A dozen thoughts of where to be and how; any place but here, with this body, these thoughts, and this feeling of "no." So I take a photo of you and hide it away for a hundred years, then pull out the page of a moment of your life and place it for the world to see. The dead look upon us with our eyes. Words like you and our, here and there; such momentary separations mingle in a nameless place... what name could we give that is not but another separation?
Visit Shorpy.com, the 100-year-old photo blog and look upon the past and present.
How do we break through beliefs? There's a gradual method—doubt, and an instantaneous method—shock. Which method disrupted an early childhood belief for you, such as a belief in Santa Claus? Was it a gradual doubt, or was there a shock? It could be that there's a clue in your early experience that would tell you something about your disposition regarding the spiritual search.
For an intentional path, we need to generate doubt. And first we need to identify a belief—a belief about the self, not about Santa. But we're generally caught up in our beliefs and don't see them except in retrospect.
A friend, SF, wrote last December: "I think my state of mind changed. I had the belief that to do things in the world about the search and about going on with life was in vain ... and that ... caused me to believe 'There's no way out and acting is vain; therefore I will not act, and I will live to disdain the futility of acting.' And this belief wasn't making me free. Now I don't ... care about acting or not, I feel that gathering people to start a group is very positive, not sure why. And I have no idea about what I am nor why ... I do whatever I do. But ... I feel/think that I have to go on with what I feel is right and expecting nothing. This going on with what I feel and expecting nothing feels liberating." This change in his perspective resulted from questioning, with help from others.
In November 2000 I became aware of my long-time conviction state and found words to describe it to myself. I wrote about it to my friend Bob Cergol, and here is his response interspersed with my description:
1. That somewhere there exists a person who can provide what's missing, whose
constant love will elevate me into 7th heaven.
BC: An echo of the inner man, who indeed has already provided what is missing through his constant, unconditional love.
2. That when that person comes along, then I will no longer be utterly alone.
BC: An echo of the inner man, who indeed is already there—utterly alone with you.
3. That such fulfillment offers the best chance for completion, in that it
doesn't require any effort on my part (and is therefore more likely to occur
BC: An echo of the inner man, who indeed, is not dependent, fortunately, upon your ability to make yourself into something better than yourself. And is not dependent at all upon you.
3 (continued). Of course intellectually I can see many of the holes in the above wishful thinking. What confounds me ... is why I'm willing to hold out hope for a shot at the impermanent and superficial.
BC, quoting Alfred Pulyan: "... for the self to abandon (even for a fraction of a second which is all that is necessary) its own proud assumption of being the ultimate decider is ... almost impossible."
Do you see that belief—of being the ultimate decider—in yourself? Is there a way you can question it?
Like phosphorescent residue on flame
Like the deep cavern under ancient trees
There is an open mall in La Mesa with shady and sunny spots, and lots of flowers, and puppies on leashes walking by, and of course, many shops.
My wife told me she'd be back in five minutes and rushed to Wal-Mart. I knew it'd be longer. When she enters a shop, she leaves STP(Standard Pacific Time) and enters Einstein's time. The shop accelerates close to the speed of light, and what for her is five minutes, to me is forty five.
I took a seat in the shade and got in a contemplative mood. I watched the shoppers, and observed how they walked.
You can tell a lot about people's state of mind by watching how they walk. I saw several cute puppies going by. There is a pet shop in the mall, and they let people with credit cards take puppies out for a stroll. It's a win win situation. The puppies get exercise, the shop gets advertisement for free, and bystanders get to smile.
I wasn't expecting more to kill those 45 minutes of earthly bound time. But I got lucky, a green beetle zeroed in on my bellybutton and landed on my white shirt. It was, indeed, a jewel, a masterpiece. No craft-person on Earth could sculpt that thing. It had the deepest, warmest hues of green. It glowed with deep light as it lumbered up my belly. What a treat!
Their kind is rare, and only appear in July and August. Usually, by mid September they are gone. So, I was all eyes and delight watching it climb. Then, it slowly disappeared from sight as it got to my upper chest. The moment that happened, I noticed that the delight gave way to a slight uneasiness. Where was this thing going? Would it dive inside my collar and walk down my neck? Sure, it was a harmless gorgeous bug, but it looked a little alien, and sinister in a mechanical way. Bugs, even beautiful ones, do not look like animals. They look more like art toys created by an evil mind. Was this one carrying germs, or an omen I was not yet ready to accept?
The uneasiness took the best of me, and I brushed it aside, it flew away like a tiny green buzzing helicopter and was gone.
I had visitations from Heaven before, and sometimes, when they got too intimate and intense, I brushed them aside. The defense system is incurably xenophobic. Fortunately for me, Heaven persisted. Heaven seldom sends messengers any more. It uses my thoughts. I miss that! Messengers wear such gorgeous clothes, and thoughts are so drab. Oh, well, it won't be long before Heaven, or Hell, or Oblivion will, for good, have my ass.
The first self about which to attain knowledge, is the secondary, essentially false, self which stands in the way, however useful it may be for many daily transactions. It must be set aside, made something which can be used or not used: not something which uses you. The way in which this is done is by self-observation: registering how and when this self is operating, and how it deceives. ~ Idries Shah
We are hammering away at this thing with a system of doubting to try to find something inside us. We are trying to find, through a hole in the paradigm, that which will open the head up to Reality. —Richard Rose, The Direct-Mind Experience
What is it about the relative mind that resists self-realization, the experience of Reality? This question repeatedly surfaced during my own search as I struggled to know the true Source of my awareness. As a TAT Forum reader, presumably you too may wonder why it is so difficult to "open the head up to Reality"—right now, right where you are.
The mind-body vehicle is programmed to resist death at all costs. Manifestly, the programming is a desirable trait in all life forms so as to perpetuate Nature's machinery. That is, each organism apparently doesn't spend time "thinking" about whether it wants to survive; rather, it carries an innate programming to instantly fight or take flight when faced with danger. However, for the seeker of Reality, the built-in resistance is seemingly a major obstacle, perhaps because the mind cannot face its own nonexistence without a "fight." The programming includes clever tricks to incessantly draw our attention outward. Our mind gravitates toward daily exigencies, entertainment, family, and work obligations. The primary objective, then, becomes finding new ways to turn the attention inward and overcome the resistance.
Let's go back to the question of why the mind resists our efforts to realize or discover Absolute Awareness. Such mysteries behind life's master design may forever remain unsolved. Apparently, though, the design allows some seekers to "burn through" the resistance and momentarily become immersed in the Absolute (during that situation, nothing of the mind remains, thus it is truly a mind-death experience—but not oblivion). What would happen if 6.5 billion people simultaneously witnessed the Absolute? Such an epic event might very well break the machinery. Each person would realize with certainly that all of their ambitions—their jobs, their family, good deeds for humanity, money—are nothing but ephemeral phantoms that crumble to dust instantly, projections that are no one's doing, a script written as they play the role. Of course, attempts to outwit the script would be part of the script…
"Hammering away." Those are the words of Richard Rose. It is accurate to say that the mind persistently struggles to trace the source of our awareness, but only to a certain point. As seekers, we must find our own path, our own ways to break the veil between what we think we are, and what we truly are. It seems prudent to approach the search with caution, and to employ a "system of doubting." That is, doubting everything except our own ability to realize our Source.
Simply waiting around for Reality to descend on the spiritual seeker is a long shot. An equally futile effort may involve following a rigid, one-size-fits-all path doled out in books or through a teacher. These two approaches are unlikely to overcome the resistance. Seekers with pure intent—those who have a strong desire to know their true Source and maintain the determination to overcome fear, pride, and other obstacles—are somehow placed in a superior position to overcome the mind. In the end, we find that seekers use innumerable paths to self-realization, but determination seems to increase the odds of overcoming the resistance. After a maximum realization, the "finder" knows the Light and his or her relation to It. The questions of who is aware and who dies are answered with finality. Strangely enough, the mind is still intact. But the resistance was finally dissolved.
~ For more essays and articles by Paul Constant, visit SearchWithin.org.
~ attributed to John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester
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