Monday, January 18, 2010

A Cautionary Note

I have referred many to the Actual Freedom Trust website, and used to prominently display its web address in my blogger sidebar.

I am obligated to say this to the fellow travelers and seekers and to those who via my blog, or via interactions with me, have come to this mailing list or considered the contents of the AFT website.

For the historical record, I can no longer unhesitatingly recommend 100% of the contents of the AFT website (and especially the recent developments about the "direct route" etc.).

There are valuable insights and discussions available on the AFT website, but the labyrinthine contents (which are mostly archived correspondence) need a very high degree of discrimination, probing, thought, enquiry, reflection, practice, and experimentation to derive benefit from.


S. Hall said...

Greetings Harman,

I'm relieved to know I wasn't the only one turned off by the recent AF news (although I'm sure your reasons differ from mine, given your much higher degree AF knowledge and experience). In fact, I was going to contact you to discuss this through a personal email after the news of your departure from the AF mailing list, but decided against it after incorrectly assuming you must have gone off to join the "Floating Convivium."

Anyway, thank you for the "Cautionary Note," and I look forward to reading more of your writing on this excellent blog.


Anonymous said...

I had tucked away a 'todo' into some corner of the brain. The todo was to ask you what you thought of the recent events and here you are! :)

My initial skepticism arose as soon as I came to know about their "fear" of not taking a brain scan. I'd expect an actually free person to think using rationale and question everything. Which means, the ability to question someone's claims such as "now foo and bar are _actually_ free people too".

AF's method is still questionable as the _true path_ to _Actual Freedom_ but sure is like a better attempt at being mindful (or perhaps, that is all the zen buddhists meant too?)

Anonymous said...

So now you stopped looking for the non existent black cat in the dark room. Good for you.

Anonymous said...

High time...

Martin said...

Wow I wander onto this blog after a long time and this is what I see.

Congrats for finally seeing the light. Wonder what took so long.

Harmanjit Singh said...

@MM: You're welcome.

@sunson: Yes, the actualism method can be beneficial.

@Anonymous and @Anonymous: :-)

@Martin: It has been educational, to put it mildly. :-) How are you doing?

Surbhi said...


hope you realize that you may have done a favour to many by raising the doubts and helped them to be self-critical to the tee....

raise the glass to freedom!! ( and while you chart your own path now - keep on sharing what you find)

warmest wishes reserved for your regards that you convey and courage to walk alone....

as Tagore said: "ekla chalo re" ( walk alone)....sans crutches !


p.s: sharing a favourite song, which i have found inspirational in self-examination:

Martin said...

@Martin: It has been educational, to put it mildly. :-) How are you doing?

#Not bad at all, I have full measure of the mind by now. Alas it is the body that is the last hindrance on the smooth flow of life, but soon enough friend.

Erasure said...

"..I can no longer unhesitatingly recommend 100% of the contents of the AFT website.."

If not 100%, then how many %? If not hesitatingly, then hesitatingly? If you believe the schema to have been fraudulent, you owe to your many readers, who may have been led by the nose down a ruinous path! It has been said that NO is the most powerful word in the language.

Erasure said...

Well? Or was it no more than an idle past-time, a matter of little consequence? And foisting on others?

Harmanjit Singh said...


Since I recommended this site, I am obligated to inform others now that I have revised my recommendation to be a cautious one.

Erasure said...

To clarify is it the web-site which is the object of your doubt or the AF methodology advocated by Mr.Richard about which you are now wholly or partially abandoning? If I had been recommending a medicine of which now I have reservations, I would feel duty bound to boldly express myself. That would be honesty both plain and intellectual.

Harmanjit Singh said...

@erasure: I have not been recommending the AFT website as a "medicine" (or as a cure-all), but as an instructive repository of thoughts and discussions. However, I am now aware that it can be dangerous (as opposed to merely a distraction) if not considered with due caution.

And to further clarify, I consider the AFT website to be useful, but with a proviso (it needs a highly developed and intelligent brain to attempt and succeed in minimizing of affective responses). There is nothing wrong with analyzing affects, and their causation. But the AF "doctrine" is much beyond that and that should not be - very painstakingly (since it is all mixed up) - taken on faith.

I consider the mental states of the three main propounders of AF to be considerably suspect (and I am not conclusive on this, yet) (though they can act normal and be fun to be with, too, as per at least one reliable first hand report).

Erasure said...

My congratulations on your perspicacity. It takes courage to say I could have been wrong. Your journey is a long one.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't it all come down to Vineeto, who got on your nerves leading to a heated debating of her virtually free status and leading to the closure of the original list, and now her actual freedom leading you to leave the whole thing altogether.

Harmanjit Singh said...

@Anonymous: There are at least three assumptions in your question that it cannot be answered as such. For just three:

- that she got on my nerves
- that she was "virtually free" (the best that a human can be, while being a human)
- that she is now "actually free" (free from the human condition)

No, that is part of it (her response only confirmed to me that "actual freedom" (tm) or "virtual freedom" (tm) or the so-called "different-way-of-being" (tm) is not the solution to the ills of humankind, not by far).

A debate is only to be expected when you say something extremely radical (did they expect no one to question their new state or even their "virtual freedom"). The deletion of the topica archives, without notice, was one of the most flagrant acts of callous disregard towards the fellow correspondents ("who are they to have a say in all this?", in other words) when the last list was closed down. That the gesture of notifying the others about the deletion of archives never happened should give a clue to the "actual caring" being a doctrinal caring.

Peter is (still, in my consideration) a well-meaning man (though he has bought into the whole thing with "staunchness").

There are other reasons (some of which may never come to light, due to privacy of certain people concerned) some of which I might detail in a structured essay some time this year.

Once one realizes (and has enough confidence) that the system may after all be flawed, one can then give more credence to the earlier doubts that one has had (which one might have dismissed as one's own failings and attachments) as not altogether devoid of validity.

Gabriel said...

I swear the above commentator is not me, Harman :o)


Anonymous said...

"There are other reasons (some of which may never come to light, due to privacy of certain people concerned) some of which I might detail in a structured essay some time this year."

# if the disclosure is so important that you chose to mention it, don't you own it to your readers and other practitioners to find a way to these reasons so that others may be educated. After all your information can provide a huge new direction to others just as if has provided it to you. Of course, privacy of people needs to be respected, but if, ( in some way) the information can be of some help then it will help a large number of people.



Harmanjit Singh said...

Of course, privacy of people needs to be respected, but if, ( in some way) the information can be of some help then it will help a large number of people.

@Anonymous: The likelihood of that information coming into the public domain is highly unlikely. Sometimes, life does not offer you enough information (for example, I don't know much about the "mutiny" that Richard has hinted at), so with the limited information that one has, one has to make a decision. I would agree that this is sub-optimal, but sometimes, there is not much that one can do to remedy a situation in which other people are involved.

Anonymous said...

Looking at the mutiny business, here is a speculative conjecture:

Harman was vying for a prominent place in the new Actualist organization. Vineeto vehemently opposed Harman given their past history, and Richard sided with Vineeto. Harman's protests led him to be declared him a mutineer.

In the end I still think Harman came out a winner, by abandoning that ship of psychopathic fools.

Harmanjit Singh said...

@Anonymous: No, in all seriousness, that conjecture is wrong wrt at least my involvement (don't know about Vineeto being the turncoat mutineer).

Unless you were joking, in which case it is a good joke. :-)

Anonymous said...

I applaud your honesty in this matter Harmanjit.

I have a query:

On the 'announcement' page, Richard has said "..although I was not advised of her death until the following day, within the hour I was as if lifted forward by a cresting wave.."

and "..I have no access whatsoever to the human psyche collectively (aka the Psyche) – and neither can it get at me.."

This leaves me quite confused over what either statement could mean.

Are you able to shed any light on this?

Anonymous said...

@anonymous: i loved that joke...and in light of this conjecture, may i add that Mr. Richard's surety that another mutiny will never happen may be wrong. in fact, i foresee all tha list members abandoning the ship of psychopaths soon. another response of vineeto to another member will reveal everything about the state of trinity.

it is thrilling to be authentic and fearless of authority. :-)

Anonymous said...

@anon, 2.02 am: hey let the cat out of bag! Mr. Richard is on his way to S for Senile!


Harmanjit Singh said...

@Anonymous: No, you may want to ask the author of both the statements in question.

The full statement is:

"although I was not advised of
her death until the following day (see Message No.
7578) within the hour I was as if lifted forward by a
cresting wave (to utilise surfing terminology),
impressing upon Vineeto the necessity of being
out-from-control/in a different-way-of being (most
unusual of me to do so), and have been effortlessly
riding this perfect wave ever since (to allegorise the
ultimate surfing experience); the momentum gathered
apace on the fourth day of Jack Smith's visit (a quite
essential validation of the ambience-atmosphere-milieu
golden thread/clew experiment); thereafter an analogy
akin to that of a maestro conducting an orchestra is
suggestive of the actual in action -- all the while
insouciantly atop this most perfect wave -- up until
Tuesday, 29 December, 2009 whereupon, when it became
patently obvious the convivialists[1], of the very first
convivium[2] ever to emerge on this verdant and azure
paradise called planet earth, were choosing themselves
organically, the maestro's baton could be readily laid
to rest for the nonce."

However, in my understanding, either Richard felt his wife's death within the hour of it happening, or within the hour of him being informed on the following day. If the former, then 2+2=5 and people can go eat some cauliflower in the market, if the latter, then the wave is nothing but a drive in other words, and a different version of cauliflower may be advised, cf. the following:

"I have no sense of mission to ‘change the world’. I am
not driven by mystical forces to evangelise, to proselytise, and to
convert. If anyone is genuinely interested in finding out what the
reason for their existence is, I am only too happy to participate in
their enquiry. Nevertheless, I can only help those who wish to be
helped in the only way that I can help. I am free to be here now in
the world as-it-is. Unadorned and unencumbered, I can stand on my own
two feet, owing allegiance to no one and nothing at all. I am
supremely content with life as-it-is, for perfection can be found in
what others call imperfection ... and I have no desire to change
anything." (Richard)

Which brand of cauliflower you want (or whether you are hungry at all) is your choice. :-)

Anonymous said...

ok...firstly, i like that cauliflower joke...for one it produces flatulence and stink...while i am not disparaging what is on offer at the AFT website, is your reaction not swinging to the other side of the spectrum, an about turn, from being the (almost top dog - promoting in your blog, discussion on both the lists, being vocal and enthused about it all)...i am surprised no one seems to pay attention to this and other doubts that you have raised...are people so hypnotized? and then they think they are most intelligent people on the face of my eggs into a top fried omelet...

Anonymous said...

while Richard engaged in a dialogue with Irene, it is lost to me that he is not engaging in a discussion with you, smacks of a lot of smell here....

(unanonymous'd) tazmic said...

Thanks for the cauliflower clarification :O) I guess I must have been hungry after all, which is interesting. I see it was the word 'although' that framed my interpretation.

"I am free to be here now in
the world as-it-is. Unadorned and unencumbered, I can stand on my own
two feet, owing allegiance to no one and nothing at all...I have no desire to change anything"

Retirement sounds great...

Although I understand the, um, personal sentiment, often expressed similarly in Zen, I do hope I am never that happy with the actual world as it is. And I don't see why I would want to be.

(It intrigues me that Jesus was the only 'teacher' to 'throw over the tables of the money lenders'. Why aren't today's crop doing the same?)

Anonymous said...


It seems to me, going by the two quotes of Richard ( that you have posted above) that he is helping those who are asking for his help viz. his close associates ( Peter & Vineeto) and other people engaged in actualism or in a dialogue with him. The quotes you have posted reveal that the enthusiasm he seems to have is unusual nowadays because he sees possibilities opening up. He has after all, worked all these years to share his findings and help others ( in the way he can help them). As for the mutiny business, it is clear to me via reading of the emails posted on the yahoo group, that he has mentioned it metaphorically, something that he cannot reveal right away, but eventually may.

But it was a pleasure to read your doubts as well, as they will help the future actualists steer clear of these traps of doubts which will obviously haunt any intellectual because it is hard to take on something 180 degree opposite - logic and intellect with resist it.


Anonymous said...

The way Richard arrived at the opening of possibilities (psychically) is ridiculous.

Erasure said...

If you think these guys are frauds why don't you say so in plain words instead of hawing and hemming?

Anonymous said...

@Erasure: what a ridiculous thought! Even if Harman pronounces them fraud, does that mean that they are frauds....its like blind leading the blind....why not arrive at your judgement, why depend upon someone else's commentary, assessment. Caution is good, skepticism better, independent assessment is best ; needless aspersions is bad, doubting everything is worse, and via media conclusions, the worst.

@ Harman : i do not mean to question your assessment, but would it not be better if you answered the queries and observations, so that the confusion/speculation regarding your cautionary note is laid to rest.

AF may be whatever it is, your personal doubts not withstanding, do you really think it is a fraudulent enterprise altogether?



Harmanjit Singh said...

@Erasure and @Anonymous:

I have provided my cautionary note as a helpful suggestion. I cannot and will not make up somebody's mind for them.

As for what do I think of the AF enterprise, my cautionary note is self-explanatory. I do not think the many scattered insights to be worthless, but a good dose of caution is advised, since I do consider that some behavioural patterns of the three actually free people are highly suspect. The reason I don't want to go into details is because each comment will have to be discussed in great depth for it to be fully fleshed out, and I have given enough pointers in my last few days' correspondence (before I left). In other words, I am not at present inclined to go into a detailed discussion about the reasons behind my cautionary note. Those interested can take it as a bit of information (in that a long-standing practitioner has at present grave doubts about a radical proposition and methodology), and if and when more information is forthcoming, they can consider that as a bonus. My disinclination at present has two reasons:

a) I do not have that much time currently.

b) The AF dialectic (i.e. the way things are discussed amongst actualists) is quite rigorous and my doubts and their explication may require tons of verbiage to satisfy the genuine and valid curiosity of those interested.

That said, I can posit that, as per my current understanding, the miasma of patterns in the human brain which have evolved over a millenia and which though useful in certain evolutionary contexts, lead to sorrow, misery, illusion and stress (for oneself, and for others) and which lead to the human condition being what it is, can not be eradicated by a single epochal event (which may be called spiritual enlightenment, actual freedom, ego-death, soul-death, nibbana, parinibbana, etc.). I am not a pessimist, or a nay-sayer, because I also consider that these patterns can be attenuated, made feeble, and some of them may even be done away with (and which pursuit I consider eminently worthwhile). I think that when somebody says he/she is "totally free", that claim should be believed at one's own peril.

There may be no such thing. :-)

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Harman. For clarifications and i agree with you that one has to look at , accept or believe a concept, idea, people on one's own peril. That said, let me add that one person's assessment of a concept is essentially his/her point of view based on how he/she interprets and reads facts, reports, words - human discernment is limited by perspective, more often than we are willing to admit or accept.



Bruce said...

fwiw, dear Harman ... I was never much a fan of the Richard fellow.

I found him too much a swaggerer, nit-picker, know-it-all, word-splitter.... with a need to lead a life in craving for admiration, a thirst for glory/conceitedness/vanity and in debauchery.

He was/is a cult of the personality, arrogance, over estimation of the self, of false delusional self-veneration... a man of faux peace, faux harmony, self-love, self-deception ... I need not go on.

Congratulations to you. Lessons learned.

Anonymous said...

hi, Modern Man

care to elaborate what were you turned off in the recent AF news?

i enjoy your musings on your blog. My compliments.

S. Hall said...

Hi Anon,

I appreciate the compliments; it's nice to know someone out there is enjoying my blog.

I might have been a bit misleading about saying the AF news turned me off; it was actually the online conversations taking place right before the news. Richard's belief that the world will achieve peace in his lifetime is absolutely delusional (and I'd stand by that even if he was a young twenty-something). A claim like that coming from the founder of AF did open my eyes to just how misled Richard might be. Also, his talk of mutinees, as confusing as they were, seemed fantastical and cultish (why were there power struggles going on behind the AF scenes?). Both of those instances (and the subsequent conversations on the direct-route mailing list) reached a point of silliness and absurdity that it made it hard to take any of it seriously anymore.

I do still reap some benefits from the AF method, but I don't put too much stock in AF as a whole anymore (I reap many benefits from other philosophies, as well, without giving myself fully to any one of them). I'm a philosophical cherry-picker, for better or for worse. It keeps me grounded.


Anonymous said...

I got to know of the AF through your blog (having reached the site after reading your article on Viapssana). It will be interesting to see your critique whenever you get to publish it.
At the personal level, I was quite amused by the AF thing on my rather few visits to the website. I was reminded of other cults in the western world which are inspired by the modern technology, aliens as drivers for their whole discourse. I am not naming any here with a purpose. Also, it gave me a psychopath alert.
I wondered how a person with your level of thought process (as I know from your writings) would be getting along with that. I was betting in my mind that one day you'll reach such a stage. I am not surprised, though I do not understand much of what happened as I do not follow AF mailing list.

Shreyas said...

I was just reading your older posts and came across about AF and spent some time in their website.
I don't know why but it somehow reminded me vividly of the movie "A clockwork orange". I think you being a movie buff must have seen it as well. I had my own doubts and concerns and now I see this post!
Phew, one must be extra careful!