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May 2007

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

Girl reading by a summertime lake This month's contents:

Richard Rose Quotes & Notes on Spiritual Action (part 1) by Paul Constant | The Paradise We Seek by Cynthia Bourgeault | True Love by Art Ticknor | A Young Soldier Lies Dying by Shawn Nevins | Tired of Speaking Sweetly by Hafiz | Grounding by Bob Fergeson | Humor

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Richard Rose Quotes & Notes
On Spiritual Action (part 1)
by Paul Constant

From 1985 through the mid-1990's, Paul visited Richard Rose at his West Virginia home and farm. Many visits occurred during TAT Foundation events, or while attending invitation-only "Chautauquas." These events were largely attended by men with ages primarily in their early twenties to late thirties. Other visits occurred while assisting TAT members in maintaining the farm, or when obtaining personal advice.

Over an eight-year period, Paul recorded nearly 350 pages of personal notes in four notebook binders and subsequently extracted them to share with others. Text in quotes is direct verbiage—word for word in most instances—that Rose conveyed in a one-on-one setting or group environment. Unquoted text is paraphrased, usually because they weren't recorded until hours or days later.

This is the initial release of the collection of those notes.

"The proper path is somewhere between hope and hopelessness."

"The first step is to decide what the next step will be. You need to develop a ways and means committee."

"Rejoice in the desire to know, to look for factors. Desire causes action. Action may discover conviction."

"We must do something daily to remind ourselves of the spiritual path."

"Commitment must take in all possibilities, and we must be ready to face them. Carefully think it out."

"You are either going to fight, or you are going to be a nobody. It will not drift to you."

"Letting it happen will only work so long. We must have intricate scheduling and organization."

"Do it perfect—it's your vector."

"In fighting rationalization, you have to make up your mind to do it, even if it's foolish."

"A man must make an absolute commitment to the spiritual work. He must consider his financial, mental, and spiritual pursuits in life. If he commits to spirituality, the intensity will increase as the forces of adversity manifest themselves." These pursuits parallel the Way, the Truth, and the Life. They should all reflect a purpose in life, a determination to be something.

A few actions that may help clear the mind: vegetarianism, fasting, isolation retreats, celibacy.

It is important to write, to constantly keep a log on the daily forces of adversity. It is also important to write about dreams.

"A seeker needs to set up a 'ways and means committee.' He should develop a plan, and then stick to that plan. Nothing should get in the way of that plan, and nobody is worth allowing that plan to take a lower priority."

It is important for a seeker to get tough and not be so easily intimidated. This applies to all aspects of life. Spiritually, make a commitment and certain things will be thrown at you as a test. If you are determined enough, nothing will stand in your way.

To improve intuition, make an attempt to read minds. For example, "read" people when first meeting them, or guess at a friend's thoughts, then re-check those guesses over a period of time.

Richard Rose, San Gabriel Mountains, 1979 Richard Rose, San Gabriel Mountains, 1979

"Work for the battle alone, not the dream. It's all you know for sure."

"A man runs many problems through the computer [i.e., the mind] throughout the day. If he is thinking about taking the garbage outside, even this small problem is in the back of his mind. How many of these small daily problems do we have?" If we are going to get anywhere spiritually, we need to set aside time, perhaps an hour a day, to think of nothing but the spiritual problem at hand. All other problems are ultimately irrelevant.

Teaching other seekers is one of the more valuable things we can do, but never preach.

A decision to quit drinking alcohol, to read a spiritual book, to take a meditative walk, etc. is not a decision of the Self, but one of a philosophic somatic self. In addition to observing, we need to build this philosophic self by continually reminding ourselves of the problem. By changing habits, the mundane self will slowly change into a philosophic problem-solver instead of a material seeker. This is all we can do: observe the mundane self as much as possible, attack the problem using new angles, negate erroneous or non-conducive habits, and hope that our intuition guides us correctly.

Carry a pencil and small note pad and write down first thoughts or hunches throughout the day.

"Those who worship through the various religions should not be criticized, but encouraged. In all religions rests a grain of truth for the masses. It is a form which the masses can comprehend, no matter how erroneous it may be. As long as those individuals attempt to live their religion, instead of a life of hypocrisy, they are seekers and we cannot look down our noses at them."

"The greatest moving emotion in the human race is nostalgia, and nostalgia may be one of the first steps towards a direct mind experience."

"If we read the appropriate material, meditate, and study along the proper lines, and then return to our daily routines, everything will remind us of the spiritual problem."

"Insanity is always present, but the fact that we cater to it allows it to remain hidden. If a person enters [an] isolation [retreat] for spiritual purposes, the insanity or voices will become nearly unbearable if opposed."

"Who or what benefits from life's blood carnage? The blood and semen may only be food for something else, but certainly not for our benefit. If we have determined to enter a spiritual path, then we've got to tell the bugs [i.e., entities] to bug off and go bother somebody else."

When meditating, we can observe our thoughts, and if we determine beforehand to think only along a certain line of direction, we can turn away from contradictory thoughts. However, always leave room for inspiration during meditation.

"The paradox permeates all things relative and will prevent a man from taking a positive stand on many matters."

"The seeker is an angry, determined, aggressive man."

"To achieve success, a success-oriented attitude is needed, a ways-and-means plan must be devised to achieve goals, and you must have the urgent sense of getting it done now."

"The seeker is attacked immediately when he decides to search."

"The most capable are the busiest with the least time."

"Don't read past an inspiration point. Dwell on it a while."

"Fight programming with programming."

"Enlightenment is the result of your thoughts being a certain distance apart."

"We must make limitless commitment."

"You may have to quit several things at once because they key each other in."

"People don't want to focus ahead. They ignore the particulars. We must be awake concerning small things. We think we are too important to think of small things. The mind is capable of thinking of a thousand things. Ego directs attention. Pay attention to what's in front of you. Command the mind to remember."

To be continued in the next issue....



The Paradise We Seek
by Cynthia Bourgeault

"Unless a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone.
But if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." (John 12:24)

The meaning of Jesus' metaphor of the seed falling into the ground and dying is creative and generative. And it is the heart of the Christian path. Indeed, within this particular teaching of Jesus is the notion of kenosis, or "self-emptying." Kenosis is roughly parallel to the classic spiritual teaching of nonattachment or nonclinging, but kenosis has an intrinsic warmness to it: it means to actively and willingly relinquish that which you're clinging to so as to give something else the space to be. This was Jesus' practice, his path, and his unique vision on how consciousness is transformed. It's a practice of letting go.

Falling Leaf from Wikimedia Commons Letting go over and over is a kind of perceptual tool. It isn't just to make you feel like a freer and finer person—it actually enables you to see from the deepest recognition what the One is. Letting go is not an attitude; it's an inner gesture, and it's completely visceral. So when teachers keep telling you to let go, it's not in order for you to become nicer and more useful to the planet; it's because this is a kind of spiritual aerobics that, if you perform it faithfully, steadfastly, and patiently in all life's situations will literally transform your sense of self.

For true spiritual masters, of which Jesus was certainly one, dying is the letting go, or kenosis, of your "egoic operating system," that which keeps coughing up a sense of self as a different or distinct person with its own qualities, uniqueness, specialness, personal history, and agenda. To die to this self means to die to all self-talk and the projection of your self out in the world. In fact, the big goal in this life is not to prepare for your physical death but to assist in the germinal act of laying down your egoic operating mechanism and be born again as the flower of full presence—the True Self. This self always knows what to do; it always knows when we are true and when we're not true, when we're free and when we're not free. Virtually all the spiritual teachers of the world say that when you've died and been reborn in this way, physical death is essentially something you don't even notice.

In order to manifest the True Self, though, you have to completely clear the playing field of the usual language. Because in the usual egoic syntax the True Self is something you "have," and therefore you have to "find" it. But the True Self is not something you have; it's what you are. Think of the flame of a candle; the flame is only a flame so long as it's burning. It's a process, and there would be no flame if it stopped and tried to have its "flameness." Likewise, as soon as you stop and say, "I want to measure my true self—I want to define it, I want to list its characteristics, I want to compare it to my false self"—you've "bought the farm" because you've downloaded it into an operating system that can't possibly do anything other than caricature it.

The false self is like a veil that hides the paradise that we're seeking. At the very end of his life, Moses was granted a glimpse of the Promised Land. They took him up onto a rock, and he could see it. He even had an experience of it, but he couldn't enter. That's a kind of analogy for what I'm talking about: as long as you process everything through the ego, you merely "have" mystical experiences. But when you die to the false self, that's when you enter paradise. And you can't enter paradise, raid the mystical insight, and come back to write a book so that people will say, "Oh, what an awesome mystic." You have to disappear so that there's nothing left that's going to take the experience back somewhere else. Then you finally begin to live at the speed of the mystery that we are. That's the fruit that Jesus spoke of.

Excerpted from "Silence is the Language of God" by Elizabeth Debold and Maura O’Connor. Reprinted with permission from Cynthia Bourgeault and from WIE Unbound; February 2006. ©2006 EnlightenNext, Inc. All rights reserved. http://www.wie.org. The Reverend Dr. Cynthia Bourgeault has spent the last three decades following the Christian contemplative path as a student, Episcopal priest, and hermit. The principal teacher at the Contemplative Society in British Columbia, she has worked closely with Christian spiritual masters such as Father Thomas Keating and Friar Bruno Bamhatt. She currently divides her time between the Rocky Mountains, Maine, and British Columbia. Falling leaf photo is by Vietnamese student Trang Chap Cheng.



True Love
by Art Ticknor

Romeo & Juliet I was talking with some friends the other day about rapport and remembered my first experience of it. I had taken my son for a vacation in the Bahamas to celebrate his nineteenth birthday, and the small hotel we were staying at was populated mostly by college students on spring break. Our first evening there we joined a group that had congregated around the courtyard pool and found immediate acceptance from them.

There were a dozen or so of us, about evenly split between males and females. We fell into a pattern of doing things together in smaller groups during the day then meeting at the pool around dusk. After indulging in relaxed merriment and comparing notes about our adventures while apart, we'd all head out to some public place where there was music or a private party that someone knew about.

One of the group was a young woman from Boston who I noticed would always be sitting quietly next to me but with whom I'd had no direct interaction. On what may have been our second evening together, the whole group moved from our hotel to a club in one of the large, colonial-era hotels, which had a dance floor and live music. The quiet girl, Lorna, again sat silently next to me when our group spread itself among available tables. So I asked her if she'd like to dance. She said yes, or possibly just nodded her head, and we moved onto the small dance floor. It was a slow dance, and as soon as we embraced, there were no longer two minds. There was one mind encompassing two bodies, each of which was experiencing the same thoughts and feelings, knowing that the other body was experiencing the same thoughts and feelings, and knowing that the other body also knew the same: almost like an infinite regression between two mirrors. As soon as we had embraced, it was as if a wave went out from us and radiated across the room. It was felt by one of the musicians in the combo behind me who said, sotto voce, "True love."

That diminishment of separation is an indicator of what we're intuitively looking for, which is to escape our painful identification with a separate creature that was born, is under constant threat of annihilation, and is inevitably going to die. But it didn't last. When the dance was over and we returned to the table, so was the rapport.

The next evening when we gathered at the pool and saw each other again, it was almost as if Lorna and I didn't like each other. George, a hotel employee whom we'd become friendly with, volunteered to take our group to a local club, and we all jumped on the offer. It turned out to be in the boondocks and was populated strictly by local folks, who looked unhappy to see us there. But they became friendly after the initial shock wore off, and we had a good time. After that we returned to town (Nassau) and found a crowded, disco-type club. Lorna and I were still avoiding each other, but I eventually spotted her in the crowd when a slow dance started and asked her to dance. As soon as we embraced, we were again one mind. It was even more intense this time. We ignored whatever music was playing, barely moving our feet as we held each other tight for what may have been an hour or more, until the club closed. Then we walked back to the hotel arm in arm, silently.

The next morning, the entire group assembled outside the hotel to say goodbye to Lorna and her friends when the taxi came to take them to the airport. She and I didn't exchange information to keep in touch. Altogether we probably hadn't said more than ten or twenty words to each other.

Is it possible to find the complete and full satisfaction that experiences like the above point to? Ironically, what we're looking for—love, security, permanence, meaning, or however it becomes represented in the mind—is what we find when we recognize our true identity. Seeking conscious awareness of our essential being, and helping others do the same, is the real purpose and meaning of our lives. Our real identity is that which we're seeking: True, never-ending Love.


A Young Soldier Lies Dying
by Shawn Nevins

Nearly five million Americans served in World War I and 117,000 of those perished during the war. Their death waited in the cold, the mud, the water and the air—death from disease as much as steel. My great uncle survived the fighting, but was killed by a simple infection on his way back from Europe—such was the state of medicine. So long ago that books and black and white photographs are all that is left: ninety years; four generations.

Yet Ernest Pusey, age 111, passed away only a few weeks ago. He was one of the last living U.S. veterans of World War I. Only twenty-three of five million remain—young men grown ancient.

Dying Soldier, by Miller Gore Brittain Life took ninety years to pare five million to twenty-three. Every one ate and slept and hoped and feared. Every one passed away whether young and full of dreams, or old and full of memories. Every one of those bodies was like you. As a friend said to me, with each passing you move up a rank.

What did five million lives mean?

Today and ninety years past are no different. Right now, a young soldier lies dying on a beach. Ninety years and a thousand miles away, traffic is stopped at a red light. A woman taps her hand to the beat of the radio. The waves carry away the soldier's blood as fast as it leaves him. Traffic begins to move, flowing toward a multitude of destinations. Aren't you at the beach, even now—bleeding into an eternal rhythm?

How will you hear the voice of God, except by training your ear (your heart and mind)?

Each of us will eventually be washed into the sea. We can drift like derelicts or be carried to the still depths by unraveling.

What is this unraveling?

Unraveling is questioning, never being satisfied with speculation, allowing (not demanding) our selves to fulfill our real desire, honesty in the face of our ignorance, and determination borne of desperation.


Tired of Speaking Sweetly
by Hafiz

 

 

Shams
Shams-ud-din
Mohammad Hafiz Shirazi

 

 

Hafiz tomb in Shiraz
Hafiz tomb, Shiraz

Love wants to reach out and manhandle us,
Break all our teacup talk of God.

If you had the courage and
Could give the Beloved His choice, some nights,
He would just drag you around the room
By your hair,
Ripping from your grip all those toys in the world
That bring you no joy.

Love sometimes gets tired of speaking sweetly
And wants to rip to shreds
All your erroneous notions of truth

That make you fight within yourself, dear one,
And with others,

Causing the world to weep
On too many fine days.

God wants to manhandle us,
Lock us inside of a tiny room with Himself
And practice His dropkick.

The Beloved sometimes wants
To do us a great favor:

Hold us upside down
And shake all the nonsense out.

But when we hear
He is in such a "playful drunken mood"
Most everyone I know
Quickly packs their bags and hightails it
Out of town.

~ From The Gift, translated by Daniel Ladinsky
www.peacefulrivers.homestead.com
Available at Amazon.com


Grounding
by Bob Fergeson

"Our studies must begin with our selves and not with the heavens." —Shawn Nevins

There comes a time when our search into the possibilities of our nature must become personal. We must step out of the safe kingdom of our imagination and begin to actually observe our own mind. Now this is a tricky business. Getting personal about our search can mean many things. It does not mean it's all about us, that we are out to become big or perfect, or to focus only on our self-pity, but it means we must become capable of looking at ourselves without the filters of imagination and identification, while at the same time leaving the study of the universe until we know for sure who is studying it.

Sleeping Beauty by Henry Meynell Rheam Imagination can lead us far astray. We will tend to find whatever helps to compensate for our undeveloped sides, while remaining blind to the things we do not like about ourselves. The trick of identification will aid in this hypnosis by helping us to say "I" to every voice that pops up in our crowded head. Here, we find another obstacle to our path in what Ouspensky and Gurdjieff called "buffers." Buffers are strange but effective blocks in our mind that keep us from seeing our contradictions. They serve to separate the sides of ourselves that live in opposition to each other. This serves to keep us fast asleep and living in imagination, identified with whatever voice is currently active, and keeps this voice from seeing the other fellows who might have been in control of our machine both before and after he came along. Now this might seem like the stuff of science-fiction, especially if we have an inflated view of ourselves, having perhaps been on the path for a while, but a little observation of our fellow man will show us differently, and we are built the same as he. If we can muster a bit of courage, we can even ask our fellows on the path to do us a favor and tell us about ourselves.

With buffers, imagination, and identification, among other things, blocking our path to truth, how can we even start to get a glimpse into our own mind? Anything that slips past the buffers can be explained away with imagination, and we can always use identification with our spiritual ego to smooth over any discrepancies. The study of our mind might have to first be an indirect one until we become convinced of our own self-delusion. By looking within in an indirect manner, we can come to see our contradictions in a way that isn't immediately shut down by the ego's defenses. The study of our dreams is one such way. "Possibly the most interesting first impression of my life came from the world of dreams." This quote from Ouspensky shows how dreams can give us that first step into the mind.

As soon as the observing part of us is convinced that there is work to be done in our own head, we can move on to a more direct study. The art of self-observation is a direct, tricky and absolutely necessary task. The chief trap we can fall into is that of projection. We may think we are observing ourselves by describing or commenting on the actions of our body as we go through the day. This is only the mind projecting a labeling process, after the fact, and then identifying with it. Observing oneself starts with looking for the underlying motivations to these body-actions. Why do we do what we do? Can we see through to the reasons for our actions rather than just describing them? When we can see, in real time, the emotional motivators for our thinking processes that lead to action, then we can say we understand self-observation. Why you do what you do may lead farther within than simple description of your body language.

See Bob's web sites The Mystic Missal, the Nostalgia West photo site, and The Listening Attention.


Wet and dry ...

happy woman cartoon Image Credit: People Lady Woman Face Person Cartoon Bodypart Worldlabel ... from Vector.me Jim and Edna were both patients in a mental hospital. One day while they were walking past the hospital swimming pool, Jim suddenly jumped into the deep end. He sank to the bottom of the pool and stayed there. Edna promptly jumped in to save him. She swam to the bottom, pulled Jim out and brought him to his room. When the hospital director became aware of Edna's heroic act, she immediately ordered that Edna be discharged from the hospital because she now considered Edna to be mentally stable.

She went to Edna and said, "I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that you're being discharged because you responded so rationally to a crisis. By jumping in the pool to save the life of another patient, you displayed sound mindedness. The bad news is that Jim, the patient you saved, hung himself in his bathroom with his bathrobe belt right after you saved him. I am so sorry, but he's dead."

Edna replied, "He didn't hang himself. I put him there to dry. How soon can I go home?" (Author unknown.)

Image Credit: People Lady Woman Face Person Cartoon Bodypart Worldlabel ... from Vector.me


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