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The TAT Forum: a spiritual magazine of essays, poems and humor.

TAT Forum
April 2001

Essays, poems, opinions and humor on seeking
and finding answers to your deepest life-questions

This month's contents:

WKSU Interview of Richard Rose (part 6 of 6) | The Will to Define by Bob Cergol | The Other Side by Bob Cergol | Some Thoughts about Oblivion, Immortality, and Being a Nobody by Paul Schmidt | Turn Around by Gary Harmon | Meditation: It's Not What You Think (part III) by Michael Conners | The Field by Shawn Nevins | Points and Patterns by Shawn Nevins | Little Man by Bob Fergeson | Humor

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WKSU Interview of Richard Rose (conclusion)

(~ Continued from the March 2001 TAT Forum)

Question: So if we are in an era of enlightenment, as evidenced by these numerous groups and the interest in Eastern religions today—which is bound to bring about some change in the intellect of the populace—what happens when the masses cannot handle the new values, the new questions that the small minority are starting to ask? Will this minority become persecuted? Does history reveal things like this happening?

Rose: I don't know how much of that will happen in our lifetime, in our era. But this was a threat in the middle ages and maybe in ancient times. Even Pythagoras was supposedly attacked. Socrates was executed. But the hint has always gone out among the esoteric groups that you should never instruct openly. You should never go out and try to let the masses hear this knowledge, because it has an effect of irritating them, and they will attack you.

Some people blame that for the killing of Christ. That he was basically lynched by people who had heard him talk and who somehow just turned against him. Because this was something which just might destroy their entire pleasure patterns, or their political patterns.

There is an esoteric maxim that you'll come across if you get into esoteric reading: "To know, to dare, to do, and to be silent." And we wonder about that.

And of course, I was silent for many years. But I believed that the percentage of ears was increasing. Partly because more people were getting educated—plus the fact that some people's ears had been opened by perhaps a fractional drug experience. (I'm talking about intellectual ears, not physical ears.) This has an effect of giving a person the perspective of having a new state of mind. You see that it's possible to have more than one state of mind, more than one way of looking at things—a new perspective.

So if they didn't get really destroyed by the drugs (LSD), some of the people who had a slight taste began looking for spiritual values. And I ascribe the biggest part of this spiritual drive that we have today to half a million or a million people who picked up a little sentience of it under some experimental drug routine. It just cracked the door for them.

Now unfortunately this doesn't open the door. But these people are the ones who flock to a lot of these movements, especially if the leaders are charismatic or if the thing is emotional. And again, a microscopic few of them will gravitate toward something serious, once they become disgruntled with what they finally find out to be not the final answer.

Question: Mr. Rose, would you mind in our final few minutes to maybe recap your development, let's say your achievements, and then the disappointments, that kind of thing? Maybe give us a background where you started—would you be interested in that?

Rose: Yes, all right. I considered myself to be a very devout Catholic when I was younger, and I was looking as a child for an objective God. I studied to be a priest, in fact. And I left that institution because . . . I began to be uneasy about my convictions, in relation to the people in the seminary.

I left the seminary when I was in my teens yet, and I went to college. I joined or went to different churches because I still had this direction or vector in my system. This was my business—I wanted to find out who God was. And I accepted a priori that God was a person—it was somebody I was going to meet.

So I looked high and low. I joined all sorts of cults. I got initiated into any one of these Asian groups that would initiate me. I went to Spiritualist churches and I thought that this was a very good approach—because here I might be able to talk with people who were dead and who were now themselves talking to God.

Well needless to say, I didn't find the answer there. Every place I went I was disillusioned that much more. I found fraud and trickery at every turn, and I found that the people who were telling us that they had God in their hip pocket really had money in their hip pocket. And I became very discouraged.

But as a result of this intense effort—I think as a result of this intense effort—when I was around thirty years of age I had an experience. And this experience answered my questions for me. And it has not diminished. I have not outgrown it—I don't think you could ever outgrow it when you have that type of experience.

But I was unable to communicate it. And with what few people I did try to communicate, I realized that they had no cognizance of what I was talking about. So in most cases I gave up. And it wasn't until I met one man, Paul Wood, and read a book called Cosmic Consciousness that I realized that other people did have these experiences, and they did talk about them.

Question: Prior to this you had a feeling like you were a little bit odd or you didn't fit into society?

Rose: I felt that there was no use talking about it, that's all. No—I fit into society very well. I had learned when I was among a certain group of people to talk their language. And I could hold a job. I've raised a family. I've been a contractor, I have worked at many things such as a chemist, a metallurgist, an engineer of sorts, and I've held all sorts of jobs.

But one thing I'd say as far as its effects upon me—I never had any desire to own the world, or to really make history.

My big desire was the hope that I would find somebody. And I would curse the darkness when I was a kid about 21 years of age and say, "Boy, every place I look I find these phonies, these hucksters. And I'm wasting the valuable years of my life when I could possibly be out raising a bunch of kids, or getting drunk and enjoying myself, if such is enjoying yourself."

The temptation was always there naturally, and I was putting it aside saying, "Wait—maybe you'll find this thing someday." But everyplace I went I ran into hucksters. And not only hucksters but people of really bad intentions.

So I came to the conclusion as I was cursing the darkness that if I ever found anything, my next step would be—if I ever found anybody that wanted help, I'd try to help them. That was my obligation.

Consequently I try to balance my efforts today. Not to be too evangelistic but nevertheless to go out and say, "If there's anybody out there who's got this problem and a little bit shaky about it, a little bit lacking in conviction that he's on the right track, why maybe I can give you a few hints. I've been down the old trail and I know a few hazards and so forth. And maybe we can accelerate your search a bit—this is advisable if it's possible."

Have I covered what you wanted?

Question: Yes, I think that sort of sums everything up. And I really appreciate having you here today.

This 1974 Kent State University WKSU radio interview is printed in The Direct-Mind Experience. © 1985 by Richard Rose. All Rights Reserved.


The Will to Define
by Bob Cergol

Question: If all conscious entities or 'water drops' do not survive... but simply return to that Something from which they sprang, does it matter what we do since we all end up the same (according to [the American Zen master Alfred] Pulyan)? Every individual completely dies; a few surrender to or accept what they ARE NOT before death, but the majority do not. So do those who die in ignorance return to Something eventually anyway without knowing it? If it is Awareness vs. oblivion, I have to say that from my place sometimes it looks close to being a toss-up. Just wondering if you have any kind of sense about this from your new perspective....

You suggest that it may not matter whether a person realizes who and what they really are, because final Truth or Reality could not be conditioned upon their having or not having a realization and so death would have the same outcome. But you then go on to describe an individuality that wishes never to die while simultaneously wishing for the freedom from having to define itself! (And in the process escaping the suffering of having to watch, in judgment, that individual doing a poor job of being an individual.) What a conundrum!

It seems to me that your own words answer this question of whether realization matters. (It obviously matters to you!)

An individual has no choice in deciding to be or not to be. We experience individuality and until proven otherwise know only that we exist as an individual. Some individuals consciously ask the question, "Why?" The question asked must mean the answer matters. (I would say the question asked is proof that there IS an answer.) Every individual life is an expression of that question!

To exist as an individual—and consequently, TO FEEL THE COMPULSION FROM A SOURCE UNKNOWN—TO BE THAT INDIVIDUAL—while at the same time NOT KNOWING JUST WHAT EXACTLY THAT INDIVIDUALITY IS, or is supposed to be, means that there is NO CHOICE for that individual being BUT TO DEFINE ITSELF TO ITSELF. (Identity spins identity.) That is its nature, period. That is the direction of all thoughts and actions by the individual.

The individual mind says, "I feel myself to BE, therefore what am I?" Everyone is grasping and groping. Everyone is engaged in activity to define their identity. Some consciously ask the question. Some don't. Some take great action while some don't. In ALL cases their lives are the very expression of that same question and the attempt to answer it. Some dichotomize the self and define the individual that is, as he who sits in judgment of that other character who isn't making the grade and otherwise just isn't going to make it in this world…. Some run around in ever decreasing concentric circles until they finally stick their head up their own ass and just disappear! Some are too busy defining who they are to see what they are not.

From the vantage point of our human mentality this issue seems to me to be the ultimate paradox. Does it matter to the rose bush, if each and every bud blossoms? Are not each and every bud and blossom, BOTH, a manifestation of the hidden life that is the essence of the rose bush? Can that essence be divided? If that essence is indivisible, then are not both the bud and the bloom a perfect expression in varying form of that essence? Does the bud ask whether or not it should attempt to bloom? It does not and cannot. It is its nature to "try"—knowingly or unknowingly.

I believe this "compulsion" is itself an expression of, or an echo of, that Being from which all arises, when that Being is manifested in particularized form—the dust funnel in the desert….

We've all heard it said and written that everyone is looking for the truth. Everyone is trying to define their self. It is simply their nature. It is simply an expression of that which IS. Perhaps it is why Pulyan said, as Lou reminded us, that this is the very reason for the existence of the universe. Reduced to words, I would therefore have to say, it matters. If it doesn't matter, then everything else matters less.


The Other Side
by Bob Cergol

What sound was it that you first heard
That made those ears your ears to hear?
And in such hearing spawned the fear
Of the other side—the silence here.

What sight was it that you first saw
That made those eyes your eyes to see?
And in such seeing spawned the vision:
An "I" in loneliness imprisoned.

What movement made first filled your breath
And made that breath your own to breathe?
And in such moving brought the gasp
That one such breath will be your last.

What shape was made with flesh and bone
That made this form your form alone?
A mortal form where thoughts resolved
That "I" as form will be dissolved.

What story told first touched your heart
And made its theme "a thing apart"?
That heartfelt telling does portend
Where flowed life's rhythms—all will end.

What words were they that left those lips
Through which the Source became eclipsed?
In darkness, separate shadows grew
As animated forms, with speech imbued.

What choice occurred that made that choice
The one to which you lent your voice?
And in that lending broke apart
From That—the center of your heart.

What thing is this that strives to BE
An individuality?
— It's just an echo of the other side
In which all things here do abide.

From the other side your being came;
On this side came identity.
From the other side there comes the call
"Your self is here, not there at all."

On the other side of "I am this"
Is "I am not," and "I am nothing."
But in that nothing is your Being
And in that Being—everything.

Author's note: The original inspiration or idea behind The Other Side was from a meeting here a few weeks ago, when [D.] was talking about the "I Am" or "Who Am I" meditation/mantra he was doing. I made a remark about there being "something on the other side of 'I Am'" that his doing of the meditation/mantra was not revealing because that point of reference was contradictory to the point of reference for the meditation. The contradiction was that his meditational point of reference, at least in part, was one of serving the personal identity, which always wants to build on identity. The perspective of the "other side" is ruled out in advance by this personal viewpoint since it would amount to a total acceptance of the personal self's mortality. The idea was to paint a picture of how the "I" arises out of experience and loses its connection with the Source and then re-finds itself. When and how did your sense of "I" first appear? What was the first sound that awakened "I" in you and closed your ear to the Silent Source? What sight first cemented you in this vision of reality that blinded you to the True Light?


"Some Thoughts about Oblivion, Immortality, and Being a Nobody"
by Paul Schmidt

I think I can safely reduce the reason for most of any dis-ease and suffering to an insistence that I am special and unique. Every time that I am opposed, it is felt (consciously or not) as a prick, and then passes into the dormant and active cycles of a virus. In my case, the history of being special and unique has devolved from all out self-glory to self-condemnation. First the youthful sense of being chosen by God; then gradually whittled down by the real world and successive years to being a misunderstood person (if only others could see my potential or I could realize it); to an increasing polarization between a good person and a bad person, and finally to a sense of failure which still reigns unique in a 'damned' sense, whether by fate or self-inducement.

So in the middle of a particularly dismal stage two years ago, I had a small realization one day from unexpectedly seeing a bird gliding across the desert. I was overtaken by a mixed emotion of exhilaration, wonder, envy, loss. The bird appeared to me as pure Being. Free of self-consciousness and mental complication in the way humans are. But the shock was in feeling something resonate with Out There when seeing that bird. Could I ever be like that? The words that later came to mind were of being a nobody, not at all in a defeatist sense, but signifying a real freedom from losing the imperative to protect and preserve 'me' at all cost. I wondered at how tranquil and unthreatening life could be without the snags of ego on which so many desires and complexes get hung up on to make life a holy hell. To be no one in particular suddenly seemed like the most wonderful condition possible.

I am bringing this up as a prelude and counterweight to a view of oblivion and immortality I want to present next, and I am hoping its relation will be discerned without demanding too much of a stretch in comprehension. It all hinges around the dilemma of self-consciousness and the assumption of specialhood status for the 'I.' Following is an excerpt from a piece written to a friend in response to her insistence that oblivion was our final destiny. It was about an unsettling conclusion I had made regarding the relation between oblivion and 'immortality.'

How I came upon this… you could call it a psychological discovery… was by accident, at first through imagination, then reinforced by dread.

This peculiar 'immortality' is qualified because it is a kind of perpetual repetition. It also may be the ultimate extension of our peculiar curse in being human. It is connected indirectly to oblivion, which of all the possible outcomes stands the furthest from most people's wishful thinking or faith. And this type of immortality also depends on one other thing—that it will last as long as there is self-consciousness alive and well in the world.

I was trying to imagine what it would be like to experience oblivion, during one of those moments when tired of everything, I actually preferred oblivion to empty or fabricated hope, and to any more fruitless speculation about the various possibilities for an afterlife.

Considering oblivion, I saw it's absurdity, and then I saw it's beauty. The absurdity is that all effort and accomplishment, all the good, all the real friends and family bonds formed, will become personally meaningless after I die. Swallowed in the ocean of nothingness. And perversely, all the errors and bad things committed will be removed from my moral accounts as if they never mattered—as if to mock any harm to others, as well as the guilt and consequences suffered. The beauty is simply that I will be free of suffering, and that there will be zero consciousness and memory of ever possessing a being or an existence. No regret and also no hope. No more stirring and wondering in confusion—what does this mean, why is this happening, and who is this motley configuration?

Here is where dread came into the picture and flipped oblivion into 'immortality.' I was trying to imagine what this state of oblivion would be like as if I was in it now. Naturally, there would be no 'I' anymore. The no 'I' is the key. Here's where it got tricky. So how would I know that I have no 'I' anymore? I couldn't. I started to get a sensation of dread, sensing that I couldn't even have the satisfaction of knowing that I was a zero.

Then I asked a couple of hypothetical questions dealing with future existence after death: 1) What if after dying and losing my present sense of 'I,' I was reincarnated for another chance to right my previous life, reborn as my next 'I'? In that case I would have had no memory of a previous existence. This new me would think that he or she is an 'I' for the very first time, just as I do today. (I know some people claim to have memories of past lives, but that doesn't affect my argument.) 2) Or what if after dying and losing my present sense of 'I,' this 'I' turned out to be the 'I' of a totally different person, not a reincarnation or forgotten memory. This person would still think—'I' am 'I' for the very first time.

The experience that 'I am I and no one else' is the same for every single person. So this made me see, with the dread increasing at the unavoidable conclusion—that if there is oblivion at the end, I couldn't have the consolation of being eternally oblivious. I couldn't lie there in a state of relaxed unconsciousness and every once in a while arouse a thought long enough to think—I am free now, I am in oblivion. I could not sigh with relief—Thank God I don't have to be conscious and worry about anything anymore. When this realization hit me, all I could say was—Oh my God, I can't even die and that will be the end of it.

Because if I die and cease to be, there is no memory of what came before, and no premonition of what could come after. The experience of dying will be like blinking an eye closed for a millisecond, and then… someone out there opens their eyes from sleep, and thinks 'I' am awake. So how would I ever know or not know whether that person is me, is 'I' for the very first time? Therefore, even if oblivion is our final destiny, by a trick of consciousness, 'I' never starts and never stops. It is always in the present. 'Immortality' arises from the never-ending claim that I am I. So whether oblivion or immortality is real, it looks like we are still destined or damned to be conscious indefinitely, hence suffer indefinitely; each 'I' endlessly taking up its singular worm-view where other I's leave off when exiting the race.

Many Eastern religions/philosophies have arrived at the conclusion of One Reality, that everyone and everything is connected and belongs to the Whole. One of the more interesting and controversial variations of this is a Buddhist view of existence. It is very difficult and troubling for most people to accept, being branded as nihilistic and without consolation. The Buddha stated that our true nature is 'nothingness' or 'emptiness,' that there is no innate individual spirit or soul that survives death, or is passed along from life to life until nirvana is attained. The 'ego' or 'I' we experience now is an illusion. And the analogy Buddha used to clarify this was of a flame passing from candle to candle. The flame cannot be said to exist in the candle before, or the in next one, as the flame is passed along. Many lives are needed to reach Nirvana, and the ones before influence our present one, but do not determine it. There is no individual 'self' transmitted from a past life which arrives in this present life to be refined. Past lives may influence us just as memories and impressions do, but they don't shape an individual destiny. The will we have now is still free to break out of the chain of cause and effect and realize Nirvana.

This cosmology or explanation could be the answer to the strange predicament I'd encountered. But I still ask myself, what can I base my life on that follows from personal experience or reliable intuition? Especially without an illuminating experience in this life of a personal or impersonal immortality. The way I see it, a realistic hope for this life is to get to the point where it doesn't matter anymore whether this 'I' gets credit for being unique. To go around like no one in particular and be genuinely relieved to just be a part of Being. Kafka said—"Beyond a certain point there is no return. This point has to be reached."


Turn Around
by Gary Harmon

"Turn around"
I turn around and see no-one
"Turn your attention around"
I look in a mirror and see my face
"Turn your inner head around"
What interior head?
"Listen to your intuition fool"
Who are you to give me any advice?
"I am you"
You are not, I am me
"Turn around"
I turn around and see no-one


MEDITATION: It's Not What You Think...
Part III
by Michael Conners

(~ Continued from the March 2001 TAT Forum)

Effortless Meditation:
A Practice of "Letting Go"

Whatever your technique of meditation, Zen, Mindfulness, TM, etc., effortlessness of practice will increase its effectiveness.

Usually we think "I am thinking" or "doing" or "feeling" or even "I am my thoughts, and my feelings, and my actions." And with that identification comes suffering.

The value of effortless meditation is that it is a pleasant, relaxing practice that loosens identification with thoughts and feelings, releases stress resulting in health benefits, and awakens subtle levels of awareness which leads to the experience of Transcendental or Pure Consciousness.

Just what does effortless mean? NO EFFORT! We sit down with the intention to do our technique, but then we "do" nothing! We welcome whatever happens as it comes. Just like remembering and forgetting a name or phone number, we remember our technique automatically.

To meditate effortlessly, sit comfortably with closed eyes for a moment. Thoughts and feelings and bodily sensations will arise within the silence without effort on your part. Then you will remember that you are sitting there to meditate, and that remembering will be effortless ("Oh..."). That is one repetition of the effortless meditative cycle. At this point it is important to not try to "do" your meditation technique! This faint remembering is enough. Then, after a few moments, you will become lost in thought for a while until you again remember "Oh...", which continues the cycle.

To keep your meditation effortlessness, REMEMBER!

In practice we sit like this for 15 or 20 minutes, twice a day.

effortless cycle of meditation


The Field
by Shawn Nevins

Out beyond the lighted window
Waiting for us patiently
Is a view of sky eternal
Starry depths quiet and free.

Lose your self in this view of heaven
Not a place for you or me,
But a home, a source unending
Of the life which we can be.

Ever-present stillness waiting
Calling to us silently.
I am dead and you are dying
Do not weep, rejoice with me.

The ticking clock has served its purpose
The quiet round us deepens till
There is but One who looks upon us
Who looks upon an empty field.


Points and Patterns
by Shawn Nevins

Points

First, one must realize that the only answer to what ails them is a total answer. The only hope lies in discovering if there is anything permanent in the self or even in the Universe. Without certainty in regards to our fundamental nature, all our life is built upon vagueness, hopes, and fears.

Second, one must find ways of exploring, searching for the source of their awareness. With introspection, one becomes aware that they are an observer of their experience and even their thoughts. Is this awareness permanent, though? Is it of the body or does it emanate from another source?

Third, one must focus their energy on one priority. It should be obvious to you and your friends for what you use your time and thoughts.

Fourth, one must remember the urgency of the task. You are moving toward Truth, but could always be moving quicker. Evidence points to the possibility of various after-death fates, but the discovery of the Foundation of All negates the concern for body and mind. It is not wise to die in ignorance.

Fifth, one must watch for patterns of behavior that hinder the accomplishment of the above tasks. Refer to Richard Rose's "List of Obstacles" [in chapter five of The Albigen Papers] and add "doubt in our ability to achieve."

Sixth, you create the details of these steps and you continually explore systems and teachers, picking and choosing that which appeals to your intuition and reason. Every person has multiple locks or blocks and will require different keys along the way. Teachers and systems are aids for you to create your own path.


Patterns

1. By studying patterns, we become aware of how few decisions we make—things happen to us. By this humbling realization, we increase our desire to know. Humility brings power. The humble man admits his robotic nature and uses that nature to better his quest. Thus, we establish a pattern of increasing frustration and increasing desire for an answer.

2. You did not bring yourself to where you are. Yet your belief in will keeps you where you are (i.e. guilt keeping you stuck).

3. All of your flaws and failings are already known—there is nothing to hide. The pretense of hiding ties you in knots.

4. To discover patterns requires memory. Our flawed memory requires aids such as: keeping a journal, time alone for recollection and reflection, and the memory of our friends.

5. What is one negative pattern you live in today? How did it manifest in the past?


The Little Man
by Bob Fergeson

From early morning coffee
to late night herbal tea,
We lived for near forever,
the Little Man and me.

When first I came to travel
in this classroom wide and grand,
I knew nothing of the coming
of this lonely Little Man.

But parents, teachers, doctors,
the whole damn Helping Herd,
soon created him inside me,
as their ancestors had insured.
He has no real existence,
none that I can see.
But could and should and would!
screamed the Little Man in me.

Soon I hid myself in pride,
found that fear blocked every door.
I was now what I despised!
just as those that'd gone before.

The hypnosis worked it's magic,
no peace had I, no stand.
Just a mis-identification,
I became the Little Man.
I took him for a person,
Hell, I thought that he was me!
He sure could be convincing,
that Little Man in me.

Then one day it happened,
I know not really why.
I looked out there below me
from some Great Eternal Sky.
He didn't even notice,
so busy as a bee,
He just kept right on sleeping, but
That Little Man ain't me!

One day looking in the mirror,
as I got up from the can,
I receded back behind him,
that sleeping Little Man.
He didn't even notice,
just a grain lost in the sand.
He can't look back and see me,
that lonely Little Man.

I watch him and his pattern,
how he blends right in so well,
that his life and his surroundings
are no different from himself.
He has no greater vision,
desire and fear are all he sees.
An actor in the TV,
that Little Man in me.

It's a sad, but true short story,
I cry a tear, and so does he,
He won't survive, he lives to die,
the Little Man in me.


Humor...

Brother Theo's lesson on 'acting spontaneously' step 1 Brother Theo's lesson on 'acting spontaneously' step 2
Brother Theo's lesson on 'acting spontaneously' step 3


Brother Theo (from www.zoofence.com)


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