Monday, March 01, 2010

On Harm and Malice, redux

I had written about harmlessness earlier. This is a refinement and a revision (and in some ways even a contradiction) of that article. To be fair to myself, I am not entirely sure if I am going to be able to communicate my thoughts. Of late, my brain has become kind-of catatonic. It recognizes the complexity of even a simple question ("So are you a vegetarian?" or "Are you into meditation?") and a smile seems to be the best answer at times.

Anyway, here goes...

Human beings suffer and cause pain to each other in the game of survival, propagation and pleasure. This is usually unacceptable to sensitive minds. Various antidotes are proposed. Spirituality and self-help movements aim for inward peace and happiness for oneself, and love, forgiveness, acceptance and compassion for others.

Actualism
rightly recognizes that these feeling states are merely cover-ups. For example, forgiveness is needed precisely because one has been hurt and is vengeful. "Inward peace" needs to be sustained precisely because stress doesn't take effort, and because its beneficiary is an artificial, delimited illusion whose territorial law-and-order needs to be maintained (the end-goal of spirituality, enlightenment, leads to the territory of the "self" becoming completely disjunct from the real world).

Actualism aims at a state of genuine and effortless happiness and harmlessness in which there is no need of antidotal feeling states.

Let's focus on harmlessness in the context of this article.

According to actualists, and those who are actually free (and even myself in the past), harmlessness is to be defined as freedom from malice. If one is free from feelings of sorrow and malice (and thus, it is said, free from the human condition), it is claimed that this is the best that one can do for another person.

I do not agree any more.

And this is why:

This is but another form of narcissism. The behaviour and interaction of die-hard actualists follows the following maxim: "Since I don't wish anybody any harm, and since I actually care about you, if my behaviour is irksome or bothersome to you, it is "your" problem, and moreover, a stark manifestation of your rotten humanness which needs to be worked at." (my phrasing)

Elaborated, what this means is: "Since I am at peace, and your feelings can no longer bother me (because my affective reception is null and void), I remain at peace with my behavior. In other words, I see no need to change my behavior. It is "you" who needs to change if the relationship is to be more harmonious. Actually, "you" need to go away, since "you" stand in the way of peace and harmony."

And by using these quotes, wherein I am what I am since "I" am no longer in operation, whereas "you" are who "you" are and therefore rotten, a pernicious manipulation is put in action. This is actually a thousand-fold amplification of what is considered the behavior of an arrogant "prick" in normal life: "Do I bother you? YOU need to change and be less sensitive if you want to stop being bothered."

Peace is of two major kinds: Peace within myself, and peace between me and you. The main problem with spirituality is its primary focus on the former, to the detriment of the latter. It is not true that inwardly peaceful men cannot cause any mischief. A highly detached or narrowly focused man can press a button which kills a million other men, without any feelings of malice.

Unfortunately, the one of the main problems with actualism is more-or-less the same as the one with spirituality. Its agenda, in practice, is an individual peace-on-earth, and not mutual harmony (despite what is claimed in theory).

Now of course, two actualists can live in mutual harmony, since they both have similar belief systems, but that is true for members of any belief system. If an actualist did not consider absence of feelings of malice to be the end goal, but rather the start, the actualist would be considerate in his/her interactions with other human beings. That considerateness is conspicuously absent amongst actualists. As a telling example, consider the closure of a long-running mailing list about actualism and the subsequent deletion of all the conversations from the mailing list server, without as much as an advance notice. There are many such examples, but the thread is this: Since I don't mean any harm, the unintended harm is not my problem.

Now this just doesn't bode well for peace on earth, in my current understanding.

A person who is indeed harmless, would not just sit back and enjoy the absence of malicious feelings (that too, no doubt), but in any interaction, would recognize that there is another human being in the picture, with the added limitations that the other is addled with sometimes debilitating affective reactions, and would thus show far more understanding than is common in humanity of what can cause the buttons of another human being to get pushed, and thus for an interaction to get derailed into malicious feelings for at least one person. Amongst actualists, such derailments are extremely common, and are (as to be expected) blamed at the other, instead of even a hint of acknowledgment that one could have handled the situation better.

In essence, harmlessness (in my current understanding) has to go beyond absence of malice into an active avoidance of needless suffering for others. Avoidance of harm is clearly not always achievable, nor is it always reasonably realistic to aim for. The other person can be so irritable at times that anything may set blow his/her fuse.

But that does not mean, not by a long shot, that therefore all responsibility all the time for the fuse getting blown off rests with the other person.

If all followed this model, there would be more wars in the world than are currently going on. There is not an all-out war in the real world simply because in their interactions, people are generally considerate of others' feelings and passions, and therefore many potential conflicts are kept at bay. If an actualist really wanted peace on earth, he/she would act in a way which minimized conflict, and not (as is evident in conversations of Richard, the foremost actualist), which almost relished it (1).

To enable peace, it is of the utmost importance to consider what the other person finds violent and violative. Harmlessness is not going ahead with an absence of malice and doing a violative act and asking the other to take care of his/her own "feelings", but it is to find a way to interact in which both (and moreso the free man, since he has better understanding, and is "free" to do so) understand what can derail the interaction and the relationship, and in which both try to avoid an unfortunate outcome.

This is a "higher" harmlessness than an absence of malice, if I may say so, and one which lessens the conflict in the world, and not just in oneself.

(1): I am not ‘proud of having eliminated’ any one-up-man-ship at all, for I have not needed to do so ... my life is so infinitely superior to anyone else’s that I have met or read about. Thus I am very pleased at my expertise and prowess in being able to win an argument, with anyone who defends the status-quo, because when I win, they win ... it is the ‘Tried and True’ that gets defeated. When I enter into a discussion with someone I am well aware that it may very well turn into a debate ... for these are contentious issues that I speak of. Society’s ‘Holy Cows’ are under sustained scrutiny ... what you so rightly call ‘being attacked’. As for ‘getting a kick’ ... what I experience is far more gratifying than such a petty return. I am inordinately pleased when the grip that the human nature has on a person falls away ... the delight far exceeds merely ‘getting a kick’. (Richard, circa 2001)

(Note: this excerpt of Richard can be a the topic of a long article in itself. Suffice it to say for now that if one begins an interaction from a position of "infinite superiority", it is no longer an interaction but an act of God.)

43 comments:

tazmic said...

Another way in which Actualism does not appear to move beyond the limitations of Spirituality is in the political impotence that arises from the same shared presumptions over the nature of the psychological problems they claim to address.

"The whole tendency of the so-called treatment of so-called mental disorder, whether medical (psychiatric) or psychological (psychoanalytic, psychotherapeutic or 'cognitive-behavioural'), has been to cast emotional distress as an individual, personal problem.
However, there have throughout been prominent dissenters. Most regarded with suspicion by the orthodoxy of their day, all have remained more or less marginal ever since."

http://www.davidsmail.info/psypsy.htm

Is this whole area of possibility simply written off by the Actualist position?

One can't claim harmlessness on the basis of intent alone whilst legitimating, through inaction or complicity, a socio-economic system that serves to perpetuate the suffering of others. (Especially if you are going to spend time saying it's all the fault of the individual.)

Jack said...

Peace 'within' at least one person is a a prerequisite for true peace between people. Without that, there can be cooperation, respect, consideration, civil agreements of various kinds, but these don't truly live up to the name of peace. Unless there is a genuine absence of discord and suffering in and between both parties, all we have is a more benign and considerate mode of exchange. (Which of course is well worth the effort, and much, much better than nothing).

However, I agree with you that, since peace needs to be established between people and not just within them, an absence of malice is just the beginning of peaceful relations, not the end. Peace 'within' one person is not, by itself, a recipe for harmonious relations, as we both know from experience.

I also agree (and argued this case myself for a long time) that being free from the human condition should enable a person to better understand how it operates, and thus to avoid needlessly pressing buttons in others. I just think it's worth remembering the context in which these discussions have taken place: the aim was to present a clear and uncompromising picture of the human condition and what can be done about it, and the fact that the mode of discourse is ... ummm .... unaccommodating is best understood in that context, I think.

(I've seen how Richard is with 'ordinary' folks -- and now Peter and Vineeto too -- and they're perfectly civil and friendly people who can have a chat with the milkman without starting WWIII. The problems tend to arise only when people start getting into a discussion about the human condition[1]; and then, as you yourself used to argue, a person's participation presupposes a willingness to be challenged, offended, etc.

Cheers,
Jack.

[1] or matters peripheral to it, like the website issue with S and later L.

Susan said...

Hi Jack,

I may be digressing from the main subject here but I found the below lines very interesting...I have given it a thought myself many a times but have not been able to come to any conclusions

"a person's participation presupposes a willingness to be challenged, offended, etc."

I take an example of a child or an unaware man or a women climbing the roof top of a high building with a risk of falling down...if given a chance would I stop them? what if they are adamant? if I have the authority, would I use it? Now consider a man/woman who is fully aware of the risk but still wishes to experience the heights? what would be my reaction then? And a third scenario could be a person who knows how to balance him/herself and doesn't have the risk of falling down at all. If my reaction would be different in these three scenarios then the above stated line does not hold true for me. Now the question is how does one classify a person willingly participating in any of the three categories?

Pritpal said...

I am not clear about actualism, so my comments could be off.
I feel any “self” oriented system of needs/efforts will have a tendency towards narcissism or worse. As an extreme case, I would recommend reading Marquis de Sade, and answering the questions raised by him.
This problem is well recognized by standard spiritual traditions. ( You must desire enlightenment above everything else so that you can work hard for it. BUT you can not get enlightenment if you desire enlightenment. Some how you have to get past this anamoly).
“Others” should not be merely means or constraints for the “self” but should be a part of the goal itself.

Harmanjit Singh said...

@jack: you write "Peace 'within' one person is not, by itself, a recipe for harmonious relations, as we both know from experience."

True. And therefore, harmlessness is more than the absence of malicious feelings. Only a narcissist would consider the absence of a certain feeling state within oneself to be the best that one could achieve (or one that left no scope for further improvement) as a human being for others.

"Peace 'within' at least one person is a a prerequisite for true peace between people. "

And I claim that this "within peace" is a danger to harmony if it is considered the end, and if it does not lead to better interactions, especially in situations of disagreement and conflict. This kind of self-serving fulfillment ("I am done, and I mean ACHIEVED MY DESTINY. Nothing further is there for me to achieve") is why spirituality fails in the marketplace, and why actualism will also fail.

Hubris.

Harmanjit Singh said...

@tazmic: As is common in self-help movements and spirituality, so it is in actualism: I am happy and HENCE the world is perfect. Nothing significant needs to be done when I am feeling good.

Narcissism.

srid said...

It could be that Richard's online communication is sub-optimal[1] as, from Jack writes, these people does not appear to be a 'prick' in real-life interactions. The same is true for ordinary humans, in my experience. Email, etc.. leads to the creation of 'virtual self/selves' (and maybe also the perception of the same in other person who wrote the email).

***
[1] but then what I expected, as I was reading this blog post, was an illustration/example how he could have communicated better. Give an example of Richard's response in context, and then propose an alternate response that would be more considerate according to you?.

Harmanjit Singh said...

@srid: It is not the sub-optimality in real world interactions which is my main concern. My concern is the paradigmatic attitude about this sub-optimality ("since you feel irked, you deal with it"), which is very appealing to self-enclosed freedom-seekers, but is disastrous in practice (when dealing with people who have a disagreement or conflict with oneself, since that is what life in the marketplace is about).

srid said...

@Harman: an example would still be nice. :-) specific instance of Richard responding denoting the attitude "since you feel irked, you deal with it" (thus being inconsiderate), and a more considerate alternative (acc. to you) to it.

OTOH, I generally see your point: being considerate to others who do not understand their own self-infliction is important (even though how that translates to specific communication style is fuzzy -- because with their mashup of meanings/reading-of-intents, selves misunderstand each other easily over online arena).

I don't know if Richard communicates, in real-life, in manner similar to "since you feel irked, you deal with it", but for online communication - which is what we both have access to, in the archives - which of his particular correspondence you think can be improved (as in, showing more consideration for the other person communicating with him)?

That's all I am asking for.

Harmanjit Singh said...

@srid: A few easy examples from http://actualfreedom.com.au/directorscorrespondence/01AMatterofStyle.html (the whole dialogue should be the FIRST thing that someone new to actualism reads about how actually and virtually free people deal with a real world suggestion)

--
Exhibit 1:

"Thank you for your (unsolicited) emails of Friday, May 02, 2008, which were circulated to all the directors for due comment."

# I would word it as: "Thank you for your continued correspondence on this matter. We appreciate your inputs and discussed them in our meeting."

--
Exhibit 2:

"First and foremost, the directors never considered, for even a moment, that The Actual Freedom Trust website was in need of being fixed (made more readable/have better and readable fonts) else they would, of course, have done so already.

RESPONDENT: Okay.

THE DIRECTORS: As to say okay is usually to express agreement with, approval of, assent or acquiescence to, something being all correct or all right (or in a weakened sense being satisfactory, good, adequate, not bad, or so-so) it is therefore somewhat odd that, despite thus conveying how the directors are correct in having never considered, for even a moment, that The Actual Freedom Trust website was in need of being fixed (else they would, of course, have done so already), you then go on, further below, to disagree completely ... and in no uncertain terms (as in your ‘this is silly’ response for instance) as well."

# This is beyond silliness. A simple "okay" is being interpreted to mean an agreement with the directors' stance, rather than as an acknowledgment of the fact that the directors had that stance (which reading of the word "okay" is obvious to any lay reader) and then is being contradicted to your later further suggestions.

--
Exhibit 3:

RESPONDENT: It is widely considered to be a more readable font than others (such as Times New Roman).

THE DIRECTORS: Whether it be widely or narrowly considered (that Verdana typeface is more readable) is beside the point as it is still but a matter of personal opinion.

# This I consider to be a shining example of arrogant silliness. In case you still want me to say how I would have responded: "We understand that in opinion polls most people found the Verdana typeface more readable. Can we have any way of measuring if the present theme of the AFT website can be contrasted reg readability with another theme? Do you have trained GUI designers at your firm who can venture an opinion?"

And the following in Richard's email to you takes the cake:
--
Exhibit 4:

"Yet even though you engaged in a rather extensive email exchange
with the directors of The Actual Freedom Trust less than a year ago
(actualfreedom.com.au/directorscorrespondence/02AMatterofStyle.
html) on the topic of aesthetics you evidently remain convinced
that your taste in web design is superior to that of the directors -
despite one being a university-qualified architect; another being a
college-qualified in the fine arts; another being a trade-qualified
as a graphic artist; and another having nearly a decade's experience
in web design and layout - to the point that you have now
(apparently) been driven by that conviction to engage in illegitimate
acts and commit criminal offences."

# Right. That's the way to build common ground. Look Sridhar, I don't know you personally. But I know enough to have confidence that you had no idea you were doing something illegal, and that you wouldn't have done it had you known. And hence, I wouldn't have admonished you for your "criminal" tendencies, since there weren't any.
--

Anonymous said...

"Harm" to an entity, is any thought, word or action that hastens the extinction of that entity.
"Peace" is when the existence of an entity is not threatened by another.
These are JV style definitions..............

According to this philosophy the endeavor of attaining internal peace begins externally. If one recognizes how the existence of an external entity is necessary for the existence of oneself, one would not seek to "harm" that entity. Thus if one learns how to coexist with all the entities surrounding oneself, "peace" is attained external to oneself and therefore within oneself.

Anonymous said...

I've been waiting to read this kind of post for quite some time. So, thanks for forming that question, Harman.

Surbhi said...

hi Susan

It is to be noted that a person climbing a high rise building ( whether unaware or in full knowledge of risks involved) is doing so of free will and choice. Hence it is imperative to recognize and let the person be. It is when human being go around using 'authority' to correct and change the other person's choices that impingement of freedom begins. You can warn, caution and help people - what they choose to do , ultimately, is their choice!

and i am reading your examples as metaphors.

Change said...

Congratulation for your additional step towards your Goal!

Looks like, the additional step is not over your current path, surpassing the point where you are right now, but seems to be a sideway step. If you would have transcended your idea of actualism instead of rejecting it, your travel must have been much smoother.

As you are rejecting some thing, now you will be spending your energy on finding reasons for rejecting it and also to support your earlier rejection... In addition you have to spend lot more energy to see that there no contradictions between all these earlier rejections.

One has to transcend any principles at some point of time, even the own principles if at all has one, to reach a goal such us one you have taken. If not, there cannot be any progress as we are locked by our belief( we may call it us understanding) on our chosen principle.

Thanks!

Harmanjit Singh said...

@change: thanks for your well-intentioned comments. i appreciate your wanting to be helpful.

you say "Looks like, the additional step is not over your current path, surpassing the point where you are right now, but seems to be a sideway step."

Insofar as a self-help practice centers on one's own feelings to the exclusion of an evaluation of how one interacts with others, it is insufficient.

I consider "getting out of one's own existential quagmire and navel-gazing and to interact with others" (my phrasing) the much-needed paradigm shift that I lacked throughout my spiritual and actualist years.

Anonymous said...

Hi Harman,

H:Of late, my brain has become kind-of catatonic. It recognizes the complexity of even a simple question ("So are you a vegetarian?" or "Are you into meditation?") and a smile seems to be the best answer at times.

#Curiously, do you find this a good sign of where you’re going? Definitely a move away from the actualist naïveté?



H:According to actualists, and those who are actually free (and even myself in the past), harmlessness is to be defined as freedom from malice. If one is free from feelings of sorrow and malice (and thus, it is said, free from the human condition), it is claimed that this is the best that one can do for another person.

#Of course this is a straw-man argument. Have you so quickly forgotten that the phrases “happy and harmless” and “peace and *harmony*” are interchangeable in actualism? Harmoniousness has broader implications than the word harmless in general.


H:This is but another form of narcissism. The behavior and interaction of die-hard actualists follows the following maxim: "Since I don't wish anybody any harm, and since I actually care about you, if my behavior is irksome or bothersome to you, it is "your" problem, and moreover, a stark manifestation of your rotten humanness which needs to be worked at." (my phrasing)

#Yes, indeed it is “your phrasing.” Here is what Vineeto actually says: ““VINEETO: This near-actual caring and near-actual intimacy that Peter and I are talking about is built upon the experience gained from being a harmless and happy as humanly possible, of course. *Being harmless is not only being free of the intent to cause harm but also to be aware of the consequences of one’s actions in regard to other people*.”
http://www.actualfreedom.com.au/directroute/05.htm#16Jan10”

H:Elaborated, what this means is: "Since I am at peace, and your feelings can no longer bother me (because my affective reception is null and void), I remain at peace with my behavior. In other words, I see no need to change my behavior. It is "you" who needs to change if the relationship is to be more harmonious. Actually, "you" need to go away, since "you" stand in the way of peace and harmony."

#Again lets take a look at what Vineeto actually says: “VINEETO: I found it essential to make a difference between feeling caring – the normal way people try to care while they often create havoc with the best of (feeling) intentions – and near-actual caring (only an actually free person has actual caring but as an identity ‘I’ can get pretty close to it, hence the term near-actual caring). The later consists of *being considerate*, giving practical help if needed, *recognizing the other person’s needs as distinct from one’s own agenda* (as an extension of one’s own ‘self’-interest), and having a general benevolent attitude towards one’s fellow human beings.
It is a lovely way to relate to one’s fellow human beings!
http://www.actualfreedom.com.au/directroute/05.htm#16Jan10



H:Unfortunately, the one of the main problems with actualism is more-or-less the same as the one with spirituality. Its agenda, in practice, is an individual peace-on-earth, and not mutual harmony (despite what is claimed in theory).

#While I can understand why you believe this, it is worth noting that someone like Jack who has met Peter, Vineeto, Richard, does find them to be harmonious. Plus they all report living harmoniously with ordinary people as they are. To try to use their writings to suggest that their *actual* lives are disharmonious is problematic.

H:Now of course, two actualists can live in mutual harmony, since they both have similar belief systems, but that is true for members of any belief system.

#So you now believe actualism is a belief “system”?

Anonymous said...

H: If an actualist did not consider absence of feelings of malice to be the end goal, but rather the start, the actualist would be considerate in his/her interactions with other human beings.

#I know I’m more aware of my actions and how I affect others since practicing actualism and I can’t really fathom how that would not happen with anyone who practices actualism properly at some point. “Being considerate” is an important part of all this as Vineeto even states above.


H:That considerateness is conspicuously absent amongst actualists. As a telling example, consider the closure of a long-running mailing list about actualism and the subsequent deletion of all the conversations from the mailing list server, without as much as an advance notice. There are many such examples, but the thread is this: Since I don't mean any harm, the unintended harm is not my problem.
#Yes, I agree that there have been writings and a few actions of certain actualists that could be seen as inconsiderate. That in no way means they are inconsiderate in their everyday lives on a consistent basis.


H:A person who is indeed harmless, would not just sit back and enjoy the absence of malicious feelings (that too, no doubt), but in any interaction, would recognize that there is another human being in the picture, with the added limitations that the other is addled with sometimes debilitating affective reactions, and would thus show far more understanding than is common in humanity of what can cause the buttons of another human being to get pushed, and thus for an interaction to get derailed into malicious feelings for at least one person. Amongst actualists, such derailments are extremely common, and are (as to be expected) blamed at the other, instead of even a hint of acknowledgment that one could have handled the situation better.

#Of course one must consider the setting of the actualist lists. They are set up to challenge one’s beliefs(at least the old official one). I myself can “attack a belief” in writing and yet have no significant disharmony in my interpersonal life and I don’t see why that would not be the case with other actualists. That being said, the effects of those actualist encounters were not always beneficial. That mode of communicating was something of an experiment to me. Of course, one’s reaction is always one’s reaction and something to be looked into. That does not mean that an actualist cannot learn how to communicate “better” or in a way that is less provoking. Obviously some may tailor their communication more than others. Even the actualists that are quite blunt in writing claim to interact with people in the market place much differently. So, I don’t think their communication on an actualist mailing list is a threat to peace on earth.




H:If all followed this model, there would be more wars in the world than are currently going on. There is not an all-out war in the real world simply because in their interactions, people are generally considerate of others' feelings and passions, and therefore many potential conflicts are kept at bay. If an actualist really wanted peace on earth, he/she would act in a way which minimized conflict, and not (as is evident in conversations of Richard, the foremost actualist), which almost relished it (1).

#As there is not a single known instance where actualists have caused violence in face to face interaction this is mere speculation. Rather unrealistic and unfounded speculation at that. Like Jack has stated, one has to consider the *context* of the communication happening in the actualist lists. I’m pretty confident no actualist communicates like that in person in there day to day lives.

Harmanjit Singh said...

@Anon: The key to evaluating actualists (or spiritualists, or communists, or of any other idealist ilk) is: don't listen to what they say about themselves, but rather: observe what they do, and how they interact with others.

It's as simple as that.

BTW, anyone can be harmonious when it comes to non-contentious issues (say talking to the milkman). It is when there is disagreement and conflict of opinion that is the only test of whatever harmlessness and consideration one might claim.

Anonymous said...

H:This is a "higher" harmlessness than an absence of malice, if I may say so, and one which lessens the conflict in the world, and not just in oneself.

#Instead of “jumping ship” over not liking how a few actualists(not all of them write like this) write to others exploring/debating actualism, I find it a much more sensible way forward to be an actualist that writes in a more harmonious fashion. The two main attitudes of 1) actualists are pricks and 2) actualist communication is fine/perfect are both silly in my book. Not surprisingly they both have the smell of believers/unbelievers to them. Someone who is sincere, genuine, and authentic(or seeking to be so) would be able to see through these falsehoods. Maybe not a first, but eventually.


(Note: this excerpt of Richard can be a the topic of a long article in itself. Suffice it to say for now that if one begins an interaction from a position of "infinite superiority", it is no longer an interaction but an act of God.)


#As you know Richard is speaking about his *experience* of being alive is what is “infinitely superior” to others, don’t you think this was a bit of a “low blow” to call this a “act of God.”

In any case I enjoyed your post and you raise questions worth pondering by anyone who wishes to live in peace and harmony with their fellow (wo)man. As I see it the PCE is easily the best way to experience living. If one is a actualist(one striving to live that each moment again) and one has a problem with how a few actualists have communicated with there fellow (wo)man than the only sensible thing to do in my mind is to “be the change” themselves and not to abandon the actualist project in toto. Do you no longer consider the PCE to be the best possible way to experience living?

Jack said...

Harman wrote to @Anon: "The key to evaluating [anyone] is: don't listen to what they say about themselves, but rather: observe what they do, and how they interact with others. It's as simple as that."

Applying that test right here:

Q: Are there any people out there portraying you as narcissistic / psychopathic or saying any other negative things about you?

A: No.

Q: Are you doing it to them?

A: Yes.

*

Harman wrote: "It is when there is disagreement and conflict of opinion that is the only test of whatever harmlessness and consideration one might claim."

Again, applying your own test: compare your response to the recent "disagreement and conflict of opinion" to the others involved.

Their actions subsequent to the disagreement: none... it's Harman's business how he chooses to live his life.

Your response: a series of public position statements -- a public withdrawal of a previous public endorsement -- in which other people are portrayed as akin to narcissistic / psychopathic personalities.

*

In a later blog article about narcissists you wrote: "He/she has to endlessly defend himself to himself and to others in order to maintain his self image."

So do normal people...

Harmanjit Singh said...

@jack

Q: Are there any people out there portraying you as narcissistic / psychopathic or saying any other negative things about you?

A: No.

Q: Are you doing it to them?

A: Yes.


Q: Are those people publicly proposing a rather radical and dubious self-help system and claiming that they themselves are completely free from the human condition?

A: Yes

Q: Do such claims and self-help systems deserve scrutiny, probing and critical discussion?

A: Yes

Q: Is the author of this blog making any remarkable claims about himself or recommending a dubious self-help system for the readers?

A: No

I rest my case.

Harman wrote: "It is when there is disagreement and conflict of opinion that is the only test of whatever harmlessness and consideration one might claim."

Again, applying your own test: compare your response to the recent "disagreement and conflict of opinion" to the others involved.

Their actions subsequent to the disagreement: none... it's Harman's business how he chooses to live his life.

Your response: a series of public position statements -- a public withdrawal of a previous public endorsement -- in which other people are portrayed as akin to narcissistic / psychopathic personalities.


Comment: Once again, those "other people" are saying that they are infinitely superior to everyone else, are actually free from the human condition and are publicly offering a paradigm and a system to everybody else to achieve the same state. There is, needless to say, but I have to say it, a rather glaring order of magnitude difference between the need to probe /them/ and their claims (now that they are also planning of propagating their paradigm far and wide) and the need to criticize a blogger like me. Those people can very well leave me lead my own life (and that is in itself a telling comment on the openness to scrutiny, which should have been more, now that there are /more/ claimants of actual freedom and those who can respond), but I choose not to go silently into the night. I think I am doing something worthwhile in trying to illustrate the perils of dubious and grandiose sounding self-help, but I am open to criticism over this.

*

In a later blog article about narcissists you wrote: "He/she has to endlessly defend himself to himself and to others in order to maintain his self image."

So do normal people...


Yes, normal people engage in defensive behavior, and there are narcissistic traits to varying degrees in all of us.

But we are talking about actually free people. For just one reprehensible difference between normal people and the actually free people, haven't you noticed, actualists never admit to silliness (even when it is clear to everybody else, e.g. Vineeto's last days on the topica list) and never make an apology. It is always the others' fault, so they are obviously never silly or wrong, their actions are always deeply rational, justified, keeping with their actual freedom.

Surbhi said...

"haven't you noticed, actualists never admit to silliness (even when it is clear to everybody else, e.g. Vineeto's last days on the topica list)"

a. I am not aware of the context completely, but will like to ask , who os "everybody else"? The ones who have doubts about actualism, who think the whole idea is silly in itself and see actualists as silly?

b. If an actualist was to admit to silliness, then will it change your entire perspective about actualism? In the above case, if Vineeto were to aplogize for her silliness at that time, will it bring about a change in your attitude and reading of Actulaism?

" and never make an apology. It is always the others' fault, so they are obviously never silly or wrong, their actions are always deeply rational, justified, keeping with their actual freedom."

c. If they were to admit to their silliness, mistakes, stop justifying their opinions and estimates, stop arguing with people, completely give up their particular style of communication on email lists etc. , will it change your approach towards Actualism?

d. What is the nature of your objection - how they interact, what they posit, practice, method?

e. Since you categorize Actualism as a dubious self- help system and object to grandiosity of claim, will you like to reword a basic introduction of actualism (lets say in 15-20 lines) so that a better model can be presented.

f. If you are criticizing the method and Actualism itself, then it will be fruitful to concentrate on that, non?

g. If you call yourself just a blogger, and not a former 'acolyte' or a keen practitioner yourself, then you are seriously denying your past actions, when you have defended Richard to the hilt and 'attacked' others in email communication, while propagating notions of Actualism.

Your views and about turn is marvelous and interesting, and worth discussion as it is likely to only benefit everyone in the long run.

thank you for your efforts, Harman.

Harmanjit Singh said...

@surbhi

a. I am not aware of the context completely, but will like to ask , who os "everybody else"? The ones who have doubts about actualism, who think the whole idea is silly in itself and see actualists as silly?

those who were correspondents of the list at that time.

b. If an actualist was to admit to silliness, then will it change your entire perspective about actualism? In the above case, if Vineeto were to aplogize for her silliness at that time, will it bring about a change in your attitude and reading of Actulaism?


Admission of fallibility would be a welcome change.

" and never make an apology. It is always the others' fault, so they are obviously never silly or wrong, their actions are always deeply rational, justified, keeping with their actual freedom."

c. If they were to admit to their silliness, mistakes, stop justifying their opinions and estimates, stop arguing with people, completely give up their particular style of communication on email lists etc. , will it change your approach towards Actualism?


What a speculative question! The issue is not arguing or stopping arguing, but /how/ they argue and interact with others in their writings. If they improve that, sure, it would be a welcome change.

d. What is the nature of your objection - how they interact, what they posit, practice, method?

That is a wider question and will find a response in due time.

e. Since you categorize Actualism as a dubious self- help system and object to grandiosity of claim, will you like to reword a basic introduction of actualism (lets say in 15-20 lines) so that a better model can be presented.


I may. I encourage you to pen down your own understanding of actualism as well.

f. If you are criticizing the method and Actualism itself, then it will be fruitful to concentrate on that, non?

Not sure.

g. If you call yourself just a blogger, and not a former 'acolyte' or a keen practitioner yourself, then you are seriously denying your past actions, when you have defended Richard to the hilt and 'attacked' others in email communication, while propagating notions of Actualism.

I was a believer and acted like one, even mirroring the actualist dialectic. I fail to see the point of your objection.

Jack said...

Harman wrote: "I think I am doing something worthwhile in trying to illustrate the perils of dubious and grandiose sounding self-help, but I am open to criticism over this."

Fine; I've always maintained that it's caveat emptor, re both the original claims and any criticisms thereof.

For my part, these recent criticisms aren't persuasive.

Firstly, re smoking:

Over the years Richard gave up much tougher addictions than smoking (love, beauty, belonging to humanity among them!!) -- much tougher habits/attachments than cigarettes. He also gave up smoking without any difficulty in the past. (Remember his "puritan period" on the islands, when he not only gave up tobacco but everything else that could conceivably be given up?) I see no reason to think that he psychopathically / narcissistically / self-centredly denies the alleged health risks of smoking *in order to* continue doing what he enjoys.

An alternative explanation: he allows himself to enjoy a smoke *because* he is not sufficiently convinced that it is as gravely harmful as is widely assumed. (He doesn't actually deny any harm from smoking, he just doesn't consider it as harmful as is widely believed and claimed).

If Richard is wrong about the risks of smoking -- which he may well be, for all I know -- it needn't be because of a psychopathic indifference to facts on the grounds that they'd deprive him of a pleasing habit. (Whatever else he might be, he's not that petty!).

*

Assuming you're genuinely concerned about "the perils", what exactly are you thinking of now? What risks do you think are inherent -- as opposed to the perils of misunderstanding what it's about, and/or misusing it?

Re your concern about interaction: of course, harmonious interaction requires more than an absence of malicious intent on one person's part. But what is the best way to enable that? To be *one of* the people who have no malicious intent, perhaps? And to work toward harmonious interaction from there? It makes sense to me.

I think #Anon has already pretty much set the record straight on this ... but to repeat it for the benefit of readers who are less familiar with the subject:

@anon "*Being harmless is not only being free of the intent to cause harm but also to be aware of the consequences of one’s actions in regard to other people*.”

*

There is a matter of priorities, though. I don't see any way that a society (even a society of two) can have a chance of being completely free from suffering and strife as long as each individual harbours it in him/herself. To me it makes most sense to start with your own suffering and strife-causing tendencies. Not to stop there... but to solve the ROOT of the interpersonal problems first.

Now I'm curious about where you stand. Do you no still consider it viable to be entirely free from your own malice, sorrow, fear, etc? Are you merely saying that this is not *enough*, and that behavioural codes of conduct are needed in addition to that?

In either case: what else? What do you propose instead / as well? Better self-control? Better adherence to moral codes, other discursive codes, something else?

Cheers,
Jack.

Harmanjit Singh said...

@jack:

If Richard is wrong about the risks of smoking -- which he may well be, for all I know -- it needn't be because of a psychopathic indifference to facts on the grounds that they'd deprive him of a pleasing habit. (Whatever else he might be, he's not that petty!).

This is a rather interesting point, and I think you may be overestimating Richard. Did you notice that he provided a link to a pro-smoking-advocacy site, and that his statistical reasoning is rather cavalier and novice-like? As in my last comment to srid, he, given his persona, cannot readily admit to a non-rational lifestyle-choice. That is the real issue.

I remember that very early in his journal, consideration of sensual and sexual pleasure was what made him question the spiritual high. When affective pleasures are no longer admissible, sensual pleasures become important.

Assuming you're genuinely concerned about "the perils", what exactly are you thinking of now?

What risks do you think are inherent -- as opposed to the perils of misunderstanding what it's about, and/or misusing it?

The best way to answer this is to observe the end result. Just see what kind of decisions/estimates actualists are making (world will be peaceful within Richard's lifetime), what kind of interactions they are indulging in (self-glorifying), and so on. The risks are similar to that of spirituality. A getting-stuck in a individual novel state of consciousness and belief-system which makes one socially dysfunctional, self-centered (while claiming to be dedicating one's life to the rest of humanity), supremely deluded, and worse.

Re your concern about interaction: of course, harmonious interaction requires more than an absence of malicious intent on one person's part.

Exactly.

But what is the best way to enable that? To be *one of* the people who have no malicious intent, perhaps? And to work toward harmonious interaction from there? It makes sense to me.

I agree with you. With two provisos. First, internal work must go hand-in-hand with an increase in understanding of others and of the rest of humanity. It is not 1, and when 1 is finished, then start with 2.

Secondly, UNLESS, and it is an important UNLESS. UNLESS such a seeming absence of malicious intent results in even less consideration for others and even worse interactions than before. That should ring alarm bells.

Jack, just read Richard's email to Sridhar about the parasitical tendency about his mirror site. Without prejudice either way.

I have a theory about why written communication of actualists is so anal, and I will write about it soon.

There is a matter of priorities, though. I don't see any way that a society (even a society of two) can have a chance of being completely free from suffering and strife as long as each individual harbours it in him/herself.

It is not a binary situation: either war, or complete peace. Why the overarching emphasis on "complete freedom" when even a partial increase in harmony would be a good thing? But then again, that is not a exalted state.

The harmony can improve even unilaterally if

a) I do not have anger or hate etc.
(the absence of malice)
b) I act with consideration about others. (your problem is my problem too, let's see how we can work it out together)

(b) is conspicuously missing in the actualist rhetoric. i would daresay that it is conspicuously absent in all glorious self-help paradigms which aim to make one not just a better-adjusted human, but a god, or a super-human, etc.

Harmanjit Singh said...

@jack, continued...

To me it makes most sense to start with your own suffering and strife-causing tendencies. Not to stop there... but to solve the ROOT of the interpersonal problems first.

I agree somewhat. Solve the most egregious of one's own neuroses first, and then move from there and stop focusing on yourself only to the exclusion of others. A bit different from the following:

"‘I’ become obsessed with changing ‘myself’ fundamentally, radically, completely and utterly."

I put a question mark on such an obsessive concern about "oneself".

Now I'm curious about where you stand. Do you no still consider it viable to be entirely free from your own malice, sorrow, fear, etc?

Viable as in possible? It may be possible. Haven't seen anybody do that yet.

Viable as in worthwhile? Of course it is, in theory. But seeing the results of such an obsessive pursuit to be "totally free" in practice, I am less than thrilled.

Are you merely saying that this is not *enough*, and that behavioural codes of conduct are needed in addition to that?

Not codes of conduct, but a sensitivity to what may happen to the other person due to one's behavior.

In either case: what else? What do you propose instead / as well? Better self-control? Better adherence to moral codes, other discursive codes, something else?

Topic for another day. :-)

Surbhi said...

Harman wrote to Jack:
"‘I’ become obsessed with changing ‘myself’ fundamentally, radically, completely and utterly."

I put a question mark on such an obsessive concern about "oneself".

Surbhi: it is impossible to change oneself radically without being obsessed about this change. However, Actualism neither posits nor encourages this change has to be brought about excluding people in your life. In my recent experiences and clear understanding, it works best, while one is amid people, and being attentive to and analyse later, behaviour, responses and above all emotional roller coasters. Actualism, as far as i have understood is not eliminating feelings but minimizing good and bad and maximizing felicitous feelings. And none of that can happen unless one interacts with human beings to find where/why/how/when is one reacting, responding etc. And all this change is brought about for oneself and everyone around us. It does not require or culminates in breaking of any friendships or relationships etc. as one is here and now, not going anywhere. It is a fundamental change within , which harmonizes one flesh and body with every one around. I fail to see, rather frustrated , at your comment and conclusion that Actualism is obsession with oneself to the point of exclusion of others. It is about caring and accepting people as they are.

Harmanjit Singh said...

@srid, the following dialog between Mike and Vineeto may provide you with some food for thought:

--
Mike: I can think of numerous cases where list members have requested no longer to engage you in conversation. I can’t think of any cases where this has happened with Richard (though there may be some that I’m unaware of – especially outside my time here). What do you make of their feedback? Normally, I would keep the following to myself, but I mention only for your consideration. I find Richard mostly understanding and quite concerned about putting the interlocuter in the best of lights – giving their question or statement the best possible rendering and response. In some cases he will use a similar prodding method to jar someone – but normally only once they have demonstrated an obstinacy in looking into something for themselves or possibly after stating some absurdity (he is in a sense, ‘playing their game’). It seems to me the prodding approach is entirely appropriate in such cases – but I find your ready, gleeful use of the prodding, aggressive style distasteful – and mildly harmful.

Vineeto: A few days ago I wrote to you –

‘The first, and automatic, reaction to an undesirable fact is to deny the fact, attempt to change this fact or to shoot the messengerÂ’

– an observation that was based on personal experience of my own process of investigation.

It would appear that your finding my writing ‘aggressive’ and ‘distasteful’ signals the end of sensible discussion. By the way, there are many cases where correspondents have ceased engaging Richard in conversation – over a hundred in fact – and many incidents where he has been accused of being aggressive. There are also cases where correspondents exhibit a fawning reverence towards Richard, which serves only to degrade his reports about becoming free of the human condition into the normal guru-type Wisdom. This action of revering Richard as a Guru is a perfect means for the correspondents concerned to avoid following Richard’s example in a practical down-to-earth way – becoming actually free from the human condition themselves.

Mike: You may now show me where I have gone wrong if you wish.

Vineeto: As it is your life you are living, it is entirely your business to investigate where you are going ‘wrong’ or not. I only ever intend to share my experience in using a method that works to evince a genuine and complete freedom from the human condition with those who are interested, for as long as they maintain their interest.
--

Harmanjit Singh said...

Here's clinching evidence of how harmony is not just on the agenda of actualism:

--
Co-respondent: When I originally told my mom, she was ecstatic, and if I were to tell her that I changed my mind, I fear that I would cause harm, which goes against being ‘harmless.’

Richard: What the word ‘harmless’ refers to, on both The Actual Freedom Trust web site and mailing list, is being sans malice – just as being happy refers to being without sorrow – thus provided there be no malice generating/driving/motivating one’s thoughts, words, or actions, being no longer capable of fulfilling a previously made pledge can in no way be going against being harmless.

None of this is to deny that anotherÂ’s feelings may, and can be, self-induced to feel hurt as a result ... the simple fact of the matter is that if they choose to harbour such feelings that is their business.
--
(Richard, circa 2005)

Harmanjit Singh said...

More succinctly put:

http://www.actualfreedom.com.au/richard/audiotapeddialogues/hurtandhurting.htm
--
Q: No, not yet. I need to stop feeling guilty.

R: Yes, then whatever you do – if you do not intentionally set out to hurt other people – you do freely. What can happen is that they may become hurt into the bargain ... but it is up to them to deal with that. It is their hurt, when all is said and done.

Q: But you can foresee it. You can see that you are going to hurt someone else – even if you don’t intentionally do it. If you can see it in advance and you can’t avoid it ...

R: Okay. Now what gets hurt in the other people? It is their feelings, is this not it?

Q: Yes.

R: And if they did not have those feelings then they would not get hurt. It is their precious feelings that they hold so dearly.

Q: True.

R: When somebody says to you ... no ... when somebody says to me: ‘You’ve hurt my feelings’, then I say: ‘Oh, that is interesting. Why do you have them? Because that means that you set yourself up for hurt – for a disaster. If you go around with those feelings, somebody, somewhere is going to hurt them. Be rid of those feelings. Then you will not get hurt.
--

@jack, @srid, @surbhi: Enough?

Surbhi said...

well...i am kind of stunned , although i understand where is Richard coming from and yet this dialogue...has left me...stunned!

Jack said...

Harman wrote: "Enough, Jack?"

No, Harman. When I read this conversation I find myself agreeing with Richard. One person's freedom -- provided s/he is committed to being harmless to others -- cannot always be constrained by the feelings of another. This doesn't mean that one is *indifferent* to the feelings of another, but that -- ultimately -- their feelings are their business. Consider some context:

Would you consent to an arranged marriage if to do otherwise would hurt your parents' feelings? Would you remain within a particular religious faith that you found oppressive and archaic for the same reason? Live your entire life in a particular area, doing a particular job, etc, because to do otherwise would offend someone's morals/ethics/expectations? Or, choosing one of your current social interests: if you discovered that you were gay, would you stay "in the closet" because you knew, with certainty, that it would hurt your parents feelings, cause them terrible grief, shame, etc?

The point Richard is making is that humanity is enmeshed in self-created suffering, and if you want to become free of this mess it means occasionally going against the precious beliefs and principles and feelings of other people from time to time.

This doesn't mean that one has a license to be completely indifferent to other people's feelings. It's not a *prescription* not to consider another's feelings! That is not what actualism is about.

But on the other hand, if you consents to a life *constrained* by another's feelings in every situation, there is no freedom, and never will be.

As with everything else that you could present as 'exhibits' ;-), it's context sensitive... and I know what he's getting at. It doesn't offend or shock me, and I don't disagree with it.

Cheers,
Jack.

Jack said...

Harman wrote: "The harmony can improve even unilaterally if

a) I do not have anger or hate etc.
(the absence of malice)
b) I act with consideration about others. (your problem is my problem too, let's see how we can work it out together)"


I like the sound of it, but remember that in practice helping people depends on two things: first, that I have some help that is really worth offering; and second that the other person wants the kind of help I have to offer.

If I'm not actually living in a way that is ... ummm ... vastly superior to what the other person is experiencing, then any help I can offer them is better than none... but it's not the best. One can spend a lifetime hacking together a series of makeshift solutions and finding consolation (and I sense that nowadays the notion of a more radical "ultimate" solution is sullied in your mind ... because you equate it with the notion of an exalted personage. I don't. As I see it, they are completely different things).

Speaking for myself alone: I'm no longer very interested in makeshift, temporary, blind-leading-the-blind consolations or temporary solutions to an endless variety problems that will never be completely solved that way.

No; I want to live and work and deal with problems from a condition that is ... truly ... vastly superior ... to the norm... and I make no bones about it.

(Have done it the other all my life; it's not good enough; enough's enough).

Cheers,
Jack.

Surbhi said...

Harman , i went through the entire taped dialogue of Hurt and hurting and it makes much more sense as you truncated the dialogue in your comment above. I think , it is clearly understandable what Richard is proposing and it does make sense. Our sense of being casts a film over things and we tend to perceive world around us through these filters and rose glasses , whereas actuality is something else. Many creative writers have also posited the same and i see the complete sense in what Richard is saying. It is stunning that he is able to put it so simply, something so radical.

Harmanjit Singh said...

@jack:

Would you consent to an arranged marriage if to do otherwise would hurt your parents' feelings?

Earlier I would have said, of course not. That is their problem. Now I say: I will work it out with them and try to see where they are coming from. That is a far better approach than to say "Why do you have those feelings that can be hurt".

Would you remain within a particular religious faith that you found oppressive and archaic for the same reason?

I will try to make the situation better, but if it doesn't work out, I will consider walking out in a way which has less chance of inflaming others.I may in the end decide to leave, but the point to note is: I will now first try to increase the harmony in a wider arena, instead of just escaping the tough situation and considering my own state.

Live your entire life in a particular area, doing a particular job, etc, because to do otherwise would offend someone's morals/ethics/expectations?

Such problems occur not just once in a life, this is the very stuff of life. Handling others' feelings, expectations, and so on. To want to not ever have to deal with others' feelings is wishful thinking, and will result 100% in dysfunction if carried out in practice.

Or, choosing one of your current social interests: if you discovered that you were gay, would you stay "in the closet" because you knew, with certainty, that it would hurt your parents feelings, cause them terrible grief, shame, etc?

There is a middle path between doing your own thing, and doing what others want you to. The middle path is the path of harmony. Strange as it may seem, normal people try to do it all the time anyway. In this particular case, for example, there is a possibility I may never tell them if it would mean a lifetime of depression for them from which they could never recover. The ideal would be if I could slowly educate them about it and then come out, but if that is a high investment of time and energy, I may just end up being a closet gay.

But on the other hand, if you consents to a life *constrained* by another's feelings in every situation, there is no freedom, and never will be.

Interaction is life. And if in every interaction I need to consider how it may affect others, that's a fact of life as well. Of course, one may want to escape this "burden", and I claim that wanting to escape this burden in toto can only result in dysfunction.

There may be no such thing as a total freedom from the human condition, as long as we have to live with other human beings who are afflicted. If I work enough on myself, I can cease burdening others. And that is a great thing. However, the pernicious aspect of actualism is: to want to unilaterally and completely escape the burden that others put on you.

I know, I know. This burden of others' feelings, expectations, obligations is not pleasant, it is not freedom. But, this is what is out there. It is like gravity: a fact of existence. To want total pleasure, total freedom, total unburdening, weightlessness is ... wishful thinking. And to carry such a wish out can only mean: Delusion, Isolation, Dysfunction.

(to be continued)

Harmanjit Singh said...

Speaking for myself alone: I'm no longer very interested in makeshift, temporary, blind-leading-the-blind consolations or temporary solutions to an endless variety problems that will never be completely solved that way.

I can assure you, and I can bet my life on it, there will always be problems and challenges as long as you are alive and conscious.

Do you think the actualists have no interpersonal issues or challenges in their interactions?

Harmanjit Singh said...

@surbhi

I think , it is clearly understandable what Richard is proposing and it does make sense.

Now that I have made my case, people can of course continue to consider Richard's proposition (1) of callousness and psychopathy as sensible. I find it unfortunate, but as someone is fond of saying, such is life.

(1): "Yes, then whatever you do – if you do not intentionally set out to hurt other people – you do freely. What can happen is that they may become hurt into the bargain ... but it is up to them to deal with that. It is their hurt, when all is said and done."

Jack said...

Hey Harman, have you ever heard the expression "the more you do, the less you shine"? I'm sure you'd have some equivalent of it in your language/culture. Roughly it means: the more I try to please people, the less they are pleased with me, or the more they expect of me.

In my experience: people never are and never will be never be entirely satisfied by another's conformity to their desires, expectations, preferences, whims, etc. Trying to accommodate people, please people, satisfy people is and endless and futile measure. In many cases it only releases the tyrannical impulses in the one whose preferences are currently in the foreground.

We are all potential tyrants unto each other. If you consent to the arranged marriage one day, the next day it'll be your hairstyle that someone objects to, or the way you hold your cigarette, or the fact that you smoke, or the fact that you do x and don't do y for an infinite range of xs and ys.

It's not even possible to fully please ONE person, let alone seven billion people, each riddled with his/her own instinctive and memetic demands, preferences, expectations, beliefs, desires, etc.

So, where does one draw the line?

Obeying the law is a good start. Obeying the social customs that facilitate civil intercourse is another. Having consideration for others needs, preferences, desires, feelings is good idea too. But being considerate is not the same thing as being ruled by whatever historical legacy your fellow human being happens to be carrying around and/or suffering from and/or trying to foist upon you.

After years of experimentation and reflection, I'm satisfied that the best thing I can do, for myself and everyone else, is be free from everything that afflicts me and everyone else.

This has two advantages:

1. It allows me to be MORE considerate, not less. (I have no concerns in that regard; I have always been fairly considerate of other people, and am no less so now than ever).

2. If I'm genuinely free of whatever afflicts another, it allows me to point out an alternative to someone who is suffering -- IF they want it -- and to leave them alone if they don't.

Cheers,
Jack.

Surbhi said...

Harman, i read the taped dialogue of Hurt and hurting again and I read it as not taking responsibility of other's hurt and hurting feelings. This does not mean one goes around being callous but if in the process of interaction the other people are hurt because of their hooks in the situation, then the best thing one can do is help them, but cannot own any onus for that hurt - this does not mean you abandon the other person and devastate the other person. BTW most normal people do exactly that, go around hurting and are never caring. i have not come across a person in flesh and blood who is not/has not been callous and uncaring about others' feelings. This does not mean all people walking around in the world have mental disorders.

And one must take into consideration the context of the 'hurt'. If i were to discuss about human condition with , lets say, Richard, i will be actually looking that he challenges my beliefs and ego, instead of indulging in a drawing room discussion, just as when i discuss literature with students, in full awareness that we will be sussing out some things in the context.

I will even risk being 'hurt' if that helps me expose a layer of my mind.

It is safer to turn oneself into one's own guinea pig rather than use other human beings or subject them to crazy experimentation.

in self-examination, one has little to lose and lots to gain. But , of course, one must delve into this territory with eyes and ears open, but with the aim to have fun and learn about life and oneself.

Surbhi said...

Harman, Jack:

interesting dialogue going on between you, may i just posit the following;

a. it is good to try and negotiate with social and cultural milieu, not it is not worth impinging upon personal freedom to do that.

b. It is not possible to live in personal freedom without ruffling feathers, and most people are so addicted to suffering that any aberration to that is considered less than normal. Hence not liked and tolerated.

c. There are multiple kind of discussions that human beings have and each needs to be taken in account in a context. While one can compare and see a consistency ( or lack of it) in demeanor of a person in all of these interactions, but a great deal of how person behaves depends upon moods, circumstances, cultural/social contexts. I could be an angry person with some people and have intense debate with them leading them to read me as an angry/argumentative person, whereas i could be a gentle and loving person with other, leading them to see me an easy going , friendly person. However, that happens within human condition - just as life is interaction; human relationship is communication; impression of people is based on our perception of them, and not reading of what they are.

Harmanjit Singh said...

I think enough has been said about this issue. If people want to go ahead with practicing and believing Actualism despite what I have pointed out about the interpersonal misery, dysfunction and isolation that will be the likely result, I can't stop them.

Anonymous said...

Though I'm years late to this particular party, just wanted to mention I'm finding this dialogue helpful as I decide how to tune my own mental exercise routine.

It seems I'm not the only person to find some of the content on the AFT website useful, but the communication style overly complex, oddly aggressive, or otherwise off-putting.

I get that those are my feelings and my feelings are my own problem :) But a crucial question is whether this sort of interpersonal tone-deafness is the *result* of successfully following the practice, i.e. eliminating affective processing as a felt experience. (Presumably this corresponds to downregulating activity in some emotional centers of the brain.)

Or perhaps by eliminating emotional experience / the self as a psychic entity, one simply retains whatever conditioned patterns of behavior they had before? In this case, the behavior of the AF person could appear to outside observers to have an abrasive self-righteousness, a keen interpersonal sensitivity, or anything in between, based on the personality traits of the person who undertook the practice.

This seems a very answerable question if one were to know a decent number of AF folks before and after achieving actual freedom.

Cheers all; it's a pleasure to see good dialogue on the web.

Venkat said...

I have been debating the pros and cons of vegetarianism/ veganism and non-vegetarianism in recent times: specifically is it ethically/morally wrong to kill animals for consumption? The images of the bloodbath in the streets of Dhaka due to both rainfall and the slaughter of animals(on the occasion of Eid) have made me ponder this question even further.
I have been thinking about the actualist position on this, and it seems a variation of what you wrote in this essay: 'If one is free from feelings of sorrow and malice (and thus, it is said, free from the human condition), it is claimed that this is the best that one can do for another LIVING BEING.'
Briefly, arguments against vegetarianism/ veganism:
a) In order to allow crops to grow, small animals like rabbits need to be killed. So, indirectly harm is still being caused,
b) Even using a cow/goat/camel to provide milk is in some way causing harm to the animal.
c) By consumption of plants/non-animal life, one is in a certain killing life or a potential life. This is a very weak argument because for one to live something, somewhere must die/not to be allowed to further propagate.
Yet, the strongest argument for vegetarianism/ veganism is that whilst one is indeed causing harm, it is of a lesser magnitude (as a sentient creature, the suffering that a cow experiences while being killed is of a greater degree than the rice plant being uprooted). By the same logic, veganism is morally/ethically superior to vegetarianism (as no animals are harmed in the former).
What are your thoughts, Harman?