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


The Celibate Seeker by Shawn Nevins

Read more: The Celibate Seeker by Shawn Nevins

March 2005

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

Autumn landscape - Sesshu Toyo Autumn landscape

This month's contents:

Jacob's Ladder (part 2) by Richard Rose | Free from Desire by Lao-tse | Expressions by Shawn Nevins | Poems by Shawn Nevins | Nisargadatta's Power: Interview with Alex Smit by Belle Bruins | Impressions by Art Ticknor | Rapport by Art Ticknor | Movie Madness by Bob Fergeson | Humor

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Jacob's Ladder (part 2)
by Richard Rose

~ Continued from the February 2005 TAT Forum

11. Does not the possibility of multiple dimensions weaken our significance and our pretended potential for controlling our environment?

Now that may not sound like too much. In other words, we seem to labor under the idea that we're in a restricted environment; that there's only one dimension, the material world. And all we have to do is conquer that material world. And some people go so far as to say there is no mind beyond the body, the somatic mind. So all we have to do is learn to manipulate the somatic mind, and possibly the somatic minds of other people, and we've got everything under control.

But we're not taking into consideration the possibility of multiple dimensions—that the mind itself may be a dimension, number one—it may be something besides the body. But there may be other dimensions besides that. If there are—then we have factors, multiple factors, never taken into consideration.

In other words there might be a God up there, there might be a chief engineer, who draws the blueprint or changes it occasionally or something of that sort. And we're down here saying, "Let's work our pencil on the blueprint."

12. What is God. What are His dimensions?

13. What is a soul?

Everybody has one. You go back to Frazier's Golden Bough, you find out that man endowed himself with a soul rather young, in the early stages. I'm not saying he doesn't have it, but he endows himself. He doesn't wait and define it. Every man has the responsibility of finding his soul.

Q. .....

R. Let me finish, please. I'm doing this for the purpose of questions. Also let me say something else: I've come here to inform and to share; I haven't come here to argue. And I will answer until ten o'clock tonight or until they throw us out of the building, if necessary, any questions. Except pointed questions and loaded questions and egotistically inspired questions.

In other words, I'm not here to deny that other people are smarter than I. They may well be smarter. And I'm not pointing at you; I just wanted to say that while I was saying it. We can't get anyplace if we're going to all of us have a battle of egos.

The point of it is I do want questions. I think the communication here will be questions and I want the dialogue, but I want to run through these, and then if somebody can remember a point we'll go back to that and take it up from there.

14. What is thought?

This is something I'd like to propose to every psychiatrist. I had one fellow tell me he had a drug for every thought. But he didn't know the definition of thought. So he didn't know the definition of sanity.

15. What is mind? What are its limits, its dimensions?

16. What are we implying when we say, "I think"?

17. Is thought a possession, or an obsession?

18. Does a man think, or is he a thought?

Now these are not just idle little koans, thrown out here. It's very possible that we're obsessed with thinking. Especially if you're an alcoholic and you need a drink. You'll become obsessed with thinking. And you'll still think that you are the guy who wants the drink.

19. What is sanity? The normal curve? Somatic healthiness?

20. Could sanity ever mean that state of mind with perfect understanding of all problems? A state of mind in which the altering lens of ego has been removed from our mental vision or perception?

We see a lot of stuff through our ego. Do we incorporate ego into sanity? Is the egotistical person insane—to a degree? Not really badly insane, but doesn't that somewhat color his thinking processes?

21. Could a state of sanity ever be approached?

That's the next thing. Supposing there is a state whereby we have an ability to more perfectly view all problems. As we would approach engineering problems, with a slide rule. Is there a slide rule called sanity by which we could approach our problems?

22. Would such a version of sanity imply the need of perfected logic—or perfected intuition?

We're going to do it with logic alone? Well, what is intuition? We've been discussing this quite a bit lately. One fellow says, "Do you know that you know?"

And I say, "It isn't so much that you know that you know that you know; simply as that you have a direct mind evaluation, instead of a indirect mind evaluation."

23. How would a person who is possessed of this version of sanity find for himself answers to such questions as God definitions and essence definitions?

Supposing we postulated for the time being that there is such a thing. And the reason I say it's possible to postulate this is from what I call a theory of progression. That if there are smarter people, there must be even smarter people. So that you have a progression that arrives somewhere close to the Absolute.

They talk in mathematics of taking a distance, say, two inches from a wall, and cutting it in half, and keep cutting that in half. And they argue mathematically, "Does the man ever reach the wall, or is there always half of something left?"

Well, the same thing with the approach to sanity. If there are people who are more sane than others, is it possible by progression to reach the totality? And with that slide rule to properly evaluate such things as man's own essence.

This has been the effort that has been tried and claimed. That certain people have reached the answer. Not necessarily that they claimed to have perfect logic, or even perfect intuition. They may have had an indescribable accident.

24. How would such sanity-potential affect peace of mind, ideal health patterns, or physical security plans?

There are several movements that talk about the perfected man. I remember years ago I was looking into the Universal Brotherhood, and they had this talk of the perfected man, who was supposed to wind up doing everything just right and having the proper answers; he was a successful business man, a happily married man, and everything else. Is it possible, such a sanity, that would bring us to that?

25. What is the relationship between thought and mind? Are they the same? Is thought a mind-extrusion?

We get into some ideas about thought: Is this an extrusion of the mind? Or an emission like a broadcast from an electronic broadcasting tower? Or is it projected something like light from a lamp?

Neural synapse diagram from www.prolune.org Neural synapse

26. Is thought synaptic?

The reason I'm going into this is that this is psychology. This is the basis of psychology.

27. Is thought synaptic reaction to an electrical stimulation? Meaning—is thought something like an electrical impulse?

Now, even more important:

28. Do we willfully think?

And if you think you do, try to stop. Try to stop now. Just say, "I'm going to stop thinking." Or predict that at a certain time tomorrow you're going to wake up and start thinking. See if it's possible.

29. If we cannot start or stop thinking, how can we take so much responsibility for our decisions?

Unless we are able to take something and willfully study it, not being inspired to by some event, which may already be colored, then we do not know from what viewpoint we start the investigation.

30. Is it possible that the people who realize that they cannot make decisions are the ones that eventually may find ways and means to make decisions?

The people who protest that they're able to make decisions always seem to me the people who make the wrong decisions. Where people who say, "I'm not so sure of myself" - because they don't have too much of a platform to stand on, in that they don't have any prejudiced thinking on either scientific side of the coin—may find ways and means later on.

31. If we think about thought, is thought then objective and separate from the thinking self?

This is a serious question. Because this is the process by which this thing we're discussing goes on. It becomes an objective study of the self. Or a study of the objective self, if you want to call it that; whatever you see being objective.

32. Is there is a thinking self, or only an awareness that witnesses thoughts?

What watches thought? Is this a thinking self that watches it, or is it just awareness?

What we're doing here is not studying theology or something, but actually looking inside and saying, "What goes on when I think?"

Is there a thinking, cognitive, logical self that examines our thoughts, or does it just boil back to an awareness of something going on, out front? Something out there, that we can observe.

33. When a man asks himself a question, are there two people or selves involved—one who speaks and one who hears?

Now that may sound strange, but people like Gurdjieff have claimed that there were several I's or egos that were sometimes in communication with each other, sometimes in conflict. But that we aren't a single individual.

This is not a new concept, in other words, of the different voices within man. For instance, the stomach rebels against the sex organs, perhaps, or the head rebels against another part of the body. And there are certain voices representative of those things.

34. If there is such a conglomerate of selves—supposing that we take that, momentarily, the Gurdjieffian principle of the many selves, or whatever they are, the ghosts inside of us—how do we isolate then the real one?

They're all taking turns talking. So which one do we encourage to talk, and to which one do we say, "You're not real, you're a phony; the real one is really me."

It's like the fellow, supposing he's an alcoholic, who says, "I want a drink. That's me." Or: "When I can no longer drink, let somebody shoot me, because that's my real pleasure." Ok—he gets drunk, he gets sick, and he's got a hangover, and he says, "I hope I never see another bottle of booze."

Now here's an opposite philosophy coming up. And you say, "Well, you said you wished you could spend your last days drinking."

"Oh, hell, I'm crazy. Don't pay any attention to that." Meaning there's another guy who's crazy.

So the thing is to determine of these different voices in the conglomerate, the real self. How do you go about that? What leverage, what tools do you use to pry them apart and keep them apart?

Keep reminding yourself, always, "Yesterday I said that was a negative self; that wasn't the real guy that I want to be in charge of my vehicle."

35. Are spiritual achievement and psychological clarity arrived simultaneously?

You hear of these great spiritual experiences. When people have those—are they psychologically wise? Or can we have a spiritually enlightened person who is manifestly wrong about the things in his head?

I wasn't a student of the Bible until much later in life; after I went through a lot of this stuff I used to go back and read segments of the Bible. I also read other works of enlightened men, or men who seemed to have the answer. And I catch this echo in there; these people were psychologists. They became aware of the outer dimensions, but they also became aware of the inner dimensions, so to speak.

36. And can one bring about the effect from the other?

Can psychological clarity bring spiritual clarity automatically? If so, then that's a path. Can spiritual clarity bring psychological clarity? Then Ok, let's get it down into our psychology majors, if that's what it takes; if that's part of the deal.

We come now to the crux of our questioning. That is:

37. Direct mind cognition in relation to true sanity—is such possible? And spiritual realization—is it possible to realize it by any means?

I think, of course, that what you have to do—again, I draw diagrams and I make noises, but I think each man has to find things for himself.

Maybe when you're going through a jungle, if you can get somebody who knows a particular section of the jungle it may save you losing some time or getting injured. But I don't think there's anything satisfying about piling up a lot of objective knowledge about what somebody else believes. Some conception. Until those conceptions, let's say, had the same substance to them as an irreversible spiritual realization. That the man knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that he's right.

And I don't think we've quite progressed that far. But I still think that the basic psychology starts with the self. And without predetermined definitions.

There are some things that are evident. For instance, I don't think that we have to deny our existence; we don't have to deny we're standing on the ground. And there are certain things we can't deny in that there are two sides of a relative coin. We are relative people in a relative dimension, trying to talk about a non-relative dimension.

I'm talking about the mind. The mind is subjective. But it's based entirely upon a relationship with the relative dimension. The mind is watching the relative earth, or the relative dimension.

I liken this to the camera analogy of Ramana Maharshi. You go back through the eye of the observer. You have to see what the observer's looking at, and you go back through that to get the interpretation. Then you understand or study why the decision of the somatic mind is made. You get a little insight then into your mind.

Then when you become more aware of the somatic mind, it's possible that you're aware of something else, which is an intuitive type of thinking process.

The basis of what I'm getting at is outlined in the drawing. The thing is, you don't go externally for knowledge; you go inside.

Now this is an old saying, "going inside." And there are many methods of going inside. So you can take your pick; whatever appeals to your intuition. It may be concentrating on a nerve center, it may be self-hypnosis; there are different things you can try, for their effect. You can try all of them in fact, if you wish to. But I think that there is a very direct way, and that is by watching your actions.

~ Continued in the April 2005 TAT Forum

© 1976 Richard Rose. All Rights Reserved. This talk is available on CD through Rose Publications.

Free from Desire
by Lao-tse

... Free from desire, you realize the mystery.
Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations....
The Master leads
by emptying people's minds
and filling their cores,
by weakening their ambition
and toughening their resolve.
He helps people lose everything
they know, everything they desire,
and creates confusion
in those who think that they know....
In dwelling, live close to the ground.
In thinking, keep to the simple.
In conflict, be fair and generous.
In governing, don't try to control.
In work, do what you enjoy.
In family life, be completely present....
Care about people's approval
and you will be their prisoner....

Excerpts from the Tao Te Ching,
translated by Stephen Mitchell.

by Shawn Nevins

You must work as if your hair were on fire. I remember my friends and I bandying that old Zen expression back and forth trying to instill a sense of the importance of self-discovery in one another. Try as we might, we couldn't act a convincing version of a spiritual seeker with their hair on fire.

Here is another expression, this one by Foyan (from Instant Zen): "There is a genuine expedient that is very good, though only experienced seekers will be able to focus doubt on it." Right there is all you need to know—focus doubt. Drill down to the core of uncertainty within your sense of self—focus doubt. Again, though, you can't just run onto the field (with your hair on fire!) chanting, "Focus doubt! Focus doubt!"

Perhaps though, on one particular day you wake up and a phrase keeps rising in your mind, like a gnat buzzing around your brain, until you decide to get up and attack it. Its importance becomes obvious. There is no need to imagine Foyan's meaning. You know, and you dig a little deeper.

You dig, you take action, and you discover for yourself.

Richard Rose said, "The only meditation is what you devise for yourself" (Peace of Mind in Spite of Success lecture tape, Akron). Franklin Merrell-Wolff speaks similarly:

In no case have I had any results that were worth the effort so long as I did not supply at least a self-devised modification of my own. Apparently the modification is suggested intuitively. Often I got results by a method diametrically opposite to that suggested by a given authority. At least, so far as my private experience is concerned, the successful method always had to be in some measure an original creation. (Experience and Philosophy)

Of course, you can not force yourself to devise your own method because an authority said you should. You will. You will if you do the basic spiritual work: ask why, question assumptions, question authority.

Mr. Rose spent a good bit of time in his talks attacking social institutions and norms. In fact, I tired of his criticisms. Yet he was pointing out the Law of Paradoxical Immanence in All Things Relative (The Albigen Papers, seventh paper) in its most obvious manifestation. Compare what we hear in the news with that heard in another country. Question the all-knowing stance of a doctor. Watch what people do as opposed to what they say. "Things may often be, or appear to be, the opposite of that which they were originally."

You see that everyone is wading through a morass of uncertainty and confusion.

There is a multitude of expressions to inspire us to escape this morass, yet only some will apply at any given time. Every expression is tainted with the mind of its originator. There is no step by step map, but the compass is self-honesty. What propels us is hope and fear. When we arrive, we find that we did what the core of our self was called to do. Only in retrospect do we lay claim to focusing doubt or flaming hair.

Poems by Shawn Nevins

Don't gather seed for the winter.
There is not enough in this world
or the next.
The way
is to become cold
— a winter landscape —
still, stark, and deep


"First Day of Fall"

Once again there are signs.
Some say of mortality,
a draining and withering of life.
Others say it is a shedding
of burdens.

He said, she said,
becomes knowing,
if all you believe and cherish
is released.
In that empty darkness
is shining.


At sun rise,
a lambent column of light
extends across the water
calling you to meet it
— Out There —
where the universe pauses
and truth is revealed
by sunlight fracturing
into myriad reflected creations
each sparkling for a moment —
on and off, on and off ....


Happiness is a wide river
that washes away your self.
It is the first river,
like that of an ancient myth,
upon which the world rests.

A wind rises
stirring your self into seeming



A dying man stays awake
all night
and won't lie down.
Not because he is afraid,
but because he wants to See.
Like a dream waits for day,
all his life he's waited
for this night.
he doesn't have to be

Nisargadatta's Power
Every Escape Is Bound to Fail
Interview with Alex Smit by Belle Bruins

Alexander Smit Alexander Smit

The following interview with Alexander took place in 1988. It seems like an eternity ago. For me it was a time of the after effects of a spiritual search in which people of the same generation from all parts of the world searched en masse for new ways and dimensions of religious experience and came into contact with the contrasts between West and East. We had learned new concepts and ideals, values and norms. "Spiritual" communes sprung up everywhere; we were building a "new world" that collapsed again, as always and yet again. In written or translated texts, words such as Guru or Spiritual Master or Him and Her were written in capital letters and He or She were treated as deities as is still the case in India and in the surrounding countries.

It seems to me now, in 2002, that my interview with Alexander reflects the spirit of that time. "It seems old fashioned," writes Sietske Roegholt in reaction to a letter I wrote, "to think that way about teachers who after all nowadays would rather be a friend or are still so young in their not complete realization…" We both find that a new time has arrived, that of the complete demythologizing of the teacher. Some people cheer that on, others are holding their breath. Are we throwing out the baby with the bathwater? Are there probably not enough people of the caliber of Nisargadatta among us at this moment? Questions without answers. Whoever knows can say it.

One of the reasons that this interview has never been made public before, is that Alexander always taught me that disciples should never know how their spiritual master came to clearness; it would lead them to make ideas about how "it ought" to happen to them. Now, 3 years after his death I notice two things: a. almost every day a new spiritual master, man or woman, appears, and b. they speak openly about their realization. And the seekers? Slowly it has penetrated them that "it" is only a "happening" that moreover has as many forms as there are people.

What Alexander had foreseen, has long become "reality," no matter how much he would have found that to be bad; the West has made much of the Eastern religious experience its own. It is in the nature of things that this new flower has come, because that's the way it must happen, that's how it is and that's how it always will be in the Play of Consciousness.

September 1988. Location: the kitchen of his house on the Prinsengracht in Amsterdam.

We were busy going over the translation of The Nectar of the Lord's Feet (Dutch title Self-Realization) by his Spiritual master Nisargadatta Maharaj and he wanted to do an "interview" for a change, as a sort of practice. The interview has survived a computer crash, break-in and theft, because luckily I had typed it out and printed the tape previously. I have preserved this as a treasure for years. Until now.

Alexander met Nisargadatta in September of 1978. In the beginning of September of that year Jacques Lewenstein had been in India and come back with the book I Am That and tapes of Nisargadatta.

Alexander: That book came into the hands of Wolter Keers. He was very happy with it, because after the death of Krishna Menon (Wolter's spiritual master) he had not heard anything so purely advaita. After Wolter had read the book he decided to translate and publish it "because this is so extremely good." Wolter gave me the book immediately and I was very moved by it. Then there was an article in Panorama or The New Revue: God Has No Teeth. A poorly written story by the young man who did Showroom (TV). There was a life-sized photo of Nisargadatta's head in it. That was actually my first acquaintance with Nisargadatta. By then Wolter had already told me: "I can not do anything more for you. You need someone. But I wouldn't know who." But, when he had read I Am That he said: "If I can give you a piece of advice, go there immediately." And that I did.

What were you seeking?

I was seeking nothing more. I knew everything. But, if you had asked me what I had learned I would have said; I don't actually know it. There is something essential that I don't know. There was a sort of blind spot in me that no one knew what do with. Krishnamurti knew nothing that he could say about it. Bhagwan was for us at that time not someone that you would go to, at least for this sort of thing. Da Free John was also not it. Those were the known people at that time. I had a blind spot. And what typifies a blind spot is that you don't know what it is. You only knew that if you were really honest with yourself, if you really went to the bottom of yourself, that you had not yet solved the riddle.

For the first time in Bombay?

A little staircase going up to an attic room. First came my head, and the first thing that I saw was Mrs. Satprem and Nisargadatta. There were maybe three or four people there. "Here I am," I said. And he said: "So, finally you came."

Yeah, that is what they all say, that I heard later, but for me it was the first time that I heard it. I did have the feeling when I went in that now it was really serious. Now there is no escape possible, Here something is really going to happen. Naturally I had already met many of these people: Krishnamurti, Jean Klein, Wolter, Swami Ranganathananda, Douglas Harding, and also some less well known Indians. I was naturally too young for Ramana Maharshi and Krishna Menon. They died in the fifties. I was 7 or 8 years old then. That is not the age to be busy with these sorts of things. It held also true for us at that time, "wait" for a living master. And I had a very strong feeling that this was the man that I had been looking for. He asked if I were married, what I did, and why I had come to India.

What precisely did you want from him?

Self-realization. I wanted to know how I was put together. I said: "I have heard that you are the greatest ego killer who exists. And that is what I want." He said: "I am not a killer. I am a diamond cutter. You are also a diamond. But you are a raw diamond and you can only be cut by a pure diamond. And that is very precise work, because if that is not done properly then you fall apart into a hundred pieces, and then there is nothing left for you. Do you have any questions?"

I told him that Maurice Frydman was the decisive reason for my coming. Frydman was a friend of Krishnamurti, and Frydman was planning to publish all of the earlier work of Krishnamurti at Chetana Publishers in Bombay, and that he had heard from Mr. Dikshit, the publisher, that there was someone in Bombay who he had to meet. (I Am That was of course not yet published at that time because Frydman had yet to meet Nisargadatta). Frydman went there with his usual skeptical ideas. He came in there, and within two weeks things became clear to him that had never become clear with Krishnamurti. And I thought then: if it all became clear to Frydman within two weeks, how will it go with me?

I told all this to Nisargadatta, and he said: "That says nothing about me, but everything about Frydman." And he also said: "People who don't understand Krishnamurti don't understand themselves." I thought that was beautiful, because all the gurus I knew always ran everyone down. It seemed as if he wanted to help me relax. He didn't launch any provocations. I was able to relax, because as you can understand it was of course a rather tense situation there.

He said: "Do you have any questions?"

I said: "No."

"When are you going to come?"

"Every day if you allow me."

"That's good. Come just two times every day, mornings and afternoons, for the lectures, and we'll see how it goes."

I said: "Yes, and I am not leaving until it has become clear."

He said: "That's good."

Was that true?

Yes, without a doubt. Because what he did—within two minutes he made it clear, whatever you brought up, that the knowledge you presented was not yours. That it was from a book, or that you had borrowed or stolen it, or that it was fantasy, but that you were actually not capable of having a direct observation, a direct perception, seeing directly, immediately, without a mediator, without self consciousness.

And that frightened me terribly, because everything you said was cut down in a brutal way.

What happened with you exactly?

Sri Nisargadatta Sri Nisargadatta

The second day he asked if I had any questions. Then I began to ask a question about reincarnation in a more or less romanticized way. I told that I had always had a connection with India, that when I heard the word "India" for the first time it was shock for me, and that the word "yoga" was like being hit by a bomb when I first heard it on TV, and that the word "British India" was like a dog hearing his boss whistle. And I asked, could it mean that I had lived in India in previous lives? And then he began to curse in Marathi, and to get unbelievably agitated, and that lasted for at least ten minutes. I thought, my god, what's happening here? The translator was apparently used to it, because he just sat calmly by, and when Maharaj was finished he summarized it all together: "Maharaj is asking himself if you are really serious. Yesterday you came and you wanted self-realization, but now you begin with questions that belong in kindergarten...."

In this way you were forced to be unbelievably alert. Everything counted heavily. It became clear to me within a few days that I knew absolutely nothing, that all that I knew, all the knowledge that I had gathered was book knowledge, second hand, learned, but that out of myself I knew nothing.

I can assure you that this put what was needed into motion. And that's how it went every day! Whatever I came up with, whether I asked an intelligent question or a dumb question, made absolutely no difference. And one day he asserted this, and the following day he asserted precisely the opposite and the following day he twisted it around one more time even though that was not actually possible. And so it went, until by observation I understood why that was, and that was a really wonderful realization. Why do I try all the time to cram everything into concepts, to try to understand everything in terms of thinking or in the feelings sphere?

And, he gave me tips about how I could look at things in another way, thus really looking. And then it became clear to me that it just made no sense to regard yourself—whatever you call yourself, or don't call yourself—in that way. That was an absolute undermining of the self-consciousness, like a termite eating a chair. At a certain moment it becomes sawdust. It still looks like a chair, but it isn't a chair anymore.

Did that lead to self realization?

He kept going on like this, and then there came a moment that I just plain had enough of it. Really just so much … I would not say that I became angry, but a shift took place in me, a shift of the accent on all authorities outside of myself, including Nisargadatta, to an authority inside myself. He was talking, and at a given moment he said "nobody." He said: "Naturally there is nobody here who talks." That was too much for me. And I said: "If you don't talk then why don't you shut up then? Why say anything then?"

And it seemed as if that is what had been waiting for. He said: "Do you want that I should not talk anymore? That's good, then I won't talk anymore and if people want to know something then they can just go to Alexander. From now on there are no more translations, translators don't have to come anymore, there is no more English spoken. Only Marathi will be spoken, and if people have any problems then they can go to Alexander because he seems to know everything."

And then began all the trouble with the others, the bootlickers and toadies who insisted that I had to offer my apologies! Not on my life. Yeah, you can't offer excuses to a nobody, eh?!

And to me he said: "And you, you can't come here anymore." And I said: "What do you mean I can't come here anymore. Try and stop me. Have you gone completely crazy?" And the translators were naturally completely upset. They said nothing like this had ever been seen before. And he was angry! Unbelievably angry! And he threw the presents that I had brought for him at my feet and said: "I want nothing from you, Nothing from you I want."

And that was the breakthrough, because something happened, there was no thinking because I was ... the shift in authority had happened. As I experienced it everything came to me from all sides: logic, understanding, on the one hand the intellect and on the other hand at the same time the heart, feelings and all phenomena, the entire manifest came directly to me from all sides to an absolute center where the whole thing exploded. Bang. After that everything became clear to me....

The next day I went there as usual. There was a lecture, but indeed no English was spoken. I can assure you that the tension could be cut with a knife, because I was the guilty party of course. He wanted to push that down my throat and the translators just went along quietly. There was not even any talking. And the next day, there was not even a lecture. He arrived in a car, and drove away when he saw me and went to a movie … Then I wrote him a letter. Twelve pages. In perfect English. I had someone bring the letter to him. Everything was running over. I wrote everything. And his answer was: let him come tomorrow at 10 o'clock. And he read my letter and said: "You understood. This confrontation was needed to eliminate that self-consciousness. But you understood completely and I am very happy with your letter and nothing happened." Naturally, that cleared the air. He asked if I wanted to stay longer. "From this situation that took place on September 21, 1978, I want to be here in love." And he said: "That is good." From that day on I attended all the talks and also translated sometimes, for example when Spaniards, or Frenchmen or Germans came. I was a bit of a helper then.

So actually you apply the same method as he did: the cutting away of the self-consciousness to the bone and letting people see their identities. Was that his method?

Yes. Recognizing the false as false and thereafter letting the truth be born. But the most wonderful thing was, MY basic dilemma, and if I say "my" I mean everyone in a certain sense, is that if at a certain moment you ask yourself: what did I come here for, that seems to be something completely different from what you thought. Everyone has ideas about this question, and I had never suspected in the farthest reaches of my mind that the Realization of it would be something like this. That is the first point. The second is, it appears that a certain point you have the choice of maintaining your self-consciousness out of pride, arrogance, intellect. And the function of the Guru, the skill with which he can close the escapes from the real confrontation was in his case uncommonly great, at least in my case. And for me that was the decisive factor. Because if there had been a chance to "escape," I would certainly have taken it. Like a thief who still tries to get away.

Did he ever say anything about it?

He said that unbelievable courage is needed not to flee. And that my being there had almost given him a heart attack, that he no longer had the strength to tackle cases like mine as he became older. So I have the feeling that I got there at just the right moment. Later he became sick. He said: "I have no strength anymore to try to convince people. If you like it, continue to come, maybe you can get something out of it, but I have no strength anymore to convince people like him (and then he pointed to me). I am so grateful to him, because it only showed how great my resistance was. There has to be a proportional force that is just a bit stronger than your strangest and strongest resistance. You need that. It showed how great my resistance was. And it showed how great his strength was, and his skill. For me he was the great Satguru. The fact that he was capable of defeating my most cunning resistance—and I can assure you after having gone into these things for 15 years—my resistance was extremely refined and cunning, was difficult for him even though he knew who he was dealing with. That's why I had to go to such a difficult person of course. It says everything about me. Just as he said in the beginning that it said everything about Frydman. But I have never seen the skill he had in closing the escape routes of the lies and falsehoods so immensely great anywhere else.

Of course I have not been everywhere, but with Ramana Maharshi you just melted. That was another way. With Krishna Menon the intellect could just not keep it together under the gigantic dismantling, but by Nisargadatta, every escape was doomed to failure. People who came to get something, or people who thought they could bring something stood naked outside the door within five minutes. I saw a great many people there walking away in great terror. At a certain moment I was no longer afraid, because I felt that I had nothing more to lose. So I can't really say that it was very courageous of me. I can only say that in a certain sense with him I went on the attack. And what was nice about it is that he also valued that. Because, he sent many people away, and these really went and mostly didn't come back. Then he would say: "They are cowards. I didn't send them away, I sent away the part of them that was not acceptable here." And if they then returned, completely open, then he would say nothing about it. But during those happenings with me, people forgot that. There was also a doctor, a really fine man, who said: "Don't think that he is being brutal with you; you don't have any idea how much love there is in him to do this with you." I said: "Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know that." Because I didn't want any commentary from anyone. After all, this is what I had come for! Only the form in which it happened was totally different from what I had expected in my wildest dreams. But again, that says more about me than about Maharaj, and I still think that.

So, his method was thus to let you recognize the false as false, to see through the lies as lies, and to come to truth in this way?

Yes, and that went deeper than I could have ever suspected. The thinking was absolutely helpless. The intellect had no ghost of chance. The heart was also a trap. And that is exactly what happened there. That is everything. And I know that after that day, September 21, 1978, there has never been even a grain of doubt about this question, and the authority, the command, the authenticity, has never left, has never again shifted. There is no authority, neither in this world or in another world, that can thrust me out of the realization. That's the way it is.

Did Maharaj say that you had to do something after this realization?

I asked: "It is all very beautiful, but what now? What do I do with my life?

Then he said: "You just talk and people will take care of you." And that's the way it has gone.

Did you go visit him often?

Various times. As often as I could I was there every year for two or three months. Until the last time. And when I knew that I would never see him again there was entirely no sadness or anything like that. It was just the way it was. It was fine that way.

Did he do the same with others as he had with you?

Not as intensely and not so persistently.

You get what you give?

Yes, that is so. In a certain sense he did that with everyone, but if someone was very sensitive he approached it in a different way. Naturally it makes a difference if an old nun is sitting in front of you, or a rebel like myself, who also looks as if he can take quite a bit. The last time he said: "He will be powerful in Europe. He has the knowledge. He will be the source of what I am teaching." And then he directed those headlight eyes of his towards me. That is still so wonderful....

Reprinted with the kind permission of Belle Bruins. This interview first appeared in the March 2002 issue of Amigo, where you can find the full text including the above excerpt.

by Art Ticknor

There is a plan at work in each life.

That plan includes a yearning, a dissatisfaction, that can only be answered in one way.

That way is by becoming consciously aware of what we are, at center.

This becoming aware of our essential nature is a direct knowing, a knowing by identity.

Since it's what we are, there's nothing preventing it.

It's just a question of not turning away from it and accepting what we see.

But we can't will it. Things have to line up. Something has to turn our inner head.

We don't know how long we'll have to labor in the desert of ignorance.

An intermediate stage is what seems like the opening of a third eye, where it appears that we are now able to look at that which we are looking out from.

Accepting the truth of what we see may take some time.

Life presents us with the critical path, and we take it in as big gulps as we can.

We may be able to accelerate this progress by increasing our tolerance for spending time with teachers, with fellow-seekers, and by ourselves; by reducing distraction and building character; by becoming detached from desires and fears.

If we really want something, we'll make a commitment to accomplish it or to perish in the attempt.

That's why it's important to ask ourselves what we really (really, really) want.

Our understanding of our innermost desire changes as we retreat from untruth.

"God made the senses turn outwards; man therefore looks outwards not into himself. Now and again a daring soul, desiring immortality, has looked back and found himself. He who knows the soundless, odorless, tasteless, intangible, endless, deathless, supernatural, undecaying, beginningless, endless, unchangeable Reality, springs out of the mouth of death." ~Katha Upanishad



Would you like to feel love?
Raise the portcullis,
drop the drawbridge.
Love is within,
but we stay out.
Begin with fresh eyes:
see your friend for the first time.
The door is open.
At the center
you and the friend
are not two.

Movie Madness
by Bob Fergeson

The Cathars believed that their soul became trapped in the world, reincarnating over and over until they were once again free from identification with this dimension and could return home to pure Spirit. They saw how our attention becomes easily trapped in this dualistic universe. Snared by the temptations of the outer life, the mind creates an inner thought-based world to match and, by these very thoughts, reinforces the outer world of matter and the senses. Seeing how thoughts and matter became intertwined, creating a net nearly impossible to break, the Cathar Perfects labored to save themselves with great earnestness. A little serious introspection will show us that we too are trapped in a net of two worlds interwoven of mind and matter.

The first of these worlds, and the primary projection, is the physical world of matter and the senses. It is basically neutral, having no emotional or value-based characteristics in and of itself, and separate from us, being a view. This world includes our body, also. The second world, our personal inner drama, is entirely in our heads, and is reactive, less real, and layered upon the first world like icing on a cake. It too, is only a view. The only reality in either of these worlds is our attention, which, when it comes into contact with this dualistic mess, soon becomes trapped.

These two worlds, or movies, let's call them, are so intertwined that we come to see them as one. We are taught from birth to accept what we see in front of us as real, and soon learn to accept our inner reactions, or thoughts, as valid also. Most of these early thoughts are colored by the psychic atmosphere of our home environment, and are never questioned, being so close, and us so young. Soon enough, as the play of life unfolds, we have blended our thoughts and the scene before us into one big drama, which we call our life. This so-called life oscillates between heaven and hell, depending on how the two movies are interacting. Barring a catastrophic failure, trauma, or mounting misery, we never question any of this. Any attempt at escape usually consists of simply rearranging one of the two movies to better fit the other. Let's take another look at each of these dramas, and see if we can find any holes in this net; the trap of movie madness.

movie theater The first movie, the world "out there," is the universal projection we are all, as humans, subject to. It functions according to universal rules, and can be taken as good or bad, right or wrong. Hardly anyone sees it clearly, in and of itself. To illustrate this, simply pick an object and try to look at it without association. If you could see the world as it is, without benefit of the inner drama's projections, you would not know what the object was, nor care. As soon as "knowing," or memory, kicks in, you are looking at the inner movie as it layers itself over the neutral world of the senses. For most of us, many years of inner work are necessary before we can gaze upon the world without attachment. This can be a startling revelation, to look about at a world created new every moment, full of wonder and possibility. This listening attention can only be had in a quiet mind cleared of emotional baggage, a mind unconcerned with voices of judgment and fear, desire and greed.

The other drama, the inner movie, is the world of thought, both personal and impersonal. It is reactive, associative, and entirely in the head of the individual, regardless of how it may or may not correspond to the heads of others. It is what separates and confines. Again, to get a look at this, pick any familiar object, and take a look. What you tell yourself you are seeing is your inner movie at work. If you see the object as separate, with associations in memory, no matter how valid, you are looking at your own head, not the object. As you go through your day, look at how everything you see is colored with memory, expectation, and judgment, trapping your attention into a dualistic dream world of your own creation. And it all happens automatically, as if by magic. And magic it is. We weave and spin the net that binds us into our own heads with every thought we identify with. How can we free our trapped attention, and perhaps turn it back in the direction of our Source, towards something non-associative and changeless, something Real?

The devil is said to be in the details, and this is where we can start. Simply look at your thoughts, your reactions, as they automatically fire every second of the day. There are many holes in the net, if we but look. By a constant passive attention, a listening, a looking without thinking, we can spot the many little clues that show us how we project the inner movie onto the outer, and how we can break the chain of relentless association. Once this listening attention is familiar, one can learn to turn it, to move it from movie to movie. We may eventually find it can be turned around and focused within, behind the inner movie to the formless realm beyond all experience. This freedom of movement of the attention doesn't happen by willing it, for that would be just another ego-character playing about in the inner movie. It simply happens, once we've paid the price.

If you're not lucky enough to have paid the price of losing your own head through the grace of trauma or disaster, then the freeing of your attention must be bought with austerity, conviction and earnestness. The Cathar Perfects gave us a hint on how to get started freeing the attention through their lives of abstinence, discipline, and peace, which set them free from the cares and temptations of the worlds of matter and thought. This lifestyle develops the intuition and clears the head of desire and fear based thinking. Then, by paying constant attention, coupled with intuition, one can see little tricks, gaps in the net, that build on the conviction that things are not as they seem. The inner presence of one who has already lost his head can also help. If felt, this presence may trigger a revelation, a conviction that there is something beyond the apparent. As for earnestness, this cannot be bought or faked, but again can be bolstered by intuition, clear reasoning, and the facing of the fact that life, as it is in appearance, is a zero-sum game.

The everyday world of paying the bills and getting by will not allow itself to be questioned; it will not help you of itself. If you have read this far, you must have seen enough holes in your own net to start questioning your worlds, inner and outer. If so, make a move. Find your true companions, the ones who too have had enough of the dream world of living alone, in the movie theater inside their heads. They're out there in the lobby, waiting for you, these soon to be headless souls. Help each other, clear a path through the tangle of thought and form. Find the exit, the door to daylight and freedom, and walk away from the movie madness of shadows and dreams. You may discover, once you are outside in the daylight, that you and your companions are One.

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


B.C. cartoon by Johnny Hart:

frame 1: B.C. running up to give some good news to a guru sitting atop a mountain
frame 2: B.C. reads: "Experts say it is impossible to meditate without getting into the lotus position
frame 3: Guru slides down from the mountaintop between B.C.'s legs: "What a relief."

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