Discerning a True Direction: Nostalgia as our Inner GPS
"Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really want. It will not lead you astray." ~ Rumi
Nostalgia is confused by many with sentimentality, but in its true sense it offers a valuable tool in finding our way to that mysterious place called "within." How can the nostalgic mood help us to discern a true path from those dead-end trails offered by the imagination? Is there truly a better "place," a more real "reality," one without conflict and dissatisfaction? Let's explore the nostalgic mood together and see.
What it is not: It is not sentimentality, but something deeper; it points to something real, not to a memory or sentimental mood. Let's look into what you think nostalgia means and how it can be a tool of discrimination in the land of moods and the emotional center. And we can talk a bit about the inner country and its moods, as well as the nostalgic mood in dreams.
We can then take this from the dimensions of dreams and the inner country back out into the big dream, the common dream. How can we use nostalgia to discriminate between the moods and the attitudes that we have if we're ambitious or afraid the world of our own inner emotions?
The refinement of nostalgia: First it's more like a desperate longing, a very distinct mood of trying to find help; as we go along it becomes more refined until it becomes more like our connection to the heart or to the higher power the thread back to our source.
Loss of the innocent mind
The story of how I saw myself fall into the meanness and bullying of elementary school, how it was at first exciting, until it was me that became the target. I felt sad at the loss of my friends' innocence as well as my own, and afraid of how it all so easily affected me. In 8th grade Science class, I gave a book review on an introductory volume to Einstein. It had really opened my mind, but I saw that only one other person in the class picked up on my excitement. Puberty knocked out this new understanding as well as many others, and left me with no clear feeling of how to face life. It had become a dog-eat-dog world, with ever-changing rules, and no inner point of knowing.
Basic definitions of nostalgia in Richard Rose's "Moods" lecture (in The Direct-Mind Experience)
The three basic dream moods: acquisition, fear, and nostalgia. Nostalgia is the helpful one. Rose defined guilt as the combination of the nostalgia and fear moods. The "act of guilt" caused our loss of innocence; the fear was of the punishment for it. Nostalgia can point back to the original state.
Consider nostalgia from the point of view of a child's consciousness. It can lead to "conscience" in the sleeping adult. Our connection to nostalgia is what can commonly be called conscience. Rose said you cannot hurt the child's essence, but you can destroy its potential. This is what happens; we lose our given potential for this life, and get a fake role in whatever society we find ourselves in. We lose our Truth, and get a "life."
Can you remember when you lost your innocence, when the pure consciousness of childhood began to leave, and when was it replaced by the learned consciousness of an adult in society? Was this a movement from innocence to error?
A practical method for becoming familiar with nostalgia
Try finding the nostalgic mood through a meditation practice. I did this mainly while walking. Clear the mind with whatever technique you are familiar with, then focus on your emotions. What emotions are currently in charge, in your consciousness? Can you 'see' them, as a cloud, a color? Find your longing, your link to something good, a better state. Allow this to displace whatever negative emotions, such as anger, resentment, envy, or neediness, might have been present. Gratitude, or a feeling of humility, might help to find a nostalgic link.
An important point is to do any meditation or looking into the emotional state as if it's the first time, every time. The mind is prone to take anything we see and transfer it into memory, which then replaces direct experience thus taking us out of the game. Strive for pure and honest—first time, every time.
Next, once you have "remembered" the nostalgic mood, inquire as to why the other moods were dominant. Where does your value system really lie? Can you see your way around the emotional landscape? How does your longing or nostalgia play out? Is there action involved? Or just dreaming?
Nostalgia as the way back to the pure consciousness
The pre-childhood consciousness held our potential: it could lead us to, and help us through, what our task or place in life could be. It was replaced by the fear, ambitions, and herd mentality—the fall into sleep and error.
Nostalgia is the positive way to link back up with this child-consciousness. We can remember what this feeling of pure innocence and spontaneity felt like through the nostalgic mood. Think back from now along your life to when you were a baby, with no sense of self pure, innocent. Nostalgia is a longing for this directly-connected state.
We have wandered increasingly away from our source of inner wisdom—the direct mind—and come to rely on others and society to tell us how to live. Nostalgia can be a form of emotional discernment to help point us back within to our own source, the inner self.
Do you have memories of this, of having a pure consciousness? Can you feel it still? Can you remember being led away from it? Do you long for it now?
The above notes are from Bob Fergeson's talk at the November 2015 TAT weekend. Get a deeper feeling-sense from Bob's words by listening to the free audio version of his talk, which is available on the TAT Foundation Audio Page along with other selected TAT talks.
An interactive session followed his presentation: discussing personal examples of nostalgia and looking for clues as to how they help discern base feelings and moods from true longing. In preparation, participants were encouraged to remember glimpses of nostalgia, to share with their fellows.
Bob is a long-time TAT member who maintains three websites: Mystic Missal (A Door to Ways and Means on the Spiritual Path), the Nostalgia West spiritual photography site, and The Listening Attention (A Gateway to Within).
Check out Bob's "Nostalgia as Refined Feeling" on YouTube.
March 31-April 2, 2017 (Claymont Mansion)
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Downloadable/rental versions of the Mister Rose video and of April TAT talks Remembering Your True Desire (details).
Local Group News
Update from the weekly email self-inquiry groups:
Both the women's and the men's email groups are active, and we welcome serious participants. ~ Contact or .
Update from the Gainesville, FL self-inquiry group:
We meet at the Alachua County library on alternate Mondays and Sundays. We've recently experimented with holding the Sunday meeting at a branch library and may continue trying that out. ~ Email or for more information.
Update from the Galway, Ireland self-inquiry group:
In addition to meetings in Galway city, satellite groups are now meeting in Cork and in Dublin. Tess Hughes, along with guest Art Ticknor, will be leading a retreat in Tallaght, Co. Dublin, on May 26-29. And in October (27th-29th), Tess and Bob Fergeson will be leading Awakening Together's fall retreat in Colorado Springs, CO. ~ See the Events page on Tess's website for details.
Update from the Greensburg, PA self-inquiry group:
We continue to meet every other week at our usual location with our several regulars. ~ Contact .
Update from the Lynchburg, VA self-inquiry group:
We meet on Wednesday evenings and welcome inquiries. E-mail or for information on the meetings.
Update from the New York City area:
We've recently started a group in NYC and are looking for consistent, serious but lighthearted ;) members. So far, we have started each group meeting with a short meditation followed by a self-inquiry session with questions and responses. We plan to vary the format and also go on local retreats and spiritually-minded events, as time allows. We are meeting in downtown Manhattan (the financial district) in a really great public space that we are fortunate to have. Please contact me with any interest or questions. Tell a friend :) ~ Email .
Update from the Pittsburgh, PA self-inquiry group:
We hold public meetings at 7:00 PM on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of each month at the Pittsburgh Friends Meeting House in Oakland. The topic for March 1 was "The Riddle of the Fear of Rejection" and for March 15, "What is Real?" We also have private (i.e., by invitation only) confrontation meetings on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays. ~ For further information, contact or .
Update from the Portland, OR self-inquiry group:
After a break for the holidays, we're back to meeting most Sundays. We've been meeting at different local libraries around town due to limited room availability at any one library, but this has made it easier for people in those neighborhoods to attend the meetings. ~ Email or for more information.
Update from the Raleigh, NC Triangle Inquiry Group:
The Triangle Inquiry Group (TIG) meets on Wednesday evenings near NCSU. ~ Email or for information on local meetings.
Update from the San Francisco Bay area self-inquiry group:
Fifteen people gathered at the Four Springs Retreat Center for a weekend retreat in early March that included several hours of in-depth meditation instruction, Douglas Harding exercises, Paul Hedderman riffs, and good food. ~ Email for information about other meetings.
Update from the Tallahassee, FL self-inquiry group:
We continue to meet every other Tuesday at the downtown public library. ~ Contact , or find the group on Meetup.com.
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"The Teacher" from Ardvark The Aardvark by Eric Skiff (thanks to Wikimedia Commons).
We're hoping to present more humor created by TAT members and friends here. Please your written or graphic creations. Exact sources are necessary for other submissions, since we need to make sure they're either in the public domain or that we have permission to use them.
~ Omar Hamoui, founder of mobile ad network AdMob; left Wharton in 2006 and sold AdMob to Google, in a bidding war with Apple, in 2010 at age 33. Now a partner at Sequoia Capital, where he focuses on partnering with early stage companies.
A human being is part of the whole, called by us "Universe," a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. The striving to free oneself from this delusion is the one issue of true religion. Not to nourish the delusion but to try to overcome it is the way to reach the attainable measure of peace of mind.
With my best wishes,
"Facebook's biggest advantage over YouTube and other video providers may turn out to be boredom. 'Video is watched when people are bored,' says Benjamin Ling, a venture capitalist who has worked at Google, YouTube, and Facebook. 'Facebook is particularly good at curing boredom.'"
~ From "Facebook's Video Invasion" by Erin Griffith, Fortune June 15,2015.
Please your thoughts on the above items.
A reader wrote that what would make the Forum more interesting would be:
Hearing from people who are searching and have questions instead of those providing endless advice and "answers." What challenges they are facing. What their doubts and questions are. How they perceive their path is going. What they are doing in their lives. Where they think they will end up. Etc. etc.
Can you help make the Forum more interesting?
The question we asked readers for this month's Commentary was: What is your bottom line? Responses follow:
From Sree B:
My bottom line is "Freedom from Fear."
From Brett S:
My bottom line is that my time on earth is limited. I will die. I hope not soon. But possibly soon. Because my time is limited, I want to make the best use of it. I don't want to waste the time that I have. Finding out who or what I am feels like the best possible use of my time while I am alive. I cannot think of anything that feels more important to me. On a gut level, finding out who I am is my way of trying to use my time on earth to the best of my ability. Because one day it will be gone. That's the bottom line.
From Colm H:
I don't know for sure where I came from or where I am going after I die, but I do know that I will die. I also can't say for certain what I really am. The bottom line is that, that isn't acceptable and I need to do what I can to resolve it.
From Mark Sc:
"When a man comes to his real senses, he will recognize that he has only one problem: 'How can I come into awareness of, and oneness with, my true being?' For it is to lead him to this final question that other questions and problems have staged the road of his whole life. This answered, the way to answer all the other ones which beset him, be they physical or financial, intellectual or familiar, will open up. Hence Jesus' statements: 'Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven and all these things shall be added unto you,' and 'To him that hath [enlightenment] shall be given [what he personally needs].'" ~ Paul Brunton Notebooks 1#130
What is the bottom line regarding the Spiritual Quest, what is the most important consideration, what are you willing to sacrifice, what are you willing to put up with to get to the truth? A teacher comes along and shows you there is an alternate pursuit in life besides success, making a name for yourself, expressing your talents and gaining recognition, respect from friends and peers, a happy marriage and raising children, etc. Depending on your disposition you may have to sacrifice any or all of these to focus on the pursuit of Truth. Some people can have it all but it's usually not the case. Storms will have to be weathered, difficult relationships are going to have to be worked through, sometimes the quest is like an extreme sport—you must travel, climb mountains just to get a peek at the goal; sometimes it's sitting in a funk in your room, bored, staring at the walls, wondering WTF. The bottom line is you want what you want, what the sages and saints, yogis and mystics are pointing to. Call it self-realization, enlightenment, awakening and I wish you well.
From Mark Se:
The bottom line for me is the sense that I'm living a lie about what I am.
From Michael R:
What's my bottom line? The three points that most readily come to mind are 1. To know anything we must first know the knower (a scientist cannot know what he's measuring if he does not understand the limitations and functioning of his measuring tool), 2. The view is not the viewer, and 3. The mind knows by relation (a thing can only be defined by its opposite); the Absolute is beyond all relative truth/knowledge and can never be known by the mind. These aren't my own words, of course, but they have "sunk in" and formed a foundation for seeking. Currently the question most present in my inquiry/meditation is this—is awareness subjective (something I AM), objective (something I have), both, or neither and where am "I" amongst all of that?
From Bill K:
In terms of accounting, the bottom line is the one thing that results from the exercise of effort and calculation, and in our case, the result from a path of work and searching. I don't know what my bottom line is or will be, but feel that I am being led to it, and I have no option but to continue.
From Nick G:
I'd have to say my bottom line is to survive. It's a losing battle but moment-to-moment it seems high priority. Of course if all my ducks are in order I can prioritize other things, though everything is still checked against the bottom line on some level.
From Liam F:
This is my bottom line, the most important consideration of my existence; I want to befriend my burning, to humble my self in the flames of God's presence, to become present & real, and know the deeper mystery of life.
"I want burning, 'burning.'
with your burning. Burn up your thinking
and your forms of expression!"
From Rumi's poem "Moses and the Sheperd" translated by Coleman Barks. The entire poem is easily available online and is very powerful. Here's a link to the Coleman Barks audiobook I Want Burning: The Ecstatic World of Rumi, Hafiz, and Lalla on Amazon.
The question for next month is: What's the secret to keeping commitments?
Please your responses for next month's Reader Commentary and indicate your preferred identification (the default is your first name and the initial letter of your last name).
Other Reader Feedback
From Tim H:
Thank you for putting my question [Tim's question and some responses were featured in last month's "Convictions & Concerns" section] to the gang. I liked the variation on the theme you all provided. As none of you seem as prolific as in days gone by, it was my hope to rustle the bushes and flush out some work for the monthly Forum from you all. Seems to have worked. Maybe we can do this again. But maybe you could take a question from someone else. I was thinking this felt like sending one letter out to a half dozen [Alfred] Pulyans. To answer a question posed in the responses, I believe I can figure this out and seem to stubbornly persist in this aim. My grip has had to loosen however to see the possibility this might not be true.
Richard Rose described a spiritual path as living one's life aimed at finding the meaning of that life. Did you find anything relevant to your life or search in this month's TAT Forum?
Alfred Pulyan headstone (Morningside Cemetery, Gaylordsville, CT).
Photo by TAT member Nick Gallucci. The inscription:
Alfred Robert Pulyan, November 10, 1896 – April 10, 1966.
"He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it in eternity."
We like hearing from you! Please your comments, suggestions, inquiries, and submissions.
Early Impressions of Richard Rose in Retrospect
The material here is from interviews conducted between 1994-1995 with students who knew Richard Rose as early as 1973, by Paul Schmidt—an early and still-active TAT member. The Mr. Rose whom we knew as students was fading into Alzheimer's by that time. The TAT Forum published a memorial issue to Richard Rose (March 14, 1917–July 6, 2005) in August of 2005.
Part 2, continued from the March 2017 TAT Forum:
"There's some type of feeler in human systems that knows the being of the other people, and they know his being. And after a while, if you score, you sense about half the people you meet. You realize what they really are, what they're up against. Most everybody is working against a wall. Trying to get through that wall."
"They think they have the answers. And they give answers to everything. But I throw them off balance, and that forces them to begin questioning. I get them to start comparing and evaluating, and that is the key. That makes them start thinking. And once they start thinking, they'll deprogram themselves and come out of it . Keep hitting them with challenging questions that show they don't know right from wrong, and they see that they don't have any answers. They start searching for something . You push the mind into questioning until you break through.
"From the first time I lay eyes on a person, I watch his face and I start moving his mind, pushing it with questions. I keep pushing and pushing, and I don't let him get away with the lies he's been told or telling. One day there will be a minute, a second, when the mind snaps back and comes out of it
and his state of mind will change."
~ Richard Rose
Psychological Astuteness and Zen Techniques:
Bob C. talks about one of Rose's methods: "He would talk as though he were talking in generalities. He would be tailoring his talk based on the intuitions he was having about people. If he suspected that a person had a certain difficulty, he would start talking about that difficulty in generalities. That's probably where a lot of that came from, where people felt he was talking about them personally. He wouldn't have to get personal. He could just take one look at people. Let's face it, putting aside someone's extra intuition or ability to think clearly or see clearly, the fact was he was in his mid-fifties. He's 57 years old, and you're looking at a 19- or 20-year-old, and he's been through life and raised a family. You know what life is about, and you know what trouble people go through."
Al F.: "One of the proofs of Rose's experience [of the Absolute] is that I have never met anyone before or since that has the depth of psychological insight into people's heads. That depth doesn't come from reading books, it doesn't come from even being observant and intuitive. It's beyond that. He's been outside the mind. He would come up with stuff so particular to that person, no amount of infinite working of psychological factors that we know of from this side of the mind could add up to his uncanny ability. With pure spontaneity at any given moment, without guessing, he could pull out of thin air an analysis, but he would use it with humor. I believe that ability, which is some kind of enhanced intuition, is a result of being outside the mind."
"Five or six years ago, during the era of our hypnosis group in Pittsburgh, I called him about something else. In a matter of a few minutes, he told me things about myself that had just never occurred to me how my head works just matter-of-factly. I wrote it down, it was so shocking. I was stunned all through the night and into the next day. I felt as if I had been hit over the head. The fallout from it was I began to deny it, saying this wasn't true, an internal argument. But it was true. Usually people can say things to us and we know they're guessing, that they're off the mark."
At one of the early meetings Al attended, he asked Rose a question about the nature of enlightenment. Rose looked at Al, and he got personal, "What you need to do before you even think about enlightenment, is to get your head on straight." Wham!
"One time someone asked about love and enlightenment. Rose laughed. 'Love, you need a translation: lust. There's no such thing, except for a mother's selfless love for her baby.'"
"On a daily basis there weren't all different sides of him. What I saw was a master psychologist. I've been through a little bit of psychology, and we can sit and take a person and we can speculate about him, about what makes him tick, and try to get as deep as we can. What Rose was doing on a daily basis, at one time probably with 20 to 30 people, was working on a consistent psychological basis with them. Not the kind of that we think of in therapy, somebody sitting taking notes. He was trying to get them to overcome their hang ups."
"The outstanding thing about him, that I know in retrospect, is he wasn't guessing. When he looked up at the TV set [a tiny B&W set on top of a refrigerator in Rose's kitchen], that guy up there he could look at anybody and know them right to the core. He sees everybody how we don't see it. He sees them as a projection. And I don't quite know why that is. Other than when I had that thing happen to me at Duquesne [University], the next morning the first thing I saw was my wife; and when I looked at her face, I saw her as a stranger. I could even pick up her thinking, her thoughts and her motives, as her eyes moved. And I think that Rose sees that on a deeper level."
"There are people who are good guessers, but Rose wasn't guessing, He never guessed. I don't think he was ever wrong about anybody in that sense. He could be wrong about, like my brother Mike says, the tractor—but he was absolutely right about my brother's chief feature. I've never run into anybody else with the depth of insight into people. He could be anywhere, absolutely anywhere, and turn and look at somebody and he would start talking about them like he knew them from birth ."
Bill K. recalls how Rose's one-liners could completely change your thinking. "One time this girl Janie, a skinny girl who looked like a boy, asked Rose the difference between concentration and meditation, and Rose said, "I always concentrate." For me, that's the only thing that could have been said at the time. "It goes right through your head and stays with you for the rest of your life, even though it sounds trivial."
Rose has told Shawn N. that nobody ever listens to him, and that men, when you tell them something, get mad.
Closing on the Roxboro property has been delayed while the real estate attorneys work out some issues, but it is scheduled for the first week of April. The sellers are absorbing any extra costs from the delay. Hopefully we will soon be custodians of 11 acres full of potential. A wooded retreat that will hum with activity during meetings, then return to a silence that people can experience during solitary retreats. A meetinghouse of spiritual travelers. It's going to be awesome.
But we're still short of our goal. Please contribute to something grand; something worthwhile.
Here's How to Help:
To invest in the Homing Ground project, mail a check made out to the TAT Foundation (for instructions on mailing a check, please the TAT treasurer).
Or you can use PayPal (though we lose 2.2% of your donation to PayPal fees) by choosing the "Make a Donation" button below or the Make a Donation button on our Homing Ground page. TAT is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit educational organization and qualifies to receive tax-deductible contributions.
I thank each of you who have donated and pledged and look forward to the day we set foot in our new home.
on behalf of the TAT Trustees
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