Harmlessness

http://www.actualfreedom.com.au/richard/selectedcorrespondence/sc-harmless.htm

What it is not

http://actualfreedom.com.au/actualism/vineeto/selected-correspondence/corr-harmless.htm

VINEETO: The reason I said that there is a remarkable difference between feeling harmless and actually being harmless is because it is easy to assess one’s happiness by checking if I am feeling happy whereas many people may feel themselves to be harmless when they are not experiencing feelings of aggression or anger against somebody. Yet they are nevertheless causing harm via their thoughtless ‘self’-oriented instinctual feelings and actions, something that all human beings are prone to do unless they become fully aware of their instinctual passions before these translate into vibes and/or actions.

It was about a year into my process of actualism when I became aware of how much my outlook on the world and on people had changed in that my cloak of myopic ‘self’-centredness began to lift and I no longer saw the world only ‘my’ way and my judgments and actions no longer revolved around ‘my’ interests, ‘my’ beliefs, ‘my’ ideas, ‘my’ ideals, ‘my’ fears, ‘my’ desires and ‘my’ aversions. Consequently I have learnt to judge harmlessness by the amount of parity and consideration I apply to others whom I come in contact with, both at work and at play, and not by merely feeling myself to be harmless.

RESPONDENT: Can you say more about this? I usually feel harmless but have been thinking lately that I somehow still do harm simply by not paying attention and applying parity and consideration to others with whom I come into contact. How did you do this more and more? And how did you notice that you’re still harming someone even if you don’t have feelings of anger or aggression or the like? And how do you know it’s you harming them? Can you give a few examples? I’m finding it possible to consider this matter more now that I’m happier as its given me breathing room to be less self-centred, but it’s a pretty new subject to me. What keeps your mind on being considerate? Is it just a close scrutiny on the feelings and passions that arise? Are you more perceptive of others because the feelings and passions that are now arising are diminished so you’re naturally more attentive to other things as well, like what’s going on with other people?

VINEETO: Sure. When I met Peter I was full of good intentions to make our living together work, i.e. to be as happy and peaceful as possible, but I had continuous clashes of opinion with him, frustrations of foiled expectation, hurt feelings and revenge of hurtful remarks. I realized that in order to be able live with Peter in peace and harmony I had to sort out a lot – my beliefs, my ‘truths’, my loyalties, my gender ideas, my problems with authority and all other sorts of feelings.

I remember well the first evening when I looked at Peter and saw him as just another human being – not as a partner, a mate, a member of the other gender, a lover, a sexual object, a valuable addition to my circle of friends, and not as someone who would approve or disapprove of me – simple another fellow human being. Suddenly the separation I felt was gone and there was a delicious intimacy, as ‘I’ was no longer attempting to force him to fit into ‘my’ world.

I was astounded and shocked by this experience, being outside of my so familiar ‘self’-centred and ‘self-oriented skin, because I realized that never before, not once in our 3-months acquaintance, had I been able, or even interested, to see him as a person in his own right. I was shocked at how all of my perception and consequently all of my interactions were driven by what I wanted, what I expected and what I believed him to be and how much I was therefore constantly at odds with how he actually was. From then on I paid as much attention as possible to become aware of situations when my feelings, beliefs, expectations and general attitude were standing in the way of recognizing another person, first Peter and later anyone I came in contact with, as equal fellow human beings, as persons in their own right, who live their own life, follow their own goals and aspirations, have their own preferences and tastes, and also, have their own set of morals, ethics and beliefs.

The reason I am telling this story is because this experience was the beginning of a slow and wide-ranging realization that as long as I live in ‘my’ world – made up of ‘my’ worldview, ‘my’ beliefs, opinions, feelings and survival passions – I cannot help but struggle to fit everyone into ‘my’ world, as actors on the stage of ‘my’ play, so to speak, as family and aliens, as friends and enemies, as ‘good people and ‘bad’ people. And not only am ‘I’ busy trying to do this, everyone else – all six billion of us – are equally struggling to fit everyone into ‘their’ world.

It then comes as no surprise that being actually harmless is out of the question – until ‘I’ more and more leave centre-stage, stop resenting being here, stop being stressed, take myself less seriously, take notice of other people the way they are and start enjoying life.


VINEETO: [..] I have spent many years exploring therapy groups and spiritual feeling states and it was quite a challenge to slowly wake up to the fact that feeling is not identical to actuality – in fact, feeling has nothing to do with actuality. In the past I might have felt harmless but was nevertheless quite harmful in that my ‘self’-centredness inevitably caused ripples in other peoples lives. I found that while I might have felt that I valued peace, I still instinctively acted in attack and defence mode. While I might have felt that I was willing to sacrifice my ego for a higher cause, I was actually cultivating humbleness as a means of soul-istic ‘self’-aggrandizement, and so forth.

Through the rigorous and persistent process of actualism, I slowly learnt to extend my attention beyond what I thought and felt, i.e. my ideals and passions, so as to become aware of the tangible effects that my thoughts, feelings and actions had on the people around me. I discovered more and more that feeling myself to be harmless and actually being harmless were two completely different things. This process of distinguishing between feeling and actuality is the key to actually becoming happy and harmless compared to merely feeling happy and harmless.

Vulnerability

VINEETO: [..] When I made it my goal to become harmless, in the early days I sometimes felt toothless, castrated and helpless, particularly in situations where I felt I was being ‘wronged’ or I was being treated ‘unjustly’. But once these feeling subsided and I looked at the situation as it really was, I could see how silly it would have been to waste my time passionately fighting other people or riling against the beliefs, morals or ethics of other people in order for ‘me’ to be right or for ‘me’ to feel justly treated. The simple act of becoming aware of having antagonistic and/or indignant feelings inevitably caused me to look at my own ideas and ideals of what I thought and felt was ‘right’ and ‘just’ and ‘fair’– after all the only person I need to change, and can change, is me.

Oh changing others

VINEETO: [..] You might also have observed that pointing out a fact that pulls the rug from under someone’s precious belief often raises their hackles and as such is considered to be an act of aggression in the believer’s eyes. Whilst I would not choose to take someone’s beliefs apart in ‘real life’, as you call it, this mailing list is up front about being a non-spiritual mailing list and has been specifically set up ‘to assist in elucidating just what is entailed in becoming free of the human condition’. (From the welcome message to the Actual Freedom mailing list) As such this list is the very place to openly question and actively investigate all of the spiritual/philosophical beliefs, worldviews and psittacisms that pass for wisdoms and truths within the human condition so as to be able to make a clear-eyed investigation and assessment of the facts of the matter.

When I first came across actualism I went through a phase of enthusiasm where I wanted to share with my then-friends from my spiritual years that I had found the solution to my life-long quest for peace and happiness, a quest which I assumed was the same for them. At first, I naively thought people would be as pleased as I was to hear about an alternative to the well-worn religious/spiritual path – but no, none of my former friends who I talked to was in the least interested in questioning their precious beliefs, let alone entertain the idea of abandoning the safety of the spiritual path, and setting off in a completely new direction. At first I was flabbergasted by their disinterest in actualism, but with increasing attentiveness I began to understand my own doubts and fears and saw it as an ingrained part of the human condition that one wants to avoid changing one’s own life but invariably either wishes or even demands that other’s should change.

In short – I learnt to keep my mouth shut about abandoning beliefs, about becoming happy and harmless and about ‘self’-immolation and consequently the people I meet nowadays rarely feel threatened by what I do or say and therefore rarely treat me differently to everyone else. Mostly they are far too concerned with their own lives to even want to know what I am doing, let alone ‘test’ my harmlessness.

More

(The rest of that correspondonce by Vineeto, linked above, is an excellent read; the author may get to make notes of them in future, but do give it a read now)

Sub

Links to this page
  • living in the world as it is with people as they are

    VINEETO: Actualism is about living in the world as it is with people as they are. I am not intending to change other people – or the world – but I whittle away at removing what prevents me from being happy and harmless right here, right now.

  • Your own best friend

    One thing that played a major part in my increasingly liking people-as-they-are was the acknowledgement of my own malice and sorrow, that I recognized it as being due to the human condition and that I understood that everybody, through no fault of their own, is born into the same human condition. I then put this intellectual understanding into daily practice whenever I interacted directly with people, read or heard of other people or read or heard of other people’s views of other people.

  • The trust equation

    Vulnerability also involves a good deal of the element of intuition, and is concomitant with a lowering of habitual defenses for enabling a more direct (thus “vulnerable”) way of relating among people with a self, as opposed to engaging habitually in self-presentation. For a less self-centered approach, see Naiveté and Harmlessness.

  • Sensuousness

    RICHARD: The other aspect of the actualism method – other than felicity/ innocuity – is sensuosity: feeling felicitous/ innocuous, each moment again, brings one closer to one’s senses and the resultant wonder at the brilliance of the sensate world can enable apperception … the direct experience of the world as-it-is.

  • Security

    I don’t belong to any group and I have dared to acknowledge the fact that I am on my own – in fact, I as this flesh-and-blood body have been on my own all my life despite my feelings of belonging or not belonging. For the path to an actual freedom I rely on my own pure consciousness experiences to know what I want to achieve and I found that the method of actualism works to make me happy and harmless. There is neither belief nor devotion nor gratitude nor security nor following an authority figure – none of these emotional needs and bondages exist anymore.

  • S.N.A.G.

    Being a good, kind-hearted, moral and ‘caring’ man at the time it was difficult for me to see this behaviour in myself, or even acknowledge that this was ‘me’ in action, let alone want to put an end to it. For the ending of anger – causing ripples – is the ending of ‘me’. I used the term ‘causing ripples’ in my journal deliberately for I was nearly always able to control my anger – and most other emotions – and, as such, have not indulged in fights or violent acts, let alone verbal arguments, competitive sports, etc. I was a S.N.A.G., a wimp, a pacifist, a nice guy. When I came across Richard and his journal it was the harmless in ‘happy and harmless’ that was really appealing, for I knew that although I was a nice guy I could not honestly say I was harmless. In all my relationships, I knew that was as much the cause of dis-harmony as the other.

  • It doesn't really matter

    RICHARD: There is no worry, no, but I am not too sure that this is because there is no ‘I’ … it is simply silly to worry as worrying does nothing whatsoever to get an event changed. I correct – and thus improve – what can be corrected … according to a preference for creature comforts and ease of life-style. For example: if I can sit upon a cushion instead of the brick pavers of the patio I will … that is a preference. But if a cushion is not available it does not matter … I thoroughly enjoy being alive at this moment in eternal time and this place in infinite space irregardless of what is happening. I could be just as happy and harmless on bread and water in solitary confinement in some insalubrious penitentiary … but I would be pretty silly to act or behave in such a way as to occasion that outcome! The ‘I’ that used to inhabit this body did everything possible that ‘I’ could do to blatantly imitate the actual in that ‘I’ endeavoured to be happy and harmless for as much as is humanly possible. This was achieved by putting everything on a ‘it doesn’t really matter’ basis. That is, ‘I’ would prefer people, things and events to be a particular way, but if it did not turn out like that … it did not really matter for it was only a preference. ‘I’ chose to no longer give other people – or the weather – the power to make ‘me’ angry … or irritated … or even peeved, if that was possible. It was great fun and very, very rewarding along the way. ‘My’ life became cleaner and clearer and more and more pure as each habitual way of living life was consciously eliminated through constant exposure. Finally ‘I’ invited the actual by letting go of the controls and letting this moment live ‘me’. ‘I’ became the experience of the doing of this business of being alive … no longer the ‘do-er’. Thus ‘my’ days were numbered … ‘I’ could hardly maintain ‘myself’ … soon ‘my’ time would come to an end. An inevitability set in and a thrilling momentum took over … ‘my’ demise became imminent.

  • Delight

    A happy and harmless person has a much better chance of precipitating a PCE … which is the essential pre-requisite for an actual freedom (otherwise this is all theory). It goes without saying, surely, that a grumpy person locks themselves out of being here … now.

    Richard: To get out of ‘stuckness’ one gets off one’s backside and does whatever one knows best to activate delight. Delight is what is humanly possible, given sufficient pure intent obtained from the felicity/ innocuity born of the pure consciousness experience, and from the position of delight, one can vitalise one’s joie de vivre by the amazement at the fun of it all … and then one can – with sufficient abandon – become over-joyed and move into marvelling at being here and doing this business called being alive now. Then one is no longer intuitively making sense of life … the delicious wonder of it all drives any such instinctive meaning away. Such luscious wonder fosters the innate condition of naiveté – the nourishing of which is essential if fascination in it all is to occur – and the charm of life itself easily engages dedication to peace-on-earth. Then, as one gazes intently at the world about by glancing lightly with sensuously caressing eyes, out of the corner of one’s eye comes – sweetly – the magical fairy-tale-like paradise that this verdant earth actually is … and one is the experiencing of what is happening. But refrain from possessing it and making it your own … or else ‘twill vanish as softly as it appeared.

  • Boredom

    I found dullness and boredom one of the most common reactions to being alive when things weren’t going ‘my’ way – and they rarely ever did or that life wasn’t exciting, which it rarely was. In the process of actualism I recognized, however, that my habitual resentment towards the various facts of life, for instance having to work 🏢 for a living, bad weather, getting sick, etc, clearly prevented me from becoming happy and harmless. I discovered I could either indulge in ‘my’ resentment or pull myself up by my boot strings and break this insidious habit. As No 3 pointed out, it was indeed a matter of priority – and I chose sensuous attentiveness over ‘self’-indulgent apathy, happiness over resentment.

  • Basic Resentment

    RICHARD: Please note this does not imply anger was extinguished (as that requires the ending of the instinctual passions via the extinction of the feeling-being formed thereof) but, rather, that anger as such never featured thereafter – never arose again – for the remainder of ‘his’ life. Concomitantly, hatred similarly disappeared out of ‘his’ day-to-day living as well although ‘he’ did not notice this until maybe six-to-eight weeks later when in a discussion ‘his’ then-wife raised on the topic. In fact, the feeling of hate was so far removed from ‘his’ everyday life ‘he’ could not remember too well what it felt like (in the aforementioned discussion with ‘his’ then-wife ‘he’ somewhat hesitantly recollected hatred as feeling ‘cold’ but she was adamant it was a ‘hot’ feeling).

    To put it succinctly – the basic feeling of resentment is replaced by joie the vivre and fellowship regard feelings of ‘nurturing’ or caring are replaced by actual caring for one’s fellow human beings.

    [Richard]: ‘Speaking personally, the first thing I did in 1981 was to put an end to anger once and for all … then I was freed enough to live in virtual freedom. It took me about three weeks and I have never experienced anger* since then. The first step was to say ‘YES’ to being here on earth, for I located and identified that basic resentment that all people that I have spoken to have. To wit: ‘I didn’t ask to be born!’ This is why remembering a PCE is so important for success for it shows one, first hand, that freedom is already always here … now. With the memory of that crystal-clear perfection held firmly in mind … that basic resentment goes. Then it is a relatively easy task to eliminate anger forever. One does this by neither expressing or repressing anger when an event happens that would previously trigger an outbreak. Anger is thus put into a bind … and the third alternative hoves into view’.

  • Autonomy

    PETER: When I started to become free of malice and sorrow, I found my emotional bonds or ‘neediness’ with other people became noticeably weaker. The most noticeable effect of this was that I lost my former spiritual ‘friends’ because I was no longer a member of a group of fellow believers. As I progressively became free of malice, I was no longer interested in participating in conversations where the ills of the world were blamed on others. And as I became progressively free of sorrow, I was no longer interested in participating in conversations where being here was regarded as a miserable business and where it was firmly believed that succour or relief could only be found by retreating ‘inside’. There was a period of time where I felt an outsider or a loner but recently I had occasion to meet quite a few old friends at a social event and all feelings of being an outsider and a loner had totally disappeared. I had a pleasurable time with a group of fellow human beings, regardless of their beliefs, gender or cultural conditioning.

    The one common denominator in all these reactions is that there is a ‘me’ involved – a ‘me’ who is strong or weak, a ‘me’ who is right or wrong, a ‘me’ who is good or bad, a ‘me’ who stands and fights or slinks away. The only way out of this seesawing emotional turmoil is to become autonomous – to become free of one’s own social and instinctual programming such that your being happy and harmless is independent of external influences and conditions.

  • Actualism Method
    This intrinsic benignity and benevolence, which has nothing to do with affective happiness and harmlessness, will do the rest.

    RICHARD: For the sake of clarity in communication I would stress that the actualism method sits firmly upon the minimisation of both the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ feelings and the optimisation of the felicitous/ innocuous feelings … and merely being in touch with felicity will not do the trick.