This Month's Contents: Hakuin's Monkey | Turning the Head by Paul Constant | Small Cyprus: A Photo by Bob Fergeson | "Petition": A Poem by Art Ticknor | Video: I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face by Nat King Cole | Humor |
When we started the Forum nearly ten years ago, one of my ground rules was inelegantly phrased as, "no stuff from dead people." We aimed to provide a space for new and lesser-known voices and to encourage communication between readers and writers. We've relaxed the "dead people" rule a bit over the years. Sometimes there is no substitute for a karate chop to the ego from a long-ago Zen master.
I'll try to do a better job in the future of providing contact information and links to the sites of our authors. Unlike Eckhart Tolle, you can actually get a response from someone like Bob Fergeson, Art Ticknor, or other regular contributors. While a spiritual realization ultimately occurs in silence and internal solitude, it helps to have a few friends along the way.
Speaking of friends, if you're curious what our co-editor Dave Weimer is up to between his stints at the Forum helm, check out his blog: One and Only Observer.
The November 2008 TAT meeting included a discussion on levels of meditation (see the Summary Notes, page 30 from Richard Rose’s Meditation Paper). In the days afterward, Paul Constant and several meeting participants exchanged email on "turning the head." The following text is excerpted from Paul's response.
"We begin to notice a motion within the head. The physical head does not move, but we become conscious of a mental head that literally turns away from a view. When you are able to turn this internal head, whenever you wish, without any inability to continue thinking, you are half way home." ~ Richard Rose, "The Practical Approach" Psychology of the Observer
Those words are indeed the key. To get there, a spiritual seeker must be obsessed with watching thought. If I sit here and attempt to spell out exact formulae, then you will fail to find your own way in seeing yourself caught up in a thought or string of thoughts. However, Rose gives hints throughout the Psychology of the Observer. He says start simply by meditating in a place away from distractions. While in meditation (sitting, walking, etc.), you'll see the mind drift away on the winds, and then you'll realize you have drifted, and then you'll return to center. This doesn't mean that you substitute a "better" thought. No. The watching process simply brings you back to center. It's this turning back to center that will become clear to you at some point. And once there, you will certainly drift back into the mind's tangled web. But you will have reached a point, which Rose alludes to, where you cannot remain forever laminated in your thought drama i.e., you will never be lost in forgetfulness.
If you "over think" this stuff, you will fail. The mind will fail, as it is ultimately the obstacle, not the solution.
At the TAT meeting, several participants seemed caught up in the drawbacks of "mechanicalness," such as feeling like meditation is an obligation. You see, we have a tendency to crave the advanced aspects of the search but we easily overlook the most obvious obstacles. The mind of a seeker constantly battles apathy and weariness. The forces of adversity are legion. Introspection is abstract. That's why it's important to make the search a priority, to become a reverse vector with enough momentum that carries us through the doldrums.
As for my own milestones, they may be totally irrelevant. But I was an intense seeker between my early twenties and early thirties. I was aware of the mental turning process for years, and I was aware that I was aware. But I ran out of gas for another 10 years before finally deciding that enough was enough — I had to Know. And thus, I come back to my original point: an earnest seeker is obsessed with watching thought.
Our one father,
In a dream some friends and I were voicing some well-known prayer. After the 3rd line, everyone stopped & looked at me. I'd apparently gotten the words wrong. One of the friends asked me if I'd like to lead a prayer. I said no thanks, and he laughed at my response. As I awoke, I was having second thoughts about my response … thinking about a prayer I could construct for my friends. Above is the prayer that then composed itself for them.
Video... I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face
If you don't see the video above, go directly to YouTube.
I have suffered through many terrible tragedies in my life — some of which actually happened.
TAT Mag does a good job of reminding me to take a look at the untruths I've built into a life all these years.
Did you enjoy the Forum? Then buy the book! Beyond Mind, Beyond Death is available at Amazon.com.