This month's contents:
Basket of Fruit, by Caravaggio
12 Haiku by Bart Marshall | Intelligent Spontaneity by Bob Fergeson | Poems by Larry Davis | When I Finally Became Serious by Art Ticknor | Death Poem by Mimamoto no Yorimasa | Giving Up by Shawn Nevins | Humor: Out of My Mind by Vicki Woodyard
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This month brings change to the TAT Forum. Our long-time editor-in-chief Art Ticknor is passing the baton to me. Art has tirelessly (and I'm sure tire-fully at times) arranged every Forum issue since its inception in November of 2000: that is eighty-one issues. As I look through the Forum, I see numerous fine touches in the design that have taken its appearance to the level of artwork. I hope to continue Arts fine work of selecting the best essays, poems, opinions, and humor that touch our core theme of seeking and finding answers to our deepest life questions. I welcome all who desire to join in the effort by contributing material, helping with editing or publication, making a donation, or providing feedback.
Note the addition of a new feature this month. The article "Giving Up" has a form for submitting a question or comment to the author. Puzzled, perturbed, or inspired, you can now start a dialogue with a contributor.
The dream of myself,
Snow trees, morning stove.
No memory or time,
A book falls from the shelf
Cold sun, transparent sky.
Sudden emptiness of mind.
Thinking and doing,
The silent witness,
In stillness, songs
Fearful and worried, I am old.
Do without expecting.
Any wine will get you high.
Judge like a king, and choose the purest,
the ones unadulterated with fear, of some urgency about "what's needed."
Drink the wine that moves you
as a camel moves when it's untied,
and is just ambling about. ~ Rumi
I've spoken before about how the listening attention is the gateway to within. This can be also spoken of as the link between the real and unreal, the manifest and unmanifest. The Christian mystics refer to the Son who is the link to the Father. William Samuel speaks of the Child as the pathfinder, and tells us it is essential to actually get in touch with this Child of Light. These refer to an essential part of us, a part that is free from the world, yet sees the world, and can lead us back to our Home in the Father. What is this Child, this intuitive light, this innocence somehow imbibed with wisdom?
One thing it is not, is childishness. It is not needy and wanting its own way, nor dependent on the things of this world for its satisfaction or existence. In fact, the Child is much better described by what it is not than what it is. Jesus once remarked that we should become as innocent as doves but also as wise as serpents. We do not use the Child for the further purposes of the ego, but become it. The listening attention is not the problem solving or even the categorizing mind, but that which simply sees or listens, and can link to a higher intelligence. Many of our problems are better solved by asking for an answer from within, then practicing patience until the answer appears. The saying, "I'll sleep on it" refers to this in a simple way; we ask, then wait until we receive.
Maurice Nicoll speaks of the puer eternus, Latin for eternal boy or child. He calls this the intermediary, the one who connects us with the higher centers within. He refers to our organism as composed of different "centers" or minds, each having its own purpose. These centers are divided into higher and lower, the lower being what we are ordinarily aware of as mind. The higher centers are said to be constantly trying to reach us, but cannot get through due to the wrong working of the lower ones. This is likened to static, negative unnatural patterns taking up most of the energy of these centers, so that they can no longer hear the higher ones; there is too much interference. Nicoll tells us that "The object of the Work is to cleanse our lower centers, to clear them out, to open their windows, so that they can begin to transmit these ideas and directions coming from higher centers." We cannot hear the Child, who hears the Father, for the mind has become lost in the static of the world, outward turned and saturated with useless worry and dreams, broadcasting its static miasma so nothing else can get through.
This brings us to the first step to the listening attention: the clearing out of this static. Much like a radio which must be tuned in order to pick up the desired station, we must tune our machine, our lower centers, in order to pick up the constant but unheard signal of our higher self. As Rumi says, we have become obsessed with "what's needed" and have thus lost our innocence. We can no longer sit in silence and listen to what may be speaking to us: a still small voice from within.
Samuel also speaks of the value of trauma or suffering in weeding out the ego's insistence that it is the only source. For most of us, it takes a shock to turn us within. To become aware that there is something higher than ourselves permits the Child to come forth, for we begin to listen in another direction, with other ears. We come to see that there is another source of wisdom other than that of memory or the brain. We learn what intuition is, and how it works.
This clearing out of the "old man" gives room for the new, the Child. A new kind of intelligence becomes possible, one that is spontaneous, yet wise. We use our attention to not only view the world and its problems, but to also turn back within and connect with our innate intelligence. This double-pointed arrow of attention lends a certain realness. We are no longer lost in the world, for now we have become superior to it, not just in word, but in fact. The ego is seen for what it is through the eyes of the Child, and is no longer our identity or sole reference. Peace blossoms from within. The Child is born, and the Father now sees His world through the Child.
When time brings its own message
Heat & Light
It is interesting but unfortunate
Common love is an illusion,
Like a rotten log
Minamoto Yorimasa (1106-1180) was a poet and a warrior. This poem was written by Yorimasa just before he committed suicide after losing his war against the Taira clan to install Prince Takakura as Emperor. The tradition of seppuku in Japan started from this act, which later came to be part of the samurai's code of honor.
See Wikipedia for more on Yorimasa.
I decided that even if I failed to find the truth, and seemingly wasted my life looking, I still
would prefer that prospect of failure to a situation where I had not even tried. ~ Richard Rose
I was recently asked if I had surrendered when, several years ago, I gave up the search and moved to Austin, Texas to seek riches in the world of business. Memory tends to gloss over details and create connections where there was only confusion, and fate from blind struggle. In my attic are my journals, so I went to the source to see what that fellow was thinking.
What I found was a person suffering from months of spiritual dryness. He wasn't reading, meditating, working with others, or engaged in any practice. He was studying the stock market, lifting weights, and watching TV, yet finding no meaning in these new practices either. They were simply more enjoyable. He was convinced that he had failed in the search and was looking for the second place prize.
I didn't want to give up, but when you're out of ammo what do you do? It is clear I had lost all hope in my ability to do something, yet I still kept looking for help. I went to a Douglas Harding workshop in May of 1999, and was impressed enough to journey to England two months later. His experiments tantalized me; kept alive the feeling that an answer was close, but I still had no idea what action, what movement of the mind would lead to an understanding of what that mind was.
I went looking for a new life to live, but in a town where I felt I could start a small discussion group and be of some service to others. I didn't practice Harding's techniques, meditate, or write. Only a handful of entries mark my journal for the fall of 1999:
10/5/99: Any intense wish will eventually bring an answer.
11/23/99: In the half-light of the morning, whole truth seems but a step away. In the light of day, all fades to grey.
12/25/99: Life is like, to use a John Davis phrase, "whistling in a graveyard."
I recall working hard to build the spiritualteachers.org website: reviewing books, summarizing my experiences to leave a record for others. I felt that my personal spiritual effort was finished, but I recognized that others might succeed and this goal was the highest in life.
On the 28th of December, everything changed:
12/28/99: God is here. He rings in the death of all we know.
I disappeared. Everything disappeared and there was only All.
Did I surrender those many months before? If by that the questioner meant I surrendered to a higher power—absolutely not. No such thought entered my head. Implicit in the question, I believe, is the thought that one could surrender or give up as a practice, thus accelerating one's journey. Maybe it's possible; Christian mystics speak of such. Not me, though. I have to be beaten before I'll surrender or let go. And here I have to be careful not to confound reality with Reality, in a world where we do nothing yet our choices matter.
Don't make a logical story out of this. You can forget this whole essay, except the opening lines by Richard Rose. Understand that what one person found another can. Not in one mighty summoning of will and determination as it may seem in glossy retrospect, but in a series of small steps and choices that build momentum, that change who you are, that build a vector—a force in a direction. When the day comes that you lose hope and give up, the force of your life may lead to a discovery.
I took my mind out of my head and unrolled it on the kitchen table. It just fit. I had been having lots of buzzing, droning thoughts and wanted to take a good look at them. First I stood up and looked and then I sat down. I could see nothing going on in there. All I saw was a pure little mind, as innocent as the driven snow. (I love a good cliche, don’t you?)
So, confident that I was imagining these pesky little thoughts, I carefully rolled the mind back up and skillfully put it back into my right ear. (I take it out on the left side and replace it on the right. (I tend to be compulsive.)
I put the teakettle on and got a cup down from the rack. Should I have tea or coffee (The mind wanted to know what the body was going to have. By this question, I knew that the buzzing was starting up again.) I told it I would have coffee and a couple of cookies. (I also knew, by answering myself, that the mind had reinstated its bifurcation as if by magic.)
The two-way dialogue was off to the races. I knew that soon I would disappear into the buzz and the emotional brouhahas that would soon begin. I would drink my coffee without tasting it and eat cookies in the same way. So discouraging. (The inner critic had arrived. It looked a little like Roger Ebert. Was it hungry? Maybe that’s how I was gaining all of this weight...by feeding the multitudes, and not in a good way.)
With a total sigh, I resolved to take the mind out and examine it again. This time there were crumbs on the table and the mind recoiled as it touched bits of cookie. It was such a purist.
Nope, there was nothing on the surface of the mind. It was a clear pond reflecting my body as clearly as a mirror. I smiled at its ability to do that. What a mind I had...so trusting that it mirrored anything it saw. I bowed to the purity of it and my reflection in it. As I rolled it back up and put it back through the right ear, I hoped things would go differently now.
They didn’t. I could go on, good reporter that I am, to describe how often I do this. Once I went to a shrink and told him how often I was taking my mind out to examine it. He said he knew I was out of my head. He tried to give me medication but I refused. When the bill came, it was exorbitant and at the bottom he had written a personal note: Patient is just like every other nutcase I have ever treated. And what I told her seemed to go in one ear and out the other. Exactly!
See Vicki's Nonduality Now site.
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