This month's contents:
Farm in Provence by Van Gogh
Working with a Group by Bob Fergeson | Concerning the Spontaneity of the Self by Franklin Merrell-Wolff | Poems by Shawn Nevins | The Account of an Awakening by William Samuel | The Cosmic Egg & the Sense of Self by Art Ticknor | Humor
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In many esoteric teachings, there are said to be three avenues of work on the Path: working on oneself, working with others, and working for the Work itself. Let's take a look at working with others, and the ways this can be accomplished.
The traditional form of working together has been the group, a brotherhood of like-minded people who strive towards a common goal. This is found in many walks of life, not just in spiritual pursuits. But in matters such as finding the true meaning of life and death, friends become truly valuable. Traveling in a group of fellow seekers offers friendship, protection, and speeds our progress. While it is alone we must face our truth, by working with others we become part of a ladder, each one helping another to move higher.
Let's look at three ways groups can work:
First, we have the group as a brotherhood, a group of friends by which we can see the many vagaries of human behavior, in ourselves as well as them. This could be likened to a mirror, in which we see ourselves through the group's reactions to our own personality. It can also be of value in that we have trusted peers whom we can use for advice and constructive criticism when we can't see our way. Sometimes the efforts of our teacher are better understood, too, when we are in a group and see the struggles of our fellow students as well as our own.
Surround yourself with fellow seekers: There is tremendous benefit to associating with like-minded people. Better yet is sharing an apartment or house with a group of seekers. It is a resource of ideas and inspiration, as well as help with the everyday problems of life. You will learn from each other's successes and failures. When one member is in despair, his fellows can in a sense, carry him until he recovers. —Shawn Nevins
Second, we can use the group as a source of what might be called positive tension, or confrontation. This method of friendly questioning is used in a group meeting format to bring us to a greater understanding of our own mind. Through our efforts at self-inquiry and observation, we may begin to question our patterns of thinking, and in the group sessions use the added tension and differing view points to further our awareness of ourselves.
The meetings are a mix of discussion and questioning with the overall aim of understanding ourselves and our minds better. Meetings begin with an open discussion of the topic for the week which serves as a catalyst for self inquiry. After the initial discussion the meeting moves toward questioning one another. This often takes place in a conversational format, and the point of the questioning is to help each person retreat from untruth in themselves - to see where their own thinking might be clouded by desires or fears, where they might be rationalizing or if they might have unchallenged assumptions and convictions. The meeting is not intended for people who want to get together and idly talk about philosophy as an exercise and demonstration of their intellect. Meetings embody the spirit of friendship and are for people who want to take an honest look at themselves and confront the questions that are bothering them and who have a suspicion that the answers lay within. Many people who participate in this process over time will find that their thinking becomes clearer and that they understand themselves and others better. —Jeff Crilley on confrontation, from his site firstknowthyself.org
A third way is to use the group as a way of becoming a vector, a seeker headed in a sure direction, helping those below them on the ladder of the path, as well as those brothers on the same rung. We become someone who helps, and learns the best way to help. We reach out beyond our own self-centered cares, and think of others: how can we help our fellow to overcome the blocks to his self-knowledge which he may be blind to, yet are clearer to us? We rejoice when someone in the group has a breakthrough, and lend a hand to the one who has slipped. This could be likened to a return to a more innocent life. We become less dependent on our ego, and better able to reach out.
Realize that you want to help others: The ego prevents us from reaching out to others. With persistent self-analysis, you will come to have true consideration for your fellow man—you will see your flaws in others and others' flaws in you. There is the thought that we should help others because it will help us in the long run, but this is not the same as truly wanting to help another. It is a milestone when we want to help simply because it is the natural reaction. —Shawn Nevins
We have all been living our lives from an emotion or feeling based pattern of thought, or state of mind, from which we rarely awaken. In the brief moments of inspiration and intuition, we may catch a glimpse of this, and decide to look deeper. We may be lucky enough to find a group in which we can work. When we join up with such a group and begin working to awaken from this inherited sleep or hypnosis of life, we also see the endless varieties of sleep holding sway over our fellows. From this, we see more and more of the traps that hold sway over us, and through working with these fellows, gain greater courage and conviction in our quest.
You have to get into the place where the material is, with people who know something. You have to join some sort of human relationship, to work with some group if possible, so that you will be reminded to go back when you slip and forget. Reminded to keep digging, keep meditating, or keep some sort of action going that will keep your head on the problem. —Richard Rose
As the lower cannot command the Higher, the individual ego is not lord over the Universal SELF. Hence, from the individual standpoint, the Realization is spontaneous and thus is often called an act of Grace. The SELF, which it must be remembered is Identical with Divinity, does not stand within the causal sequence. Consequently, strictly considered, Realization of the SELF is never an effect of causes set up by the individual man acting in space and time. The latter through his effort prepares the candle, as it were, but the Flame is lighted through a spontaneous act of Spirit. But here is where Love enters in the highest sense, and Love is not constrained by the causal law which governs within space and time. Yet Love never fails the beloved. This Love excludes none, for—
I, Spirit, deny none of My children.
Practically, the spontaneity of the SELF works through Man to man, though it cannot be said that It manifests in no other way. In the Gita, Krishna says: "I am in all men, but not all men are in ME." The implied meaning is, "Some men are in ME," i.e., Those who attained the Realization. Such Men are the Divine Presence Itself. Thus the Guru, if He is in fact a Guru in the true spiritual sense, is Divinity. Such a Man can light the Flame. The aspirant should seek his Guru in his inner consciousness and turn to Him as to Divinity Itself.
Our thanks to Doroethy Leonard for permission to reprint this excerpt from Experience & Philosophy. See the Franklin Merrell-Wolff Fellowship site for more information on Merrell-Wolff's teaching and the ongoing work of the Fellowship. The photo above is a view of the Sierra Nevadas from the Lone Pine, California home of Merrell-Wolff.
What am I?
There are no words for utter contentment,
The entire human race
Winter's wreckage lies strewn about the woods
Her hair was spun of spider's web,
In the diffused, muslin light of dream,
I am in a silent theater
Note to the reader:
Many hymns, chants prayers and mantras have come down to us through the centuries. We know that certain of them contain an especial and mysterious authority when read aloud. Behind their words, beyond their words—indeed, being their words—lies a Message understood by the Heart alone, simply awaiting our conscious recognition.
THE MELODY OF THE WOODCUTTER AND THE KING is a rhythmic, alliterative mantra of awakening. The significance of its message can lift the laden, world weary seeker of Truth from a distorted sense of the world and himself into a new universe of Peace, All-rightness and childlike Joy unending!
Reader, you may prove this for yourself immediately. For just a time, sit easy like a child and listen to the melody and changing rhythm of this short and simple story. With a tender touch—and without struggling to understand every meaning—read THE MELODY OF THE WOODCUTTER AND THE KING to yourself aloud. The Heart of you, the Child of you, the Real of you will understand whatever the intellect does not.
Do not be surprised at the expansion of Awareness, Joy and dominion that are certain to follow soon in your experience.
~ William Samuel (Woodsong, 1976)
There is a story to tell
Atop my Holy Mountain, I looked up and out;
Then I looked down, unseen.
At the forest's edge
Father, how long must I labor?
Oh! Those words of agony I had heard before.
From out the brightness of the morning sun
I know thee who thou art.
And he knew me as I knew him.
Put away your axe,
Once I cut wood as you, dear Son.
Now that I have found you,
Beloved, for only a little while
Slowly the woodman lifted himself from the earth
At length he asked me,
THE KING'S STORY
Once I cut wood with a borrowed axe
Oh, there were brief moments of respite
In the moments of greatest agony
Then another wise one came to me
Finally a third sage came,
Oh, weary son,
But there was only silence
Yea, my son,
Then, it was, beloved. Then it was!
I answered the woodman,
From out the morning Light
Then, even as I to you,
THE HOLY MOUNTAIN
The woodman answered,
Yet there is no happiness there
Tell me, Father.
Then how, Counselor?
You see, Love is the Key to the mystery.
Immediately the measured moment ended
Now, lift up your eye and see
Now, listen to the sounds, Beloved—
Next, with the inner eye
Listen. Listen and hear!
Now, deck thyself with majesty and excellency!
The woodman's eyes had been opened before
It is true! It is True!
It is so! I am the King!
Oh, how foolish I have been,
Every tree in the forest is Mine
Now I look across the valley and see a tree.
Woodman, reigning new king,
I am the King!
From this time forth, dear Father-Being-Me,
The story has been told now, reader,
This is your Melody,
©1976 by William Samuel. All rights reserved. Butterfly Publishing House publishes audio CDs, DVDs and the writings William Samuel. Visit William Samuel and Friends website for more information. Our thanks to Sandy Jones for making these valuable works available.
~ The first segment of Art's presentation at the 2006 TAT Spring Conference.
Let's start by talking about the close companion who's with you now, who's with you every day. You know who I'm referring to, right? Your sense of self. That sense of self, and the separation anxiety that goes along with it, is the source of much of your misery. Spiritual action, the theme of this conference, is any effort aimed at questioning, doubting, challenging that sense of self.
You're probably familiar with the Egyptian Aten symbol: rays extending from the sun, each ending in a hand. You—what you think you are—are the hand, Awareness projected into individual consciousness. Better yet, an eye or observer encapsulated within the egg of life and death, the cosmic egg. The Indians have something they call the Brahmaand, showing Vishnu and Lakshmi in the cosmic egg. This could be said to represent your inner male and female, logic and intuition, or projected further out as you and your mate, family, etc.
Consciousness is imposed on you, and you're hypnotized into thinking it is you. It's a dream to awaken from—a cosmic egg you have to break out of, like a chick—if you want to live. The unacceptability of the death-sentence is motivation for some seekers. The yearning for love, completion, Home is motivation for some.
Spiritual action leads to liberation from consciousness, from life and death. It requires the disruption of the conviction of I-amness.
I'd like to take you on a little trip down memory lane with me. It was Monday night following the spring TAT conference four years ago. Bob F, who would start the long drive back to Colorado the next morning, and I were talking at the kitchen table. We lapsed into a comfortable silence, and something occurred which I attempted to put into writing later:
When it descends now, something in me remembers it and recognizes it.
It carries me back into myself,
asking me if I'm really the hand at the end of the ray—or the something
I once saw as being at the other end, from which the ray comes.
When it descends again, my tiredness resists it, but my heart welcomes it.
It shows me that everything I know is impermanent
and, therefore, there's no argument with what Pulyan said:
Nothing of me will remain.
What, then (it asks me) is permanent? Where is it?
Spiritual action leads to discontinuities (insights, satoris) in my experience. And with me, it usually happened only when on solitary retreats. One such time the question "What is the source of my awareness?" came out of nowhere and stayed with me for a couple days. It was the first thought in the morning and last thought at night. I was out for a walk one afternoon, sat down on a tree stump, and had a "vision" of being attached to something bigger than myself at the end of a long string. And when I saw that with my mind's eye, the question was answered. I didn't think much about it at the time, but I mentioned it along with other things that had occurred during the retreat when I wrote to Richard Rose after I returned home.
In his response, he said that my seeing the source of my awareness as something larger than myself that I was attached to, etc., was the highlight of his year. My reaction when reading his comment was that he must have had a pretty low year if that was the highlight. Years later, watching the "Mister Rose" video put together by some students who had made a trip to West Virginia from Raleigh, I heard him say that you need to find your umbilical cord, the mental umbilical cord that attaches you to your source. And I knew then what he was referring to.
The second part of what occurred that April night four years ago I labeled as "Pride & Prayer" when I journalized it. The conversation with Bob resumed after the silence, and we somehow got on the topic of prayer:
When I explained that I only feel I can pray honestly when I'm backed into a corner,
Bob replied: Don't you see that you're always backed into a corner?
And I saw that, through weakness, pride was trying to run the show.
God speaks to me, providing abundant grace and inspiration,
And yet I refuse to speak to him,
Fooling myself into thinking I've got the upper hand.
As long as you're identified with the sense of individuality, the I-amness, you're trapped in a cosmic egg—a cosmos of things, which are created and destroyed. The thing you think you are came out of Nothing (no-thing) and will return to Nothing. How can you break out of thing-ness?
Pepper ... and Salt cartoon
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