... One has to want it like one has never wanted anything else before ... so much so that all the instinctual passionate energy of desire, normally frittered away on petty desires, is fuelling and impelling/ propelling one into this thing and this thing only (‘impelling’ as in a pulling from the front and ‘propelling’ as in being pushed from behind). There is a ‘must’ to it (one must do it/it must happen) and a ‘will’ to it (one will do it/ it will happen) and one is both driven and drawn until there is an inevitability that sets in. Now it is unstoppable and all the above ceases of its own accord ... one is unable to distinguish between ‘me’ doing it and it happening to ‘me’. One has escaped one’s fate and achieved one’s destiny’
Alright, so lets now get down to brass tacks. You've read the spiel, maybe you've even practised the actualism method a little with some positive results and want to know where this all goes. How does this all end? How does 'I' permanently vacate the premises?
Since people have a love for maps and stages, lets break this down into stages, although in reality I'd say theres only two stages: before one is actually free and after one is actually free. Do bear in mind that the stages below are to some extent artificial and there will be a degree of overlap and variability which will differ from person to person.
Stage 1: Neophyte
You find out about actualism. You begin practising the actualism method. Along the way you discuss what you are doing with other actualists further along the path, so that any misperceptions can be corrected. You devour information on the AFT and other sources, such as this one. You set yourself the challenge of being as happy and as harmless as possible each moment again. It may be quite difficult at the start. You fail a lot, or forget your goal and indulge in malice and sorrow for long periods of time. Alternatively you forget sincerity, and seek to suppress your true emotions, plastering a forced or fake happiness on top of what is affectively bubbling underneath. But eventually you get to a point where you are able to be sincerely happy and harmless for longer and longer periods of time. More and more you can enjoy and appreciate this moment of being alive. As you do so you are setting aside and leaving behind your old spiritual beliefs. You alternate between feeling happy and investigating what took you away from this happiness. For the first time in your life maybe, you can say unreservedly that you feel happy for considerable lengths of time, relatively independently of your lifes circumstances. You commit to increasing your baseline mood, such that you feel happy and harmless more and more often.
Stage 2: Intermediate
This will be the longest stage for most if not all people. At this point you've got a fairly clear understanding of what the actualism method is and how it conceptually relates to an actual freedom. You feel happy and harmless for long periods of time. You may have quite exquisite and magical moments of delight and happiness, such as which you have only experienced as a child. The road is bumpy and uneven though. There are many times when you will be plunged into malice and sorrow by life circumstances, both minor and major. There will be many beliefs to investigate and drop. Many obstacles to happiness and harmlessness in the moment will be revealed to be due to organised feeling fueled belief systems and schemas about this and that. The dismantling of these – to the extent that they can be dismantled – leads you to feeling good for longer and longer stretches of time. Infact you may be astounded to find that you've transformed from being a dour, morose individual to one who feels happy most of the time, with low moods becoming increasingly rare and therefore more noticeable when they occur. As a feeling being, I was jokingly and ironically once nick-named 'ray of sunshine', because of my grim visage and moody attitude. But it didn't take very long for that image to be replaced by one who is considered happy and easy going.
You begin to have excellence experiences (EE) and pure consciousness experiences (PCE), which give you a direct experiential taste of what an actual freedom can be like. What it is like to be without 'self'.
Stage 3: Late Intermediate
Later in the intermediate stage you get to a point where it becomes increasingly clear that there is one thing that keeps getting in the way of complete and constant happiness - 'me'. While PCE's are absolutely glorious they are temporary. You will either crash land or gently transition back to stark everyday reality every single time. Its frustrating to realise that the PCE or even an EE cannot be bottled or possessed by you. It becomes apparent that the only thing that will work is for 'you' to leave the scene. As a feeling being I wrestled with this idea of whether I really truly wanted to live the PCE. I knew it was permanent and irrevocable. I had many glorious PCE's. But could I really live without a self? Could I really live without emotions? While a PCE was terrific it seemed almost too perfect, too pristine. I liked my 'dirty' self and didn't want to get rid of it completely. That is until one day, I stopped liking it. As I acclimated to the PCE more and more, feeling being increasingly felt like an irritant. A blight on an otherwise sublime and sweet existence. Even as a relatively happy chap, going about the world, the difference between the magical sweeetness of the PCE and my ordinary life was like night and day.
From the late intermediate stage, there are three ways forward:
A) You can go into an ongoing excellence experience, such that 'you' are minimized and in the background while giving yourself over to actuality. Letting go of the controls, while doing some gentle backseat driving if you will. This is an an out from control virtual freedom. It can be said to be qualitatively different and discontinuous from ones being prior to an out from control virtual freedom. If you have experience with EE's, you may well be able to imagine how different it would be to go to sleep and wake up in an EE, without the experience coming to an end as it usually does. This is why an out from control virtual freedom is also characterised as a different way of being. From here you can proceed to an actual freedom.
B) You can get to a point where you are in a kind of advanced intermediate stage. You resolve to and succeed in feeling happy and harmless 99% of the time. This is in control virtual freedom. An in control virtual freedom is about an incremental change in ones baseline such that one has perected the 'art' of being happy and harmless to the extent that one can as a feeling being. In a sense, it is continuous with ones previous practise of actualism and ones felt being prior to getting into actualism. This is why an in control virtual freedom is characterised as a same way of being. From here you proceed either to an out from control virtual freedom (B) or simply proceed to actual freedom.
C) You can opt to go straight to actual freedom without going into distinct and prolonged stages of either type of virtual freedom. However, it is usual for one to pass through a somewhat more truncated version of an out from control virtual freedom and in control virtual freedom. Also this method does not exempt one from attempting to be as happy and harmless each moment again to the best of one's ability, as feeling good each moment again is essentially the closest one can get to an actual freedom as a feeling being - it narrows the gap between the feeling state and the actually free state so to speak.
Bewarned that prior to actual freedom it is quite possible to regress and go back to your old ways. This can and has happened to people even in an out from control virtual freedom. Dedication to fulfilling what pure intent evidently demonstrates is the key here. Going all the way is the only way to attaining that 100% security. I do not have much experience with B) and C). Arguably I went through brief periods of in control and then out from control virtual freedom stages enroute to actual freedom, but these weren't all that evident to me and so I don't want to make any definite claims about them. However much has been written about them in the AFT and there are those who have gone through and are going through those stages. The links below will give you more information.
Stage 4: Self-immolation
A detailed account of how I became actually free can be found here . In order to become actually free this way, I would say that at minimum you need to have had several PCE's and actualised being happy and harmless in your daily life, such that unhappiness and malice are only occassional occurrences. This occurs mainly due to an active connection to pure intent rather than any imposed morality. At the time I was also well aware of my emotional landscape, what my common triggers and emotional schemas were. I was aware of how these coalesced into an 'I' and knew without doubt that 'I' am my feelings and my feelings are 'me'. Another requirement is be sufficiently weary of the real world and to have a real hunger for living the PCE, living in dazzling actuality. Like an addict repeatedly saying "one last time", it may take a while before you find your own 'rock bottom' moment, before you've had enough of the intoxicating mess that is the real world, that is 'you' and make a decision to be done with the whole sorry lot. Simultaneously there is this pull into the actual world, from your connection to pure intent that comes about thorugh EE and PCE experiences. You know what is wrong about 'you' and you know what the alternative can be - to live as this body and its consciousness in pristine actuality without the instinctual passions that are 'you'. So an actual freedom starts off with a desire for the ending of 'you' permanently. You've already done the 'trial period' via a PCE. Now you want it for keeps. This desire has to become a sweet obsession, with the desire for self death growing and growing. Any fear that you might feel is converted into excitement as you feel that thrilling side of fear. A momentum starts to build and build and like a moth to the flame you are both pushing yourself and being pulled towards the exit.
But this alone is not enough! You cannot end you. This would be a sollipsitic and circular act. There has to be something outside of 'you' that you are doing it for. So you do it for others in the world. This allows you to overide your own self interest and deploy a biological altruism that will cause you to sacrifice yourself for the sake of humanity and thereby end 'you'. So there as to be a caring which is both universal and specific, an acute empathy at the plight of humankind of which you are an exemplar. It has to become apparent that the answer to the end of your suffering, is the answer to end of suffering for all - to the end of the human condition.
The answer to ease human suffering presents itself experientially and specifically in your experience of other people. You see that there is something getting in the way, something thick and heavy. It is none other than 'me'. I get in the way and stop any true intimacy, which then has to be filled with fictions like love and togetherness to attempt to bridge the gap. But you know by now that it is all for naught. That separation caused my 'me' is a rift that can only be erased by the dissappearance of 'me'.
All of this contemplation and experiencing is done not in an ordinary state, but in the light of actuality, with a connection to pure intent in other words. The actual world presents itself compellingly and vividly in your experience as an alternative to the human tragedy which is 'my' tragedy, otherwise you will just go circling around back into the feelings as there is no real alternative. One has to be in an EE of sorts when one is on the runway ready for takeoff into an actual freedom. This is why I think that even with the direct method, one has to enter an out-from-control virtual freedom, albeit in abbreviated form. You are there holding both the existential options of living as a feeling being and living as the body in focus and trying to make a case for living as the body. Once the case is made – and there's no way too know how exactly that will be done for each individual – you will be actually free.
There can be a major problem with maps in that they get mistaken for the territory. The more specific and detailed a map is the greater the risk of ensuring self-immolation will not happen because one is more focussed on making that map happen rather than leading with ones own experience. This is why I woud recommend that the instructions above and others reports of being actually free be read, digested and then forgotten, so you can focus on your own process. That being said it is unlikely that self-immolation will occur without some idea of what to focus on.
Keeping this in mind I would summarise some of the main components of self-immolation as the following:
Sufficient experience with PCE's
Awareness of 'me' as presence, as a feeling being
While attempting to self-immolate:
Desire for oblivion, being tired of living as a feeling being
A universal empathy for the problem of humankind as it manifests specifically in 'me' as a feeling being
Seeing 'me' as the problem and my absence as the solution - biological altruism
Seeking to end the separation between me and others, between bodies
Being in an ongoing excellence experience the whole time or nearly the whole time
Sufficient momentum, a thrilling sense of destiny, blurring of distinction between my doing it and it happening to me