Actual Freedom – The Actual Freedom Mailing List Correspondence

Richard’s Correspondence

On The Actual Freedom Mailing List

With Mark

June 27 1998

MARK: I feel very blessed as I start to write to you – blessed to have found someone who seems to me to be speaking the truth unconditionally!! Thank you. My story briefly: I am a ‘seeker’ and have been for 20 or more years and after so long ‘at it’ I can say that it feels as if I have learned or gained just about zero from all the searching and self obsessed introspection. I thought from a very early age that somehow my simple presence on earth should be enough and all else would or should be taken care of .So it seems that my life has consisted of a process of trying this and trying that and then saying ‘well not that’ ... ‘and not’. Along the way I chose to alienate myself from the emphasis on any career or money considerations and now I find myself at 46 yrs of age feeling like a failure in all aspects of life. The past 8 months has been a time of physical ill health, mental depression and questioning of all my beliefs about life and my part in it. I recognise the futility of my beliefs but any real change in my structure seems tediously slow, I get stuck and lost in the mire. I should add that in this recent ‘dark’ period there is an air of ‘pregnancy’ that is somehow encouraging. In short, my mind, during this time runs some (many!!) continuous wobbly beliefs primarily about lack (of money, love, talent, meaning, etc.) about ill health and that my body can and will cause me ‘undeserved’ pain and feels unsafe and at risk of injury, and I also feel often as tho’ I have this animal adrenalised fight or flight mechanism switched on all the time. Richard, I suppose the question that I ask is – what is the most effective way to deconstruct my mumbo jumbo belief system. Thank you for your time and compassionate availability.

RICHARD: I am pleased that you have already found something of benefit from The Actual Freedom Web-Site. Where you say: ‘I feel very blessed to have found someone who seems to me to be speaking the truth – unconditionally!!’, you will soon see, if you proceed further, that actualism has nothing to do with ‘The Truth’ and is all about facts and actuality. Ultimately, by going beyond ‘The Truth’ one will find oneself living with total freedom in this world as-it-is with people as-they-are.

You say: ‘I am a seeker and have been for 20 or more years and after so long at it I can say that it feels as if I have learned or gained just about zero’. I presume you are referring to the spiritual search for enlightenment. If so – and as you have ‘gained about zero’ – you may indeed have come across what will provide the break-through that you have been looking for ... or not. Actualism is all about furthering the search to a condition that lies beyond spiritual enlightenment ... and for anything to develop at all, a whole raft of beliefs – masquerading as ‘truths’ – have to be examined. What I have to say is both heretical and iconoclastic ... so it may turn out to be of no use to you at all.

Just so as I am right up-front from the beginning, I like to make my position crystal clear ... although the next few paragraphs are to be found on the Web-Page, you may have missed them amongst all that is written. By repeating them here, I then know that you are familiar with my back ground ... then there is a level playing field from the start. And I write all this in order to share my experience on the whole subject of the Eastern ‘Spiritual Enlightenment’, as it is commonly considered to be the Summum Bonum of human experience. It is not. By being born and raised in the West I was not steeped in the mystical religious tradition of the East and was thus able to escape the trap of centuries of eastern spiritual conditioning by going beyond enlightenment – which turned out to be an Altered State Of Consciousness – into the actuality of being here on earth and now in time as this flesh and blood body.

For many years I sought genuine exploration and discovery of what it means to live a fully human life, and in October 1992 I discovered, once and for all, what I was looking for. Since then I have been consistently living an incomparable condition which I choose to call actual freedom – and I use the word ‘actual’ because this freedom is located here in this very world, this actual world of the senses. It is not an affective, cerebral or psychic state of being; it is a physical condition that ensues when one goes beyond Spiritual Enlightenment.

In September 1981 I underwent a monumental transformation into an Altered State Of Consciousness which can only be described as Spiritual Enlightenment. I became Enlightened as the result of an earnest and intense process which commenced in the January of that year. At approximately six o’clock on the morning of Sunday, the sixth of September 1981, my ‘ego’ disappeared entirely in an edifying moment of awakening to an ‘Absolute Reality’. I lived in the Enlightened State for eleven years, so I have an intimate understanding of the marked difference between Spiritual Enlightenment and actual freedom.

Over the eleven years I had numerous experiences of a condition that seemed so extreme that one must surely die to attain to it. To go beyond Enlightenment seemed to be an impossibility whilst still alive and breathing. Then at midday on Friday the 30th October 1992 a curious event occurred, due to my intense conviction that it was imperative that someone evince a final and complete condition that would ‘deliver the goods’ so longed for by humanity for millennia. Just like my ego had dissolved, back in 1981, my ‘soul’ disappeared. I was no longer a ‘Self’ existing for all Eternity and transcending Time and Space. I no longer had a feeling of being – or ‘Being’ – and I could no longer detect the presence of The Absolute. There was no ‘Presence’ at all. Since that date I have continued to live in a condition of complete emancipation and utter autonomy ... the condition is both permanent and actual.

This is different from Enlightenment in that it is most definitely substantial: there is no longer a transcendence, for I have neither sorrow nor malice anywhere at all to rise above. They have vanished entirely, leaving me both blithesome and benign – carefree and harmless – which leads to a most remarkable state of affairs. The chief characteristics of Enlightenment – Union with the Divine, Universal Compassion, Love Agapé, Ineffable Bliss, The Truth, Timelessness, Spacelessness, Immortality, Aloneness, Oneness, Pacifism, Surrender, Trust, Beauty, and Goodness – being redundant in this totally new condition, are no longer extant. Herein lies the unmistakable distinction between this condition, which I call actual freedom, and the Enlightened State: I am no longer driven by a Divine Sense Of Mission to bring The Truth, Universal Love and Divine Compassion to the world. I am free to speak with whomsoever is genuinely interested in solving the ‘Mystery of Life’ and becoming totally free of the Human Condition.

So, if you are still with me after digesting the above, I will continue with your E-Mail. You say: ‘I thought from a very early age that somehow my simple presence on earth should be enough and all else would or should be taken care of’. Actually, you are quite correct – apart from the five physical necessities of air, water, food, clothing and shelter – one does not have to do anything at all to live life happily and harmlessly when one is free to be here at this moment in eternal time and this place in infinite space ... when one is free, that is, from malice and sorrow. When the elimination of all animosity and anguish is one’s on-going life-goal, one has taken a giant step towards salubrity and achieving one’s birth-right.

You say: ‘So it seems that my life has consisted of a process of trying this and trying that and then saying ‘well not that, not that’. Along the way I chose to alienate myself from the emphasis on any career or money considerations and now I find myself at 46 yrs of age feeling like a failure in all aspects of life’. A failure, maybe, in the eyes of society at large ... with the culture’s emphasis on success being determined by the status of career achievement and the amount of money one commands control over. But, apart from the physical necessities of life, one needs very little to be successful ... becoming happy and harmless puts paid to all other definitions of success. Speaking personally, I live on a pension in a rented brick-veneer duplex ... and I am the most successful person in the entire world.

You say: ‘The past 8 months has been a time of physical ill health, mental depression and questioning of all my beliefs about life and my part in it – I recognise the futility of my beliefs but any real change in my structure seems tediously slow, I get stuck and lost in the mire’. There are many people, having become discouraged by the values of the West, who have turned to the East for answers ... to no avail. The Hippie dream of the ’sixties got side-tracked into Eastern Mysticism and otherwise intelligent youth lost the original vision of peace and harmony in the goal for Self-Realisation ... which is none other than self-aggrandisement. It behoves one to resurrect the dream; to get it off the shelf and dust it off ... to get back on track.

You say: ‘I should add that in this recent ‘dark’ period there is an air of ‘pregnancy’ that is somehow encouraging’. Okay, even the slightest glow of encouragement can be effectively fanned into a blaze. You may very well find that your twenty years of spiritual search has set you up well for your next escapade in finding out all about life, the universe and what it is to be a human being. However, a word of warning: despair begets hope ... and hope is a poor substitute for the actual. Hope sets one up for disappointment time and again ... and all it is, is the antidote for despair. All believing, hoping, trusting and having faith and certitude are but the antidotes to disbelief, despair, distrust, doubt or suspicion. One can dispense with all that by having the courage of one’s convictions – which is the certainty born out of the solid knowing as evidenced in a peak experience – and can thus develop a superb confidence and an almost overweening optimism. Therefore nothing can stand in one’s way in this, the adventure of a life-time.

One of the ways of ascertaining whether a ‘truth’ is a belief or a fact is that a belief demands loyalty; you give allegiance to it and to the group that espouses it.

You say: ‘In short, my mind, during this time runs some (many!!) continuous wobbly beliefs primarily about lack (of money, love, talent, meaning etc), about ill health and that my body can and will cause me ‘undeserved’ pain and feels unsafe and at risk of injury, and I also feel often as tho’ I have this animal adrenalised fight or flight mechanism switched on all the time’. Without knowing you personally I can but suggest that this sounds like a generalised anxiety about achievement (the lack thereof) ... which is understandable given your life experience thus far and in particular your age. It seems that you have failed in both the eyes of the West and the eyes of the East ... and you are forty six years of age. Shall we redefine success? Shall we shift the goal posts? Shall we go for the third alternative? Something that has not been tried before? Something new in human history?

You say: ‘Richard, I suppose the question that I ask is – what is the most effective way to deconstruct my mumbo jumbo belief system’. It is ruthlessly simple ... ask yourself this, each moment again:

• ‘How am I experiencing this moment of being alive?’

Before applying the actualism method – the ongoing enjoyment and appreciation of this moment of being alive – it is essential for success to grasp the fact that this very moment which is happening now is your only moment of being alive. The past, although it did happen, is not actual now. The future, though it will happen, is not actual now. Only now is actual. Yesterday’s happiness and harmlessness does not mean a thing if one is miserable and malicious now and a hoped-for happiness and harmlessness tomorrow is to but waste this moment of being alive in waiting. All one gets by waiting is more waiting. Thus any ‘change’ can only happen now. The jumping in point is always here; it is at this moment in time and this place in space. Thus, if one misses it this time around, hey presto, one has another chance immediately. Life is excellent at providing opportunities like this.

What ‘I’ did, all those years ago, was to devise a remarkably effective way to be able to enjoy and appreciate this moment of being alive each moment again (I know that methods are to be actively discouraged, in some people’s eyes, but this one worked). It does take some doing to start off with but, as success after success starts to multiply exponentially, it becomes progressively easier to enjoy and appreciate being here each moment again. One begins by asking, each moment again, ‘How am I experiencing this moment of being alive’?

Note: asking how one is experiencing this moment of being alive is not the actualism method; consistently enjoying and appreciating this moment of being alive is what the actualism method is. And this is because the actualism method is all about consciously and knowingly imitating life in the actual world. Also, by virtue of proceeding in this manner the means to the end – an ongoing enjoyment and appreciation – are no different to the end itself.

As one knows from the pure consciousness experiences (PCE’s), which are moments of perfection everybody has at some stage in their life, that it is possible to experience this moment in time and this place in space as perfection personified, ‘I’ set the minimum standard of experience for myself: feeling good. If ‘I’ am not feeling good then ‘I’ have something to look at to find out why. What has happened, between the last time ‘I’ felt good and now? When did ‘I’ feel good last? Five minutes ago? Five hours ago? What happened to end those felicitous feelings? Ahh ... yes: ‘He said that and I ...’. Or: ‘She didn’t do this and I ...’. Or: ‘What I wanted was ...’. Or: ‘I didn’t do ...’. And so on and so on ... one does not have to trace back into one’s childhood ... usually no more than yesterday afternoon at the most (‘feeling good’ is an unambiguous term – it is a general sense of well-being – and if anyone wants to argue about what feeling good means ... then do not even bother trying to do this at all).

There is only one person in this whole wide world that one can change ... myself. This is the most important point to understand thoroughly, otherwise one endlessly tries to change the other ... and as there are billions of ‘others’ it would be a life-time task with still no success at the end. If one grasps that the way to peace-on-earth is by changing oneself – and oneself only – then all of one’s interactions with others will undergo a radical transformation. You set them free of your graceless demands ... your endless neediness born out of being alone in the world. The cause of sadness and loneliness is not, as is commonly believed, alienation from others. The single reason for being alone and lonely is from not being what-I-am. By not being this flesh and blood body just brimming with sensory organs, but being, instead, an identity within ‘I’ am doomed to perpetual loneliness and aloneness. ‘I’ am fated to ever pursue an elusive ‘Someone’ or ‘Something’ that will fill that aching void.

When I am what-I-am, there is no void. By being what I actually am – this body only – I have no need for others; hence I also have no need to place the burden upon them to fulfil that what was lacking. Not only do I free myself from that perpetual pursuit, but I also free others in my company from the task ‘I’ impose upon them. Being this sensual body is actual fulfilment, each moment again. Nevermore will I be needy, greedy and grasping. Nevermore will I plot and plan and manipulate others. Nevermore will I have to prostitute myself to others to assuage those main attributes of the identity within: being lost, lonely, frightened and cunning. Being what-I-am is to be free-flowing, spontaneous, delightful ... and it is fun, for one can never be hurt again.

Thus, by asking ‘how am I experiencing this moment of being alive’ the reward is immediate; by finding out what triggered off the loss of feeling good, one commences another period of enjoying this moment of being alive. It is all about being here now at this moment in time and this place in space ... and if you are not feeling good you have no chance whatsoever of being here now in this actual world. (A grumpy person locks themselves out of the perfect purity of this moment and place). Of course, once you get the knack of this, one up-levels ‘feeling good’, as a bottom-line each moment again, to ‘feeling happy’. And after that: ‘feeling perfect’. These are all feelings, this is not perfection personified yet ... but then again, feeling perfect for twenty three hours and fifty nine minutes a day is way beyond ‘normal’ human expectations anyway. Also, it is a very tricky way 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. One starts to feel ‘alive’ for the first time in one’s life.

Being ‘alive’ is to be paying attention – exclusive attention – to this moment in time and this place in space. This attention becomes fascination ... and fascination leads to reflective contemplation. Then – and only then – apperception can occur.

Apperceptive awareness can be evoked by paying exclusive attention to being fully alive right now. This moment is your only moment of being alive ... one is never alive at any other time than now. And, wherever you are, one is always here ... even if you start walking over to ‘there’, along the way to ‘there’ you are always here ... and when you arrive ‘there’, it too is here. Thus attention becomes a fascination with the fact that one is always here ... and it is already now. Fascination leads to reflective contemplation. As one is already here, and it is always now ... then one has arrived before one starts. The potent combination of attention, fascination, reflection and contemplation produces apperception, which happens when the mind becomes aware of itself. Apperception is an awareness of consciousness. It is not ‘I’ being aware of ‘me’ being conscious; it is the mind’s awareness of itself. Apperception – a way of seeing that is arrived at by reflective and fascinating contemplative thought – is when ‘I’ cease thinking and thinking takes place of its own accord ... and ‘me’ disappears along with all the feelings. Such a mind, being free of the ‘thinker’ and the ‘feeler’ – ‘I’ as ego and ‘me’ as soul – is capable of immense clarity and purity ... as a sensate body only, one is automatically benevolent and benign.

It is all so simple, in the actual world; no effort is needed to meet the requisite morality of society. I have no ‘dark nature’, no unconscious impulses to curb, to control, to restrain. It is all so easy, in the actual world; I can take no credit for my apparently virtuous behaviour because actual freedom automatically provides beneficial thoughts and deeds. It is all so spontaneous, in the actual world; I do not do it ... it does itself. Vanity, egoism, selfishness ... all self-centred activity has ceased to operate when ‘I’ and ‘me’ as ‘being’ ceased to ‘be’. And it is all so peaceful, in the actual world; it is only in actualism that human beings can have peace-on-earth without toiling fruitlessly to be ‘good’. The answer to everything that has puzzled humankind for all of human history is readily elucidated when one is actually free. The ‘Mystery of Life’ has been penetrated and laid open for all those with the eyes to see. Life was meant to be easy. So:

• ‘How am I experiencing this moment of being alive’?

It beats any pathetic mantra by a country mile.

June 29 1998

MARK: Just to say thank you for your clear and incisive words in reply to my recent E-Mail. I have voraciously devoured your web site this week and feel a certain new orientation. It seems that asking myself ‘how am I experiencing this moment of being alive’ is a trick question cos’ for a start it brings me straight into the present where the ‘problem’ doesn’t exist any more!! I am new to this but I suspect there are many more and deeper implications. Ha .Ha! I am new to computers and love the medium for communication such as this. A question that I wish to ask you – I read in your writings that part of the human condition is that we resent being here and that we despise our bodies. Why is that so? I have some seemingly chronic health problems so it seems relevant to me, would you expand on this please? Thanks for your insights, I feel my courage growing each day.

February 18 1999

MARK: Richard, as I start to write this to you it feels good to be talking via e-mail. I enjoyed very much talking with you the other day – it is indeed a pleasure to have come across an actual individual. One of the things we discussed briefly was the physical stuff that I had been going through and my fears around that. As it turns out, I went for my annual check to see if the cancer I had was still in remission (which it has been for four years) but this was not so – the disease has become active again (the new tumour removed). Now the last time I found out that I had cancer I treated it mostly as a psychosomatic disease and ‘healed it’ the new age way with an eclectic mix of all sorts of blah, blah and ‘rearranged the furniture on the titanic’ (love that expression!) somewhat and some physical measures as well. I have no idea which (if any) of these measures ‘did the trick’. I realise that this doesn’t change the goalposts for me at all. All I can do is proceed, with pure intent to continue to nibble away at ‘me’. Do you have a view point about diseases such as this, ie. caused by the resentful entity or simply physiological or genetic – if you have looked into this I would like to hear your observations.

RICHARD: There is such a thing as psychosomatic ailments and a ‘resentful entity’ is not going to ameliorate matters, to say the least, and can very well exacerbate any situation. Nevertheless, peoples who make money printing books and doing workshops by creating the impression that attitude – ‘negative and positive thinking’ – and diet, lifestyle and alternative and/or traditional medicines are the miraculous elixir for physical health and that Western medicine is somewhat akin to the work of the devil have a lot to answer for. Not for nothing do the wealthy Indians and Chinese and other ‘flavours of the month’ drop their culture’s medicines like a hot potato and hot-foot it First Class to London or New York for the best treatment their cash can buy when the going gets tough. I was watching one of those ‘save the rainforests’ television series some time back and the thrust of the argument was that the vanishing tribes had a treasure of oral information about the thousands and thousands of natural herbal remedies that would be lost if I and my fellow couch-potatoes somehow did not do something to save the day. This disinformation is somewhat at odds with the other ‘Golden Age’ dream so beloved by those disenchanted with the twentieth century ... those dreamy idealists who fancy that the original peoples were a healthy bunch due to simplistic life-style, diet and attitude! For sure, a stressed-out and competitive nerve-ridden executive living on junk-food and pills breathing the pollution-ridden air of a car-crammed city ringed by smoking factory chimneys can bring upon a heart attack at age forty eight ... but the average life-span in the West is more than twice what it was last century and three times that of the ‘Noble Savage’. As the genetics of the human body are slowly being mapped (some estimates are that it will be complete by 2002) a picture is emerging that increasingly points to a genetic predisposition for many ailments that beset people around the world irregardless of race, age, gender or lifestyle ... and can be found in mummified bodies from thousands of years ago. Now, while there is a tendency to overdo it and blame literally everything upon a genetic predisposition in some circles, only but the most myopic could deny the increasing body of demonstrative evidence ... but opposition to genetic engineering will continue for some time due to the common human proclivity to resist change and embrace a new discovery. Even so, the scientific approach will continue to make inroads on the previously debilitating or fatal diseases that have racked civilisations since time immemorial – and make mistakes along the way and cause problems in the process – but the overall result is astonishing, to say the least.

An anecdotal report: a person I know had a tumour in the brain seventeen years ago – the entire pituitary gland was surgically removed – and along with radiation therapy is alive today. This could not have happened in traditional cultures. On the other hand, another person has had a soft tissue cancer – in remission for six years – now diagnosed as having spread to the bone ... and is sensibly declining the enervating chemotherapy which can do nothing but make their remaining days miserable. Another anecdotal report: a woman had a severe twinge in the groin some years ago and visited alternative healers ... a naturopath, for example, examined her and prescribed a mixture of various remedies and declared, among other organs, her ovaries sound via iridology. A week later an emergency operation – with the full gamut of modern western hygienic surgical procedures – removed an ovarian cyst the size of a small football.

And I am currently awaiting the surgical removal of a minor skin cancer.

MARK: Interestingly, this time around, fear has taken a back seat and no energy is being wasted on ‘why, how, what if, if only’ – there is simply the fact that this disease is back and certain steps are to be taken to support the body in taking care of itself.

RICHARD: To be able to live without fear is such a blessed condition ... and it enables sensible decisions to be made. In this day and age and living in the heterogeneous culture that you do, a full array of alternatives are at your command. Obviously I personally favour modern medical treatment but the alternatives do have something to offer and everything is a matter of personal choice ... the absence of fear will enable not only judicious decisions to be made but ensures a quality of life. In the final analysis I plunk for quality over quantity any day.

All discussion about fear eventually turns around death. This is a fact that needs be faced squarely. To not ‘be’ is inconceivable; it is impossible to imagine not ‘being’ because all one has ever known is ‘being’. What does it mean to not ‘be’? One has always been busy with ‘being’; being alive, being in the world, being a ‘human’, being ‘me’. What is it to not exist? There seems to be a general consensus among human beings that death is a mystery that one cannot penetrate, and that the ‘Mystery of Life’ will be revealed only after death. There, they say, lies peace and Ultimate Fulfilment. It all appears to be an exercise in futility to think about what is entailed in death, which is the end of ‘being’ ... and it is. The end of ‘being’, at physical death, can only ever be a speculation; it has to be experienced to know it. Just like one cannot know the taste of something until one eats it ... so too is it with death as the end of ‘being’. Yet to wait for death will be leaving it too late to find out what it is to not ‘be’ ... as death is oblivion of consciousness there will be no awareness of not ‘being’. The question is: can one experience the end of ‘being’ before this body dies and therefore penetrate into the ‘Mystery of Life’, in full awareness, and find that Ultimate Fulfilment ... here on earth? What I did was face the fact of my mortality. ‘Life’ and ‘Death’ are not an opposite ... there is only birth and death. Life is what happens in between. Before I was born, I was not here. Now that I am alive, I am here. After death I will not be here ... just like before birth. Where is the problem?

The problem was in the brain-stem, of course. It is the instinct to survive at any cost that was the problem ... backed up by the full gamut of the emotions born out of the four basic instinctual passions of fear and aggression and nurture and desire. The rudimentary self, transformed into an identity, must be extinguished in order for one to be here, in this actual world of the senses, bereft of this identity. ‘My’ extinction was the ending of not only fear, but of all of the affective faculties. Extinction releases one into actuality ... as this flesh and blood body only I am living in the paradisiacal garden that this verdant planet earth is. We are all simply floating in the infinitude of this perfect and pure universe ... coming from nowhere and having nowhere to go to we find ourselves here at this moment in time and this place in space.

This actual world is an ambrosial paradise.

MARK: I have chosen not to tell acquaintances of this happening as I have no wish to invoke pity, sympathy or such that would only serve to strengthen the ‘giver’ and ‘receiver’ of same. Two ‘selves’ live in totally different worlds so any sharing (of fear, grief, love) is not actually possible anyway! I have never before felt so at ease with aloneness (engendered by the gradual falling away of the shared beliefs of the ‘real’ world).

RICHARD: Aye, when loneliness ends, and one stands on one’s own two feet, this independence is a relief ... yet there is more. Even aloneness can end. Where you wrote (Part One) that ‘all I can do is proceed, with pure intent, to continue to nibble away at ‘me’, I can only recommend proceeding with all dispatch. When ‘I’ self-immolate in ‘my’ entirety, the separative entity’s isolation disappears too ... and an actual intimacy emerges that beggars comparison. This is because a person’s isolation is formed by the essence of their ‘being’... and ‘being’ itself is the root-cause of all the ills of humankind. One has ‘been’ in the past, one is ‘being’ in the present, and one will ‘be’ in the future. That ‘being’ is what one calls ‘me’, taking it to be me; me as-I-am. ‘I’ was, ‘I’ am, ‘I’ will be ... this sense of continuity, an instinctual entity called ‘me’ existing over time, is not me as-I-am. I do not exist over time; I exist only as this moment exists, and now has no duration. Therefore I am never alone, for there is no separation; there is only actual intimacy. Whereas ‘I’, out of loneliness, attempt to bridge the separation between ‘myself’ and others similarly afflicted with ‘being’, via emotions – be it affection, love, pity, sympathy, empathy or compassion – to induce an artificial intimacy. The problem with emotion is that it is fickle; one can switch it on and off. A person can be said to be generous with their love ... or parsimonious. Such illusory intimacy is unreliable, dependent upon predilection, mood and receptivity. Actual intimacy – the direct experience of the other – is ever-constant; it is not in the control of a wayward ego or a compliant soul. It cannot be switched on or off, given or withheld. It is not ‘mine’, it is simply here, all of the time.

‘I’ am the sole cause of the tried and failed systems being considered essential if humans are to have peace on earth. ‘I’ am the arch-villain in this world-wide scenario ... ‘me’ and billions of other ‘me’s. Solutions and cures are not necessary when the cause is eradicated. Without ‘me’ there is no problem to be solved. However, what initially stands in the way of implementing these words, translating them into action, is the fear that one will become an outcast. The whole thrust of ‘humanity’ is to foster the sense of belonging ... it is a large part of one’s social identity. One automatically feels that by no longer belonging one will live in isolation. Nothing could be further from the truth, because this is a feeling, not a fact. The fact of being on one’s own is vastly different from the feeling of being isolated ... and when one has found intimacy the need to belong has become absurd. Besides, the sense of belonging is a dangerous illusion. Losing oneself in the crowd renders one susceptible to not only group highs but to mass hysteria ... and mob riots. Just as marital disharmony can lead to domestic violence, so too can neighbourhood disputes lead to civil unrest and communal violence. International riots are called war. So much for belonging!

With apperception, what one discovers, time and again, is that the personal boundaries that one feels so safely protected by, are made up of ‘my’ accrued beliefs as to who ‘I’ am. This is ‘my’ outline, as it were, shaped by other people’s description of ‘me’ ... a construct which gives ‘me’ asylum in each different group into which ‘I’ wish to enter. Yet the outline of this construct creates, simultaneously, an enormous distance between ‘me’ and the world outside. At those times of peak experience, the distance disappears all of a sudden as ‘I’ vanish and this world is right here, so close that there is no distance any more. This is closer than any affective intimacy ‘I’ have ever longed for. This is serendipity indeed. This is a direct experience of actuality ... and I have always been here like this ... so safely here. The outline, the boundary that created the distance, was all in ‘my’ reality. ‘I’ created a substitute security for this original safety ... a safety which has never known any threat, nor ever will. This genuine safety has no need for precautions.

MARK: I was ‘putting under the microscope’ yesterday my previous attempts (and their seeming importance at the time) at discovering the ‘meaning of life’ and upon reflection of my most memorable PCE I saw that the only meaning was simply that it (life, the universe and everything) is happening and the ensuing wonder at its glorious perpetuity was in fact, its meaning, no more or less.

RICHARD: Yes, the put-down of the universe goes on ad nauseam, wherever one travels throughout the world. This universe is so enormous in size – infinity being as enormous as it can get – and so immense in its scope – eternity being as immense as it can get – how on earth could anyone believe for a minute that it is all here for humans to be forever miserable in? It is foolishness of the highest order to believe it to be so ... one can have confidence in a universe so grandly complex, so marvellously intricate, so wonderfully excellent. How could all this be some ‘ghastly mistake’? To believe it all to be some ‘sick joke’ is preposterous, for such an attitude cuts one off from the perfection of this pure moment of being alive here in this fantastic actual universe. When one takes one’s mental ability back from the decrees of the real world – to which one has surrendered – one has taken a courageous step. For here in the actual, this miraculous world as-it-is, is the secret to life. Here lies a healthy mind, for here only sagacity exists. Living here, where perfection and purity abounds, one experiences what is precious in living itself. Something beyond compare. Something more valuable than any ‘King’s ransom’. It is not rare gemstones; it is not singular works of art; it is not the much-prized bags of money; it is not the treasured loving relationships; it is not the highly esteemed blissful states of ‘Being’ ... it is not any of these things usually considered precious. Here is something ultimately precious. It is the essential character of the infinitude of the universe ... which is the life-giving foundation of all that is apparent. The limpid and lucid perfection and purity of being here now, as-I-am, is akin to the crystalline perfection and purity seen in a dew-drop hanging from the tip of a leaf in the early-morning sunshine; the sunrise strikes the transparent dew-drop with its warming rays, highlighting the flawless correctness of the tear-drop shape with its bellied form. One is left almost breathless with wonder at the immaculate simplicity so exemplified.

When one lives the magical perfection of this purity twenty-four-hours-a-day; when one has ceased being ‘me’ and is being what one genuinely is, one directly experiences that there is no separation from this something which is precious. The purity of life emerges from the perfection that wells up constantly due to a boundless stillness which is utterly immeasurable in its scope and magnitude. This stillness of infinitude is this something which is precious. It is the life-giving foundation of all that is apparent. This stillness happens as me. This stillness is my essential disposition, for it is the principle character, the intrinsic basis of everything. It is life at its genesis. It is not, as it might commonly be supposed, at the centre of everything ... there is no centre here. This stillness, which is everywhere all at once, is the be all and end all of life itself. I am the universe experiencing itself as a sensate, reflective human being.

MARK: Anyway, that’s it for now. Good to talk to you via this wondrous medium about this even more wondrous experience of being alive. Feel free to forward this message to the mailing list if you should so choose.

RICHARD: I have indeed ... and I look forward to hearing more of your ventures.

May 18, 1999

MARK: I have not had any real idea on how to approach them [instincts]. My reason for this being that if we are born with instincts intact right from our first moment and, given that we are a clean slate so to speak, then, said instincts must be encoded in the DNA ... or what?

RICHARD: As deoxyribonucleic acid, a self-replicating material which is especially found in the chromosomes of nearly all living organisms, is the carrier of genetic information it would seem to be so that instincts are encoded therein. I say this with the proviso that I am seeking an explanation ‘after the act’ for what happened at the base of the skull where it meets the top of the brain-stem, and I would rather look to the latest scientific probes so as to establish an empirically-grounded account rather than any other hypothesis, as practical science must be factually based. Most scientists’ facts are rather far and few between, however, and many of their ‘facts’ later turn out to be flawed methodology arising out of their expectations based upon their belief systems and/or mind-set. After all, they are fallible, ego-ridden and soul-bound human beings trapped in the human condition like everybody else, and are seeking to find a way through all this mess, that we humans are born into, via the scientific method. Theoretical science – such as this century’s quantum physics with its mystical cosmogony – makes a mockery of the meaning of the phrase ‘scientific method’. Mr. Albert Einstein left a legacy that has the intelligence of the partisans’ of the relativists faction firmly gripped in pursuing fantastical scenarios rather than addressing utilitarian matters ... like human suffering.

MARK: And how does one delete a part of one’s DNA (personally speaking my gene splicing skills leave a lot to be desired). I still don’t understand how one is to undo the deepest layers of instinct.

RICHARD: Speaking personally from experience, eventually – and ultimately – all the instincts are undone instantly via psychological and psychic ‘self’-sacrifice. This is, purely and simply, altruism at its very best ... and altruism’s energy is an instinctual passion (this is indeed hoisting oneself by one’s bootstraps ... writ large). However, until the initiation of the process that leads to ‘self’-immolation is consciously triggered – whereupon the ending of ‘me’ happens of its own accord – one can become acutely aware of the operation of the instinctual passions as they are experienced moment-to-moment. It is but the same ‘How am I experiencing this moment of being alive?’ investigation of beliefs and feelings ... only extended deeper into one’s psyche.

Strangely enough, it does mean an exploration into the psychic realm ... which is why it is essential that one first establishes a firm base – called virtual freedom – to fall back upon when the going gets tough. A journey into one’s psyche – which is the human psyche – is not for the faint of heart or the weak of knee ... one must have nerves of steel to go all the way. The rewards for doing so are immense, however, and the ramifications far-reaching.

It means peace-on-earth, in this life-time, as this flesh and blood body.

MARK: But I do feel instinct and its grip weakening as my personal reality is exposed for the mirage that it is. This adds a little to the notion that the whole thing (the self) is an integrated package and a reduction in one area is a reduction across the board. Hence as we chip away at our belief system (the seemingly ‘most visible’ layer of the ‘being’, the outer most layer so to speak) then there are repercussions in our emotional and instinctual arenas as well.

RICHARD: Yes, well said. It (‘self’) is an integrated package because it arises out of the instinctual software package handed out by blind nature. At the core of ‘my’ being is the rudimentary animal ‘self’ that all sentient beings have. It is the price paid/trade-off for consciousness being able to arise out of matter.

MARK: With all belief systems abandoned, no way to imagine new ones, no trigger for emotions and incumbent feelings, the last days, hours, moments, of the self, (and this obviously conjecture on my part) must be extreme in the poignancy of their primal and purely instinctual nature.

RICHARD: Aye ... when ‘I’ willingly self-immolate – psychologically and psychically – then ‘I’ am making the most noble sacrifice that ‘I’ can make for oneself and all humankind ... for ‘I’ am what ‘I’ hold most dear. It is ‘my’ moment of glory. It is ‘my’ crowning achievement ... it makes ‘my’ petty life all worth while. It is not an event to be missed ... to physically die without having experienced what it is like to become dead is such a waste of a life. In an ecstatic moment of being present, ‘I’ expire. ‘I’ am extirpated, rubbed out. ‘I’ cease to exist, permanently. Something irrevocable takes place and every thing and every body and every event is different, somehow, although the same physically; something immutable occurs and every thing and every body and every event is all-of-a-sudden undeniably actual, in and of itself, as a fact; something irreversible happens and an immaculate perfection and a pristine purity permeates every thing and every body and every event; something has changed forever, although it is as if nothing has happened, except that the entire world is a magical fairytale-like playground full of incredible gladness and a delight which is never-ending.

MARK: As to the question of the instinct’s (and indeed the self’s) only toehold on the body (that seemingly undeletable interface between the body and instincts that I spoke of earlier, that possible DNA connection), is it not possible that the ‘physical turning over of something in the base of the brain’ that Richard speaks of in his last moments as a being, is the final unlocking of some physically encoded something in the ... somewhere!

RICHARD: The physically encoded ‘something’ is indeed located ‘somewhere’ ... at and around the top of the brain-stem. Perhaps it may clarify the issue if I post a rather long selection of quotes from a molecular biologist who taught microbiology and biochemistry in Australia and New Zealand universities, the late Mr. Darryl Reanney ... so as to provide a geneticist’s slant on the issue?

Mr. Darryl Reanney wrote [quote]: Brain biologist Paul MacLean has put forward the attractive idea that the human brain is a composite structure, composed of three interlocking but distinct elements – three partly separate brains, each with its own software and its own input and output channels. The oldest is the reptilian brain. Next, layered above it is the paleocortex or limbic system, while layered above that is the neocortex (...) the limbic system (together with associated brain elements like the hypothalamus) is the engine of the so-called ‘instincts’ which MacLean has wryly described as the four F’s – feeding, fighting, fleeing and fucking. This behaviour is conspicuously cyclic and repetitive. The pre-human part of our brains still listens to the beat of nature. The outermost layer is our ‘thinking cap’, the part which boasts the cerebral cortex, the seat of language, imagination and reasoning skills. Under this lies the limbic system, which may be loosely thought of as the seat of emotions. These two layers enfold the ancient reptilian core common to all (higher) animals. These deep brain structures predate the human species by hundreds of millions of years (...) the human brain preserves, in its present structure, the history of its past development. The newer layers are built on top of the older layers, just as younger strata in a geological formation lie on top of – and conceal – the more ancient strata which preceded them. In particular the ancient reptilian core and the next-oldest rind wrapped around it, the limbic brain ... the seats of the so-called instincts (...) the fight or flight reaction [is] the instinct which drives us to defend the integrity of our body/self in the face of danger.

When life is threatened, the mind-computer has to make a rapid choice between two options – to avoid the danger by trying to escape from it or to confront the danger by engaging in real or mock combat. Associated with this instinct are the emotions of rage (fighting) and fear (fleeing). These emotions correspond to a sense of crisis which means that they are rapidly aroused and demand an immediate response. Whereas we can ignore or suppress feelings of hunger and thirst, rage and terror dominate the psyche until the threat that engendered them has been dealt with. The [sex instinct is the] instinct which drives us to reproduce. Associated with this instinct of sex is the emotion of lust, by which I mean simply the direct expression of sexual urge without taking into account any of the complicating value judgements which arise when the biological drive is viewed through the distorting prism of the symbolate mind.

These value judgements colour the underlying instinct so deeply that the sensation of love, which we normally associate with sex, is seen as the ‘highest’ of all human emotions. These instincts conform to a common pattern. In cases studied in animals, the instinct is often triggered by a specific signal which behavioural scientists call an innate releasing mechanism or IRM. The role of hormones in instinctive behaviour is often misunderstood. Hormones are responsible for the ‘state of arousal’, the ‘turn-on’ that accompanies the instinct but they do not trigger it. This is the role of the IRM. What hormones do is determine the threshold of response. There has been an enormous controversy over the question of whether IRM’s exist in humans and, if so, whether these are learned or inherited. The controversy need not concern us. There is no doubt that we share the instincts of the four F’s with our vertebrate relatives (for example, the chemical changes in the blood of a terrified man are identical to those in the blood of a terrified cat), and it seems hard to dispute that these instincts are activated by powerful stimuli or signals.

Once an IRM has set the scene in an appropriately primed individual, the final step is the carrying out of a specific action pattern which leads the animal to physically engage in the particular behaviour which the specific hormone has prepared and the specific IRM triggered. Behaviourial scientists call these selective action patterns ‘consummatory’ acts because they remove the source of their own motivation. The pattern common to all instincts is thus encoded in the following paradigm. Hormones raise the level of arousal and thereby diminish the barriers that inhibit the action pattern; the IRM triggers the action and the consummatory act completes the sequence. Instinctive behaviour is fundamentally goal-driven and goal-oriented. This is why it conveys such a strong impression of purpose (...) we are sexually reproducing creatures so our genes are a 50:50 blend of those from each parent. This mixing of genes makes each of us a physically unique individual. Experience builds on these genetic differences, differentiating us increasingly from our fellows as we grow up. By the time we are 13 years old, we normally have strongly developed ego-selves – we are recognizable individuals, labeled by society with identity tags called names. Manifestly then, evolution still works on and through individual differences between people (...) human society experiences a mode of natural selection based on competition between ego-conscious individuals. What this process selects for is, in the main, what one might expect of such a system: greed, survival at all costs, a ‘killer instinct’ in business, a massive emphasis on goods which reflect enlarged ego structures, wealth, power, indifference to others – in short, selfishness. Selfish egos replace selfish genes.

The basic nature of the ego-self shows up in the way it is constructed within each individual brain. The ego-self is an expression of the learned layers of memory stored in the cortex but – and here is the crucial point – the ego-self remains inextricably locked into the survival software permanently written into its genes. The genes of every human being create in the physical brain a robot, the limbic/reptilian complex which houses the survival instincts. This robot is the same in all of us. Blindly, it pegs each emerging layer of the ego-self to the ancient feedback loop of self-preservation. The process is one-way. Once an experience has been added to memory, it becomes part of the ego-self, to be conserved along with every thing that went before. Thus the robot – something we all share as part of our evolutionary heritage – becomes the unwitting agent by which our emerging personalities – the source of our differences – become hostage to foreverness. The chemical loop of self-preservation takes into itself the psychological ego-self. According to its program, what the robot must do is maintain the status quo.

This has a far-reaching consequence. Once a strong sense of ego-self has developed during the later years of childhood and the teens, the new (and mostly unimportant) day-to-day experiences of life usually serve to reinforce (or at worst only slightly modify) the current status quo structure of the ego-self. We cling fanatically to our sense of identity, of me-ness, because it has become our lens of life, our window to the world, our personal guardian of the universal survival imperative of the selfish gene. Because selfish egos spring from selfish genes, the ‘desires’ built into the ego-cage are open-ended. It is the nature of the ego to reinforce its own ‘self-image’ by always wanting more of those things which strengthen its ‘definition’ – more money, more power, more time (whence springs its open-ended urge to last forever). To put this another way and so make my next point, what we dread above almost all else is change. By this, I do not mean the simple addition of ordinary day-to-day experiences which are easily accommodated within the existing ego-self structure: I mean changes that profoundly alter the ego-self, reshaping and remaking it. The reason for this is fundamental.

If we change the ‘I’ self-image too deeply, we create a new creature; the ‘me’ that emerges from a profound personality change is, in a real and factual sense, no longer me – it is a stranger, it is other. For this reason, and I believe this is a defining feature of human growth, the transformative experiences of life, those which involve suffering and pain, and ‘shake us to the core’ are innately resisted by the self-preserving robot whose task it is (remember) to blindly maintain the status quo. Human psychology is inherently self-protective and conservative (...) the discovery of evolution, more than anything else, heightened an age-old tension that has ‘always’ existed between the conservatism of our subconscious (the seat of instinct) and the flexibility of our cerebral cortex (the seat of intelligence). I once described man as a ‘machine that dreams’. The machine is the robot in the limbic brain, fixed in form and programmed by genes to maintain what is as it is. The dreamer is the cerebral cortex, a free-wheeling adventurer whose software programs are written not by genes but by experience. A dreamer dreams of things that are not yet. He dreams of change. And change is what the ego-self fears. We are in literal truth at war with ourselves, the robot in the limbic brain struggling to keep the status quo while the adventurer in the cortex toys with novelty. This war within our psychology, like the day/night cycle, has become externalized in our myths.

Almost every human culture has developed a folklore which shows the universe polarized between warring opposites: God versus the Devil, Good versus Evil, Light versus Darkness, Osiris versus Set. The pleasure/pain centres of the limbic cortex act as ordering foci for these opposites of experience. Now we see that the ‘struggle’ between the pleasurable (good/bright/day) centre and the painful (bad/dark/night) centre is also interleaved with an unresolved conflict between the bottom story of the mind, where instinct dwells, and the upper story where thought lives (...) bedded deeply in the mind then are dual programs which are exactly reciprocal in the sense that one arouses while the other diminishes the desire to consummate the ‘drive’ in question, be it eating, fighting or mating. These linked opposites are reflected in a wide range of contrasting human attributes: pleasure and pain (the primary feelings) and reward and punishment (the derived values). Carried to an extreme, the primary feelings of pleasure and pain become intensive emotive hyper-states: ecstasy and agony. I believe these linked opposites find direct, unambiguous expression in two of our most fundamental myths, the opposing hereafters of heaven (bliss equals reward) and hell (agony equals punishment); they are also strongly linked to the contrasting opposites of good and evil. The ancient Aryan Indians talked of the Gods Indra and Soma hurling ‘sinners’ down to ‘hell’ and Vedic scripture contains dark references to a black underground for ‘wrong-doers’. The heaven/hell duality was also mirrored in and reinforced by the other great contrasting principles of human experience – day and night (again), male and female, hot and cold, etc. Most religions contain some symbolism based on the duality of linked opposites – yin/yang (widespread in Oriental religions), light/dark (Zoroastrianism), heaven/hell (Christianity) (...) the fact that our personalities are ‘divided against themselves’ points to a profound evolutionary paradox. Whenever a better adapted form of life appears during evolution, the old form of life from which it arose is doomed. In a sense, a superior variant is a traitor to its own kind for, given time, it will eliminate its own antecedents. Instinctive behaviour is fundamentally goal-driven and goal-oriented.

This is why it conveys such a strong impression of purpose (...) to bring out the inner nature of instinct, we can recap it thus: eating and drinking equals self-maintenance; fighting or fleeing equals self-preservation and reproduction equals self-continuation. We possess all these instincts; they are our ‘original sin’ – the genetic memory of our animal ancestry. However, the selective action pattern of each instinct does not, in the human case, take place in a mindless mechanical automaton like a thermostat. The chemical states associated with each instinct register in our conscious awareness as feelings’. [endquote]. (‘The Death of Forever; A New Future for Human Consciousness’; By Darryl Reanney; Teacher of microbiology and biochemistry, University of Canterbury. N. Z., LaTrobe University, Australia. Publisher: Longman 1991 ISBN 0 582 87054-2).

MARK: Did I mention conjecture anywhere? Richard, would you comment on this? In particular the instincts in a newborn human ... when, where, how?

RICHARD: ‘When’? At conception. ‘Where’? At the top of the brain-stem where it joins the base of the skull. ‘How’? The evolutionary result of maybe 50,000 years (Home Sapiens) or 100,000 years (Homo Erectus) of operation of the survival mechanism. (Given that these tens of thousands of years that biologists, anthropologists, palaeontologists and their ilk toss around with aplomb are highly speculative figures).

Those people, who have dedicated themselves to the particular type of research that painstakingly looks into these matters, have located at least four basic emotions in what is variously called the ‘primitive brain’ or the ‘lizard brain’ or the ‘reptilian brain’, which is located at the top of the brain-stem of all sentient creatures. This is regardless of whether the creature has a developed ‘bigger brain’ – like the human cerebral cortex – over the top of it or not. These basic instinctual passions are fear and aggression and nurture and desire ... there are more but scientists tend to disagree about matters scientific according to what school or discipline they are working in. For example: fear.

I have recently been browsing the work of Mr. Joseph LeDoux, who writes:

• [quote]: ‘The brain has multiple memory systems (...) explicit (conscious) memories mediated by the hippocampus and other aspects of the temporal lobe memory system [and] implicit (unconscious) memories mediated by the amygdala and its neural connections. Only by taking these systems apart in the brain have neuroscientists been able to figure out that these are different kinds of memory, rather than one memory with multiple forms of expression (...) it has been possible, through studies of experimental animals, to map out in great detail just how the fear system of the brain works. Although much of the research has involved laboratory rats, there have also been studies of a variety of other mammals. Remarkably, the results in all these species lead to the same conclusion. Learning and responding to stimuli that warn of danger involves neural pathways that send information about the outside world to the amygdala, which determines the significance of the stimulus and triggers emotional responses, like freezing or fleeing, as well changes in the inner workings of the body’s organs and glands. There is also evidence that the amygdala of reptiles and birds has similar functions. The implication of these findings is that early on (perhaps since dinosaurs ruled the earth, or even before) evolution hit upon a way of wiring the brain to produce responses that are likely to keep the organism alive in dangerous situations. The solution was so effective that it has not been messed with much, and works pretty much the same in rats and people, as well as many if not all other vertebrate animals. Evolution seems to have gone with an ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ rule when it comes to the fear system of the brain (...) research into the brain mechanisms of fear help us understand why emotional conditions are so hard to control. Neuro-anatomists have shown that the pathways that connect the emotional processing system of fear, the amygdala, with the thinking brain, the neocortex, are not symmetrical – the connections from the cortex to the amygdala are considerably weaker than those from the amygdala to the cortex. This may explain why, once an emotion is aroused, it is so hard for us to turn it off at will’. [endquote]. (‘The Emotional Brain: The Mysterious Underpinnings of Emotional Life’; Copyright © Joseph LeDoux 1996; Publisher: Touchstone Books (Reprint edition March 1998); ISBN: 0684836599).

Despite dealing with people’s feelings every day, few therapists can give more than a basic explanation of what exactly instinctual passion is (what neurobiologists call ‘emotion’), and how it influences human functioning. Evolutionary biology plays a strong role in what Mr. Joseph LeDoux calls ‘the emotional brain’, those emotional drives which are inherited from humans’ prehistoric ancestors, such that conscious (explicit) emotional experience can be easily seen as higher-order forms of the sub-conscious survival instinctual (implicit) passions ... if one examines oneself moment-to moment.

One critic of his book ‘The Emotional Brain’ wrote: [quote]: ‘LeDoux, a neuroscience researcher, shows that our emotions are generated by separate independent neuro systems which work unconsciously; believe it or not, we do NOT run because we are afraid, but rather we are afraid because we run. He also shows that the emotional systems have a much greater impact on our rational conscious than the rational conscious has on the emotional systems. Passion rules reason. This has tremendous implications for the current thinking in psychology/ psychiatry (although they will be slow to pick up on it). And it explains why man has so much angst, why we don’t learn from history, why man is so brutal’. [endquote].

Another critic wrote: [quote]: ‘Joseph LeDoux, a professor at the Center for Neural Science at New York University, has written the most comprehensive examination to date of how systems in the brain work in response to emotions, particularly fear. Among his fascinating findings is the work of amygdala structure within the brain. The amygdala mediates fear and other responses and actually processes information more quickly than other parts of the brain, allowing a rapid response that can save our lives before other parts of the brain have had a chance to react’. [endquote].

And another: [quote]: ‘More than any other researcher, LeDoux has put the amygdala two nubbins of neural tissue (one on either side of the brain) – at the center of what he calls the Wheel of Fear. Located near the center of the skull, the amygdala belongs to an archaic part of the brain, a part found in birds and reptiles, often referred to as the ‘limbic system’. [endquote].

Mr. Stephen S. Hall wrote in the New York Times, February 28, 1999: [quote]: ‘LeDoux is not the only biologist to have homed in on the amygdala. Bruce Kapp of the University of Vermont started by studying one of the signature aspects of fear, changes in heart rate, and worked back to the brain. Beginning in 1979, he focused on the part of the brain stem that controls heart rate in rabbits. Following the nerve filaments like a spent fuse back into the brain, he discovered that these fibres lead to the amygdala. Not only that, they also lead to a small hive of related nerve cells in the amygdala, a bit larger than the head of a pin, known as the central nucleus. What was found to be true in rabbits, and later in rats, now appears to be true in humans as well. The central nucleus is the part of your brain that instantaneously looses the hounds of fear when you hear a loud bang or feel an earthquake. Nerves running out from this little knot of excitation carry the messages that control heart rate, blood pressure, sweating, respiration, freezing, increased jumpiness – all the engines that get revved in a fearful situation. But the wiring doesn’t stop there. Other nerve fibres from the amygdala thread their way back (or ‘project’) into the upper parts of the brain, to regions that control the release of stress hormones (which may play a major role in the reign of irrational fears), to the cortex and to sensory areas’. [endquote].

Mr. Joseph LeDoux’s laboratory continues to investigate the workings of the brain ... and they maintain a web page that may be worth a visit (although it takes some wading through). Vis.:

Mr. Daniel Goleman has written: [quote]: ‘A view of human nature that ignores the power of emotions is sadly shortsighted. The very name ‘Homo Sapiens’, the thinking species, is misleading in light of the new appreciation and vision of the place of emotion in our lives that science now offers. As we all know from experience, when it comes to shaping our decisions and our actions, feeling counts every bit as much – and often more – than thought. We have gone too far in emphasising the value and import of the purely rational – of what IQ measures – in human life. Intelligence can come to nothing when the emotions hold sway’. [endquote]. (‘Emotional Intelligence’ Copyright © 1995 by Daniel Goleman; Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 2 Soho Square, London W1V 6HB; ISBN 0 7475 2803 6).

This is a clear statement of fact: ‘Intelligence can come to nothing when the emotions hold sway’. There is a wealth of information both in print and on the Internet ... which all reinforces what I wrote in ‘Richard’s Journal’ some years ago: ‘Humankind is poised on the cusp of the dawning of a fresh era; an era wherein an evolution in the brain-stem is beginning to happen. The seat of the instincts, tentatively located in the popularly named ‘reptilian brain’, is capable of undergoing a mutation. No longer will blind nature have to operate; the perpetuation of the species will become a matter of lucid thought and personal choice. No longer will vicious wars of group survival be necessary. Already, with the advent of mutually assured destruction because of nuclear capability, people are questioning the advisability of war as a means of settling disputes. The apprehension of a cataclysmic end to human life has shaken the habitual and apathetic ‘human’ complacency to such an extent that the mind is now ready to be receptive to something entirely new in human history’.

I do consider that these are exciting times to be living in.




The Third Alternative

(Peace On Earth In This Life Time As This Flesh And Blood Body)

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