Friday, March 05, 2010

An Epitaph

I am pleased to note that the AFT website has attracted only a handful of followers/practitioners till date (the sincere ones, or the loony ones - depending on one's perspective - who are wanting to go all the way number in single digits after more than a decade of the website being in operation).

I am also pleased that of the first three so-called "actually free" people, two showed such poor consideration of others in their writings that their correspondence will continue to drive away most of who happen to come to the website. It is fortuitous indeed. If they were able to pretend being considerate in their writings, it would have been a greater effort for me or somebody else to successfully warn people of the danger of following them.

Given these two facts, at present I no longer consider it necessary to spend more of my time/writings on elucidating the pitfalls/dangers of Actualism.

I consider the contents of the website (which is mostly archived correspondence) to be a useful, if labyrinthine, addition to the annals of human endeavor. It can certainly teach you better skills in written argumentation. It can cure people of spirituality and metaphysics in some cases (e.g. the pages containing correspondence about Osho and J Krishnamurti are some of the most incisive analyses of these Gurus that are available anywhere). But it will, in the longer term, serve more as a stark lesson about the dangers of an obsessive pursuit to be superhuman.

To the mailing list members and practitioners: The sooner you come out of your desire to achieve a PCE/actual-freedom/virtual-freedom/in-control-virtual-freedom/out-of-control-virtual-freedom/different-way-of-being/etc. the better it is. There is obvious merit in being aware of one's reactions, in being attentive, and in questioning one's habit patterns, beliefs and passions, etc. and such questioning may lead to peak experiences, but beware of the actualist theology lurking in every corner of the website (infinitude, perfection, PCE, Actual Freedom, apperception, feelings-are-the-self). I can only warn.

To the so-called mutineers: If you are around, I would like to correspond with you, and share notes.

To the core members (R/P/V/Pa): I don't think I can reach you anymore where it would matter or make a difference. I would be happy to be proven wrong.

To the Directors of the Trust: Since you are so concerned about matters of propriety and legal prudence, I will point out to you (since it has probably not occurred to you yet) that nobody on the various mailing lists discussing Actualism etc. expressly transferred the copyright of their writings to you. To assume copyright over somebody else's writings (and especially somebody's writings on a public mailing list) is improper. The rather strict "Use Restrictions" at the bottom on your website are unenforceable for most of the webpages on your website since your copyright itself on most pages is a non-starter, having never been granted to you in the first place. You can legally claim copyright over what is written by other people only when that right has been granted to you. In the absence of any grant or claim by the writer(s) (whom you anonymize on your website but whose identity you have knowledge of), the writing is in the public domain. You may of course write to each one of the correspondents and obtain their permission to exercise your copyright over their writings, but till then, your restrictive notice has no legal standing.

I will not even begin to use words similar to the ones Richard used to rudely admonish a fellow human being who committed an inadvertent copyright impropriety, but I find it pertinent to mention that while he never received a single penny for his work, and never intended to, you have received monies for selling media containing, among other things, the text of the website over most of which you can not claim copyright.

13 comments:

Modern Man said...

Harman,

It's good to see your resolve has remained rock-solid. Given your credibility and experience with Actualism, your critique is an important one, and many of those testing the Actualist waters (as well as those who already practice it regularly) would be wise to keep it in mind.

As always, I'll be looking forward to your continued posts on film, society, and the good ol' human condition (sans Actualism).

-MM

Harmanjit Singh said...

The consolidated, and reformatted, "How I achieved Actual Freedom" (a trick title) by Gardol Yack:

http://docs.google.com/View?id=dc35b3gv_70hpjsdzvt

Its almost unreadable, laden with adjective after adjective, epithet after epithet, insult after insult, and beyond-excessive "refutation":

http://actualfreedom.com.au/richard/gardolcorrespondence/00index.htm

Ketan said...

Harmanjit,

Your desire to understand yourself (motivations, basis for reactions, fears, etc.) better was responsible for your getting drawn to actualism or your association with actualism helped you understand yourself so well (to the degree you do), or was it both?

Harmanjit Singh said...

@ketan: my quest started in 1994. i came across actualism in 2004.

Modern Man said...

Harman,

Thanks for the two links. Yack's critique was a very informative read, and it serves as a great companion to your critique.

The thought that Actualism is particularly attractive to the new line of narcissists (intellectual and anti-spiritual) is intriguing, and carries some weight.

As alarming as that might be, I think it's good to keep in mind what you wrote:

"I am pleased to note that the AFT website has attracted only a handful of followers/practitioners till date (the sincere ones, or the loony ones - depending on one's perspective - who are wanting to go all the way number in single digits after more than a decade of the website being in operation)."

-MM

Harmanjit Singh said...

@MM: Yeah, Gardol's writing about actualism is great (even though I mostly glanced through his own theology about the ground of being etc.).

And you are right, actualism is an extremely at-the-fringes movement, no need to be concerned. i also note that if you search for actualfreedom on google, the very next result after the aft website is my blog. someone doing even a cursory research won't miss the warning.

btw, a discussion about the epitaph is currently ongoing at the yahoo group, since i sent the message there as well.

the discussion starts from message 9221, and is quite interesting:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/actualfreedom/message/9221

Modern Man said...

Harman,

I'm currently reading The Closing of the American Mind, and here's an interesting excerpt that I thought you might be interested in:

"In the absence of a common good or common object, as Rousseau puts it, the disintegration of society into particular wills is inevitable. Selfishness in this case is not a moral vice or a sin but a natural necessity. The 'Me generation' and 'narcissism' are merely descriptions, not causes. The solitary savage in the state of nature cannot be blamed for thinking primarily of himself, nor can a person who lives in a world where the primacy of self-concern is only too evident in the most fundamental institutions, where the original selfishness of the state of nature remains, where concern for the common good is hypocritical, and where morality seems to be squarely on the side of selfishness."

In no way do I post this as a justification of narcissism. It would be a fallacy to assume that narcissism is a healthy option just because it makes the most social sense. Instead, the quote makes clear just how challenging it will be to find a cure for the narcissism epidemic.

-MM

Phani said...

Hi Harman, I recently stumbled upon your very thoughtful blog.I was about check out the actualism website in detail until I read your complete volte-face on that approach.I studied your enthusiasm and conviction about Actualism in your earlier blogs and the disillusionment with it in the later posts.Going by this and also having heard similar experiences in other schools of thought,I am beginning to feel that, perhaps, all these isms (spiritualism,actualism etc) are all just wild goose chases for a perfection that never truly exists.May be this notion of enlightenment/freedom is just a projection of what we want to be rather than what we can ever be.Our thinking minds can always conjure up a mental snapshot of a state of evolutionary perfection but will never be able to manifest. But I would like to live with the hope that I will be proved wrong some day :)

-Phani

Harmanjit Singh said...

@phani

perhaps, all these isms (spiritualism,actualism etc) are all just wild goose chases for a perfection that never truly exists.May be this notion of enlightenment/freedom is just a projection of what we want to be rather than what we can ever be.Our thinking minds can always conjure up a mental snapshot of a state of evolutionary perfection but will never be able to manifest. But I would like to live with the hope that I will be proved wrong some day

The pursuit of nirvana (spirituality) or parinirvana (actualism) is a result of the inability of a sensitive mind to reconcile with the suffering in the world. The end result is some altered state of consciousness in which one is detached (spirituality) un-attached (actualism), and hence, concerned only with one's own so-called spirit (spirituality) or body (actualism). Both are to solve the "problem" of the thinking mind and conflict and pains it feels by asserting the primacy of the spirit over it (spirituality) or of the senses (actualism). Simplistically speaking, of course.

Harmanjit Singh said...

@phani

That seeking of "perfection" is due to an inability to bear the normal psychological pushes and pulls of life. It is an escape mechanism.

Harmanjit Singh said...

For a while, on a forum set up for discussion of Actual Freedom, I responded to many questions and requests for clarifications, and participated in many threads after my "dropping out".

The threads for these discussions are:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/actualfreedom/message/8787

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/actualfreedom/message/9221

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/actualfreedom/message/9264

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/actualfreedom/message/9360

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/actualfreedom/message/9544

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/actualfreedom/message/9662

Harmanjit Singh said...

It seems like someone has deleted my messages from the yahoo group.

Never mind.

I will upload the discussion threads to another website soon and provide the link.

Anonymous said...

Can you upload the discussion threads which were deleted and provide a link?