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The TAT Forum: a spiritual magazine of essays, poems and humor.

March 2009

This Month's Contents: How it will be by Shawn Nevins | 2 Haiku by Bart Marshall | a poem by David Weimer | The Checklist-Introduction [referencing Richard Rose] by David Scoma | words we use | Quotes | Humor


Editor's Note
by David Weimer

Zen archer Shawn Nevins, our TAT Forum editor, told me recently, 'You know,' he said, 'there's a lot of writing.' He pointed with his words to action. Some have argued that our actions tell us more about ourselves than anything else could. Well, along these lines, I've agreed to take an occasional turn at the Forum editor's wheel. When I get your words, I will try to line them up in a caravan of similar-spirited pieces on this swaying tightrope over eternity that we like to call... The TAT Forum.

Please submit your preferably original work using the "contact" tab at the top of this page.


How it will be
by Shawn Nevins

10/22/07 How It Will Be

surface tension "I wondered how it'd be when I died. What it'd be like to know that this breath now was the last one you was ever gonna draw." —from the film The Thin Red Line

A good question: how will it be? Will you watch from afar as if taking notes? "Oh, now I'm dying," you will say, "The room is getting fuzzy; I'm fading away. I'm going, I'm going; okay, now I'm dead." We can't imagine having no perspective – not being. Falling asleep is the closest we know. We are awake, then no more. How will light look when it is not present? What is your original face before you were born? Where are you when you are not there? These are the koans we don't want to think about, because if we do, they end in a blank wall.

I'm going to look at the present, to look at "right now" and see what that reveals. I suspect this moment right now will be identical to the last moment before I'm extinct. I am here, then I will be no more, so let me examine what "here" really is.

Right now, I see my fingers clenched in a fist and feel that fist propped against my lips. I hear these very words I'm preparing to write, though I don't hear with my ears, but with my mind. Sounds coming from outside are in stereo, are triangulated and given a location. Sounds inside my head are in mono and are dreamlike in their sound without sound quality. But these sights, sounds, and feelings are hardly the present moment. They are echoes of events now past. Sensory perception is downwind of the now, unless I define "now" as a hopelessly subjective, sensorial experience separate from objective events. In which case we can all "just be," relax and take comfort in our limitation… or we can determine to dig deeper.

Behind and beyond perception there must be that which perceives. Yet, as soon as I perceive the perceiver he becomes the past. I catch my self paying attention, noticing, being aware of thought. What I can never see is the perceiver. I can only see reflections of my self. The ultimate Self is hidden. That which sees has no container, and has no form. The moment must be that which is not; that which is not past or future; that which is not seen or perceived. An ordinary moment carries within it a hint of the extraordinary, but also the sinking feeling that what I'm searching for is forever just around the corner.

"I just hope I can meet it [death] the same way she did, with the same calm. Cause that's where it's hidden – the immortality I hadn't seen." —from The Thin Red Line

The "calm" Private Witt speaks of in The Thin Red Line is more than peace of mind. The calm is awareness and within that is immortality. "Within" is a vague word on paper, but very specific in my experience. It feels like behind or underlying; as if awareness were a facade. Awareness is like the present moment transfixed by itself – two mirrors facing one another – aware of being aware. We are a body and mind aware of being aware rather than truly being/existing as awareness. The now is held hostage by the mind.

The present moment, our awareness, will be forever contaminated by the mind until it is transcended. Thus the often-heard statements that enlightenment is death and the mind must die. Death is awareness broken from time, from the body and mind, and from the dance of awareness watching awareness. When the I Am feeling/experience is gone our final point of clinging vanishes.

"Ah! What do I do?" you say, and you will be forever disappointed in the answer because what we are looking for is the reason you hold so tightly. Life is a series of substitutes for the truth. You need to figure out what they are and find people who can help you figure out until you've exposed all your reasons for living. Then live (or become conscious of) a life that allows you to hear and follow your deepest desire; that allows you to find the calm; that allows you to find awareness and rest in the awareness again and again. After that, all you can do is wait, not as if you were on the couch watching television, but like the archer with the drawn bow.


2 Haiku by Bart Marshall

To fight or to bow
is seldom clear. I ask,
"Which will strengthen my heart?"

After death we are remembered,
vaguely,
by others who soon perish.


"Something I Noticed" by David Weimer

Eons surround us, unnoticed.
Time walks uphill.
Steadily.
Steady as rain.


The Checklist-Introduction
[referencing Richard Rose],
by David Scoma

It does not matter how often one says not to have expectations about awakening - they are there, you've got them, so we might as well just face that fact. And one of the chief expectations when it comes to spiritual enlightenment has to do with "what will waking up be like?" That question was, by far, the biggest distraction at the end. It could have potentially derailed the entire thing. (At least it seemed that way at the time - beforehand. After waking up, the distraction was directly seen to have been perfect, regardless.)

Seekers who are serious tend to do a great deal of reading and research. That continues afterward, it seems, but in a different way - more out of making 'sense' from what has happened, looking back through the old sources to see what held up and what didn't. However, another key part in all of this has to do with then going forward with research - in other words, being led to books, scholars, writers who you HADN'T encountered before the transition - yet were more right on with what went down potentially than any you found as a seeker.

That was without a doubt the case on this end. In fact, all of the books, authors, and teachers who will be mentioned in this series were not read or studied thoroughly for correlations to what happened on this end until after the deed was done.

glacier Again, it's sort of a double-edged sword here. I'm telling you to drop all expectations, but then leading you to sources which in some ways paralleled what took place on this end. Here is the reason: if you've been hanging around this site long enough, you'll have picked up glimpses of what happened anyhow. It has never been felt on this end that those incidents were conveyed very well - they simply can't be. So in one sense, I'm pointing to other places where different writing styles perhaps would make certain aspects of what went down a little clearer.

However, the other reason is sort of a backhanded way of trying to prove that you can not take any one experience as the end-all be-all. And by default, caution must be shown towards having any expectations about what might be up the road for you. During the studies before and after that occurred on this end, there were definitely bits and pieces of similarity found in comparison to various genuine enlightenment accounts - but none at all that was a complete match from start to finish. For those who have crossed the line while working with me, this remains the case as well. Their experiences mimicked to a great degree what happened on this end, but with variations (some quite distinctly unique) from the original one encountered by this author.

Take it all with a grain of salt. If nothing more, this is a loose annotated bibliography of sources who you could do far worse than to look up on your own and make your own decisions about.

Richard Rose

There are countless factors which warrant recommending Richard Rose to a serious seeker. In keeping with the theme of this series, however, I am going to try to limit what I have to say to the manner in which what he encountered paralleled what was found on this end.

And that is that what was found, what was encountered, was stark. The buildup was frightening. The event was nothing less than death.

Virtually everything about Mr. Rose seems to convey to me that aspect of his experience, and how it colored so much of his work, his writing, and his approach to the world and to his students. He never let anyone forget that what was found was the exact opposite of what the sources and his own mind had him expecting in advance. Even if that is the only thing you take from Richard Rose, it will brace you for the possibility - as much as any disclaimer can (which is not much, you have to live it to know - but at least you'll have been warned) that you truly have to die to be reborn, and heaven very well might not be awaiting you in the way you've pictured it.

Dr. Wolff [Franklin Merrell-Wolff] speaks of affective openings and non-affective openings - postulating that the makeup of a person, as well as the infinite creativity of the universe, plays a part in the nature and character of the realization. Whereas Dr. Wolff believed that his scholarly bent and quiet nature brought him toward a non-affective opening, it is felt on this end that Richard Rose would be a representative of an affective opening - to the extreme.

Now, that is not to say that Mr. Rose was not scholarly. Far from it. Though the days of seeking are long since gone, Mr. Rose and his research, his references, and his own work and postulations, have very much become one of the chief bibliographies after the fact. Richard Rose's speeches, writings and theories are easily as penetrating, engaging, and genuinely informative to a serious seeker BY FAR over a great deal of the endlessly repeated rhetoric of virtually any pundit or guru pitching their wares out on the spiritual street corner. (Not to mention the fact that Mr. Rose's conclusions were combined with first hand experience in a vast amount of anthropological, esoteric, and occult sources - many of which he not only investigated, but whose practices and feats he actually learned how to accomplish directly.)

After waking up, this author was badly shaken, wondering what the hell had happened. (And why the hell none of the so-called authorities in the field had even tried to prepare me as a seeker for the potentially darker side of things. Three guesses as to that answer, though you should only need one. Blind, soundly-sleeping guides abound.) I will always be grateful for Mr. Rose's writing, along with the eyewitness accounts given of that gentleman, in which he truly did clarify those matters, and seemed concerned quite genuinely that people were as prepared for What It's Like as is possible. This site you are reading is dark - and unapologetically so. The dark stuff by far is not all I have to say, but it is what I lead with. If the more ominous potentials inherent in awakening are all a seeker gets from here before closing their browser and moving onto someone 'lighter', then at least that seed has been planted. It was too late for me by the time I discovered Mr. Rose to be prepared, but all that can be done on this end is mention and outline the starker possibilities for others - just in case - which was just one of the many things that Richard Rose did in spades.


words we use

words from a newspaper

(2)mystic, noun; Date: 1679; 1 : a follower of a mystical way of life 2 : an advocate of a theory of mysticism.

mys•ti•cal, adjective; Date: 15th century; 1 a: having a spiritual meaning or reality that is neither apparent to the senses nor obvious to the intelligence. The mystical food of the sacrament. b: involving or having the nature of an individual's direct subjective communion with God or ultimate reality. The mystical experience of the Inner Light.

mys•ti•cism, noun; Date: 1735; 1: the experience of mystical union or direct communion with ultimate reality reported by mystics 2: the belief that direct knowledge of God, spiritual truth, or ultimate reality can be attained through subjective experience (as intuition or insight) 3 a: vague speculation : a belief without sound basis b: a theory postulating the possibility of direct and intuitive acquisition of ineffable knowledge or power.

~ Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary


Quotes....

"Life is tragic simply because the earth turns and the sun inexorably rises and sets, and one day, for each of us, the sun will go down for the last, last time. Perhaps the whole root of our trouble, the human trouble, is that we will sacrifice all the beauty of our lives, will imprison ourselves in totems, taboos, crosses, blood sacrifices, steeples, mosques, races, armies, flags, nations, in order to deny the fact of death, which is the only fact we have. It seems to me that we ought to rejoice in the fact of death - ought to decide, indeed, to earn one's death by confronting with passion the conundrum of life. One is responsible for life: It is the small beacon in that terrifying darkness from which we come and to which we shall return.."

~ JAMES BALDWIN


Humor....

TRAVELER: God has been mighty good to your fields, Mr. Farmer.

FARMER: You should have seen how he treated them when I wasn't around.

~ ANONYMOUS


Reader Commentary:

Just wanted to say a few words concerning the "Editor's Note" [December 2008] by Shawn Nevins. I have received several pointers lately, telling me to move on, towards an actual practice of a teacher or teaching.

Of course, these pointers turned into further readings of several more books. What Shawn said in the note, really and finally struck me deeply. To start practicing just one way, until you either get results, or move on.

My appreciation for your clear message. I found it very helpful, towards my desire for greater awareness.

~ D

 

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