Friday, March 21, 2014
Several years ago, I stumbled upon the Actual Freedom website, though due to the difficulty in navigating it, gave up and went on my way.
Then by chance, someone pointed me to the site, and having more time, I thoroughly digested its contents and started making use of its key pointer and practice: "How am I experiencing this moment of being alive?"
Actually, the folk at AF consider this pointer not to be the Actual Freedom method itself, but instead a tool to be used to attain a state of 'happiness and harmlessness'.
Having test-driven this pointer for several weeks as a constant inquiry throughout my waking hours, I'm happy to report it is a wonderful and efficacious pointer. On the other hand, the AFT website, and folk involved in turning this pointer into some sort of 'cult', make for a dog's breakfast, and thus the AF practice remains unappealing for some.
Here's my take on the AF practice, and above pointer.
+ This pointer works. Results guaranteed. Run it constantly and repeatedly throughout your waking hours. It will have either of two effects: 1) Bringing you back to I-am-ness, aliveness, beingness, and aware of consciousness only; 2) Bringing you back to the present moment, and primarily acute sensory mindfulness.
+ A natural side effect of the above is present moment awareness
+ Another side effect is that of immediate disidentification with discursive thought and the thinking mind
+ The pointer (or inquiry) can be done anywhere, anytime, and actually suits activity based practice
+ It can be run as a sole focus for a sitting session. It is highly adaptable.
? A major part of the official AF method is attaining the state of 'happiness and harmlessness'. While this is certainly laudable, IMO, aiming at a goal to achieve such as this, detracts from the work of the pointer in accepting whatever experience appears at this moment. My experience right now may be anything other than happy or harmless. It also sets up a 'something' for the ego to wish for and a reason to continue its self-imposed existence. "consistently enjoying and appreciating this moment of being alive is what the actualism method is.." (AFT)
IMO the above is a natural by-product of the pointer being done correctly, rather than a method to perform or goal to attain. Just perform the pointer, all else should follow.
? Another major part of the AF method, apart from the pointer, is in examining one's feelings right now, and if one is not 'happy and harmless', then one is advised to dig down and search out the source of one's unhappiness in the moment, where it arose in the past, rationalise it's "silliness", and move back into being.
"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? .. " (AFT)
Although this may be helpful for one's initial practice, and for analytically minded folk, IMO, this ultimately becomes an obstacle to the initial pointer 'HAIETMOBA'. The whole point of moving into present moment beingness is negated by once more taking up analytical thought, stories, thinking, past etc. I disregarded this secondary practice in my own test-drive, with better results.
? A massive amount is written on the site about PCEs (Pure Consciousness Experience) vs (Altered State of Consciousness) experiences. Some followers have written flowery descriptions of their PCE, while others who have attained 'AF' get to certify whether or not followers have really 'had one' yet.
"The more one enjoys and appreciates being just here right now – to the point of excellence being the norm – the greater the likelihood of a PCE happening ... a grim and/or glum person has no chance whatsoever of allowing the magical event,.. " (AFT)
This overemphasis on having a PCE on every second page of the site, again proves to be yet another goal trap which is irresistible for the ego to strive for (and/or dream up), and hence why most bona-fide spiritual paths suggest totally disregarding all and every experience along the way.
- The AFT (Actual Freedom) site is a little 'enter at your own risk'. A simple pointer device ballooned into an "-ism", theology, personality cult, 'who's attained freedom and who hasn't' website, and source of some of the most ridiculous claims and writings on Eastern mysticism, Buddhism, and spirituality in general.
- The website is generally hard to navigate. It seems to have an 80's design of links, pages of transcript text, essentials mixed with non essentials, and not much of a clear explanation of the practice up front.
- The founder(s) are under the delusion that they are the first to have attained a state of 'freedom' or 'beyond enlightenment' in the history of humankind. Previous sages, masters, etc. never got there, got half way only, or are snake oil.
" In other words I traversed territory which no enlightened being has ever navigated.." (AFT)
- The website contains some of the most bizarre misunderstandings related to 'enlightenment', Buddhism, and Eastern teachings available online. "Enlightenment" is deemed as a sort of dissociated state, and one which should be transcended. Buddhism (based on a couple of obscure Theravada sutras) is (incorrectly) deemed as an ascetic practice aimed at dissociation with life.
e.g. "Those multitudinous scriptures consistently point to a total withdrawal from this sensate physical world. Mr. Gotama the Sakyan’s advice is for a total disassociation of self from the world of people, things and events." (AFT)
(Buddhism doesn't even posit a "self", let alone advise on one's total dissociation with the sensate world. In fact, Mindfulness 101 involved direct contact with the sensate experience.)
In summary, HAIETMOBA is an excellent pointer/device and delivers the goods. The pointer, in fact, becomes the teacher (in exactly the same was as self-inquiry does), and can be relied on solely. The 'discoverers' of this pointer should be applauded and thanked for bringing it into the world in a large way.
However, take the remaining 80% of AF with a grain of salt, and discard as necessary.
Having been around for several years now, there is much written online about this method and pointer which is certainly helpful.
Sunday, March 16, 2014
"Who am I?"
Self-inquiry: it is like not being at all identified with the body/mind, but being an all pervasive witness to it.
It's not being identified with the "I am" either (which is a first step only), just being a neutral witness to the body/mind.
Not the "me inside as a person" feeling, but just a witness to all the body/mind, after the "me" gets knocked out quickly and sharply via "Who am I?"
The whole simple point of the practice is just to quickly and easily stun the "me" phantom identification into silence, so that the true witness of it all is made clearly manifest.
Obviously, this needs to be tested and done silently with eyes closed in a quiet place, repeatedly over time. Later, it can be done anywhere anytime, as the need arises. The need being that of getting lost in 'me' identification and separate identity mode once more (our default state from age three).
Monday, March 3, 2014
"The ‘mumukshu, is in kindergarten, spiritually inclined, but identifying with the body-mind. The ‘sadhaka’ is one who has dis-identified with the body-mind. A 'siddha’ is one who has stabilized in the knowledge ‘I am’, and in the process, has transcended it. In this journey you very well know where you are."
Consciousness and the Absolute - The final talks of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, Edited by Jean Dunn.
Of course, this doesn't explain HOW to get there, but it is one of the best (simple, concise) explanations of the stages on the path.
Concerning the "how" to get there, apart from the much quotes aspect of "Grace" (or divine providence or ripening), the easiest 'way' that I can see (from here) would have to be in learning to objectify things or appearances and knowing that one is not that. There are various ways in which to do this. As a hopelessly identified personality, I found vipassana noting practices (e.g. Mahasi) to be very effective. Advaita teachers and even greats such as Nisargadatta usually make a quantum leap here in expecting that people are capable of clearly objectifying objects and oneself included (as an object) with generalised attention only. Direct pointers, such as moving one's perception from the eyes to behind the head, can also work for some.
Starting with the body and mind objects, one clearly understands that one is not the seen object(s), then moving on to objectifying the "I am" beingness, one ultimately sees that one is not the "I am" or beingness. This is Nisargadatta's "prior to consciousness" or "prior to beingness" or "what were you before you entered the womb?". This necessarily leads to simply Knowledge (or Being-Consciousness-Bliss) only.
Unfortunately, the process can't be speeded up or jumped. It is not conceptual (another trap most spiritual & nondual dilettantes fall into). Having a mental understanding that I am not 'my hand' if fine, but if I still feel connected and a part of my body, then I'm still identified as it. One seems to have to remain at a certain stage until that understanding that one is "not that" arises of its own accord. Making strenuous effort is definitely helpful in the beginning up until and including abiding in the "I am" only. In more advanced stages though, this effort itself becomes an obstacle, only helping to fortify one's idea of a self-willing and self-autonomous "me" as the doer. When this ("I am" or one's perceived totality) is ultimately seen and transcended, there's nothing more to do.