This Month's Contents: Where is Permanence? by Art Ticknor | Poems by Dave Weimer | An Encounter with Tony Parsons by Doug White | Excerpts by William Samuel | Inducing a Spiritual Awakening -- Part II by Larry Davis | Humor
This time of year it is dark as I drive to work. My headlights cast forward, digging into the darkness as I hurtle on. It feels like I'm looking into the future, peering seconds beyond the present. Night collapses behind me, replacing what I thought I knew with what truly is.
We are a little glow in the night, a cocoon of familiarity leaning forward, looking for permanence, hearing hints of answers we deny. Encased in our selves, we can't see the "dazzling dark."
Enjoy the read.
What are you looking for? Peace of mind ... power ... permanence? Contentment ... comprehension ... completion? Security ... success ... satisfaction? Hopefulness ... holiness ... happiness? Freedom from worry ... worship ... wisdom? Lightness of being ... latitude ... love? Pleasure ... perfection ... purpose? Experience ... entertainment ... eternality?
Our psychological wants all point back to a core belief: I am an individual being. Along with that core belief comes a companion fear: all the data points to an eventual annihilation of this individual unit. If our experience is plagued by anxiety, we desire peace of mind. If we're beset by a conviction of the insignificance of our existence, we want meaning. If we suffer from an intense feeling of separation, we long for union. Our interpretations of those feelings can be argued with, but the feelings themselves are facts -- and they are rational facts resulting from the core conviction of individuality.
So, where do we look for permanence, peace of mind, meaning, or the end of separation? If we believe ourselves to be a body, our best shot may be for possible future resurrection via cryogenic storage of whatever we think encapsulates our individuality (our brain? DNA?). If we identify ourselves as an individual mind, consciousness or spirit, our best bet is to find some reassurance of possible future postmortem continuation without our body. Against those belief-based gambles is the possibility of actually finding permanence, peace of mind, and so on, while living.
How? By discovering our real identity. Where? Where that true identity resides. Where is that? Where Isness is. Where permanence is. On the high seat of silence and nonmovement from which all observation arises. Every observation ever experienced has occurred there -- where you're looking out from.
“Just Turns Away”
When I go
What happens when my body falls away?
Everything has two answers we discover.
Then it falls
And your intuition will say
Earlier today, I took the broom out of my closet,
So I work carefully to the front of this god damn-good broom,
As for me,
In five minutes, I look below my feet
When I blink again,
And then I notice you.
‘Maybe you’re not going up,’ you say,
“Who are you?” I ask, finally,
You never answer.
“This is all there is. There is no other”. Thus began a three day Tony Parsons meeting in Dublin, Ireland. What then followed was a sustained frontal assault on the idea that you are someone and can do something to make your life work. Tony then opened it up for questions which consisted mostly of people coming up with objections to this message in one form or another. There would be question after question, followed by Tony breaking apart the question to reveal the assumption of personal identity hidden within. The confrontation didn't let up until the very end of the talk.
I attended three talks of this same format spread over three days. The entire experience felt like a continual pointing out of the nonexistence of the separate individual self. Tony functions as a living koan and even though he has an easy going personality, there was always an intense, confrontational energy in the room with nowhere for the mind to rest. There is nothing more sacred to the human personality than the sense of being a separate person with a life that has meaning. Parsons exposes this idea as being only a belief combined with an energetic contraction and not the truth of what actually is. He reminded me of Rose in that he treaded on sacred ground which made many uncomfortable and a few angry. The only person I’ve met who had as powerful as presence as Tony was Mr. Rose. They were both equally confrontational, but with messages that are almost directly opposed. I’ve found both messages to be equally challenging to live when taken head on.
Tony is an energetic, lively and charismatic and yet ordinary looking 73 year old with a great sense of humor who doesn't stand on ceremony or pretense. From what I gathered from his books, listening to his talks and from talking with others, he started early on the spiritual path because of his experiences as child growing up during World War II. His seeking ended when he had an experience leading to the loss of self which he calls liberation at 21. He later was a bus driver, used car salesman, and successful builder. He didn't start talking publicly about his experience until the 1990's partly because he said it can take years to process the experience and speak about it with clarity. He has been married for many years to his wife Claire, who reportedly is also in the same liberated state and he has four children.
The two statements “There is no one” and “All There is, is This” sum up Parson’s entire teaching. He states that once you begin to see through the foolishness of the idea that there's anything to seek or anybody that can do it, then another possibility arises. His method consists of challenging people’s thinking on their assumptions about their identity and helping them become open to the sense that there is no one here. It seems to be effective. From what I can tell there are at least twelve people who regularly went to his meetings and have been liberated into the state of no-self. A few of them whose writings you can read on the Internet are Nathan Gill, Jan Kerschott, and Leo Hartung. I believe this high success rate has occurred around him because there is a readiness to accept his message by the time a seeker goes to hear him. This state of mind probably doesn't happen to most people until years of letting go of lesser beliefs has occurred.
My main point of contention with Tony's point of view is that even though he says there is no one and therefore no one who can do anything, he himself was an intense seeker when it happened for him and all of the liberated people associated with Tony who are communicators (people who communicate the message to others) were serious seekers before it happened. All practiced forms of self-inquiry, including Tony himself. He doesn't give useful pointers since he says there is no one who seeks, but perhaps if you're on the edge of the abyss of nothingness, meeting him may be the exact thing you need for the final push.
Below are a few statements he made during the meetings which give a brief taste of his message:
"We live in constant grace."
"This is complete absurdity to the mind."
“The biggest addiction by far is being someone – meing instead of being.”
“This place is the worst place for a seeker to be since it might lead to the death of the seeker. It’s of no benefit to you. It’s of benefit to no one.”
“Being a seeker is itself one of the biggest trips of all. It's better than being a rock star since it’ll last for eternity.”
“A complete understanding of what is being said here, utter clarity, is not liberation. All it takes is an emotional event to stop the clarity because there is still someone who can take ownership.”
“The mind does not like the absolute simplicity of this.”
“You didn’t choose to come here.”
“This message is totally uncompromising. There is nothing for sale here.”
“There is simply life.”
“It is utterly simple.”
“This is the most dangerous place for a seeker to be!”
“You’re given nothing here!”
“I’m not saying there is nothing to do. I’m saying there is no one here.”
“After awakening, ambitions can still arise, goals can still arise. Before awakening, the whole idea of a goal is that somehow it will fulfill you. Afterwards it is known that it won’t. Then that goal is just another part of the play. There is a joy in running faster or further, or in painting a better painting, because there is no neurotic drive to fill a sense of loss. It is spontaneous, unconditional love, spontaneously acting.”
“The great avoidance of presence is the idea that what you are looking for is over there. 'It can’t be this. It isn’t just this!'”
“The most important thing happening here is what is happening energetically and not what is being communicated.”
To a practicing psychotherapist - “After liberation happens to someone, they could no longer be a psychotherapist since there is no way confusion could arise out of clarity!”
“We’ve put on the guise of being adults which is a pretend game. This is more about the simplicity of being a child.”
To a person who said that the ideas being discussed were abstract and complicated - “Not at all. It's utterly simple - there is no one and this is all there is!”
I had been practicing Douglas Harding's headless meditation of staying in the first person perspective fairly intensely before going to see Tony and I fell into that state often during the talks. Something about the energy in the room and the message of the nonexistence of self seemed to make the headless state occur spontaneously. From this perspective, Tony is just another appearance that arises and passes away, just like everything else, but it was a most entertaining appearance indeed! He gives you a strong sense of the complete freedom that results from being no one at all.
From a Dublin, Ireland May 25-27, 2007, retreat
More often than not, the gems of the Heart are diametrically opposed to the world's proud common sense. Mankind argues loudly about matters it does not understand. Man is ruthless with whatever points out the nothingness of his personal ego. Those still satisfied with their misidentification as great judges of Life are not bubbling over at the prospect of losing their dearest possession, the intellect. Truth is the absolute destruction of all that goes to make up the personal belief and dream of a world filled with intelligent, mind possessing mortals. It marks the end of the old nature, "man with breath in his nostrils," the "old man" to be put off.
The belief in a separate personality capable of possessing this Now-Awareness is exploded and ended in the Heart. Here in the Heart one finds Truth, the Eternal Flame, the all-consuming fire destined to overcome the world of fictitious separateness.
First, mankind looked for Truth to come as something from out the sky in the future. Then, it was determined to be from within that it would be found, but the "within" was thought to be within a personal mind, contained and controlled by man. Man has been looking for Truth within his intellect, within his reasoning and calculating mind; but no Wisdom, no Truth, no Reality will ever come from the thinking, reasoning, planning, evaluating, judging, opinion-holding intellect. It comes forth from Self-Identity.
- From A Guide To Awaremess And Tranquillity by William Samuel.
Visit William Samuel and Friends for more.
A Spiritual Awakening (or Breakthrough Event) requires a certain state of mind. While many use meditation techniques to reach beyond the self, they are limited in how far they can take you. Think of the spiritual journey as leaving the near shore of your existing life to reach a distant shore. Meditation can take you beyond the near shore but the anchor still remains.
Imagine what it would like to take a small rowboat to the center of a large lake. As we leave the near shore, it becomes smaller and smaller in the distance. The water becomes choppy and the wind increases in intensity. We know that we only have to row back to shore to find the comfort of the known. How would you feel if you could no longer see the shore? You would feel lost – that your life is in jeopardy – that you may not survive – that you may die! This is the state of mind that you have to bear if you want to go through a spiritual awakening. You have to be prepared to leave the near shore and not look back.
The near shore represents your life and how you experience it. The ego holds on to this life and may even crave an awakening knowing that its annihilation is the goal. If leaving your existing life behind is no great loss, then you need to make a commitment to leave the near shore until it disappears.
The method I am going describe is derived from the experience I went thru 34 years ago (see article in the September 2007 TAT Forum). I did not knowingly use this method knowing the outcome, but used it intuitively out of desperation.
How does one let go of one’s inner world to reach the distant shore? You start by looking away from your inner life and shifting your focus externally. Since you are consciously doing this task, you may find a degree of unease in it. You have to be willing to continue regardless of discomfort. In fact, the closer you get to the Breakthrough Event, the more discomfort you will feel. It is not easy or pleasant to go through this event.
To begin, you need to be in a quiet place where you will not be interrupted for several hours. To look outward, find an object to focus on and do not break your focus until the breakthrough has taken place. You may find thoughts creeping in while maintaining your focus. You should ignore them and maintain your focus. You will need a strong determination to see this through. As time goes on, you will notice your awareness of the surroundings fade away, such that your focus on the object is all that remains. It will get intense from that point onward. Just stay with it. Whatever thoughts or feelings may emerge, you must maintain your outward focus on the object. You may feel like you are losing everything, that you are dying, but it is only the ego that is stepping aside. At the peak of intensity, the event will resolve. The resolution may include a white light that fills your vision, or just an immense sense of peace. The aftereffects of this event may include feelings of joy, bliss or connectedness to everything. It may also include cognitive insights into the nature of the universe. These are all normal occurrences.
Some of you that try to induce this event may not complete it. You may get to a certain point and find too much discomfort or find that the intensity is a bit much to take. This is also a normal response. If you are doing this as an experiment, then it is not likely you will make it to the end on the first attempt.
This Breakthrough Event requires a special motivation. You have to be willing to leave your old life behind and start on a new course. This motivation often comes from a deep dissatisfaction with one’s life and its way in the world. If you are comfortable with your life as it is, then it is unlikely you will have the motivation to proceed. Motivators can be emotions such as anger, disgust, or an attitude that “I’ve had enough and I just want to be free of my burdens”. It can be very helpful to have momentum to complete this task. A sense of urgency can help propel you so that you are willing to put up with the discomfort and intensity.
I believe that this method can be used by others to achieve the same results as I did. Do not try to force it, but if you feel ready to take the journey then make a plan and try to execute it as best as you can.
[Larry suggested we add a "try at your own risk" disclaimer to this
article, so be careful out there!]
See Larry's web site Natural Life: Observations on the Spiritual Path.
Consciousness - an animation of spirit
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