence -Consciousness-Bliss. Obviously Peter is very mistaken. He takes the word “soul” as it is taken in Dualistic traditions. Perhaps he never studied Eastern Non-Dual paths.
There is a third alternative in investigating affective feelings, emotions and instinctual passions and it involves neither repressing nor expressing – the traditional either/or approach. This alternative approach requires breaking the habit of either expressing or repressing feelings, emotions and passions. Clearly seeing what one is doing to others by expressing, or attempting to suppress, anger is surely sufficient to stop if one’s intent is to become harmless.
The other good reason to stop expressing feelings such as anger is that one then stops the endless cycle of being angry, feeling guilty, wallowing in shame, seeking solace in resentment, plotting revenge and building up to being angry again. By neither suppressing or repressing your feelings and emotions, you are then able to feel the feelings as they happen. This observing and investigating – neither suppressing or expressing – has the added advantage of both getting men fully into their feelings for the first time in their life and getting women to examine their feelings, one by one, instead of being run by a basketful of them all at once.
Few spiritual believers are prepared to make this investigation of feelings, emotions and instinctual passions for they see that if they dare to question the spiritual ‘good’ feelings they will simply end up back in the ‘real’ world that they have been desperately trying to escape from. Some also feel that to question their spiritual beliefs is to go towards the devil or evil while others see it as ending up in some sort of robotic catatonic state of non-feeling. What belies these fears is the PCE where the purity, perfection and benevolence of the actual world is magically apparent … solely due to the fact that both ‘I’ as ego and ‘me’ as soul are temporarily absent.http://www.actualfreedom.com.au/introduction/actualfreedom3.htm
All the above is exactly the method I covered in my article How Does A Jnani Person Deal With the Negative Impacts of the World: Part 2/3 – Udasinata/High Indifference, which again is very much part of Advaita practice.
Thus, all the above considerations go on to conclusively demonstrate not only that Peter of Actual Freedom is totally unaware of the real teachings of Eastern Non-Dual paths like Advaita or if he is aware, he is oblivious of the “true” teachings of Shankara and Gaudapada. In fact, I may even go a step further and speak for all Eastern non-dual paths like Buddhism or Tantra and even subtle non-dual paths like Yoga, Sankhya and Jainism, that each one of them talks about the same result as Peter does. I am grateful for his writings, however, which showed me how the neurological theory of emotions can be used to demonstrate the workings of Advaita, not that Advaita needs them in any way 🙂