TAT FOUNDATION

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

 

Beyond Relativity by Art Ticknor

Read more: Beyond Relativity by Art Ticknor

TAT Forum
July 2001

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

This month's contents:

Tales of Love (part 1 of 3) by Richard Rose | On Listening Attention by Bob Fergeson | The Dancing Flame by Bob Cergol | The Master Game by Gary Harmon | Stillness of Presence by Gary Harmon | The Voice of the Cathars (part 2 of 3) by Louis Khourey | Defintions by Shawn Nevins | Things to Do by Shawn Nevins | Psychology by Jim Burns | The Will to Resist by Art Ticknor | Humor

Sign up for e-mail alerts that will let you know when new issues are published.

Want to meet some of the Forum authors in person? Interested in meeting other Forum readers? Watch for more information about TAT's meeting schedule and programs.

View video clips of the TAT spring conference DVDs or listen to free audio recordings.


Tales of Love (part 1 of 3)
by Richard Rose

Indian maiden going over falls in canoe

Courtesy of the Niagara Falls
(Ontario) Public Library

A few years ago I visited Niagara Falls for the first time. I found an atmosphere of magic there that first time that I have not found since, but I have a memory of magic that keeps me going back, not to look at the gorge or river so much as to watch the different expressions on the faces of the tourists. Seemingly I am looking for the same face, or a similar one, of a person I met there.

I had made the trip with my son James and my daughter Ruth. They had gone into a novelty store very close to the falls. I went over to the rail, and was looking down into the turbulence where a boat, "The Maid of the Mist," was wallowing around in the heavy swells very close to the cataract.

I became conscious of an old man standing near me. He looked like a lonely old man, but he was not pushing his loneliness. He had a quiet friendliness that wanted to find an open door, but his look of resignation showed that he would go away as happy as he came even if I did not speak to him.

I had seen men like him before. Something like a philosopher-hobo. Generally they never get married because they are averse to watching suffering. They meet people only in happier moments, to share a handout, a glass of beer, a few secrets about making money without losing freedom ... and they always hurry away before their acquaintanceship gets turned to the point where they might have to share suffering, or anger with their fellow-wayfayer. Their lives contain reels of stories of friends found joyously and lost the next day. They keep only good memories. They know other men like books, but recall only the beautiful elements of the people that they meet.

And so I thought I knew this man. I felt that I could predict the exact reaction that I would get from him, by meeting him on his own ground. Share a few words and memories together. Do not ask names. Do not talk about aging ... now is forever. Do not gripe about things ... only look at the fair side of things because if you feel like griping it is griping at restlessness within. In this manner both of us would bypass all opinions (which require endless description and apologies), and go right to a common state of mind, and float like two swallows on the breezes of happenstance and hope and wait to see if we were successful in making the trick work. The trick of instant rapport with infinite lights and dimensions.

"There is a lot of power there. I wonder how deep that water is at the foot of the falls," I noted.

"Yeah. Looks threatening the first time you see it ... but after that it ... well it changes...." A few seconds of silence followed as we both stared at the spectacle. "Where you from?"

"West Virginia.... Where's your home?"

"Oh ... I'm a hopper. Been hopping around for years. I was an orphan. Now I am a bum that poses as a writer." He gave a broad grin. "I pick up material here for stories. Lot of stories come here. Honeymooners ... but not as many as used to. Lot of old people taking the only vacation that they had time to take, or money enough to take."

"That's odd. I had the same impression. I have seen a lot of beautiful old couples here. They seem to be capping some sort of mutual ambition ... or fulfilling some selfless phase of life."

"Right! Right!" he whispered enthusiastically. "You know it. It's their romance. They've survived a life of struggle ... maybe even a bit of hell together ... but they generally have given up all the physical or selfish reasons for sticking it out ... and they come to find a deathless relationship ... friendship."

"Resignation maybe?"

"Love." He tightened his jaw as he said it. He meant it.

"Never believed in love. I always thought people meant something else when they dropped the word." I tried to grin too. I wanted him to notice that I had made a few observations about people and their devious methods.

"Oh, you know what I mean. This is the place of love. Millions of people have come here because they were in love. Young honeymooners who saw beauty in the other one's eyes. The falls only gets the best of them. They come here all charged up with love and beautiful dreams. They will go home and pull each other's hair out the next week, but the falls never sees it. The old people fought and scratched for years ... but nobody even seen it. All we see here is two gentle old people who value each other a terrible lot.

"Maybe so. Death and love magnify each other."

"I've heard that before.... Who said that?"

He grinned broadly, patiently. "Me. I don't read much except what I write. Sounds hard to buy, ya think?"

"No. I feel the same way. It just seemed familiar."

He pressed on earnestly. "You see, we are not talking about some biological urge. We are talking about a principle. Blake said that Eternity is in love with the production of time. People in love sense that they have touched almightiness. It's like this river rushing for the sea where it will be nothing. The big moment for it is here, right here. One big fling. One roar of joy.

"These people don't know it, but they come up here to show their love to the world, to the elements ... and maybe to God. They go out in that boat as if to say—We are greater than death. We cannot be killed. We may lose our bodies, but in this love we will be together forever. Neve again alone in the universe like the old God of Adam was."

"That's interesting...." And it was.

"Let me tell you some of these cases of love. A young bride and groom came up here in the winter. The falls were frozen solid, so a lot of people were out there on the ice. Some had built shacks for tourists. But the ice gave way and started to sink into a hole at the bottom of the falls. It must have been the greatest spectacle for this region. I guess most of them made it off to the shore, but three people went down for sure.

"The young couple never tried to go. Quietly they embraced and held each other until they disappeared. Their love-challenge was answered, and they knew beyond a shadow of doubt that their love was still greater than death.

"Another fellow, a man, had come out alone. He did not try to mingle with them too closely. He retreated inside himself, knelt down on the ice and prayed until he was gone."

I was thinking of the poor fellow who had to die alone. "I get the idea of what you're talking about ... but it seems that the few cases of beauty are outweighed by the millions of cases of lovelessness, of squalid human existences, of murder, crime, hate and retaliation."

"They are all part of the picture of love. These are all love stories, and love's defiance of human fear. The hunter goes out and kills for his loved ones. The soldier and the gangster do strange things to prove their stature. And let us say that the reliefer that keeps his family on welfare is a coward of sorts, but he is still that quiet defiance of obstacles to his created love-unit or family ... even though to us it is a damned bummy existence."

"But why?"

He hesitated a moment. He looked more serious as though he were remembering something way back in the past. "Ah ... yes. I see. I said something a minute ago about Eternity being in love with the production of time. I quoted Blake and Blake was talking about the stage ... so to speak ... not only the stage or planet, but show-schedules, billions of opening times and closing times ..."

"The Cecil B. DeMille of the original production of The Ten Commandments." I threw that in because I thought it was appropriate.

"... Right. In a way.... Have you ever heard the Kabbalistic twist to the creation? Not hard to relate to. Before all things got started there was only one consciousness ... God. Anything alone that long has to conjure up some company."

"So now we have to suffer. And does this make us any more than shadows in another being's reveries or conjurations?"

"Maybe. I don't know. The male black widow spider makes love, knowing that he is going to be immediately nothing more than a meal for the gut of his mate. He must know it, because he usually tries to get away from her. But that is his capacity for love. Maybe the old lady spider pays a price too, to prove herself. I've heard that she has to stand by and watch her babies eating one another."

"What about those who pay and never get the change to love ... like the little spiders?"

~ Continued in the August 2001 TAT Forum

First published in the TAT Journal No. 4 (Vol. 1, No. 4) and republished in "Carillon: Poems, essays and philosophy of Richard Rose." © 1978, 1982 by Richard Rose. All Rights Reserved. See the TAT Journal Archive page.


Q & A with Bob Fergeson
on "Listening Attention"

Is thought incessant? Are there gaps between thoughts? Can gaps be created? The following question was fired at Bob, directed specifically at his phrase "the listening attention" [see "On the Turning of Heads" in the May TAT Forum]:

Q: Do you differentiate between listening and watching? If so, can you give any hints as to the difference? I have a feeling that I'm so identified with the watcher of thoughts that I overlook the probable space between thoughts.

A: Great question about the listening attention. I think your statement about being identified with the looker is a good clue. What do you think you will get from observing thoughts, now that it's old hat? The listening attention is not watching, if you mean watching your thoughts. There are no thoughts per se, for as soon as a worded thought comes, the state is lost. The sense perceptions are the same, everything looks the same, but there is no reaction to any thing, because everything is equal, being undifferentiated, but at the same time, nothing changes in the world. It's a state of Being, of abiding in the Presence, to put it in religious terms. There is no reflexive reaction, no-thought, no-mind, but stuff still happens. As soon as a thought comes up, then there has to be an observer of that thought, and the mind has thus arisen. The listening is the observing, or watching, but the attention part is a force, an active awareness that precedes the thinking mind, and as long as this attention is present, no thoughts are possible. This brings up something I've wanted to write about for awhile, the difference between observers, or observer and Observer. The observer that watches thoughts is in the mind, of the mind. Here, there is a subject, the looker; a verb, the watching; and an object, the thought. In the listening attention, there is awareness, but no reflected consciousness, or reaction pattern. No resistance, or no self. The Observer is prior to the mind, and is the state of awareness from which the mind comes. In this Observer, there is an awareness of things, but no subject, object or verb. This is not something I'm in but for brief periods. I can't imagine someone actually living in this state, nothing much would get done! Hollywood would collapse! But it is always there, just covered up by the chatter of the reaction pattern. In the listening attention, there is a state of possibility, while in the reflexive consciousness, there is only reaction, getting more and more complicated.

And related thoughts, based on Hubert Benoit’s suggested "Technique of Timeless Realization":

Another great definition of the "Listening Attention." It's lately been an obsession of mine (I've started a booklet of writings that succinctly describe this: Benoit, Maharshi, Masters, and Rose quotes) to try to find or describe in the best way possible this very simple action which is the goal of all meditations. My own phrase, "The Listening Attention" is still the one I stick with. John Davis said that the highest form of meditation was 'listening with the eyes'. This is the listening part, to be aware, but not thinking. The attention is listening to whatever presents itself, but paradoxically, this in itself alters the view. It's strange, but only after doing an incredible amount of thinking will we place value on this: the result of not-thinking. I like what Cergol said about Tolle's little cat and mouse analogy, but think it could be dangerous. I can see all the people out there imagining they are a cat, imagining it's looking for a mouse. But the biggest problem I see with this, is that people will understand it, for a moment, then either forget about it (Ouspensky pointed this out, how we can be awoken by a trick, but immediately fall back asleep) and not put it into practice, or begin to think about it, discuss it, seek advice, etc. Anything but put it into practice in their day to day life. We love to tie knots.

~ Bob published the book The Listening Attention in 2010.


The Dancing Flame
by Bob Cergol

~ In response to feedback requested on "The Will to Resist," which appears in this same issue.

"At that decision-point there has been an agreement to proceed—not so much an active agreement, really, as an unwillingness of the inner executive to use its veto power to cancel the pending action."

Doesn't this sound like any notion of the individual choosing to say "yes" or "no" is actually an experience unfolding according to its own pattern and after-the-fact, the identity taking ownership of it and saying, "'I' agreed or refused." ? This would be consistent with your statement:

"What has been most effective for me, once through the storm, is to arrive at a calm determination to resist the compelling force if and when it returns. With me, this occurs not so much from an ability to talk myself into taking such a stand as from scanning the inner horizon until I find such a determination there."

So you don't generate determination as a willful act or wish, but by "scanning inside" until you "find the determination."

Somehow this all reminds me of the thought I expressed in writing about the two vectors. The paradox is about that which is responsible for one vector over-shadowing the other. Rose emphasized "becoming a vector" more than anything else.

I get the image of a flame dancing back and forth. When it "leans to the right" it is expressing the personal within the impersonal. When it "flickers to the left" it is expressing the impersonal in the personal. There is an awareness "watching" this flame dance. From the impersonal perspective there is no free will—only an experience of free will. From the personal perspective we are the ultimate deciders of everything we do.

From the personal perspective "we" too are watching the experience. The difference is we take credit for it and concoct—AFTER THE FACT—what and how that happened. This confirms 'us'. I wonder if Rose's emphasis on this shadow becoming (how can something which ultimately isn't become anything at all) wasn't somehow connected to the notion of getting that flame to "jump to the left". The personal perspective reacts to this dream experience as "I am struggling to climb the mountain." In fact, that personal reaction is itself an expression of the vector which put us here—a flicker in the flame—which is a reflection in the Mirror.

Hard to explain....

To "finish" the thought about the "will to resist" and the "flame" etc. ... and, I suppose, as an exercise of my verbalization machinery.... Pulyan's words bounce around, [paraphrasing] "... if I try to explain this, laugh at me, for this cannot be explained."

Do you recall Pulyan saying to Rose, "We must appear to entangle...."?

I'd say too, we must appear to struggle. And by some incomprehensible process, the flame while flickering—experienced as a struggle—causes the watcher within the flame to leave and merge with that which was watching both the flame and the watcher watching the flame.

Bottom line, from the perspective of the personal, struggle and effort is necessary—even if you want to overlay some notion of "effortless-ness" on that struggle. Since your real nature is permanent but the personal identity in which your consciousness is anchored is impermanent, all expressions of the latter are experienced as conflict whenever the point of reference shifts towards expressing that which is your true and permanent nature. In other words, when you resolve, due to a deep-seated and heartfelt desire to "return home", this is an expression of the inner being. From this point of reference any expressions of the shadow being are experienced as conflict by that same shadow being because the inner being is in ascendance.

In case this isn't making any sense, maybe I need to say that underlying this line of thought is my conviction that that which everyone takes as their self is itself merely an EXPERIENCE. (I once told [name withheld] who was lamenting the fact that he might not ever have the enlightenment experience, that he was correct. In fact you cannot have that experience because it is YOU who are the experience. One of the things my realization brought to me, is that, that which you take as you is "out there" with all the rest of the dream objects. Everyone who has this realization, afterwards continues to manifest here in this dream world with the same personality and through it they react to having had this realization. Their flame flickers ever so slightly differently than before, hardly perceptible to another. Yet the light within that flame is no longer cut off from the blazing fire-ball which makes all flame possible.

Since reading those words of Pulyan 18 months ago, I have never felt "normal"—never as before. The sense of something else, further behind me, looking out through my eyes has never ceased. After a long hard day of work, I have but to look up and I realize that the Watcher was never absent. I was abiding in He and He in me without interruption. Even sleep doesn't break this connection. The only thing that happens is that EXPERIENCE goes on and the degree of focus of attention on that experience waxes and wanes, ebbs and flows.

When I contemplate my death—and hold in my awareness the totality of experience which was my identity in this dimension—and think "What was the point?" I immediately feel what I can only describe as LOVE. We hear this chatter all the time in Christianity about how "God loves you." Well I would say that is inaccurate because the entire creation in which we are insignificant specks, in which every detail is an insignificant speck is an expression of God. No speck is any more or less an expression of God. Every speck is an equivalent expression of God. God doesn't love the cosmos. God is Love. The cosmos is irrelevant.


The Master Game
by Gary Harmon

When the quest was started I had not a clue,
So I set out to see like intuition told me to,
The stance is now clear the accuracy be told,
My person is lifeless but the body’s not cold,

The sages were right about what was said,
Can’t be dead even though I have no head,
If I should expire before I wake,
I pray my essence that I shall take,

To put into jargon the way things are,
It makes no intelligence it just ain’t thar,
Here and Now the entire world presently Is,
Existing as One is the answer to the quiz.

The brainteaser is the only reason I’m here,
Recognize that acceptance breeds love, that is quite clear,
Solving the puzzle and defeating the stacked deck,
The master game is eternal so let’s reshuffle, what the heck.


Stillness of Presence
by Gary Harmon

All things move about, the animals, the oceans even the planet that we live on. Our scientists can show us how the entire universe is in motion. The moons orbit the planets and planets orbit suns. St Thomas Aquinas in the 'Summa Theologica' explains the proof of God's existence and the basis of Catholic doctrine is that the universe is in motion. Therefore there has to be a mover otherwise known as God. If the universe is in motion, are we? I move therefore I AM? Let's take a closer look at this apparent motion that is going on. Quite possibly we shall find there is nothing moving at all.

Let's take a diverse approach. Let's say, the visualization that we have of the world is from a position that never moves. Our eyes closed or open makes little difference. It is always the same awareness no matter if from an airplane or sitting in a lounge chair in our living room. There is no motion as we walk on foot in the woods, not from the place we are looking out from. The scrutiny that we have is unchanging, but there is apparent motion, the trees move toward us and then pass to our side. While sitting in an airplane entire cities progress under us. Actually our awareness has no motion at all. Each and every element of the world's scenery will come toward, away, stop near or flank us. We know this due to sight, sound, smell or a combination thereof.

We have been trained to believe that it is our 'beingness' that is moving but are we really? From the place that I view the manifestation of the cosmos from, I never move. Everything else does. Let's try a direct observation of apparent motion. Be careful with this one. Don't drive a car while checking this out, ride with someone; take a bus or an airplane. The speed of a jet enhances the sought after effect.

Let's go for a ride. As I go traveling in my car the telephone poles go speeding past me. It is not me that is moving—the telephone poles are! Trees go speeding past, as do houses, other cars and people. I am not able to move, there really is nowhere to move to. There is plenty of apparent motion but it is not me that has the evident motion. Hence, all things apparently move. But where we observe the world from is stationary, how can this be? Are we not a thing also? As we sit waiting for the traffic light to turn green the car to our right backs up a bit. That is not what we perceive at first. Automatically we think that we have moved forward! Wrong!

This way of separating your view of the world from all that is observable is very important. Taking this to the final step we may find that there is no movement at all. And most shocking of all, we all have the same awareness!

Douglas Harding has several methods of demonstrating that we are the center that all motion emanates from. I know, this sounds absurd and quite erroneous from the way that we trust the world to be. This has to be performed as an experiment to even consider this as a remote possibility. When I met Douglas last October he told me to use any of the experiments that he has developed that might be helpful, they are all in the public domain. So here is one road home. Remember you can't just read the experiment; you have to sincerely do it. Don't take anyone's word for this. This is crucially significant! Check it out for yourself! The following is best performed with eyes closed in a semi-meditative state. This is a fairly safe one, no high speed vehicles involved.

The Douglas Harding Exercise

Does it make any sense when I say that you are aware of yourself? Existing as a person with a body, with thoughts, with emotions and with a perception of movement? Now see that it is not the person who is aware, it is the other way around.


The Voice of the Cathars (part 2 of 3)
by Louis Khourey

(~ Continued from the June 2001 TAT Forum)

Montségur in the distance

Most Perfects were homeless out of design, traveling about the country to preach and console the dying. They always traveled in pairs and were obliged to remain always with their socius or socia, who was one of the same sex, until the threat of arrest caused them to travel in mixed pairs to allay suspicion. Their characteristic attire was black, with a distinctive girdle around the waist. They always carried a copy of scripture in a pouch, usually St. John's Gospel, which they esteemed above the synoptics.

As was the term Cathar, the name Perfect was originally applied in derision by their detractors. Their own Believers called them bons hommes, "good men," although many women were also among their number. So esteemed were they by their flock that a distinct ceremony known as the Melioramentum or veneration was invariably performed upon meeting one; it was, in fact, the only affirmative religious duty of the Believer. He would bow three times to the Perfect and say: "Pray God to make a good Christian of me, and bring me to a good end." The Perfect would reply: "May God make a good Christian of you, and bring you to a good end." The "good end" would, of course, imply receipt of the Consolamentum.

Another ceremony, although not essential, was the Convenensa by which a Believer promised to honor the Perfects and placed himself at their disposal, in exchange for the promise that he would receive the Consolamentum on his deathbed, even should he be then unable to speak.

The Cathars thus differentiated significantly from the Catholics in their lack of liturgical duties. In fact, they had no churches at all, believing that they were wholly unnecessary; the Perfects preached and taught in the streets and in the homes of the Believers.

Interior of the remains of the fortification atop Montségur Interior of the remains of the fortification atop Montségur

But what set the Cathars farthest beyond the pale of orthodoxy was their teaching about Christ who was, to them, neither God nor man but an angel or envoy. He only appeared to assume a human body, and came not to atone for men's sins by his death but to teach a way of salvation that would rescue the captive souls from the chains of matter. To the Cathars, the Catholic doctrine of Christ's suffering and death was an abomination, and the cross a symbol of the victory of evil in the world.

Despite the Catholic Church's own monastic tradition which placed a high value on ascetic practices, the opponents of the Cathars often attacked the Perfects because of their great austerities. One canard commonly raised was that they encouraged suicide by starvation. In fact, Cathars were known on occasion to refuse nourishment until death, a practice known as the endura. But this was employed only when the person was already dying or was in prison facing torture or execution. While the Cathars certainly looked forward to release from their human bondage, they also honored all life, as evidenced by their pacifism and vegetarianism.

Their History

The story of the Cathars was played out over a relatively short period, from about 1150 when they first became evident in large numbers, until 1330 when the last burning of Cathars in France took place. During that time they rose to a position of equality in size, power and organization to the Roman Church, suffered massacres of their followers during the Crusades, and finally went into hiding, futilely seeking to avoid the Inquisition.

Languedoc, in southwestern France, was in the 12th and 13th centuries entirely independent of Paris and the northern French. Its language, Occitan, was similar to Provençal and Catalan, and its great lord was the Count of Toulouse. It was a cultured land, with a direct exposure to the Islamic civilization of the Mediterranean, then in full flower. Its nobility and burghers were proud of their country and disdainful of what they saw as the semi-barbarians of the north, and of the Church which they viewed as corrupt and rapacious.

Within this social framework, Catharism was widely supported and its ideas were permitted to spread. In 1167, a council of Cathar bishops and ministers was held at St. Felix de Caraman near Toulouse, attended by the Bulgarian Bishop Nicetas who confirmed the Church of Languedoc in the true Bogomil tradition. For the next forty years, the only battles that the Cathars had to fight were verbal ones. The Cathar Perfects were renowned as great preachers and were often joined in debate by their Catholic counterparts. Lay juries of thirteen Catholics and thirteen Cathars were often the judges. Into this fray of ideas came the Spaniard, Dominic de Guzman, who preached and debated with the Cathars from 1205 until 1209 and who sought to live more ascetically than his opponents. For all of Dominic's skill and dedication the Catholics were losing the fight for men's minds and hearts, and it would not be long before the order that Dominic founded would abandon rational debate in favor of forcible interrogation.

Montségur from below

In 1208 a papal legate, Peter of Castelnau, who was seeking to convince Raymond VI, the Count of Toulouse, to employ harsher methods to control the heretics, was murdered while on his mission. This random act of violence served as a pretext for the release of forces that would ravage the entire Languedoc, destroy its independence, and finally eliminate Catharism. On March 10, 1208 Pope Innocent III called for a Crusade against the heretics of southern France, an unprecedented action against a Christian land and one that remained in great part still Catholic. This call was answered enthusiastically by the nobles and bishops of the north, and it was not long before they were on the march.

The Crusade achieved quick successes, owing in great part to its extreme brutality. One of the first cities of the south to be attacked was Beziers, put under siege in July 1209. To the people of Languedoc, this was not so much a war of religion as one of the north against the south, and the Catholic burghers of Beziers refused to turn over to the Crusaders their heretic citizens. When the city finally fell, it was burnt to the ground and as many as 20,000 men, women and children massacred. From this holocaust has been preserved one of the most famous sentences in the annals of human cruelty, spoken by Arnald-Amalric, Abbot of Cîteaux and the pope's legate to the Crusade, when asked how to distinguish the Catholics from the heretics: "Kill them all; God will look after his own."

Similar episodes, though none quite so terrible, followed during the first few years of the Crusade and had the desired effect of discouraging local resistance. Under the military leadership of Simon de Montfort, a noble from Ile de France, the Crusaders not only consolidated their control over the major cities of Languedoc—Carcasonne, Albi and finally Toulouse—but began to persecute the Perfects in earnest. At Minerve in June 1210, one hundred forty Perfects were flung into a great fire at once, four hundred were burned at Lavaur in May 1211, and sixty at Cassès in June 1211.

The Crusaders were, essentially, an army of occupation and suffered all of the problems that an occupying force could expect to encounter from a hostile populace, including guerilla attacks led by dispossessed knights, known as faidits. It seemed that the tide was turning against them when Count Raymond VI and his son, Raymond VII, recaptured Toulouse in 1217 and when Simon de Montfort was killed outside its walls during the unsuccessful siege of 1218 by a rock that struck him in the head (which, as legend has it, was from a stone-gun fired by women). But the respite from warfare was to be short-lived for the people of Languedoc, for in 1226 a new Crusade was led by King Louis VIII, and by the summer of 1227 many cities had again capitulated and the Crusaders were ravaging the countryside around Toulouse.

~ Continued in the August 2001 TAT Forum


Definitions
by Shawn Nevins

The heart is that which yearns for what is beyond the grasp of mortal arms.

*

Death: A big, terrible joke... I have relaxed and am at home.

*

Enlightenment: the stunning realization that you are eternal, and are no longer alive.


Things to Do
by Shawn Nevins

1. Fall and rise a thousand times if need be.
2. Become a habitual seeker.
3. Give up, then try again.
4. Realize that you want to help others.
5. Be thankful.
6. Become a decent human animal.
7. Look for the source of thoughts.
8. Look in whatever way keeps your attention.
9. Will to do one thing—one iron in the fire.
10. Find a teacher(s).
11. Always desire more, never be content.
12. Surround yourself with fellow seekers.
13. Spend time alone.
14. Know that the Hound of Heaven is real.

1. Fall and rise a thousand times if need be: I know some people who will set a goal to meditate every morning, do so for a week, then give up after they miss a morning. They despair over their temporary failure. The key is to keep at it, even if you miss every other day. Even if you never manage to meditate every single morning, to keep trying is what matters. If you approach the task in that manner, you will discover of what you are capable, and what you are—likely different than your original conception.

2. Become a habitual seeker: The same idea as Richard Rose's vector. With enough time, you become someone who continually questions the world around and inside of them. You will want to know the truth of matters and be open to more than one possibility or the easy answer. Your eyes and ears will always be open to new sources of information.

3. Give up, then try again: You can't control this one, but it is useful to know that it will occur. There is some magic in the process of giving up, as it weakens our conception of what we are. Our conceptions of our self as a seeker are stripped away, leaving only Rose's "egoless vector" which searches simply because there is nothing else to do. This temporary giving up is also the rest period necessary for any exercise.

4. Realize that you want to help others: The ego prevents us from reaching out to others. With persistent self-analysis, you will come to have true consideration for your fellow man—you will see your flaws in others and others' flaws in you. There is the thought that we should help others because it will help us in the long run, but this is not the same as truly wanting to help another. It is a milestone when we want to help simply because it is the natural reaction.

5. Be thankful: You are fortunate to be willing and able to ask questions of self-definition. You are fortunate for this day of possibilities stretching out in front of you. There is a bit of magic in giving thanks, as doing so recognizes that we are not the center of the Universe and relinquishes some of our imaginary control of life.

6. Become a decent human animal: Meaning that with honest introspection, you will become more compassionate and less defensive as you recognize your vanities. Also entails learning how to provide for yourself in the world. On a physical and social level, we become more at ease and better players of the game. You do not need to become a saint or an expert mechanic, however.

7. Look for the source of thoughts: Or look for the source of feeling, or intuition. Whatever you believe yourself to be, look to find where it originates. This will lead you to the source of your self. This question is phrased in many ways and may change over time. I began wanting to know what my purpose was, and ended by wanting to know what (if anything) was unchanging within me. Richard Rose describes this as backing away from untruth, which is correct in that we should not postulate what we might find. However, there is an intuition of the eternal within us which is helpful to follow—a garbled message from the Absolute.

8. Look in whatever way keeps your attention: You will get bored of looking within. Keep looking for teachers and methods, so that when you come to the end of your current way, you won't lose time wandering in search of another. Every person must find their own way—a customized method of going within. You must craft your own key.

9. Will to do one thing—keep one iron in the fire: Focus is the solution to any problem. If you are trying to play the stock market, get a promotion, find a spouse, and get a college degree, you will obviously have trouble finding time to meditate, read, and seek out spiritual teachers. Time spent looking within is rewarded with proportional results—up to a point. Like any exercise, rest is part of the equation.

10. Find a teacher(s): A teacher is a friend with more experience on the spiritual path. It may be a series of teachers—each giving you a tool to use in your inner exploration. A book or tape may be as important as a living person.

11. Always desire more, never be content: There are side benefits to a spiritual search. One may make fascinating friends, have travel opportunities, may even be regarded as a teacher in their own right, all before finding an answer to their deepest question. There arises the temptation to settle for a lesser prize. This is a powerful temptation whose only cure is to project out your life strand and ask if you are heading where you want to be. When you are old, what will you want to say about your life? When it is just you facing the unknown, where will you find certainty?

12. Surround yourself with fellow seekers: There is tremendous benefit to associating with like-minded people. Better yet, is sharing an apartment or house with a group of seekers. It is a resource of ideas and inspiration, as well as help with the everyday problems of life. You will learn from each other's successes and failures. When one member is in despair, his fellows can in a sense, carry him until he recovers. If the group is too small, less than four perhaps, then the odds are the number of depressed members will outweigh the number of inspired and drag down the whole lot.

Because each spiritual path is unique, it is difficult to work with a group. Groups tend to either homogenize or break apart. However, if the majority of members are sincerely seeking (looking within), this will enable diversity and understanding.

13. Spend time alone: From a few minutes a day to weeks-long isolations. This is a time to evaluate what you have accomplished and where you want to go. It is a time of intense concentration, intense looking within. When alone, it is easier to realize that we are the sole judge of our life and what matters is that we find the thing which settles our soul. A person may camp out, get a cheap motel room, go to a retreat center, or even hide out in their own room.

14. Know that the Hound of Heaven is real: Refers to the poem by Francis Thompson. There is something calling you—God, Rose's Invisible Current, or the Voice of the Silence. Become aware of your intuition (heart), your hunger and yearning for certainty. You hide with endless diversions from your hunger and yearning. You fill the emptiness in you with material goods, or even love. Yet, you are truly, always alone. There is simply you and a haunting question that sooner or later you must confront.


Psychology
by Jim Burns

~ From notes compiled by M. Jaqua, for "At Home with the Inner Self"

People want to love more than they want to be loved. The more you pay attention to a person, the more you are siphoning off love. The worst frustration on this earth is not not being loved but not being allowed to love. People won't let you near them. You have to be sneaky.


The Will to Resist
by Art Ticknor

What is will? I've watched myself engage in potentially harmful behavior at various times in my life, and sometimes I've been able to observe that there's a decision-point after the inspiration for the behavior forms in my mind and before the action occurs. At that decision-point there has been an agreement to proceed—not so much an active agreement, really, as an unwillingness of the inner executive to use its veto power to cancel the pending action.

An article appeared in the 3/5/89 Miami Herald which provides the best physiological explanation of this resistance-point that I've come across. It was written by Tom Siegfried of the Dallas Morning News and was titled "How free is free will? Science decides to see." Siegfried cited a paper by neuroscientist Benjamin Libet, in the March-April issue of The Sciences, describing what goes on in the brain as people decide to act. The key items were as follows:

"Apparently the conscious mind could intervene, in the final stages of the heightened neurological activity, either to block the already initiated movement or to let it pass," Libet had concluded.

Libet's conclusion jibes with my introspective observations, which point to two categories of the go-with-it response. In the first, I recognize that the action is potentially harmful, but it's a new "opportunity," and some combination of factors wins the argument over the self-protective fears and desires. The heftiest of the winning factors seem to be curiosity and a cavalier attitude toward self-preservation that looks, afterward, like a desire for self-destruction. In the second category, I've engaged in the activity before and consider its effects harmful, or at least feel that becoming enslaved to habitual repetition is undesirable. When the ensuing action hasn’t been vetoed at that hinge or swing-point, I've observed a feeling of powerlessness to resist.

When we recognize potential harm, what determines whether we will veto the action—or at least attempt to resist? Richard Rose, in his Temptation essay, said that he learned he could veto a questionable action by asking the question "Why?" This approach may buy us some space-time, breaking the force that’s compelling us into a potentially harmful action until we can consider it in a somewhat dispassionate frame of mind. What has been most effective for me, once through the storm, is to arrive at a calm determination to resist the compelling force if and when it returns. With me, this occurs not so much from an ability to talk myself into taking such a stand as from scanning the inner horizon until I find such a determination there.


Humor...

Lock Ness monster therapy cartoon: 'But, Doc, how can I possibly face reality if I'm not even certain I actually exist?!


Reader Commentary:

(We appreciate hearing from you.)


Sign up for our e-mail alert that will let you know when new issues are published. Contact the Forum for questions, comments or submissions.

Want to help? Your donation of $5 or more will support the continuation of the Forum and other services that the TAT Foundation provides. TAT is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit educational organization and qualifies to receive tax-deductible contributions. Or, download this .pdf TAT Forum flyer and post it at coffee shops, bookstores, and other meeting places in your town, to let others know about the Forum.

 

Keep informed of TAT events and receive our free monthly Forum filled with inspiring essays, poems and images.



Email & Social Media Marketing by VerticalResponse

© 2000-2016 TAT Foundation. All rights reserved.

View Full Site Back to Top
TAT Foundation logo