The Actualism Method
Consistently enjoying and appreciating this moment of being alive is what the actualism method is. And this is because the actualism method is all about consciously and knowingly imitating life in the actual world.
The actualism method is essentially about feeling good now to the extent one can, as a moment to moment practice. While this might sound fairly simple, its implications are far-reaching. By getting to a point of sincerely feeling good on a consistent basis, you will have fundamentally altered your attitude to life and delved deep into yourself through investigation to eliminate obstacles to the enjoyment and appreciation of life.
The amazing thing is that with the actualism method, for the first time in our lives many of us were able to feel happy and content for long periods of time. But little did we know that this was the beginning of a magical and unbelievable adventure of consciousness.
Why the Actualism Method?
All human beings live in an illusory ‘reality’ that is primarily a fog of their emotions projected out into the world. These emotions, with accompanying social identifications and cognitive structures knit themselves into ‘me’ i.e. an entity that you feel and think yourself to be: Being or Self – in other words. When ‘I’ try to make myself happy and shore ‘myself’ up in myriad ways, ‘I’ forget that this entity that I take myself to be is actually the main problem. Self arose evolutionarily, as an emergent by-product of consciousness, carved out of instinctual and social attitudes. Its purpose as a process is not happiness. On the contrary, one of its primary goals is dissatisfaction – and seeking to remedy it through pacificatory reassurance and aggrandisement. This is why ‘I’ am never happy for very long before I turn insecure and start looking for deficits that need correcting – more love, more gratitude journals, more validation from others, more money, shinier toys, prayers to God etc.
The most insidious and important negative effect of Being is that it locks you out of the actual world. Many people remember the world being a magical and enchanted place when they were young children. Yet later as they age they begin to doubt their childhood naïveté and experience the world as marvellous only for a precious few moments on a once-a-year holiday perhaps. In truth that magical, bountiful, jewel-like world is right under your nose still. It is ‘you’ - as Being that is preventing that experience. This is not to say that children are pure cherubic innocents – but that the Self is less developed as a child and more ‘gappy’. As we grow older our sense of self ‘matures’ and becomes more pervasive, consistent and socially aware. With that comes cynicism and a tragic loss of lustre and aliveness that we experienced more frequently as young-uns.
Our goal with the actualism method is to inhabit this wondrous actual world more and more. As entities ‘we’ are locked out of it as actuality is not compatible with Being i.e. me as I feel myself to be. What we can do though is ‘build a bridge’ to the actual world by feeling as good as possible, as often as possible. What we are trying to do is to consciously imitate the actual world, to the extent that we can as feeling beings. Eventually, a portal opens up to the actual world, albeit temporarily – a pure consciousness experience (PCE). With PCEs you can test-ride for yourself what it's like to live in an enchanted world without ‘yourself’ temporarily and see if it is something you want more permanently.
The actual world is gloriously and deliciously material. It is a world of people, things and events. It is a world that can be appreciated by the senses. One that can be delighted in sensuously. it is not a world of the imagination, of feelings and of spirituality. Love, hate, togetherness and other constructed social attitudes do not exist here. Metaphysical abstractions such as timelessness and unity are not here. Without ‘me’ I realise that there is an actual world, where it is always now. Past, future and present are but fever dream constructs that give coherence to Self. There is a pure conscious awareness within this body devoid of that fictitious being - me as I am and not ‘me’ as ‘I’ am.
So keeping all of that in mind and especially keeping in mind that the actualism method is about imitating actuality to the extent possible as a feeling being, we get to the actualism method in its fullest expression: consistently enjoying and appreciating this moment of being alive
It is an enjoyment that delights in the sensuous materiality of our moment to moment existence and one that relishes feelings of happiness and congeniality towards others.
Actualism method is not a meditation. It is a daily, round-the-clock, moment to moment practice. No matter how one is feeling, one always gets back to enjoyment and appreciation and over time it becomes easier to do so. Hence with the ‘wide and wondrous path’ of actualism, the journey and destination are essentially the same. The goods are delivered immediately. There is no waiting and no ‘dark night of the soul’.
Feeling Good and ‘Good Feelings’
Feeling good or enjoying has a range of meanings to people. What we are talking about by feeling good is happiness, cheer, liking, joy, blitheness, gaiety, delight and so forth – if that gives you something of an idea. These are feelings that have a light and happy quality. They are not feelings of love, ecstasy, bliss or feelings of belonging. Those feelings are merely antidotal and pacificatory to feelings of aloneness, fear, hate etc.
'The ‘good’ feelings are those that are of a loving (ardent feelings of profound affection and endearment) and a compassionate (empathetic feelings of deep sympathy and commiseration) nature; the ‘bad feelings are those that are of a malicious (spiteful feelings of intense hatred and resentment) and a sorrowful (melancholy feelings of yawning sadness and grief) nature.'
Feeling Felicitous and Innocuous ( Feeling Happy and Harmless)
It is not simply feeling good (as opposed to ‘good feelings’) that is crucial in the actualism method. It is equally crucial to feel and to be harmless. Feeling harmless simply means not meaning anyone malice and in fact to feel gracious, congenial and affable towards the world and toward others. Feeling harmless is not a moral injunction. It is a question of naturally, experientially coming to a conclusion that harbouring harmful feelings towards others, although quite gratifying at times in a sense, doesn’t feel good. It perpetuates more problems than it solves
Also, it is often possible to feel happy and yet have malice onboard e.g. feelings of power, feeling happy whilst holding a grudge, feelings of pride etc. And yet this happiness has an impure, grungy and narcissistic quality. It is unstable as those feelings of malicen will cause guilt, fear of reciprocal malice, fear of falling from a prideful place etc. By feeling felicitous and innocuous one is also edging closer to the ‘actual texture’ of the universe in a matter of speaking – a blithesome, benevolent, magical quality. You make an effort to ‘make yourself’ an expression of the universe – to the extent that it is possible to do so with feelings on board.
'The felicitous feelings are those that are of a happy and carefree (blithesome feelings of great delight and enjoyment) nature; the innocuous feelings are those that are of a harmless and congenial (gracious feelings of ingenuous tranquillity and affability) nature ….'
'The felicitous/innocuous feelings are in no way docile, lack-lustre affections … in conjunction with sensuosity they make for an extremely forceful/ potent combination as, with all of the affective energy channelled into being as happy and harmless as is humanly possible (and no longer being frittered away on love and compassion/ malice and sorrow), the full effect of ‘me’ at the core of ‘my’ being – which is ‘being’ itself – is dynamically enabled for one purpose and one purpose alone...'
The actualism method is not about undermining the passions … on the contrary, it is about directing all of that affective energy into being the felicitous/innocuous feelings (that is, ‘me’ at the core of ‘my’ being, which is ‘being’ itself) in order to effect a deliberate imitation of the actual, as evidenced in a PCE [a pure consciousness experience], so as to feel as happy and as harmless (as free of malice and sorrow) as is humanly possible whilst remaining a ‘self’.
Such imitative felicity/ innocuity, in conjunction with sensuosity, readily evokes amazement, marvel, and delight – a state of wide-eyed wonder best expressed by the word naiveté (the nearest a ‘self’ can come to innocence whilst being a ‘self’) – and which allows the overarching benignity and benevolence inherent to the infinitude, which this infinite and eternal and perpetual universe actually is, to operate more and more freely. This intrinsic benignity and benevolence, which has nothing to do with the imitative affective happiness and harmlessness, will do the rest. All that was required was ‘my’ cheerful, and thus willing, concurrence – Richard
The Wide and Wondrous Path
The actualism method is also called the ‘wide and wondrous path’. It is simple and accessible to everyone. It does not require a sophisticated intellect, an understanding of arcane and esoteric mystico-religious teachings or an Olympian level of mediative skill. It is something that you’ll want to have fun with and enjoy doing as soon as you start. There are no ‘dark nights’, no hours of sitting on a cushion trying to forget about that cramp on your leg. Furthermore, the path and the destination are one and the same. From the get-go, one is emulating the crackling electric wonder of the universe, its radiant benevolence – albeit in tiny ways. At the journeys end you realise that destination was embedded within the path all along.
How am I Experiencing This Moment of Being Alive? (H.A.I.E.T.M.O.B.A)
By asking ‘how am I experiencing this moment of being alive’ the reward is immediate; by finding out what triggered off the loss of the felicitous/ innocuous feelings, one commences another period of enjoying and appreciating this moment of being alive. It is all about being here at this moment in time and this place in space … and if you are not feeling happy and harmless you have no chance whatsoever of being here in this actual world (a glum and/or grumpy person locks themselves out of the perfect purity of this moment and place). And by having already established feeling good (a general sense of well-being) as the bottom line for moment-to-moment experiencing then if, or when, feeling happy and harmless fades there is that comfortable baseline from which to suss out where, when, how, why – and what for – the feeling of being happy and harmless ceased happening … and all the while feeling good whilst going about it – Richard
Improving one's Baseline
One of the immediately appealing things about actualism, it that it allows you to progressively increase your level of happiness, starting now. No matter who you are or where you are in life, no matter what your circumstances, you can always choose to be a little happier than you were previously. The idea is to constantly evaluate what your mood is on a moment to moment basis – this might sound tricky and difficult and it certainly can be initially. But it gets easier over time as success builds on success. Eventually, with practice this effort gets internalised and becomes rather like a thermostat where you can often automatically up-regulate to a better mood.
It is recommended that you evaluate your mood on a simple 6 point scale – bad, neutral, good, great, excellent and perfect.
Bad - Feeling lousy usually due to negative feelings of anxiety, sadness, shame, longing, dread, fear etc.
Neutral - A bland feeling that is neither bad nor good. Might be fairly unnoticeable due to its neutrality.
Good - A feeling of well being. A bit of happiness. A slight bounce in your step.
Great - More than good. Jubilant. The world is really starting to pop. Smiling and laughing is very easy
Excellent - There is a bit of a sparkle in the air. There is a deep contentment. Joy abounds. Sense of self is very thinned out and gossamer
Perfect - What it says on the box. Essentially when you are in a Pure Consciousness Experience (PCE) and not otherwise. Self is absent. The world becomes a wondrous, magical, enchanted fairy tale land
The way one usually lives one life is like sleep-walking through it. You cruise around feeling okay until something bad happens to you – when some cherished ideal or thing is lost. Then you feel bad for a while. Eventually, this bad feeling goes away or you do something to make yourself feel good for a brief while - and so on ad nauseam. With actualism you become supremely attentive to the way that you are feeling. Whenever you feel bad, you find out why and get back to feeling good. Depending on what the feeling is you may choose to get back to feeling good ASAP - or to take the slightly longer route and investigate (see Investigation) the feeling (useful if it is a persistent theme and frequent occurrence).
Ultimately this has the profound effect of making you live life entirely differently – by aligning yourself with feeling happy and harmless, rather than throwing your lot in with ‘you’ and the vagaries of ‘your’ hopes and expectations.
In the Marketplace
The actualism method is an ‘always on’ method. One does not do it secluded on a hilltop monastery or in a meditative trance. Hence it is extremely dynamic and is most effective when one is using it ‘on the fly’ as you go about work, relationships and life. There is a fundamental acknowledgement here that humankind is a social species, embedded in the world.
Seeing the Silliness
There are many, many times when one falls off the horse so to speak. When this happens, oftentimes all one needs to do is to pinpoint the exact time one stopped feeling good and why. Often (but not always) this is sufficient to nudge you to ask yourself whether you’d rather continue to feel bad for ‘x’ reason, rather than to feel good given that this is the only moment that you are alive.
'… trace back by asking yourself such questions as: what happened 6/7 hours ago which occasioned me to cease feeling good? Where was I, back then? What was I doing/what was happening? Was I by myself/ was I with company? Once you start to recall where you were/what you were doing/what was happening/ who was there, and so on, just prior to ceasing to feel good you will find it a lot easier to pin-point the precise moment when those felicitous/innocuous feelings came to an end … and, thus, just what it was which did that. In short: go back (in memory) to when you were last feeling good and then come forward, step-by-step, until that moment'