This month's contents:
Lecture of Questions (part 2) by Richard Rose | Accident, Sublimation, Transformation by Bob Fergeson | Homebound by Susan O'Toole | Prisoners of the Cave by Gary Harmon | Ramana Maharshi and J. Krishnamurti by Douglas Harding | Poems by Shawn Nevins | What is Meditation? by Shawn Nevins | Effective Teaching by Bob Cergol | Humor
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(~ Continued from the April 2003 TAT Forum)
Who is knowledgeable about good, the item goodness?
Is good that which we desire—or that which is in itself good? What is the condition of "being good in itself"?
Is evil the child of good—or is it a twin?
If a man drives a horse through a plate glass window, should the man be prosecuted—or the horse?
If a man steals to feed his children, should we prosecute the man or that which drove him—the children?
If a man rapes a girl, should we prosecute....
A. The man?
B. The girl who tempted (drove) him?
C. His ancestors, for his genetic inheritance or glandular inclination?
D. The force that designed mankind?
What is equality?
Was Samson equal to Delilah?
Is a baby equal to a dying man?
Are you only half of a plan by virtue of not possessing both sexes?
Is peace of mind more important than global peace or herd peace?
Who or what are you?
Are you only a body?
Are you rather a complex organism? A cell colony—a nature-oriented bundle of conditioned reflexes?
Is the brain a monitoring station designed for the organism's indefinite survival? Or is the body programmed for death (death gene) following procreation? (Like the corn and wheat.)
Is all religion and philosophy merely rationalization emanating from that computer—to answer constant cellular awareness of death?
Or is the universal belief in life after death an intuitive reading from that computer? A reading not completely translatable into computer symbols which are limited?
Is there a soul?
Did it exist before the body, or must it be developed, grown or evolved?
Prove the following: Mind (as other than somatic awareness); sub-conscious mind; ego; id; superego; chakra; kundalini; tisra-til; astral; etheric; causal; desire; body; aura; halo; ectoplasm; spiritual ear; conscience; spiritual nectar.
What is time?
Does time pass, or is it only you who passes?
Is space-time a stable matrix while we are only transient visitors?
How much of life is only a mirage?
Do we see this world infallibly or obliquely?
Are the senses infallible?
Can you see, or hear, or feel, or smell or taste time?
Is time only a relative conceptualization? What is the reality of time?
Does the ant or amoeba interpret duration the same as man, or does its time pass more swiftly?
What is duration?
What does a lifetime feel like?
Does it feel differently to a child and to an old person?
What is the relation of memory to time?
Do we remember a "duration" or measure it if we have no clock at hand?
Do we remember how long a pain lasted when the pain occurred a year ago?
Would women become pregnant as often if they remembered the duration and intensity of the pain of childbirth?
Do we have a real sense of time when we hear a clock ticking?
Do we then know what a second is, or what stretch of consciousness exists for others in that second?
Do the wings of the hummingbird move rapid or slow to the gauging of the hummingbird?
To the time-sense of the fruit fly, is his life long or short?
Is the sense of duration or "passing time" proportional to the mass of the entity that experiences?
Does time exist other than as a fascination which seems to be brief or of longer duration?
If the sun is our ultimate clock (of earth-rotation as measurement), what is our measurement of time after the death of our senses?
Is time an illusion that prevents us from experiencing a Self that has no motion?
Have you ever heard a clock ticking in a delirium?
If the mind can be distorted in a delirium or in an LSD trip—does the mind ever understand the true feeling of a second?
What is nostalgia?
Is it the soul's view of previous feeling?
What is space?
Is space interdependent with time?
Are they not measured by each other? (Light year. Time is determined by spatial phenomena, rotation-duration.)
Do space and time exist at all except in reference to us? (What is the understanding by insects of the distance to the sun or moon?)
Do we have a true picture of nature?
When we appreciate nature as being beautiful, is such an appreciation of life or of death?
Have you ever watched the war that goes on in a drop of water or in a cancerous tissue?
How many protozoans are required to sustain the world's metazoans? Can they be counted?
How many protozoans are eaten alive every second?
How many microscopic metazoans are eaten each second by larger metazoans?
Is death painless for these beings? Do they scream?
How many smaller metazoans are needed to feed one worm for a day, or one insect?
How many worms or insects die every minute to feed the birds?
How many worms or insects are needed to feed a pair of birds and their fledglings each day?
How many worms or insects are needed for one hen's egg?
In the summer we hear the hum of many insects. Is this hum beautiful—orchestral—or a bedlam of screaming?
Are the songs of birds more than just mating noises?
Are not trees more attractive in autumn, when dying?
Which is the true destiny of all beings—a growth into individual eminence or a means of energy (food) for higher beings, meaning predators?
~ Continued in the June 2003 TAT Forum
© 1988 Richard Rose. All Rights Reserved.
The events of childhood do not pass, but repeat themselves like seasons of the year. ~ Eleanor Farjeon
I was in the midst of a crowd of people, when I realized that everyone's lives were just accidents. No one was in control of themselves. I became very out of it, just like on LSD. I then realized that the answer was sublimation, then transformation. Accident, sublimation, transformation. These three steps were the key. ~ Bob Fergeson
Accident: Let's take a look at the above quotes and see how they can provide a road map for self-knowledge. Many of us have had the experience or shock of realizing that the patterns and coping mechanisms of childhood are still with us and active, perhaps long after they are needed. As Eleanor Farjeon points out, these events, and their emotional reaction patterns, are still in us, dictating our behavior year after year. If we take the time to observe our day-to-day patterns with a bit of objectivity, over time we may see that we are mechanical, a robot. We may even realize that any reaction we have to change our mechanical pattern is also mechanical, just another reaction to a reaction. This realization can put us into quite a quandary, and is death to certain egos. The removal of these egos is paramount to progress, for they will never admit the need for real change.
Sublimation: We will become frustrated with this apparent paradox, and hopefully take our search more inwards. How can we find something in us that is not of the world of accident, something which is not just an endless chain of thought begetting thought? The next quote, taken from an old journal, provides the clue. We must refine our machine, for as we are, we are not capable of moving beyond the mechanics of associative thought. Here we move into the realm of sublimation. Our limited energy must be withdrawn from the associative world of behavior, saved and used for other purposes than the accidental world of desire and fear. This sublimation is akin to a refinement of our observation and thinking processes. We turn inwards and begin to look for the motivations of our actions, to question why we think as we do. We no longer can believe in the ego's story of "I did this because 'I' wanted to." Try as we might, we cannot find this 'I' we put so much faith in earlier. And thus, through sublimating our energy through the questioning process, we have transformed our thinking and observing.
Transformation: This new level of observation, one of seeing the patterns of our self and their mechanicalness, is still within the realm of the thinking mind, even though it brings a certain relief from the former sense-based thinking. If we are honest and keep on observing, driven by the still ever-present restlessness, we may come to the realization that we will never find anything Real in the mind, with the mind. If we are lucky, this realization may bring periods when we drop the whole game and become quiet. Here, another quandary with its trauma is necessary, for another set of egos must be dropped. Knowing that all thought is reactive and one step behind the present moment, we may begin to just listen, to observe without reaction. In this quiet, listening mind, something Real has the possibility of entering.
The Aum, diddle die story
Overhead, Island birds pilot the stars,
~ See Susan's South Reen Farm web site.
Socrates wrote nothing because he felt that knowledge was an alive, interactive thing. His student Plato wrote about the prisoners in the cave, which is perhaps the most remembered of the era's thinking. Socrates' method of philosophical inquiry consisted in questioning people on the positions they asserted and working them through questions into a challenge, thus proving to them that their original assertion was wrong. This is very similar to the confrontation technique that Richard Rose maintained would get to the heart of the matter. Socrates himself never took a position; he claimed to know nothing at all except that he knew nothing. That is precisely the situation in our life.
We are prisoners in the cave of our self-esteemed perception, looking at the wall of our cavern on which is projected the shadow play of the things which are in the world of the Real. We, too, are utterly unaware of the fact that behind us is the opening to our cave, and that through it we can enter the world of Reality. The Buddhists call this the gateless gate. Occasionally one of our fellow prisoners has freed himself and has found the entrance to the world of the Real, and comes back and in his eagerness tells us of the magnificence of that world, speaks to us of the hopeless deficiency of our little play of shadows. We do not believe him, but call him mad and pity him for his temporary insanity. We will say, "This world is real; I know that it is real; can I not throw something on the ground, can I not pound a nail into the wall, do I not hurt myself when I hit my finger instead of the nail, is all this not utterly and entirely real, and who is he to tell me that all this is unreal?"
How is it possible, in a language based on our illusionary world with its illusionary show of beauty, to describe anything of the super beauty of that world of the Real? How is it possible to describe beauty in which is no form, in which is no color, in which is nothing that we associate with our world image; but in which, on the other hand, is the fullness of all that which produces our world-image? We must experience in order to know, and we can no more explain the glories of that world to those who have not experienced them than we can explain light to a blind man. No one can ever tell in words about that world, which is the world of living Truth. No book, no system, no theory, no sacred Scripture, no divine disclosure even, can ever contain the truth of that world of the Real; it is obscure because there are no words to explain it; it is hidden or 'esoteric' because it cannot be manifest in our world of illusion. All attempts at explanation of it here become a misrepresentation, and can give only a vague conception of that which is. All we can do is to show the way to this world of the Real, to explain that along these lines one can enter that true and real field of consciousness, and that every man must make the experiment for himself.
In utter loneliness the soul has to make the "flight of the alone to the Alone." None can accompany it on this journey of exploration into the world of the unknown; the 'soul' itself alone will emerge, the egocentric will expire. None can help; none can really tell us how to do it. All we can say is, "this is the way some of us have taken; these are the things we have discovered on that way; and such are the words which very faintly express something of the glories of the world which we discovered on that journey." But every one of us can come to the 'gateless' gate and pass through to the absolute.
~ See Gary's Spiritual Books Worth Reading web site.
Still, ebon pond
"February 19, 1895"
O my son, O my father,
Some will see and wonder how
What we were once we are no more
Darkness reflects fears,
To meditate is to think with a goal in mind. Some may meditate on money or murder. Regardless, the goal is discovery—the answering of a question that will not leave us in peace until it is resolved. Meditation is scientific inquiry and the outstanding scientists use logic and intuition to solve their mysteries. The scientist forms a question, researches what others have found, uses the best tools available, and is not afraid to admit they were wrong. To reach the highest goal, the discovery of one's true nature, requires scientific logic and scientific intuition.
Who? what? where? when? how? why? are the topics of inquiry and meditation. We try to answer these questions with research and logic. Yet, the honest person is plagued by the shadow of doubt. We find that our minds are unreliable. We hallucinate, desires cloud our judgment, we assume, pre-judge, discriminate. A host of influences (cultural, psychological, and physiological) determine what we see and think, and we are rarely conscious of these influences. The lack of certainty regarding all the mind perceives, leads us to meditate on the nature of the mind. What is this flawed glass out of which we peer?
To meditate is to strip the mind to its foundation in search of certainty. We find that all is in doubt except our awareness. We are aware of events in an apparently outer world of things and an inner world of our private drama. We are aware of thoughts. Yet, logic tells us that even awareness may have another side. Everything the mind witnesses has a flip side. There is awareness and not-awareness. Yet, we cannot conceive of not-awareness.
We look for that which is behind awareness, because there is no where else left to look. All other roads have been explored or rejected. Our heart tells us the answer is there, behind the mind.
To meditate is to ask questions, to think, to be honest about what we see, to listen to our intuition, and to desire an answer to our deepest questions. To meditate is to be honest about what we see outside and inside and reject what is less true.
~ See What is Meditation? for more views on meditation.
I am moving toward the opinion that all the inspiring stuff—Rumi, Nisargadatta, etc.—while valuable and having its time and place, LARGELY induces sleep—just the OPPOSITE of what the authors would hope for. It has value when used in small doses by someone to cultivate the feeling side of those overly-intellectual, egocentric readers. Beyond that it is soporific and a tool for the ego to look away—and imbibe the mood—not to look at self. For a person in the right position it COULD be a trigger, but that would be rare, and I am increasingly convinced that it is NOT even going to move someone to that position where some trigger could be effective.
I am increasingly coming to conclude that what a teacher must do is stimulate distress in the student by attacking the OBJECTS on which they are focused in their lives, i.e. attack the life, WHATEVER IT IS that they are living, to create doubt and consternation. (Of course this can't be totally indiscriminate.) In that state the inner essence will then have the possibility of being listened to—and the poem's meaning might penetrate and be effective. Rose was ALWAYS "attacking" the world—our world—that we lived in. We all thought it was a reflection of his idiosyncrasies. Not at all, it was a reflection of his understanding that to move the mind to the position it might be in if it were confronted with death, he had to attack all of the things that it was focused upon—lost in. Inertia and gravity do not go in this direction. Minds do not drift into the state of being at the "end-of-their-rope." Nisargadatta does not accomplish this with his lullabies of eternality, nor does Rumi. The time to listen to the lullaby is when the panic-stricken mind needs a rest—but an inspiring rest of the poetry of the eternal, not tension-relieving dissipation.
The reason to attack the life someone is living is to pry them loose from it prematurely, i.e. before their physical death. If someone is lucky enough, as my father was, to be given a scheduled death sentence (cancer) and also be in a position to think about one's life, then they will simultaneously accept the life that was lived and is being lived—after all it's a fait accompli—but they will look at it as utterly unimportant, or certainly from a more distant perspective. It is that sort of attitude that can result in the attention turning in on itself instead of being so fixated outwardly on the dream. Death being the end-of-the-road, with no escape as a backdrop, can make it possible to simply look at life without defensiveness, without argument, and see what is there, what is really going on. That viewing can start a chain reaction. The prospect of impending death has the power to propel the mind into a state of between-ness. Rose—the true Zen master—was doing just that with his incessant confronting of his students about the life they were living and the world in which they [thought they] were living.
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