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

TAT Forum
September 2002

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

golden wheat  

This month's contents:

Memories of Past and Future: Last Act by Richard Rose | Real People by Richard Rose | Where Are You Headed? by Bob Fergeson | Faith by Bernadette Roberts | Mutual Understanding by Gary Harmon | Poems by Shawn Nevins | Earnestness by Shawn Nevins | Attitude by Richard Rose | What Are You Seeking? by Bob Cergol | Humor | Reader Commentary

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Memories of Past and Future (concluded)
by Richard Rose

TAT founder Richard Rose spent a lifetime in spiritual and philosophical research. In "Alfred D'Aliberti: A Vignette" (printed in the August 2002 TAT Forum), he shares his memories of one of the men who meant the most to him along that path, a man of real stature who might otherwise go unremembered. Rose's short story "Last Act" is a dream-like evocation of a man's thoughts before the curtain falls.

Last Act

This was the last act of the play. Old James Inman was a little embarrassed and yet nervous. Why, thought he, should a playwright be nervous about someone else's play? This was, after all, a rare privilege ... acting about the directions of acting.

This was a room. It was large ... large, but the corners and far sides were dimly seen. The far side of the room could have contained many people. If there were many people there, the observer would never know, because things were hazy.

There were a dozen people there, grown people, and two or three children. There was an evident age gap. The children were four or five at the most, several little blond-haired boys and girls. The men were no less than forty, and most of them were fifty or more. John Perry and Irving G. Grubb sat across the table from Inman and seemed obscured by cigar smoke. These were old acquaintances, but all the rest had been recent encounters for Inman.

John Perry was Russian, and he never fully explained how he came upon the name Perry. He was tall and heavy. A combination of an eager man and an irritated man. He was always impatient to get to the Truth. He never did anything about it really, but he was always quick to criticize any signs of frivolous thinking in others.

Irving was also tall and also had a fair amount of dark hair. But Irving was better built—not quite so heavy. Irving was dour and suspicious. When he talked to you, he turned his head away to a degree, and he always listened with a frown of disbelief. And when he began to talk or reply, the listener always found a mind of conjecture rather than argument, and a general mood of compromise together with a patient reaching-out with questions that might bring the two points of view together rather than trying to force his own views.

Grandchildren are a spark of life for old people, but when the grandchildren reach the adult stage, there is no real urge to look after, or worry about, great-grandchildren. The old men gravitate to the park, to the courthouse, or to some bench along a stream and indulge one another in meaningless comments, which are always backed by meanings that all of them understand and never bother to try to translate.

This particular meeting of Inman, Perry and Grubb, and the rest, differed in that there was no small talk. There were no audible words. All of them had learned to converse adroitly by direct mind. A gestalt, a mood, or an entire philosophy was communicable in a couple of seconds. There would be a short lag ... and each man's response could be picked up.

Inman was looking back ten years, and they all knew it. There was a group of young men and women. It took years of his teaching to convince them that they did not exist. They were gone, and now in a way he wished that they still existed. Yes, they still exist in Timelatch, where he met them ... exist to lesser or greater degrees, that is. They were upset when he decided to take a vacation from Timelatch for a few days. His first thought was to take a couple with him, but he could not decide which, if any, could stand to be away from people of their own age.

Those were good people. Most of them real warriors. And those who were not warriors were lovers. There are only two real ways to make the trip of life, Inman always insisted. A person must fight desperately for his goals, or he must love the goal without quibble or reason.

The ones who turned out to be warriors were Frantice, Martin, Masara, Messano, Duke, Curstburger, Gugenheim, and many others, forty or more. They had gone out to teach, to live at the most effective angle for the betweenness, so that their magic might multiply. Some had established their own experimental centers and were making mistakes and learning how to make more mistakes and more voltage in the ensuing determination. Each of them had their own disciples who were not always taught the exact teachings Inman had advised. Each diverged a little, each to his peculiar personality.

This may have annoyed Inman five years ago; little divergences had no effect upon his mind now.

Irving smiled. His unabashed message was, "You old bastard, what is so important about your session with those shadows you projected but could not hold on to. We do no see you as such an important cog. And you are a warm person, that is about all. Oh, yes, I’ll agree, a man who has read a lot and learned a lot ... and I might even add, you have a soft heart in you ... a bit mushy ... did you no good at all."

Inman smiled too. What is wrong with the Truth? Inman, the end-result, is little more than a shadow. But then man is also something else besides that which winds up at the finish. He is also the history of his action. He is a process ... even if one end is gray and smells like a damp cellar.

Inman looked at Grubb and Perry and thought, "It is good to be with you. No changing you two. No hopes unhatched here. No disciples unfinished. Just old friends who have no idea that I am. They see mostly a body. If I am warm in my attitude, they warm themselves at the glow of friendship. And if I am distant or cool to them, there is no anger but a sort of detachment, as if they were not picking up my thoughts at all."

Perry looked at Inman. "Disciples hell. Is that all? What became of your family? Doesn’t it bother you to sit here in this haze, knowing that your family will never know or believe that you are anything but a capital nut? Ideas be damned. I can live without ideas, philosophies or earth-shaking revelations about the final Nature of Things ... if I could be with my children and my grandchildren. What is there in any form of life where there is no longer any love?"

Irving looked at the floor. He was disappointed in Perry. Inman stepped inside Perry for a moment and felt the heart-rending loneliness that Perry had. But all of them knew that Perry's boys had grown up and away. Poe was dead and left no children. And Russ, who looked so much like John, threw his father out of his house, alienating their grandchildren from John. The mother had lost her mind.

And John silently hears these things, which he already knew, and nods his head. There was no hope. And there was no place to go to find the meaningful hope of youth again. And that was what it would take. None of them had the energy to prime themselves for new folly. So this gray room would have to suffice.

Inman sitting in chair Somebody projected the need for a drink for all of them. Inman knew his lines. The script called for him to have a heart attack and he was supposed to slump forward upon the arm of his chair at the mention of drinking.

So he slumped forward. Perry and Grubb responded properly as the script directed them to. They simply stared.

Inman projected the word, "Death."

Everyone in the room looked at him and did not move. They stared. They echoed the word "death" in the same tone that a child would echo the word "school." The acting was good. Some looked sincerely blank.

The three little children came over to Inman's figure and seemed amused that his arm protruded from the arm of the chair as if it were pointing straight ahead.

Inman thought, "This is not in the script, but it looks rather macabre to have children in a play, playing with a dead man's fingers." So he projected to Perry and Grubb, "One of you fellows lead the children away."

No projection came in return. Something had happened to the telepathic rapport. Everyone stared at him. He got a slight glimpse of their thoughts, but they directed no message to him. Or if they did, he was not picking up any intentional projection. He knew what they were thinking as they stared.

"About the only thing Inman plays good is a dead man."

Then Inman knew that something was happening. He had lost the power to project because his entire chain of quantum energy was failing. This could only mean one thing. Genuine death. They would never know the difference and so could not revive him. He would be dead for ages before they knew he was really dead.

The voltage had spun down. The body had lost energy before but had always recuperated soon enough to feed the neural coils with quantum energy.

Now he only remembered the words to project and was not sure if they would ever be received. "I am really dying. What a way to go—acting in a damned play ... the part of a dead man."

~ First published in the TAT Journal No. 2 (Vol. 1, No. 2). © 1978 by Richard Rose. All Rights Reserved. See the TAT Journal Archive page.

The Real People
by Richard Rose

Who are the Real People? They are the ponderers and the action-takers. They are the ones who admit their own errors and try to correct them. They are the ones who search for the deepest answers to the mysteries of the world and themselves. They are the ones not interested in the outer glitter but in the interior substance. They are the ones interested in what is invisible and proclaimed unreal by the majority of men. They are the ones who wish and strive, are open-minded and simple in heart.


Where Are You Headed?
by Bob Fergeson

"Past performance dictates future performance." ~ Anon.

Do you think you will automatically go to a spiritual place after death? Will you have the drive and capacity to determine your fate and direction when the body/mind dissolves? Do you know yourself that well? What will you have for guidance? Or will the unconscious desires and fears of today, which you may not be aware of or admit to, control your fate?

After our death, we may not find ourselves in Happy Heaven, as we might wish, but instead in a place formed by our true motivations, whether we were conscious of them or not. Instead of getting an eternity at The Warm-Fuzzies Fun Park, the more accurate scenario may be akin to when we fall asleep at night, letting go of our so-called conscious control and helplessly entering the world of dreams. This could be likened to the Tibetan concept of the bardo, with the experience of lucid dreaming (knowing we are dreaming while in a dream) thrown in to boot. In other words, if you can't wake up to Reality now, what makes you think you ever will? This dream world or bardo you may find yourself in would become the current dream or 'reality' in which you again act out your previously formed nature. Whether any of this is fact or fiction isn't the point. What is being asked is, do you know and trust yourself well enough to face death and what it might bring?

There is a lot of talk of lucid dreaming nowadays, but I have yet to hear of any of it reaching a valid point in terms of true self-definition. Anything we learn or experience in a dream, lucid or not, must be validated in waking life. We might be advised to wake up first from this present dream of life before playing about with states of ego-identification in our dreams. Acting out our fantasies in dream land in a so-called lucid state is not a true awakening, but simply extending into the dream realm our identification with the personality. Even though much of the talk about lucid dreaming is astute and intellectual, providing much theory and heady adventure, rarely does it touch on the big questions of our personal life and death, and even rarer does it take on the question of 'who' is dreaming.

Years ago I learned how to practice lucid dreaming, thinking I would become a hero shaman, weaving magic while discovering deep secrets in the freedom of the dream world, wide awake. When I actually found myself in the dream world, wide awake, the first thought that came to me was "I can do anything I want, I'm awake in a dream!". I must explain that at this time I still believed I was in control of my thinking, that I had thoughts. It was only much later that I came to realize they had me, that all thought is projected upon us. The next thought I identified with was,"Let's do all the things we can't do in regulated society, let the party begin!" I quickly created a fantasy sex partner and off we went, for a brief moment. The fun was rudely interrupted by the realization of how divided my consciousness had become. I was shocked that my true motivations, though unconscious, were not only carnal, but degraded. I was not the hero dream warrior I had imagined but a depraved animal. I thankfully fell back 'asleep' in the ensuing turmoil of emotion. I dropped the experiments, for I realized I lacked the true self-knowledge and control that I had assumed I possessed. This was also accompanied by the intuition I was entering dangerous ground without adequate protection. This example may seem extreme, but it illustrates the point.

In the time that followed, I began instead a simple practice of dream interpretation, designed to help bring the unconscious world within up into the light of day. Thankfully, things were not really as bad in there as I had feared, but many unflattering facts and negative traits were uncovered and eventually faced in waking life. Much help was found in this endeavor, and I'm still grateful for being led back into truth from foolishness. Blindly following our animal nature and its promptings, whether in the dream world or out, only leads us through endless cycles of struggle and misery, desire and fear, with no true reckoning or resolution, forever and ever, amen. Real knowledge of the self is more valuable than any dream adventure, no matter whether we are 'awake' as our daytime ego in the dream or not. Sooner or later we will tire of the fantasy, and perhaps become curious of 'who' is experiencing these endless never-never lands.

True adventure is not in outward grandiose imaginings, whether in waking sleep or whatever, but rather in a steady inward movement, an uncovering of all that is hidden and false in ourselves. It is the greatest expedition we can make, for it leads to real peace and true awakening. This precipitous moment of turning our attention around and looking within is worth more than any bardo of lucid fantasies, for it can lead to real Self-knowledge, to Who we really are. As G.I Gurdjieff said, "Life is real only then, when I am."

~ From the Mystic Missal


Faith
by Bernadette Roberts

TRUTH IS UNBELIEVABLE—thus we need Faith. "But I tell you the Truth, and that is why you do not believe me."


BELIEF IS DIFFERENT THAN FAITH

BELIEF:

Is an intellectual assent, a reflective assurance. It is a conviction of propositions presented based on evidence. It is a reasonable assent to hold true what cannot be immediately verified. It involves intellect and even reason. Belief is our OWN exercise, and thus it will always be subject to doubt and its reverse—unbelief or no belief. In other words, belief is not stable.

Anything we actually know, does not require belief; so once we know something there is no longer belief. BELIEF, THEN, DEALS WITH THE KNOWABLE—or what eventually can be known—and therefore it is RELATIVE. FAITH, however, goes further, goes beyond anything that is knowable to the mind, intellect, and consciousness. FAITH DEALS WITH THE UNKNOWN AND UNKNOWABLE, THE ABSOLUTE—and thus it is ABSOLUTE.

FAITH:

Is "Seeing darkly what we shall one day see face to face." In the end, Faith gives way to vision—heaven.

1. A SUPERNATURAL GIFT, not of our own doing.
2. NO ADEQUATE DEFINITION. Not in our heads - not a concept.
3. An obscure CERTITUDE = a truth-sensor, a seeing, knowing; even an indefinable presence.
4. BEYOND REASON; may even be unreasonable -Tertullian: "I believe because it is absurd."
5. DEALS WITH THE UNKNOWN. Knows in unknowing or not-knowing, thus it is not subject to doubt, or disbelief. We do not know how we know Faith, it is just "there."
6. NOT AN EXPERIENCE. As a non-experience, Faith is the most mystical experience we have. It does not come and go—as do experiences. If we had perfect faith, we would not need any experiences. Thus perfect Faith is no-experience. As experience decreases, faith increases—because experience IS self.


Mutual Understanding
by Gary Harmon

People tend to 'stick with what got them there,' wherever there may be, and the dialogue often resolves itself to futile attempts at convincing others of the folly of their ways instead of attempts at integration, reconciliation and mutual understanding. If there is more than one way to discover the ultimate Truth, then there needs to be openness to any valid method of getting there. People tend to stick with what they are comfortable with and are tempted to be lulled back asleep. This is stated as something that has been part of my own personal experience. Out of habit or fear of attempting a different approach, many become embedded with tradition for whatsoever was and still is their path. It is easy to become blind to a philosophy that has the identical truth but from a different route. This brings to mind something that was heard recently: "There is a theory which states that if ever anybody discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened."

There is no this causing a that. All is occurring of its own. Truth is the most obvious non-thing there is. What makes truth so difficult to discern are the clouds that the ego creates to remain in control of its phantom way of life. That limiting ego must be transcended. From the ego's context of what realization is, one remains limited to what can be understood. The content that arises then is very limited, due to the context that confines it. It is like living in a box that is so warm and comfy that one rationalizes everything that is outside our package as something that is not an element of that envelope. A different context must be adopted to know there is no box and that everything that is seen as outside is now inside and just as warm and comfy, for all is now accepted as an integral element of us. To have possession of the freedom from the context of the fruits of action and the pairs of opposites is to enter into the realm of Real Consciousness. This is the context of eternal glory and peace—yours for the taking.


Poems by Shawn Nevins

I am complete
as the sky is complete.
Not one, but the being
from which one arises.

The perfect form may lead the eye
to stunned silence.
Come to feel that form and silence within you.

"Am"—that is such a word.
Say it with me—"Am."
"Am."

We are the cup with space around, within, and between.
Space as complete as the sky.

*

Slipping silently from my mind
this sense of self, this life of mine.
My I-ness melts like film
burned by the projector's light—
the cold heat of eternity's doom.
I will not even raise my hand
to acknowledge my passing.
No, I will bow to my doom.
Trembling, I remember life's losses
and the shortfall of love within
the weak grasp of my self.
I remember my heart that aches
with uncertainty and longs for it knows not what.
I remember I am reaching down to my self,
that I-ness was a shadow of oneness,
that my care is as large as all being,
that God is me as surely as you.
God thinks to run, but for a moment,
as he too slides,
drawn by eternity's spiral
into quiet.
As for the quiet, I cannot speak across that chasm.

*

Your life is like a tale
told to a little child.
Even though he knows the lie,
a shred of doubt will last his whole life
and lies will seem as truth.

*

The sun parts the world
like Moses opening a path.
The sun is your heart
parting your life with love
for no thing or self.
Loveless love, love with no description.
All you grasp and fear falls to the side
like hands of resignation.
Acceptance is not required
as failure is inevitable.
You only delay by pretending to make choices.

*

Every sound that takes us away
could take us home.
What remains
when we are carried away by song?
To what does all return?
Let music empty you of self,
and allow the song to end.

*

My life framed against the sky—
this tree, this eye that sees all that dies.
Those lifeless limbs hide no more.
It pours out of me,
all resting upon this fleeting agony,
with no word for that which never dies.

My vision is lifeless.
God is lifeless, motionless power.
Our essence is potential.
The sky is in here,
in my heart.
My heart is there,
in the sky.

*

I swim in emptiness.
My life dwarfed
by endless possibilities of creation.
Barriers and boundaries have no meaning
here, there, anywhere.

It is the anywhere-ness of this self—
not expanding, but settling
over the landscape
like a paralyzing fog—
that gives a new look to everything old.

*

Sleep reveals us.
The dark, secret home of the night
becomes our home.
Opening our eyes to the stranger
laying next to us
brings familiarity.
You walk out a door each day.
For once, look back from whence you came.


Earnestness
by Shawn Nevins

"Earnestness is the only condition of success" is a statement by Nisargadatta Maharaj that I believe is true. However, it is often idealized either by visions of grimacing ascetic monks or spiritual warriors exuberantly dashing off to do battle with the ego. Of course, our daily life falls short of these emotional extremes and we wonder how we will ever stir our selves to earnestness. Why don't we ask what it means to be earnest?

illuminated E To be earnest is to be willing to act. This is an attitude of openness and wonder. Earnestness is not simply nervous energy, excitement or enthusiasm. The earnest person is willing to act when the occasion arises and willing to wait for his true desire. Taking action and allowing action to occur exist side by side. Earnestness is a mature state of being wherein one allows opportunities to happen. In our psychological youth, life seems all our doing. As we mature, there is recognition of waiting for the proper time to act. Finally, we see our life unrolling before us.

If you want to be earnest, be willing to learn, to question, to listen and to change. This is possible if you are pursuing your root desire.

The key is to be following your bliss. That does not mean to follow the desire flavor of the month (or hour). It means to follow your most sublime desire, your most subtle want. The pride and lust of your daily dramas emanate from a deeper need that you must strive to articulate. If you are following your bliss, you will be earnest. You will be willing to become what you are destined to become.

There is no end to comparing ourselves to the saints and sages and seeing how we fall short. And in our moments of pride, we look at all we accomplish and feel as if we are parting the crowds of the ignorant with our wisdom. You will undergo all manner of exaltations and depressions, wondering all the while if you have the ingredients for success. A sloth can pursue a fruit with earnestness, but to us he appears the epitome of laziness. Every person reading this has the capacity to become what is needed. To ask the question, "Am I earnest enough?" is a good sign. If you answer yes, you are a liar. If no, you are looking for truth and willing to change. If you don't care, you are truly on your way. Follow your bliss and take that road to its end.


daffodil "Our attitude in this search should be one of open-hearted curiosity, which will be much the same attitude as a human sensing the attitude of a bird, or of a flower. The attitude should be light, and easy. No perspiration or anguished concentration. Deliberate, intense concentration holds the door shut. However, some deliberate, intense concentration will be necessary to train the beginner's mind for vectoring energy. Deliberate, intense concentration draws back the catapult in its springs, and does not release. But the problem is branded in the conscious mind, and it will allow in factors of relevance at unpredictable moments."

~ Richard Rose, The Direct-Mind Experience (Notes on Between-ness)


What Are You Seeking?
by Bob Cergol

The following material outlines a discussion session that was presented at a Self Knowledge Symposium retreat in 2000:

QUESTIONS

1) What are you seeking?
2) How did you get to whatever point in life you find yourself at now?
3) What is your direction?
4) What purpose does it serve—is it inward or outward pointed?

THE PATH: SELF-DEFINITION

To find the Truth, you must find the True Self.
To find the True Self, you must become One.
To become, you must live your understanding.
To understand, you must see clearly.
To see clearly, you must know that which is seeing.
To know that which is seeing, you must know your own self.

Moorish arch interior by D.G. Webster RECOMMENDATIONS

1) Examine your life daily—in earnestness and with total honesty.
2) Understand your motivations. (You can lie to others, but not God.)
3) Learn how to think. (Cultivate analysis of self and others.)
4) Learn how to pray. (Cultivate devotion to a higher power.)

A PRAYER

Father …
Guide me that I might see clearly.
Bless me that I might understand.
Strengthen me that I might live my understanding.

(Prayer is an attempt to have a self-less thought or to think selflessly.)

ON BECOMING

Living in personal identity is sleep.
Living in personal identity keeps God out.
Live your understanding: a conscious and/or self-less act is a powerful thing; it invites the higher Self into your life—"Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."

I think the idea of becoming is misunderstood. Many of us have seen words written such as, "You can't become that which you already are." I used to think such words were a clever device to avoid any effort to change and. therefore, a device to reinforce whatever games the one parroting such words was engaged in.

But it is likewise foolish to think that becoming is an acquisitive or evolutionary process.

The idea of becoming denotes that a change is required. The change required is not positive but negative, or subtractive. Just as you don't learn the answer, likewise you don't pile on insights (psychological holiness?) and accrue capital [for later redemption] through acts of asceticism (good works?).

I think it would be more to the point to say that we need to un-become. If it is a process of becoming, then it is a process whereby the ego-device becomes less sure of itself. And thereby it becomes less self-centered and more sincere in longing for the answer—from where-it-knows-not. But all it knows is that it cannot forget the "need to find out" and it becomes more open to surrendering its will to the Source of the answer. So when the time comes it is possible to "receive" the answer.

~ Continued in the October 2002 TAT Forum, with a "Meditation on Identity"....


Humor...

Man and pet dog on respective beds of nails
A Perfect World cartoon, by Linda Causey


Reader Commentary:

I would like to be included in any e-mail and would appreciate any additional sites that offer humor of this type as well as encouraging messages. Thanks so much. ~ J.F.

The August forum was very inspiring.... It covered many bases, some rarely mentioned, such as Shawn Nevins' article "Compromise." Keep up the good work. ~ Linda Harmon

Please thank David Gold and others for the online copy of After The Absolute at onzen.com. It frames some comments I held closely for years from the Pyramid Zen Society. I once visited the farm, and some memories were quite vivid. The kitchen contained a lot of power when Mr. Rose was there. I always wanted to work and talk in the kitchen after that one visit. I will hold many of Mr. Rose's comments very close from Mr. Gold's book in the coming years. ~ Stephen Cook


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