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

TAT Forum
October 2004

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

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This month's contents:

Intuition and Reason by Richard Rose | The Black Wall by Shawn Nevins | Poems by Shawn Nevins | Silence Ends the Search by Bob Harwood | Last Supper by Art Ticknor | Nirvana Project Management by Art Ticknor | The Penny That Blots Out the Sun by Alfred Pulyan | Our State of Mind: The Ring that Binds by Bob Fergeson | Humor | Reader Commentary

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Intuition and Reason
by Richard Rose

By meditation men1 have improved their Intuition.

By suffering and adversity, men have improved their Intuition.

By abstinence from food, or from certain foods, men have improved their Intuition.

By abstinence from sex action men have improved their Intuition.

By the establishment of a system of shocks, or alternation between abstinence and indulgence, between suffering and happiness or even ecstasy, men have improved their Intuition.

By various mental exercises men have improved their Intuition.

By the practice of concentration on one thing, then on many things, then on nothing, men have improved their Intuition.

By the practice of remembering the self, men have improved their Intuition.

By the practice of concentration on various nerve centers, men have improved their Intuition.

Reason may be improved by the coordination of similarities and opposites in nature.

Reason may be improved by qualifying all statements with their relative nature.

Reason may be improved by exploring the "possible opposite" of that which seems to be final.

Reason may be improved by listening to the words of those who firmly believe in opposition to ourselves.

Reason may be improved by the study of mathematics.

Reason may be improved by the study of symbols, words, numbers or figures, or by the juggling of these, or by exchanging or interpolating symbols of one system for those of another system, and by the resulting effect of all this upon memory and imagination.

Reason may be improved by desire, or by fear.

Reason may be improved by the determination to reason.

1Richard Rose once quipped in a public talk that he was not about to go through a paranoid listing of all the sexes.

~ From Carillon © 1982 by Richard Rose. All Rights Reserved.


The Black Wall
by Shawn Nevins

Death is inside each of us. I don't mean that we will all die one day. I mean that if we peer inside, down the mazy layers of noise that pass for a mind, we discover a black wall of the unknown. Behind this, inside us, is death.

Light masquerades as darkness inside you—true Life as death. I don't know why. I don't know why it is easier to look away, toward the mischief of the world, than inside. Yet the resolution of our driving questions is inside. By turning away from that which you see in the field of the mind (since anything you see cannot be you), you will surely travel to these dark gates.

That is the essence of the approach. It starts with the proposition that anything observable is not us. What you see through a microscope is not the microscope, and what you see via the mind is not the mind. "The view is not the viewer," Richard Rose said, though for years I couldn't grasp what he meant. However, I did understand that anything observable is not permanent, and that is what I wanted to know: what about me would not change and fade away—was there anything Real?

"Not this, not that," as the Upanishads said over 2500 years ago. I am not that cup of water on the table. I am not the hand typing this sentence. I am not these words appearing in my mind. I am not awareness. This may take years to grasp. You can't just conclude. You have to experience. You have to look inside your mind and decide for yourself.

Again and again you go a'searching, rejecting every thought as not you, every sound or vision, and your sense of self even, because you see them all in your mind's eye. Yet, some thing turns away from all these objects—an awareness that is impossibly aware of itself and senses something else behind it. It tries to turn upon itself only to find itself. It—you—have come to the black wall.

The image of the black wall is indicative of what I sensed. It was an unknown around which my awareness pirouetted with itself—a desperate dance at the dead end street of the mind. You may explain the feeling with a different image—perhaps simply as fear, or wonder, or perplexity, or intense tension as if trying to grasp infinity or zero.

The method of rejecting what we see as not us takes us directly to the fundamental uncertainty of our self-knowledge. That fundamental uncertainty hides behind the fear of extinction. Your life of honesty and determination will carry you through this wall, through death, to Life.

Following are two quotes that strike at the heart of going within. They challenged and inspired me to keep looking:

Am I this body of thoughts in my mind? No. One gets a little closer to his thoughts than to anything else, and it's a little harder to untangle this. But if he watches and studies closely enough, the thoughts come to me. I accept or reject them. That which accepts or rejects them is different from the thought. And then I finally reach this point where I find that I must be this something, in some sense, different from other people. I'm not the mind, I'm not the feelings, I'm not the body—that I see. But I surely am, I surely am an individual, apart from others.

Now what you've gotten a hold of is a very difficult fellow—it's your ego. He can sneak around and confuse you like the dickens. You can spend years trying to get behind him. And what you do, you can get into an infinite regression. You look at your ego. All right, here am I and all of a sudden it dawns upon you that that which is looking at the ego is really the I. So you stick that one out in front. You look at it again, but then your realize it couldn't be, because here is a something that is observable. At last it finally dawns that I AM THAT which is never an object before Consciousness. And mayhap, at that moment, in your analysis—the Heavens will open.

~ Franklin Merrell-Wolff, The Induction.


From this point, as we look to the right, we notice that we can also look at awareness, and we can be aware of consciousness, and of looking at ourself looking indefinitely. We do not take a step forward, but are taken forward from here, by that which seems to be an accident,—an accident which does not come unless we have struggled relentlessly to find that which was unknown to us, by a method which could not be charted because the end or goal was unknown. We must have first become a vector. We must first have spent a good period of time studying our own awareness and consciousness with our own consciousness until we accidentally or by some unknown purpose,—enter the source of our awareness.

~ Richard Rose, Psychology of the Observer


Poems by Shawn Nevins

I've come Home.
Time's air does not blow through these windows,
every room is abandoned.
The eye opened upon an empty throne
once,
and for all.

Sit with me....

*

He weaves a web
under the stars, the sun,
and the stars again.
Singular purpose
to his multi-faceted plan.
The sky pays no heed to dreams.
It rains, winds blow...
under the stars, the sun,
and the stars again.

*

Ocean's waves inside me
pulling my thoughts into its depths.
"Mine" reveals its origin
as a singular wish to survive.
Over and over
I remember what was.

*

Looking at your soft underbelly,
it's not hard to peel those layers:
friendship and love,
pleasure and joy,
laughter and peace,
want and satisfaction.
All saying the same thing,
"I want to live."

*

What is this gentle breeze on my face,
but time
seducing me to chase the memory
of this moment.
A stream of moments passes through me.
No longer just touching edges
— deep within and without —
I am anonymous.

*

A quiet morning by the water
cuts to, then through
the heart of the matter.
I don't care any more
for me.
I took my I-ness
and laid it out in front of me,
leaving me filled
with the feeling of leaving.

*

Crow caws
breaking the pleasing pattern,
calling you
away from the seat of the mind.

Only you don't answer
because you're locked up in a room
with your past.

When you're that close to dying,
the last thing you want to hear
is the sound of your own voice.


Silence Ends the Search
by Bob Harwood

At the age of twenty, I became consumed with a wide range of existential questions. Is there a God? What is the meaning of life? What is a subatomic particle? What could explain the observer paradoxes in modern physics? In an effort to answer these kinds of questions, I spent ten years studying philosophy and science and doing a lot of thinking. During those ten years I never found a single answer. At the age of thirty, I discovered Zen, and I spent the next ten years reading Zen books and thinking about koans and enlightenment. During those ten years, I added a lot of questions to my list, but I never found a single answer. At the age of forty, my optimism waned and I began to feel like a rat in a trap. I worried that I might die without ever learning anything important. Fortunately, some business problems put me under a lot of stress, and in an effort to acquire some peace of mind, I started doing a simple breath awareness exercise.

silent landscape After doing the exercise for a week, I realized that when I watched my breath, I was interacting with the world differently than when I pursued abstract thought. I therefore increased my practice to two hours each day. After two months, I increased my practice to three hours each day. After five months, I began falling into deep states of samadhi. Soon thereafter I had my first mind-blowing enlightenment experience.

After that first experience, I realized that everything I was searching for could be found through silent awareness. For the next fifteen years I went on silent retreats and solo hikes in the mountains. Gradually, the answers to my questions appeared. At the age of fifty-five only one question remained. I wondered how it was possible to remain in a unified state of mind following an enlightenment experience. During the previous fifteen years I had had many enlightenment experiences. Some of those experiences had been shallow and some had been deep. Some had been so deep that I stayed in a selfless and empty state of mind for several days thereafter. Some had been so deep that it took months before the effects wore off. Some effects never wore off. Nevertheless, sooner or later I always seemed to return to a dualistic state of mind—a "me-in-here" looking at a "world-out-there." I thought that surely there must be some way "to make the two become one" forever.

On August 17, 1999 I was hiking up a mountain in Colorado when I had yet another experience of psychological unity. A few hours afterwards, I was surprised to realize that my 35-year-long spiritual search had come to an end. I knew the answer to my final question. I realized that there had never been a "me" who was sometimes psychologically unified and sometimes divided. I realized that who I was was the dynamic, mysterious, and intellectually unknowable field of reality itself. Although there had seemed to be a separate "me" who periodically became unified with reality, this had been an illusion. There was no "me." There was only oneness—only what is. Who I am was THAT!

My lifelong search had been based upon a fundamental error created by reflective thought. After seeing the truth clearly, I was free. I was never again bothered by any kind of existential question, and I was finally able to relax and live an ordinary life. From that time until today, I have known that wherever I look I am looking at myself—a unified field of being. The observer and the observed are one. Yes, I momentarily manifest as a particular human being, but my True Self is infinite—beyond space and time. Who I am has never been born and will never die.

Most people think that I am a separate human being, but they are dreaming the same dream that I used to dream. If they want to see the real me, then they must stop thinking and become silent. The secret of all secrets is that there is no secret. Everything lies in plain sight. If you don't see it, then be patient and be persistent. Jesus taught his disciples two parables about the importance of persistence. Keep looking. Stay silent. Sooner or later the truth will appear.

Bob has written two books: "A Path to Christ Consciousness, Non-Conceptual Awareness Practice As A Doorway To The Infinite" and "Pouring Concrete, A Zen Path to the Kingdom of God," his spiritual autobiography. They can be ordered through BEFOREthought.com.


Last Supper
by Art Ticknor

Surrounded by friends one last time,
No more arrivals or departures.
Movement ceases,
Silence prevails.
A solitary tear
Halts on its downward journey.
Sorrow blends into joy.
Knowing melts into unknowing.
Color recedes with the observer.
Anxiety fades into Peace.


Nirvana Project Management
by Art Ticknor

sample CPM diagram The path to nirvana is a seemingly complex undertaking. So the question may come up about whether we can apply modern project management techniques such as Critical Path Analysis (CPA) to expedite our success.

CPA was developed in the 1950s to control large defense projects, and it has been widely used since then to plan a project's tasks, relate their interdependencies, and monitor their scheduled completion. With the project to find or recognize what we are at our core, however, we don't know what it will take to accomplish it. In fact, the goal itself isn't known. The best we can do is to get an idea of what it's not. And, in fact, the entire process is not one of construction but of deconstruction. We find or become the truth by retreating from illusion and delusion.

There is a path, but we will not know whether we're truly on it or off on meandering byways. Richard Rose described this path as a ladder, the next rung of which wouldn't be known until we are standing on it. He laid out an approach for climbing this "Jacob's Ladder" in an inspired small book titled The Psychology of the Observer. In the story of Exodus, Jacob dreamed one night of a ladder set upon the earth, reaching to heaven, with angels ascending and descending it. Our climb up the ladder of self-definition is one of retreating from untruth about the self, using the mind to understand the mind and, if successful, to go beyond it. The reason this retreat is possible is that messages from the core of our being are coming down the ladder into the conscious mind. If the core of our being is referred to as Light, the messengers coming from the center to the periphery, where we're currently caught in a hypnotic trance, are like photons—not fully subject to the restrictions of space-time relativity.

The modification to Critical Path methodology that we need to make in order to apply it to our quest for self-definition—for realizing what we truly are, and the unimaginable Full Satisfaction that results—is to focus on the critical. We will need to monitor what we're doing, and whether we're living our life in a way that's aimed at understanding that life, with ongoing careful evaluation. There will be crucial, decisive forks in the road where choices will either hasten or retard our progress. The more we clarify our values and convictions, the more we'll be capable of sustaining a nuclear chain-reaction when something bigger than our individuality—Francis Thompson called it "The Hound of Heaven" in a moving poem by that name—has withdrawn all the props that hold that artificial self-identity in place and has given us the opportunity of completing the journey back to the point we've never, in reality, left.

Q: So is it attitude, is it hard work, is it luck? ... I continually feel that my spiritual path is one of hurry up and wait. Do this, try that. If that doesn't work try this. It's not what you do but that you do something, but you must meditate and conserve energy. But wait, what's with all this effort? That's my problem, too much effort :)

Oh well, at least I get to vent out my frustration. I feel better now.

A: Attitude? Hard work? Luck? The truth is, we don't know.

If you stand by the door long enough, it may open.
If you knock loudly enough, it may open.
If you pound hard enough, it may open.
The door is behind you; you're looking away from it.
The door is already open, but you can't see it.
The non-self cannot see the Self.
The non-self is all that is knowable.
The doorway is the threshold between the knowable and the Unknowable.
The Unknowable cannot make the transition known.
The more we realize that the Unknowable is what we desire,
And the more we lose our desire for the knowable....

Frustration is good. Action increases frustration. Spiritual action = questioning. Questioning occurs both by thought and feeling.


The Penny That Blots Out the Sun
by Alfred Pulyan

It was in the little western town of Berree. I faced the committee. Mr. Aleph Norte, the chairman, looked at me severely. "You know our principles," he said. "Seek and ye shall seek. Knock and we hope nothing happens."

"I do," I replied. I knew that Mr. Norte had had a very trying month. On his arrival at Berree, he had made no secret that he was and always had been a gold-seeker. There was an avalanche. Many sought to sell him their mines; many, however, offered them to him freely. It was necessary to impose stringent conditions. The gold must be officially assayed at 100 percent, it must be on the surface, it must be near at hand. Even then a committee was necessary to strain out all the applicants.

"I notice in your offer," said Mr. Norte, "that the gold is pure and beautiful and lies on the surface ready for the taking. However, you state that it lies on a road half-a-mile to the north. Now, all of us here know for a certainty that there cannot be only one way. We are here to investigate every way and are willing to spend our money and time in continual seeking. We are, therefore, sorry to refuse your offer, the more so as we love people."

This was not the first time I had made a mistake. Without thinking, I blurted out the truth. "Actually, the gold lies in a half-mile circle. It is all around you. You cannot fail to find it—if, of course, you wish."

There was a tense and terrible silence. Then, they came towards me.

How did I escape? I did not. The place was a shambles. There were bits of me all over the place, and so I feel free to tell you what the committee would not listen to—the actual way in which a student is brought to "awakening," always has been and, as you will easily see for yourself, always will be—until our species develops a new faculty or somebody bursts this ball.

Your first problem is a teacher, "opener," master, or whatever you like to call him (or her). Let us take a specific example: Subud. This rests on perfectly valid experiences of Muhammad Subuh of Java; in particular on one that happened on the night of June 21- 22, 1933.

As has happened many times in history (with the "Buddha" Gautama as an example), a "movement" started from this one man and has become world-wide. Groups of people are meeting everywhere under the guidance of so-called "helpers," and from these, people who are suitable will proceed to centers for direct work.

Awakened and "matured" persons will be needed to do this work. All must derive from Pak (Father) Subuh himself. Awakening may take anything from 30 minutes to 10 years or more, and usually takes several years under favorable conditions. Further, this awakening varies and many do not have either the desire or capacity to awaken others, and rest content with their attainment, spreading what light they can to those around them.

Groups are everywhere in the world. What will happen to this flood of people? Clearly, Subud will develop into a sort of religion and will offer much consolation to those content with the meetings and unable or unwilling to proceed further. That is, in fact, what religions are. There are tens of thousands of awakened people in the U.S., but if these "work," they work alone, and converts to Subud, who trust Pak Subuh, do not trust them.

On the other hand, there is a Zen Master in this country (or soon should be) and those working with him would not be much inclined to switch to Subud.

It seems that there are as many brands of awakening as of coffee, and that it is the well-advertised ones that attract people. They do not differ much actually in method and not at all in result since, as you will see, their problem is the same.

How can we sum this up? Clearly, Zen is a sure way because a succession of enlightened Masters is rigidly maintained, but it is apt to be a very lengthy process. It is also a tough one, but so it has to be in any system. Even in Subud there is an "O" group kept separate because of their violent reactions.

Many are afraid of the whole business because they suspect or rationalize that it is autosuggestion. I know very well, for what it is worth to you, that you are more free than before, not less free. Moreover, if it is time for you to start this process, you will not have much to say about it anyway. We have a saying that when the student is ready the master appears. It does seem to work that way.

ripened wheat The harvest, however, is plentiful but the laborers are few.

Let me consider the problem of working with a person like you, the reader. Normally, if you wish to know something you get a book on the subject or attend lectures or ask a friend. If the subject is not too complicated, you anticipate that, by directing your mind and memory to it, you will see "what it is all about" and finish up with a good working knowledge of the subject. If the subject is very important, your mind becomes as alert as a tiger. It is the way of our minds (and many of the new calculating machines) to dichotomize, to tear things in half. Unfortunately, this process does not work with any "ultimate" problem and only results in the mind breeding more and more thoughts about it unendingly—like grasshoppers.

It so happens that the peculiar origin of you and the universe is concealed in a place that the mind cannot reach. Some persons will call this "God," but this word will mislead you and it is better to find out what this is yourself and then call it what you like.

Most persons think of themselves as twofold. There is "my" consciousness, "my" mind, "my" self on the one hand—and on the other, "my" body. This is all of me. There is a decided split between these two sides of me.

However, the fact is all of these are one; that is, my mind and my body are one—one organism, not two.

But this does not exhaust the situation. There is a pure Consciousness—Consciousness that knows itself. "I am that I am." This is unexpected and I did not believe when I first heard this that there could be two kinds of Consciousness. I only knew the one I was naturally familiar with, the "I am as I am."

The way it works is this. This pure Consciousness shines on the mind-and-body organism; it is the "light that lighteth every man that cometh into this world." When it does this it suffers a change. My mind accepts it only as "my consciousness"—a limited consciousness—and, since Its essence is Self-Consciousness, "I" experience It in a similar way as a self, in fact "myself," or ego. I say I am "conscious of myself," but this is a smaller self, not the Universal One, merely what I call "me," one of my many "me's."

It may be said that the pure Consciousness is concealed in "my" consciousness as a penny may hide the sun. A ray of this may suddenly dazzle us in so-called "mystical experiences," of which most persons have had a touch, but in awakening (or satori or metanoia) we see the pure Consciousness shining serenely in its own light. It is a triumphant experience since "what has to be done" has been done, but it is also profoundly humbling as our little self sees itself as a usurper, a thief borrowing its selfhood from the Universal Self.

A student wrote me: "Consciousness sees itself. It is impossible yet it happens."

So much for theory. The practical job of awakening someone consists in part of showing him or her by various devices that all mental attempts to reach the pure Consciousness are in vain. It lies back of our mind and back of our consciousness. Any thought we have about it is impartially irradiated by it. For example, we think "this is unproved idiocy" and the pure Consciousness lights it up in its usual benevolent way so that it becomes "I am aware that I think this is unproved idiocy."

Obviously, this is a peculiar situation. This Consciousness is at all times ready to make us "aware" of what we are thinking or perceiving, but that does not mean that we become aware of That which is Itself giving us this peculiar faculty of being aware of ourselves and our processes. Thus we get no clue as to whether our thought was a correct one or not; only that we know we have such a thought.

No wonder It is hidden and confusing. The problem is to reach Consciousness as it is in itself and not as reflecting some thought or perception of ours that is in it at the time.

We require empty Consciousness so to say. Some try, like the Yogis or some of them, to attain it by emptying the mind by "meditation" but it is not the mind we have to empty. The real obstacle, of course, is the "my" concept, the self or ego. This is my Enemy in this work. How can we get from "my" consciousness to "the" Consciousness?

whirl Naturally, as long as "we" decide or "we" try to do this, we are regarding ourselves as ultimate and reinforcing the bonds of delusion. All we do is rotate our own ideas like a squirrel in a cage. It would seem, therefore, an impossible task like lifting ourselves up by our own bootstraps.

However, the simple fact is that it happens all the time. There is help from the side of the Consciousness itself (theologians call this "Grace") which is not resting idly but presses to "come out" in us. There are intimations of what this pure Consciousness is like in music and the arts, in nature, and the highest aspirations we have.

The teacher (I wish I had a better word) takes advantage of these. Further, he stays "open" with the student, and the student, by mere love and friendship, receives what in Zen is called "transmission" and in Subud "contact." It is inevitable that the student should carefully observe every word and action of the teacher (because at first he doubts him) and in time the awakening of the teacher is felt definitely by the student, altho not verbally definable.

In Zen, so-called "koans" are used to throw the mind out of the reasoning rut (in these days of paper books, I assume the reader knows what koans are) and sudden shocks are contrived to shake out the obstinate ego. The teacher uses similar things.

For months, the student tries every possible argument. Over and over, he will bring up, for example, the "problem of evil," the question of life after death, of reincarnation, of some religion or other he may have been taught in childhood, of science, of his own desperation at ever getting anywhere, of how one can tell if the realization, if it comes, is any more "real" than anything else, if it is merely another trick of the versatile mind or subconscious, whether we are just bubbles—anything and everything.

It is nothing new to the teacher. He could write the script himself. (In fact, I have partly done so here.) However, he remains steady; he knows what has to be done, he knows where the student is and in time he sees hopeful signs.

The student is disturbed. He has come to the end of his "tricks" (actually desperate attempts to preserve the ego as boss, when it is only a competent executive officer) and the teacher will not "buy" any of such tricks.

The student is not a fool. He knows all the time what he is doing and that one day he must surrender in utter helplessness. Meanwhile, he retains a second line of defense, a "secondary" judgment which does not yield whatever he may say openly. One day this too lapses, even if only for a moment.

Then something happens. The student is surprised to notice, for example, that his perceptions are sharper, everything seems brighter. Next morning he awakens to a situation which puzzles him for a moment. Something is missing. What can it be?

He soon finds out. For a time he enjoys the extraordinary experience of being a limited ego with an unlimited Consciousness. He is free to use it and to test it. He finds It will show him the basis behind material things, the many in the One, a clear but absolutely new and indescribable thing; or it makes clear once and for all, the whole process of the ego or self in himself and others and in relationship. For a salesman or lawyer, this is indeed a bonanza, but there is a price to pay—he is not likely to use this new wisdom for wrong.

He now knows intimately—more intimately than we can know anything or anybody—the Basis of our universe and us and is perforce henceforward a "channel" and a servant of "That." It is a strange feeling for a proud man.

The job is not done. There ensues a long maturing process. Confused areas of thought, mental blockages, must yield one by one. He has the means to do this, but uses it naturally. One day the last weed is gone from his garden and he is surprised to find he has no further questions.

Do not think that this is all a mental exercise. It involves the whole organism, body and mind. It is a criticism of Zen that this feature is not stressed at all. In Subud, remarkable cures have occurred and readers may remember another great man who went about doing good—he could not avoid it. People will not flock for enlightenment, but will try anything to cure a so-called chronic condition.

What happens to the student after his experience has matured? It becomes the most natural thing in the world. He may say, like Gautama, that he has done nothing at all. It is true that he has "done" nothing, but he does know by actual experience what our human situation really is.

There is much difference between experience and words. You are welcome to laugh at my words. I do not think you would laugh at the experience.

Do not find this article too disturbing. You will find that God is both "open" and loving—devastatingly, almost unbearably, so.

If you should find that the thought of God is constantly in your mind, do not try to remove it; it can be very unsettling. Welcome it and in time it will seem supremely right.

This article was originally published in The ABEREE, Vol. 6, No. 3 June 1959.


Our State of Mind: The Ring That Binds
by Bob Fergeson

letter W We all go through life maintaining our belief system, or state of mind, to the point of controlling everything in sight, so as to keep the ego of body and mind alive and well. This will hold even in the face of death, for we would rather be right than admit our error and live with it. We also grant our fellow man this same hell by forcing him to be as we, even if it means controlling his every action, all in order to keep our precious ego afloat. To grant ourselves freedom, eternal and infinite, we must do the same for everyone else, and leave the hypnotic ring of attachment to the ego of body and mind. Through the clear examination of our very "selves," and those of our friends, we break the ring and find freedom in simple awareness. This is how we become, and in so becoming, free ourselves from the chains of mind and ego.

Most of us base our relationships on unexamined belief systems, and see others as merely things to be manipulated, hypnotized, and brought into that system, as we were. We don't see each other as real, but as objects either in our belief system, and thus right and in the proper place in the systems hierarchy, or as threat-objects to the system, which must be changed or removed. Thus, people are either acceptable recruits for our personal state of mind or are heretics and should be attacked. This is all to keep our ego afloat, for if we are to be right, our beliefs must be upheld by not only our own mind, but by everyone else's as well. Thus, we cannot question ourselves, which is the same as coming to know ourselves, for that would call the whole belief system into jeopardy.

Borr Rings Most states of mind involve the application of pressure to keep us running in the circle of body and mind. We feel a certain pressure, perhaps coming through the body, as a need for a certain pleasure. The mind is then used to rationalize the pressure-releasing act. The mind can also be the initial source of the pressure. We may have an irrational fear, never really questioned but now a habit, which the mind forces on the body, causing it to perform irrational actions. These circular patterns of behavior and rationalization tie up our energy and direction, negating any real spiritual progress. We are left trapped in a world of inner fantasy and imagination as concerns our inner journey, for the real motivations of our daily life are left to forces of direction other than our own. These forces then use us as agents to recruit our friends into whatever peculiar trap with which we have become enamored, creating another ring of attachment and descent.

How can we escape from this ring, this trap of identification with the dominant state of mind of our body-ego? Ruysbroeck points to the path to freedom when he tells us of the differences between the Servants of God, His Friends, and His Sons. Each step along the inward path requires more and more objectivity to the very thing we know the least about: our very "self." The hidden must be revealed, whether we believe in it or not. Each step along the path from Servant to Son requires a lessening of attachment to objects, whether these objects are people, desires, fears, or our own manifestation as an apparent body/mind. The Servant deals in the world of objects, serving his conception of the higher good through the manipulation of these objects according to his beliefs. As these beliefs are questioned and called into the light of discrimination, the seeker becomes less attached to objects, and moves inward towards the formless. His progress is helped by those above him, the true spiritual Friends, who see clearer than he, and grant him the freedom to become as they.

One way to see the hidden but dominant state of mind that runs our life is to observe how the trap of unconscious belief works in our friends. It is much easier to see the irrational habits, desires and fears in those around us, for it is not so threatening to our own ego. The mistakes, rationalizations and contradictory behavior of those familiar to us can be used as a door to our own mind. We may begin to see how our relationships are based on mutual neediness, in keeping similar states of mind afloat. If we are lucky, we may have the intuition that the imperfections in our friends are much the same as those hiding in us. This can be a frightening thought, for once we see clearly the traps of body and mind that snare our friends, we get the hint that we, too, are just as unconsciously snared.

By taking this simple step within, and realizing that we are asleep to our basic motivations and drives, we lessen their hold on us, and become less attached. Most attachments are dependent on a mental image, usually that of a state or object which we wish to possess, coupled with the ego's illusion that we are in control and know what we are doing. Through questioning our desire or fear of these mind-objects, we become a little freer, and self is a bit diminished.

In moving within, to a state of mind less attached to the systems of desire and fear, of energy loss and objects, we come to move in a straight line, rather than in the downward spiral of the blind leading the blind. From this straighter path leading within, we can also help those of similar bent. If we have no pressure forcing us to change the world of objects, having lost our attachment to them, we will no longer treat our friends as objects, and thus grant them the freedom to move within also. We may begin to get hints that they, too, are using us as examples of what states of mind can do, and are thus making progress through viewing our particular displays of folly.

Through the seeing of "self" in our friends, we may gradually come to see "self" in ourselves. This "fathomless staring and seeing" leads to the lessening of attachment to this "self" and its eventual demise through a startling discovery. We come to see that there are no separate "selves" or objects, including our own "self" or that of our friends, but only the Universal Awareness of Man.

~ See Bob's web sites, The Mystic Missal, NostalgiaWest, and The Listening Attention.


Humor...

SUCCESS

At Age 4 . . . . not peeing in your pants.
At Age 12 . . . having friends.
At Age 16 . . . having a drivers license.
At Age 20 . . . having sex.
At Age 35 . . . having money.
At Age 50 . . . having money.
At Age 60 . . . having sex.
At Age 70 . . . having a drivers license.
At Age 75 . . . having friends.
At Age 80 . . . not peeing in your pants.

Thanks to Mike Monteleone.


Reader Commentary:

Inspiring.... It inspired me to dust off my copies of Franklyn Merrill-Wolf, Doug Harding, and Bernadette Roberts, three of my favorites. I most especially appreciated the piece on "Silence" of which I am a big fan so to speak. ~ Barbara Dusek

I want to thank you all for the work you do on the news letter. I especially found Further Impressions of the Headless Way, by Shawn Nevins, and Silence, by Bob Fergeson helpful. ~ Shelley (Sedona, AZ)


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