This Month's Contents: The Tired Mind by Ben Rainey | The Permanence not me by P.S. | What questions would I ask of anyone who was enlightened? by David Weimer | Three Poems by Shawn Nevins | Video: Peace Pilgrim Documentary | Quotes | Humor |
Everything seems to flow down. And everyone seems to strive upward... Until they relax... Everyone relaxes eventually. And what will all of these people have discovered, or what will they have become, before they relax and flow downstream into oblivion? And what about you?
Here are a few pieces from people's roads.
Send us your own thoughts or let us know what you think we should include in a future Forum.
A new message dropped down the long chute from the Unknown, one of several just like it. One of the tireless busy-men running about the place opened it and read it off: “Itch! Back of head.” He walked from the chutes over to the big machine at the center of the room and dropped the message into a slot at the top. It was a miracle that this big hunk of machinery worked at all. It had a tangled shape to it, too wrapped around itself for any onlooker to figure out how it worked. It shook furiously, spewing steam, oil, and the occasional expletive as it processed the new message. Finally, just as it seemed like the thing would explode, it suddenly stopped with a ding and popped out its verdict. “Lift right arm. Scratch itch with finger. Don’t bump into guy on right,” the last bit a reference to an earlier incoming message about an irritable fellow apparently to the right somewhere “out there.” If one looked closely enough down at the bottom of this output directive, there was another message in small print: “…but I’d really like to go Home now.” These little messages had been showing up a lot recently, stuck down in the corner of the directives spewed out from the worn out old machine. “Turn left at next light…but I’d really like to go Home now.” “Walk to kitchen. Get glass of water… but I’d really like to go Home now.” “Keep up appearance of being professional and capable…but I’d really like to go Home now.”
Excerpted from P.S.'s June 2, 2010 email messages to Paul Constant:
[You asked about] an account of a glimpse I had a couple months ago. The circumstances that led up to it had to do with a question I'd been pondering for a while – "What if I could say I'm ready right now for the Truth?" Then one day the whole tension behind the question came to a head, and I had to fight back tears. A little later I attempted to look deeper into what was going on, though the intensity seemed to have passed. Curiously, for some reason my attention shifted to the people I'd met recently from joining an online confrontation group. With it came a feeling of deep gratitude, the sense of not being isolated anymore, and indirectly an uncanny sense that something was guiding me along. This rumination re-triggered the emotion; my resistance came down and I couldn't stop the tears this time.
What happened next just came out of nowhere. A view appeared with unequivocal certainty. Something Permanent and Perfect. These words spontaneously went through my mind – It was there all this time … This wasn't me after all … I was so wrong … How could I have doubted? And the strange but wonderful part was that this Permanence had absolutely nothing to do with me. After a while of going back and forth letting all this play out, I asked --"If all that I assumed was me, wasn't me, then what is?" But nothing further came. So I simply let myself feel the feeling behind the experience. There was a "first time ever" quality to it. A state like a pure cleansing. Of being a child (of God). Tremendous relief that I really didn't have to carry a load anymore. For a week or two after, when I let myself recall the experience, I felt "in place." I didn't want the certitude of this "Permanence not me" to fade, but it has.
The other day, I re-read something Alfred Pulyan had written regarding the role of "feeling" in ego's surrender:
”Also the highest of "standards," a deep love of beauty (although not of a "formal" nature -- you will know what I mean, no pretentions yak-yak) -- so that the "change-over" occurs because for a moment you are already there anyway. That is why "bhakti" or devotion is considered so good a "way" by the Hindus (& myself, since if "bhakti" is sufficiently pure it is the very experience we seek --)"
This struck me profoundly, especially the part about the "change-over." I wonder how his meaning of pure devotion relates, if it all, to the "feeling" before and during the glimpse I was shown.
Here are questions that occurred to me and my attempts to answer them:
What do you really know?
I live one thing. This one thing is an outlook, a place I view things from. This one thing has eclipsed my unknowing. I have a definite, certain grasp of this word, ‘know.’ The more competently or fully I grasp a thing—like carpentry, painting and martial arts—the more completely my effort to encapsulate this thing in words fails. I am it, more and more. I think this is a simple thing. How can you know what I know? There are probably people exactly like me out there who I’ll never meet, but who would easily understand and know what I know. I’ll probably meet almost everybody in my life that isn’t like me and consequently, they won’t understand or ‘know’ (recognize) what I know. The odds exist for this and everything in between.
What have you got that I haven’t got?
There’s something missing that I want or pine for...
There are unknowns in my world view...
I don’t feel that way. I’m not incomplete. A perfect life situation can't make me feel fulfilled and complete. The external is always changing. If some aspect of my life situation is changed, my equanimity that depends on a static situation is also removed.
The contentment that I walk with, however, doesn’t seem to change.
Like rain on my skin; it doesn’t seem to matter how soaking wet I get; external circumstances don’t affect the solid something that exists in the space of a former lack. You probably don’t have something of importance to you, and you know it. If you had it, if you were it; that’s what I have. I have what you don’t have.
How do you know this for sure?
I’ve been hungry and uncertain. I lived my life looking for something more and I don’t think that there was or is any other way for me to live. And then: surprise. Something else.
Are you sure that you’re right?
Do you mean self-delusion? Or, being wrong? If I’m fooling
myself, I’m doing a much more complete job of it than I’ve
been able to do before. I’ve lived [fourteen] years with this
condition, which might just be called, “being a man.” If it
were dependent on me and my mercurial, variable and waning abilities
and capacities, then I think I wouldn’t have sustained this
delusion very long at all.
As the years go by, I am more and more imperfect. The confidence I had once in my mental and physical abilities during the youth of my past is something that I no longer grasp with utmost confidence. I am confronted and live daily with my growing limitations, my increasing faults. Like watching a great building develop all the problems of an old one—peeling paint, cracks, leaks, etc.
One thing, however, seems to be getting stronger as ‘I’ get weaker. A feeling of being. A wisdom thing. In the past, I didn’t have long stretches of time when I felt contentment. There would be an afternoon, or an hour. Then, dissatisfaction would come in and prompt me to do something, go after some interest or something. I don’t have that at a fundamental level. This change seems to be independent of my personal efforts one way or the other, thank God.
How can you be sure?
I believe it's possible that everyone has some doubt. I can doubt the validity
of my own motives—if I’m a student of the
truth and a philosophic observer of my actions and the actions of
others. I can doubt my perceptions, conclusions and other people’s
sincerity. There is no end to ‘doubting.’
But I have one big thing that doesn’t fit into any of this. I walk and live daily with a permanent moodless mood; I am infused with this; it flavors me more with time, and doesn’t have anything to do with my life. It is, and I seem to be. Coincidentally, my ignorance and uncertainty about most other things in this place is shrinking as time goes by.
What do you recommend that I do?
Okay, this really only applies to me, but maybe you can use it.
Kick and struggle. Don’t do this half-assed. Fight. It’s a real,
real big hill to climb. If you don’t go full tilt, maybe you won’t
get that second half of a peddle in before your lack of momentum
roots your tricycle in one place. Grab for your right; it is your
own solitary sacred right. Sacrifice everything for this one thing
that you want. Never surrender. If you feel like giving up, just
try one more time.
Give up everything else for That, whatever That is. Cry. It helps. Pray. It’s straining in that direction and hopefully somebody hears you in this lonely place. Try. Always try. Become smarter than the problem and become smarter, better, braver and wiser than yourself. You’re not going to make it there. Some other person will. Read. Read everything that you are interested in. Read anything, anything. No action is ‘not spiritual.’ The only thing ‘not spiritual’ is not being true to your own personal honest efforts. Adopt a daily practice. Do it like your life depended on it.
Go the route that everybody sincerely driven goes. Devote yourself unreservedly to practices. And do whatever one seems to be the one. If you have to move to another one, don’t hesitate. You can’t afford to. Keep a journal. This is really important. Seek out experts, enlightened people and grill them, dissect them, take them apart, find out what makes them tick. Don’t be polite. Eternity is more important than politeness. If an enlightened person is offended or defensive, then maybe they’ll have to whittle their enlightenment into a better shape. You’re after the best stuff there is; turn towards the probably-better.
How can you help me?
I don’t think I can. If you’re similar enough to me, you’ll pick up on me and maybe find comparing yourself to me useful. It will probably feel better than hanging around people who you have nothing in common with.
Please help me!
Okay. Maybe we all want this kind of help. I wanted this badly. Who wouldn't want infallable guidance? I was disappointed by not having an active teacher or true helper along the way. I was resentful. I was jealous of people I met who’d spent years with a teacher, decades. But this didn’t last. I can recall this sadness, this ‘growing pain’ of mine, but I can tell you that there’s something in being self reliant. As much as you can, go out and do it. You’ll grow stronger, and without knowing it, you’ll become what you were going after in chasing those elusive personal masters. Read Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha or The Poet.
What should I be doing?
What you feel drawn to this minute. This is not a way of referring to something
vague. Try everything that you can think of. Keep your ears open and eyes
peeled for things out there that other people are doing or trying. Unashamedly
grab what you see that looks promising. Try pushing into those things that
scare you. It seemed to help me grow or advance a lot.
Maybe you don’t need that. Above all, form your own path. Your own path might be someone else’s; it might be worship or atheism, but make sure that it’s really it for you. Follow things that you are drawn to or that you are drawn to attempt. It is your personal path, no one else’s. It’s probably not true for everyone, but it’s what I’m throwing out there as ‘true.’
What can I do right now?
If you actually ask that question at this point in this series of questions, I say, “Do it!” and either hit you or turn away without explanation. Because (by way of explaining) you’ve probably heard or had the idea of something that you could be doing but feel the uncertainty that accompanies untested potential and untried endeavors. You may ‘want’ something to resist or, especially, want something to agree with you, to prop you up. Who doesn’t want to feel good, to be unique and to be accepted? If someone says, “X,” You may say, “Why?” Well stop screwing around and do your thing. Ask questions later.
Can I get this ultimate answer right now, without all the messing around that people do?
I think so.
What is it, this answer?
It’s everything for you, I think.
Are you better off now?
I think so. It feels better now, heading towards the falls with peace.
What is the nature of reality as you see it?
It’s a profound, all-encompassing magnificent oblivion that quietly resides in all, all, all. Careful. I might be talking about oblivion and death.
What is the cosmos, the universe, what does it look like?
The nature of reality is that everything is somehow interrelated. Just how, we’ll
see to varying degrees; some people see a lot of this, I see a lot of that;
we’ll all get some kind of overall felt view of this mundane related-to-itself
universe. And I mean universe, with its billions of galaxies. There are causal
relationships that we don’t see but that we are influenced by every second
of our lives.
I’m talking interpersonal/emotional, genetic (never underestimate the power of a million years behind the unbroken candle flame line of existence that you are the current representative of), galactic, solar systemic, bacterial, viral (the stuff inside us that outnumber our own cells), and on and on. We are part of this web, every thread of which is thrumming between everything else. People talk about quantum physics, string theory and multiple dimensions, and this is what I’m talking about, too. This wonderful cosmos. I empathize with the millions-miles-wide burning star that is our sun. I feel myself being it, for millions and billions of years. And for this four-second stretch of time during this in-breath. Now. I feel this about everything, everything. Like looking down at the earth from space, I think I’m looking down at everything from someplace, some thing.
How do you know this?
I’m trying to describe something to you that I feel slash see in this brief flame of personal conscious existence.
Can you give it to me right now?
Yes. Anything is possible.
Can you do more than talk?
She flirts with the mirror
This empty house opens its doors
"The world is an illusion,"
If you don't see a video clip above, then go directly to youtube.com.
"Everything--a horse, a vine--is created for some duty...For what task, then, were you yourself created? A man's true delight is to do the things he was made for."
"I didn’t attend the funeral,
but I sent a nice letter saying
I approved of it."
~ Mark Twain
"I feel so miserable without you;
it's almost like having you here."
~ Stephen Bishop
My wife and I were happy for twenty years.
Then we met.
~ Henny Youngman
I just want to say thanks for the monthly forum. It’s truly an oasis in the desert of life. I’m always excited when I see the notice in my inbox that a new forum has been released. Somehow you guys always manage to create something helpful and/or touching. The pictures “The Answer” and “The Answer: Redux” really touched me deeply – they are both simple, beautiful and express something on an emotional level that is hard to capture in words (especially together). I guess the old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words still holds true. Keep up the good work.
Did you enjoy the Forum? Then buy the book! Beyond Mind, Beyond Death is available at Amazon.com.