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

TAT Forum
June 2002

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

white crane  

This month's contents:

The Mind (part 1) by Richard Rose | Awakening into Awareness (part 3) by Metta Zetty | Wheel of Manifestations by Gary Harmon | Poems by Shawn Nevins | Asceticism by Shawn Nevins | Tricks by Bob Fergeson | More on Meditation by Bob Cergol | Humor

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The Mind (part 1)
by Richard Rose

illustrated letter M Mind is the workshop of the mystic, the student of Zen, and the occultist, as well as the psychologist.

We are still dealing with words, even though the approach of the transcendentalist is direct rather than objective, and we still must labor with definitions.

The reader can reject the whole concept if he wishes, since the object of this paper is to encourage the reader to find things out for himself. It may be that this concept will, at least, simplify rather than add to the confusion that has resulted from trying to understand the mind.

Modern psychologists, meaning even those who go back to the turn of the century, have been busy trying to identify everything but the mind. They have created a vast new Babel in their pretense at being scientific and "functional."

While some of the early psychologists tried to qualify the mind by naming the various qualities of the mind, the present-day books on psychology cleverly avoid any listing of mental qualities, but confine themselves to various phases of behaviorism. They do not start from the bottom, or try to get to the essence of mind, as the science of Physics does with the essence of matter. Instead they begin almost anywhere, and carry on experiments which are basically productive of statistics on reaction, rather than definitions of mental processes.

The age-old controversy over whether the mind and the body were separate or not, is not even touched. In fact the more you read of modern psychology, the more you will begin to imagine that there is no mind at all, but rather protoplasmic reactions.

There is of course a certain absurdity about trying to define the mind by observing the reaction pattern, or by introspection. However doing nothing is just as absurd. And we must continue to try to understand the mind, and to try to find words or diagrams to bring forward ever simpler and clearer pictures of the mind's strange dimension.

Many of the earlier authorities who felt obliged to define their work came up with several compartments, and seven to nine attributes of the mind. The attributes in some cases overlapped each other, and in some cases were downright absurd. Such attributes as Imagination, Will, Intellect, and even Love were listed. For brain compartments, we learned a new one with each new author. Conscious and sub-conscious compartments. The Ego, the Id, the Super-ego, the Super-Conscious, the Unconscious, the Libido.

When we try to understand the mind by believing first all the terminology created to date, we are faced with cliff-hanging uncertainty. We must approach the subject in a simple manner, until we are able to experience the mind directly—which is the correct way to study it.

*

We experience two minds, the individual mind and the Unmanifested Mind-stuff.

The individual mind is individual in appearance only, but we will call it that when we refer to the mind of personal observation.

This mind has four apparent qualities or attributes. Perception, Memory, Reaction, and Projection. All human actions are contained in these four. We perceive, we retain, and we project. We are like a camera that takes pictures, and projects pictures aided by Light.

Now you will immediately say, but do we not think? Or do we not will to do certain things? The truth of the matter is that we do not perceive, or remember, or really act or react, by virtue of will or volition. The Will is, in itself, only a reaction.

For symbols, we will say that perception is P. The mind is represented as a field, by a circle. Memory is represented as M. Reaction is represented as R, or a two way vector arrow (an arrow pointed in both directions). Projection is Pr.

The Individual Mind:

  • Individual in appearance only
  • Four apparent qualities or attributes:
  • Perception (P)
  • Memory (M)
  • Reaction (R)
  • Projection (Pr)
symbol table individual mind field

The great motivating factors of man are not attributes, but are external. They are curiosity and desire, implanted in both man and amoeba. Without them, all flesh would precipitate into slime or solids.

We do not begin life willfully, nor live it willfully, until we are able to find out the limits of our bondage. When we find out if we are able to do anything on our own, then it is possible to try to enlarge that ability.

Looking at life as a new-born baby, we try to visualize the first thought. The first thought was preceded by a perception to inspire the reaction, because thought is little more than reaction.

The first P became automatically the first M. It recorded. Still there was no thought. But the second P, or incoming vector, influencing the first recorded M, causes the first reaction, simply because it takes more than one thing to cause a reaction. So that the first thought may make little impression on the consciousness of the baby.

We now use the symbols P, M, R, and Pr to represent a single of each, and use the symbols Pn, Mn, Rn, and Prn to represent the accumulations of each that are the history of our experience.

Thus the individual mind is somewhat automatic. A "P" automatically reacts upon the multiple M field, and this reaction in turn, while being only an automatic process, still will explain much of our thoughts. Likewise, the significance that a Reaction or thought will have, will depend on the violence or sharpness of incoming Percepts. A percept, such as a blow, will possess considerable voltage, and stir up perhaps all of the memory bank, Mn. Likewise, another percept coming in later may only be the symbol of the blow, but will likewise stir up nearly the same amount of voltage and memories.

The Reaction of memories upon memories is imagination.

The Reaction of Reactions to Reactions is awareness—of the limited mind alone, not the Unmanifested Mind.

The Reaction to curiosity (an external influence) is action.

The Reaction to desire (an external influence, or implant) is pleasure, and movement toward increased pleasure, whether that pleasure is brought about by sex, or the digestion of food, or the senses.

We see that imagination is not an attribute in itself, but merely a form of Reaction.

Will is but a particular Reaction to various Reactions and Percepts.

A gestalt is but the Reaction to or by a familiar pattern within the Memory.

A state of mind is a memory-and-reaction-pattern that we identify as being valid—even though hours or days later we may consider it invalid, depending upon the voltage of a strong percept that is able to place the prior state of mind in a position of lesser importance.

The behavior of man becomes complex, with the increasing complexity of the interaction of Percepts, Memories, Reactions and the ever-present "implants" which, being external, might be labeled as Percepts except for the lack of a Percept to be motivating. An implant moves us, and is organic, chromosomic or transcendental. An implant causes Percepts.

Telepathy received is still perception. Telepathy transmitted is projection. The Percepts are not limited to the five senses. In our efforts to limit perception to the five senses, we limited our understanding of the mind.

*

We come now to another analogy. This is the mind-camera analogy.

The mind is like a two-way camera, that takes pictures and projects the picture at the same time. Like the camera, it can record a limited number of impressions from any one lens. Likewise, it has a focus. The eye may be open and may be taking in miles of panorama. Simultaneously many sounds may be registering upon the ear, and many odors may be registering on the olfactory nerves. We will register all of these things, but our reaction may be limited to a point of focus.

The mind is like a camera in that it has points of focus, similar to lenses. It has a big roll of film, or memory bank—Mn. The light seems to be coming from the external world.

However there is a Light, coming from behind, from the Unmanifested Mind, which is actually projecting a picture, which we are in reality only able to see when stimulated by percepts.

The Unmanifested Mind is the first experienced Reality, or the first plateau which we rest upon when reaching for Reality. The Unmanifested mind is more real than our individual mind.

Do not get the idea that this projected picture is correct. It is looked upon as illusion. While presuming the Unmanifested Mind to be more Real, It is beaming a pure-light through a very cloudy medium—meaning nerve-chemicals.

Several writers have tried to show that the manifested world-view is an illusion. Brunton uses the example of the eye viewing a pencil, in which we feel or know that the pencil is actually registered upside-down, with the readjustment projected by the mind. We would immediately say that the mind is thus projecting the correct picture.

This is a projection of the individual or limited mind. We know that our awareness of colors is more of a chemical change in the delicate retina, brought about by vibrations or wave-lengths of different rate. Taste is likewise chemical. The associations may not be.

Somehow, we seem to have similar associations, as though the associations or states of mind were forced upon us by being aware of the world-view of those associations.

The aspirant to cosmic consciousness may come to believe that the Light that comes from the Unmanifested Mind actually comes through that medium or matrix also, while its true origin is in the Absolute.

~ Continued in the July 2002 TAT Forum

© 2002 Richard Rose. All Rights Reserved.


Awakening into Awareness (part 3)
by Metta Zetty

(~ Continued from the May 2002 TAT Forum)

Following is a continuing excerpt from Metta Zetty's Insight Mentoring Letter #48, dated March 12, 2002, on the topic of "Deep Sleep, Awareness and the Great Mystery." This letter is a compilation based on correspondence and a chat session with Ku Ye, a Chan Buddhist teacher in Spain. Metta Zetty's web site is Awakening into Awareness.

Metta: I am puzzled by this statement because of something you said in one of your earlier letters: "In deep sleep awareness is not [present]." Can you clarify?

Ku Ye: Yes, I'm going to try. What I call "deep sleep" is a state where there is no consciousness. However, some people call "deep sleep" a state where there is only pure consciousness, so it is in this last sense I say "I enter deep sleep"—but it is not "deep sleep" in my terminology.

Metta: The question then (if I understand you correctly) is whether or not "deep sleep" is characterized by consciousness or Awareness, in some form or other. Is this correct?

You say it is not, while others say it is?

Ku Ye: Yes, it is, because if there is a no state, or a state without consciousness, what happens to consciousness then?

Metta: Ah! So are you saying that "deep sleep" is an inappropriate term because, in your experience, consciousness remains?

Ku Ye: Yes, that's right. :-)

Metta: Good! So, is there more to say or to ask now?

Ku Ye: Well, how do you see it? What is your experience or view about deep sleep?

Metta: My direct experience is that when I slip into deep sleep, consciousness of my surroundings and my personal identity disappear completely. There is also no memory attached to the experience of deep sleep.

Quite honestly, I *infer* the continuation of Awareness, based on my own experience.

(Consider, for example, the fact that while the mind is sleeping soundly, some form of innate Awareness remains ever alert and vigilant, and then when your name is called, this Awareness triggers the mind's return to the waking state.)

Beyond this inference, though, there is nothing else I can say of deep sleep except that it is the place/space out of which all consciousness arises and into which all consciousness disappears.

I would also hasten to add, however, that wherever consciousness is found, it *always* appears within a field of undisturbed, unbroken Awareness. This consciousness is obviously not Infinite, but I can find no boundaries or limits upon the field of Awareness within which this consciousness arises. [http://awakening.net/RMUnchanging.html and http://awakening.net/RMInfinitePresent.html]

Ku Ye: Dear Metta, thank you very much for your honesty. This is my own experience too: we have to infer Awareness. I think that's right. It is the Great Mystery. Thank you very much.

Metta: You are most welcome. I am glad if there is common ground for us in this.

Ku Ye: I would also like to ask you for your understanding of "intention" or "volition." How do you explain the use of intention for the rediscovery our true nature? This is my second point of interest about sharing awakening, for many people have given different answers.

Metta: Intention is crucial in as much as it provides the fuel for dispelling our mistaken sense of identity.

Intention is inadequate until and unless this mistaken sense of identity is clarified.

Ku Ye: I would like to know: who do you think is using intention in order to dispel illusion until we know who we really are?

Metta: The most honest answer is to say that intention simply arises, and it is usually linked to personal identity. But the arising of intention, like the arising of Awareness, is also a Great Mystery.

What I do know, based on experience, is that when intention arises, it creates movement—a flow of energy through space and time—toward clearer understanding, and as that flow continues, the mistaken sense of identity gradually begins to fall away.

In my experience, this is the ultimate pattern of revelation as the finite gives way to the Infinite.

Ku Ye: Thank you very much, Metta. I think your view is very interesting. Thank you for your sharing.

So can you teach people to practice mindfulness in order to help intention grow?

Metta: It certainly can be done, but it is not necessary, just as it is not necessary to talk about Awakening. Everything happens naturally—including this process of revelation.

This is because it is the *fundamental nature* of the finite to give way to the Infinite. We do not need to "help" it along. However, we may choose to, and that's fine, too. In the end, *everything* contributes to this Revelation.

Ku Ye: I fully agree. :-)

What do you think starts the intention to dispel the illusion?

Metta: LOL! [Lots of luck! —Ed.] The same thing that started the illusion—the same thing that started Creation—that wonderful Great Mystery about which we have been speaking. :-)

Ku Ye: LOL! :-)

Metta: This is also the same magnificent Grace that, in the end, triggers the experience of Realization.

However, on a more practical level, the intention arises as "I" (the personal identity) begin to bump into the limitations of the finite. [http://awakening.net/RMBumping.html]

Because our deepest nature is Infinite, we are *compelled* to move beyond these limitations. This is why I include the following quotation on the opening page of my web site: "The spirit of man is inseparable from the Infinite, and can be satisfied with nothing less than the Infinite." ~ James Allen

~ Continued in the July 2002 TAT Forum

~ Metta's reflections on Reality and the experience of Realization are available in the reflections archives or regularly through AIA's "In This Moment" mailing list.


The Wheel of Manifestations
by Gary Harmon

Dharma Wheel In the original state, sometimes known as the original face, boundless awareness dwells. This is I Am or I Exist, without any memory, understanding or conditioning, without attributes, without structure or identity. Nothing is separate from the entirety. This is the state of pure unmanifested awareness.

Then, for no apparent explanation (other than that it's Its nature to do so), arises the thought or conception, I Am, the impersonal attentiveness, on which the world appears as a holo-matrix. This is the source of duality. A womb is found in which to grow.

Consciousness, in order to manifest itself, needs a shape, a material shell, which it identifies as itself and thus starts the concept of 'bondage,' with an imaginary objectification of 'I.' Whenever one thinks and acts from the standpoint of this self-identification, one could be said to have committed the 'original sin' of turning pure subjectivity of the immeasurable potential into an object, a limited actuality. This is the birth of duality, a separate existence from all other perceived objects.

No object has, or can have, a self-sufficient existence of its own. An object cannot awaken itself from another object. The holo-matrix phantom individual, which is now a supposed object, is seeking another object, the 'Absolute' or 'Reality' or whatever.

If this is clear, one must reverse 180 degrees, turn around and go back to find out what one originally was (and always has been) before consciousness occurred.

At this stage comes the 'awakening.' One is neither the body, nor even the consciousness, but the unnamable condition of total, unmanifested potentiality. Prior to the arrival of consciousness. The seeker disappears in the seeking. When the seeker disappears there is no question of doing. This body is perceptible, but our true nature is that which was before the body and the consciousness came into being. Anything that is sensually seen and interpreted by the mind is an appearance in consciousness and is not true, for it is temporal.

And so the cycle is complete; the seeker and what is sought are the same. The seeker is the sought. This is the state of pure unmanifested awareness. This is the spot where we started our expedition from.


Poems by Shawn Nevins

For the first time
I feel the comfort of dissolution,
the restful end of knowledge,
and the security of nothing to hold on to.

The certainty of that which never changes
brings a smile to this that changes every day.

A new life with no baggage.
Crossing the border a free man.
Beyond all wanting and needing
is the ceasing of being that belongs to all.

*

At the edge of the world
motion falls into silence—
formless silence.
World and mind are no different.

*

As she walks, the wind blows,
or does the wind move her?
Parting the grass made crisp by fall
her every step is recorded in time.
Time is the seasons of grass,
the spinning of planets,
the motion of infinite particles.
She is filled with love of particles,
with love of self,
even of the grass that, in time, will cover
her steps of existence.
She and I and you
blend into one long chain of events,
like clouds
bound to return to the sea.

*

A tree is more honest
when stripped of its leaves
and stark against the sky.
Otherwise it hides among its neighbors
in a confusion of leaves.
Leafless, we see its progress
and where it intends to go.

Be without adornment
and the distraction of personal seasons.

*

I am the only sound in the universe.
I, on this hill, am the first pebble.
I move and everything about me moves.
I am with and without my self—
mind floating in silence.

*

How much must I write
of longing and leaving
for you to remember
that which will never leave
and always shine?
Down here by the heart of things,
an honest man is easy to find.

Nothing but wind rattling the dried-up dreams of spring.

*

Every thought of causing or changing
tumbles down
in the spirit of acceptance.
See the trip unfold.
No welcome or rejection to bind you.
Coming into being
like moths drifting in from the night
to the light.

In one glimpse, a vast plan
opens before me who no longer acts,
who sees the pieces of his life
floating like leaves down a stream,
and smiles.

*

I am the love of emptiness
for that which fills it.
Not a love of need,
but simply of existence.
All things are within my grasp
and I hold to none.
Even I am within my Self,
as I who write am startled
by the witnessing, and the witness
is startled by the Darkness
that exhales it.
Darkness am I—
dark to the human eye.

*

What are you trying to catch
in your web of relationships?
A tiny spider self spins
lies of desire and fear
binding all manner of things.

A spider can retrace its web,
dismantle, and save it for another day—
to spin a single thread
and escape its poor, dark corner of life.

Spin that single thread and float,
carried by winds of grace that you create
from the motion of your determination.


Asceticism
by Shawn Nevins

ascetic Ascetics are the extreme athletes of the spiritual search—the people who fast for days at a time, pray without sleeping, wear hair shirts and live in desert huts, sleep in unheated rooms on beds of nails, and a hundred other variations on the theme of controlling and purifying the body. The ascetic looks upon the body as a barrier to spiritual knowledge, or he believes that his sacrifices will draw the blessings of God. This is an ancient tradition with many sad extremes, yet it has a basis in truth. The body is not so much a barrier to spiritual knowledge as it is a tool we use poorly. Ascetic practice sharpens the body and mind, expanding our ability to act effectively. The modern seeker of self-definition who scoffs at asceticism may be most in need of this experiment.

The truth is that our lives are a mix of desires. We want a piece of sugary cake, yet want to lose weight. This simple conflict illustrates a body that wants, under the cover of pleasure, fuel in the form of sugar and fat. At the same time, we want to stay thin in order to attract a mate and keep the body healthy. The modern man's solution is to indulge all these wants and declare the need for a balanced life. Such a balance is akin to trying to keep everyone (i.e. every facet of the self) happy all the time. The result is temporarily contented mediocrity.

Asceticism is self-denial for the purpose of redirection of personal energy. By denying an aspect of your self, you test to see its permanence. If you refuse to eat cake for a month, and discover that desire fades, then you eliminate a less true facet of your self. You can ignore the voice that calls for cake and concentrate your energy on more important matters. You gain a measure of freedom.

Asceticism is not simply the denial of pleasure. Nor is it the substitution of pain for pleasure. The experience of pleasure is not a detriment to the spiritual path and self-induced agonies are not tickets to heaven. It is our many obsessions that are a detriment to success. Your obsession must be with self-definition if you wish to assuage your deepest desire.

Success in the quest for self-definition requires a commitment of your mind and body. There are many desires competing for a finite amount of energy and you must discover which are necessary (e.g., the need for basic food), which can be eliminated (e.g., the need to get drunk), and which can be lessened (e.g., the need for money). Success will be determined by the amount of energy (time, desire, effort) you bring to bear on the question, "Who are you?"

Asceticism will clarify your desires. Through this artificial creation of adversity, you will discover what you never truly needed. As you come closer to identifying your true desires, you come closer to following your bliss. Following your bliss, following your heart, will lead you home.

There is another more subtle value of asceticism. A sacrifice is a statement of your intent. It is saying to whatever may be listening that you are serious, that you are willing to make an intimate sacrifice. Such a statement changes who you are.

Although wearing hair shirts is out of fashion, there are numerous ascetic practices. I engaged in practices such as: limiting sleep, fasting, eliminating sugar and spices, isolation, not talking, no alcohol, no television or other media, and celibacy. For some, an ascetic practice could be no online chat rooms for a week. There are individual distractions and they change over time. Don't doom your self by taking on numerous practices simultaneously. If you stumble in your practice, simply determine to try again and do a little better. Gradually wean your self, if need be. The end result will be a balance of desires, but a balance obtained within the over-riding goal of the desire for self-definition.


Tricks
by Bob Fergeson

As individual points of awareness, our chief feature is one of identifying. We become whatever we stare at long enough, and we have been looking at the body/mind since birth. This hypnosis is so strong, most of us cannot escape it without help. The ego, being the clever, self-righteous fool that it is, will not let us accept this help, so we have to be tricked. Fortunately, the Powers That Be invented some very useful tricks to help us out. All tricks are for destroying the ego-centric fantasy that we actually exist, as the body/mind or anything else for that matter, and for freeing us from believing that there is such a thing as an individual 'self.' They serve to back the awareness out of the individual mind/memory and into the state of universal awareness, away from self into silent witness. Thus, a retreat or dis-identification from the mind and its projections is caused, hopefully leading to the realization of one's true self: the observer. Here are a few tricks to get you going but remember . . . they won't work if you actually believe any of this.

wild duck koan Trick of going against negative emotions: This helps lead us away from the extreme defensiveness of the ego-centric position. We believe we're doing good and being virtuous by not being negative, but we are actually just moving away from manically defending the false or particular, i.e. the 'self.' This brings about an inner movement towards a more universal view where one thing, or self, is not set up against another. This trick is also known as 'helping others,' practicing virtues, etc.

Trick of 'know thyself:' The point of this trick is to cause dis-identification with the individual memory pattern by becoming familiar with it: what we see is not us. Getting to know the robot leads, hopefully, to realizing it's not you. The information gained by knowing one's self isn't the point, it's the inner movement or retreat that counts. So, don't worry if you discover you're not the person you thought you were.

Trick of effortless meditation: We simply watch our thoughts without being attached or affected. Again, we're led within, as this trick serves to unattach us from our personal reactive mind and places us in the universal rather than the particular. This trick has the added benefit of being quite peaceful.

Trick of self-remembering, "Who Am I?" meaningless Zen koans, etc.: These tricks are quite simple, and therefore very effective. The ego loves complexity and distraction, so the act of focusing the attention on an unanswerable, meaningless koan knocks the ego off its feet, for a bit. Eventually, we may become less afraid of the silent unknown. The movement back and forth between the formal (mind chatter) and informal (silent awareness following the shock of perplexity) might bring about a triangulation: the body/mind and accompanying 'self' or looker may be seen for what they are.

Trick of self-inquiry: Great trick for the astute, since they think they'll have it figured out in no time. Eventually, they might come to find they're not as clever as they thought. It can lead the inquirer to accidentally going within, thus being effective. At its best, it will cause a surrender, or ego-death, when the mind comes to a dead end, thus teaming up with the trick below.

Trick of surrender: A most powerful trick in that we are led to believe we are doing something pious, and instead end up getting a good look at our pride. The trick is that we've never been in charge anyway, meaning we do nothing and never have. Surrender as an act of the prideful, pious ego usually fails miserably. This can eventually lead us to inquire as to what we did wrong, thus leading us back to the trick above. If both inquiry and surrender are practiced, we might trick ourselves right into a massive ego-death, so be careful, ... don't get tricked.

~ From the Mystic Missal


More on Meditation
by Bob Cergol

Abbot of Watkungtaphao - Tat Hong waterfall I am convinced that intense self-introspection does not require large amounts of time. It requires only short meditations which, regardless of the form they take, in essence amount to a prayer—a plea to the higher self for help and guidance. This sets in motion a direction so that, amidst busy-ness and hard work—that higher self will manifest and the inner man will get through to communicate, which you will experience as insight or mini-realizations—that translate into a change of being.

[The previous statement, though, is too open-ended.] Meditation can't be just anything someone wants to declare as such. Rose always made the distinction between meditation and visualization. One might say that experience is visualization, and meditation is observation of experience. I'm hearing people quote Eckhart Tolle in such a way that it sounds to me like they are practicing a form of visualization, i.e. creating an experience for themselves and then calling it a meditation on being in the now. Its a form of self-deception that in fact preserves the ego.

I'm convinced that Tolle "discovered" these techniques over the years as things which he himself did that rekindled the immediacy of his realization and that brought his attention more fully into it. I am skeptical that they can have the effect for others, that they had for him. I'm not ruling out that any of his practices could be a trigger for someone. I feel even more this way about Douglas Harding's experiments. I just can't imagine they are sufficient—in and of themselves—to cause death!


Humor...

Mark Twain sketch Leave it to the coward to make a religion of his cowardice by preaching humility. ~ George Bernard Shaw

Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. THAT'S relativity. ~ Albert Einstein

The only people who rejoice at births and mourn at funerals are the parties that aren't involved. ~ Mark Twain


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