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TAT Weekend Intensive: The Heart of the Matter. April 16-17, 2011.
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March 2011

This Month's Contents: Jacob's Ladder: Audio Q&A by Paul Constant | Nature of Thought by Sunil Vidyarthi | Evolution of a Poem by Augie Monge | Silence by Greg Nicholls | Video: You have to stop by Richard Rose | Thoughts on not thinking by Joel Schibbelhute | Quotes | Humor |


Editor's Note
by David Weimer

spiritual magazine Our life may be our teacher and school. We avoid homework, avoid class work and skip school. Enlightenment may await us on the other side of a final exam. Some take this test at the end of life and others at the end of searching. Many deny the existence of tests, classes, schools, teachers or lessons.

For you holdouts: don’t miss the coming March 7th submission deadline for next month’s Forum theme, Life as teacher.

"Yet the real teacher is not a man, and is known only in that circumstances befall us,” wrote Richard Rose. We welcome your essays, poems, and pictures on Life as Teacher — Stories of a Life Event that taught you a Profound Lesson. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

By the way: attending next month's April TAT gathering, The Heart of the Matter, will be a good way to meet Forum authors face-to-face.

Welcome to the Forum.


Q&A

Jacob's Ladder

Jacob's Ladder: A Direct Going Within
by Paul Constant

Click on lectern image to download and listen to the mp3 file.

Audio recording of the Q&A from a lecture

given at the October 1-3, 2010 Self Inquiry Discussion Group (SIG) Retreat in Raleigh, NC

email .


Nature of Thought
by Sunil Vidyarthi

What is bigger than the universe, infinity and occupies no space? Did you say God? You could be right but I don’t know Him and so can’t support your thesis. My answer is thought. Think about it. You do more of this than anything else in your lifetime. Now multiply that already an immense immeasurable abstraction by billions who live today and the billions who have died. So you get an idea of how big this is. The problem of getting an estimate of its size, shape or extent lies in the fact that we can’t measure it. We can however translate it into measurable quantities. For instance, we can write down all our thoughts or record it and then weigh the books or the hard drive. You see, it isn’t as insignificant as first thought.

We have a tendency not to believe in things that we can’t weigh, measure, see or hear. Hence feelings have little value to experimental scientists. And thoughts are closer to feelings than to rocks, rivers, heat or sound. We may not believe in God but it is hard not to believe in thought. After all it’s thought that is producing this argument. I don’t know what it actually is but I have no questions in my mind that it exists and it is here and now. It was here when I last looked and have a pretty good idea that it will be there as long as I am alive. And by the way, I am also quite sure that all of you have thoughts now and then.

thinking What is thought?

Wikipedia says; “Thought or thinking is a mental process which allows beings to model the world and so to deal with it effectively according to their goals, plans, ends and desires. Words referring to similar concepts and processes include cognition, sentience, consciousness, idea, and imagination.

Thinking involves the cerebral manipulation of information, as when we form concepts, engage in problem solving, reason and make decisions. Thinking is a higher cognitive function and the analysis of thinking processes is part of cognitive psychology.”

Is thought material in nature? Not if we qualify matter as something that has a physical presence although even that has come under serious questioning. If you go all the way down into pico, nano or fenta second scale, you are likely to find all creation nothing but a bunch of vibrating strings of energy. In other words much of the Universe is really nothing but dancing energy and in that sense thought is perhaps no different, just a little smaller than the other nothing that makes up the rest of the world.

Is it energy? We could answer that only if we knew what energy was. The best I can gather from books and experts is that energy is just another form of matter and vice versa. And we just sort of concluded that matter is mainly composed of nothing. So energy must be even less than nothing and perhaps not much different from thought. So it may be fair to say that all thoughts put together will amount to nothing or pretty close to nothing, yet once transcribed could fill the entire universe.

Its Origin

Further on Wikipedia summarizes the broad theories on origin of thought. “Some philosophers say consciousness creates thinking, thinking and other brain processes do not create consciousness. Other scientists (for example Bernard Bars) think of it as a workspace. Some philosophers (for example Thomas Nagel) have said they do not have a clue as to how we are aware of our thinking.”

Despite these arguments, biologists have convinced me that thought comes from the brain, an organ that is common among most living species. Animals have also been shown to think. Extension of this logic suggests that mosquitoes and other even smaller bugs think. Can I take this argument to a generalization that precondition of thought is biological life? I have no evidence to suggest that rivers think although I don’t know much about trees and plants.

There is a problem however. Just because I have a brain does not mean I think. My brain in a jar will most certainly not think. So thought does need something else to be, make plans and propose hypotheses and communicate these findings to a third party. Wise ones tell me that something else is my essence, which I share with the rest of the universe, or I Am. I have no reason to doubt them but so far I have no reason to first hand agree with them either.

I think Thomas Nagel was on to something when he introduced the question as to how we are AWARE of our thinking? As has Rose in much of his work e.g. Psychology of Observer. I am quite unprepared and ill equipped to argue the philosophical intricacies of either of these wise theorems and observations. Yet, I do find it odd that being alive doesn’t just mean being able to think but be aware of thought, personal as well as third party.

thinking I am aware when I am thinking, as I am aware when I am dreaming or eating or hearing. But I am also curiously aware of my surroundings as well including you who is reading this now and are far away from where I am. Not just I the human but the monkey on the tree, the alligator in the swamp and the fly on the apple are very aware of me. In fact that pesky fly is so aware of me that he moves before I even think of catching him. Surely this is what makes living things so different from other matter. Even though my presence disrupts something around the chair at the string level, the chair is not aware of me while I am. And this awareness is intricately related to my thoughts and my ability to think. It is this awareness that is the origin of my thought and hence my origin.

email .


I'm F'ed
by Augie Monge

I'm F'ed
But the F'ing is in the view.
The view is wide
but the view is in my hide.
The path is a farce
self torture and delight.
The alternative is a nightmare
morning, noon, and night.
The intermissions get much shorter
the further on we go.
The actors and directors
all begin to blur.
Somewhere there's a screen
pristine, pure and clean.
It hums, it glows
It knows no pain
It's vast and wide
and clean as rain.
Where is this screen
that can't be seen
but sees and can't be forgotten.
I ache to find it and yet forget
the longing that's behind it.
Where indeed if not right here
right now right then
right up my a.s.s.

Editor's Note: The author wrote this poem during a week-long retreat last November using a method you might consider trying: hold your pen in hand over a blank page of paper and... wait. Write each line complete as it comes to you. Then--you guessed it; there's a lot of waiting. Write a line as it comes to you complete. Then wait. Finish the poem when it feels done. This could be a tool to contact a part of us, a nonverbal part, that we often drown out with our talking in our heads.

If you're inspired to try, go ahead and send us the results!

Incidentally, the familiar single-syllable expletive represented here might seem harsh, but the sentiment its utterance often points to is one that many, in times of extraordinary frustration (and honesty), may relate to...


I'm F'ed
(revised)
by Augie Monge

I'm F'ed
But the F'ing is in the view.
The view is wide, no place to hide,
the view is in my hide.

The path is a farce
self torture and delight.
The alternative is a nightmare
morning, noon, and night.

The intermissions get much shorter
the further on we go.
The actors and directors
all begin to blur.

Somewhere there's a screen
pristine, pure and clean.
It hums, it glows
It knows no pain
It's vast and wide
and clean as rain.

Where is this screen
that can't be seen
but sees and can't be forgotten?

I ache to find it and yet forget
the longing that's behind it.

Where indeed if not right here
right now, right then,
(or up my ???)

Its subtleness is like pure glass
The shift is small,
but like a crevasse.

This mind so clever overlooks it
Entranced instead
by its love of the looker.

Rest my friend
your days are numbered.
Act like you're searching
though you are the hunted.

The author revisited his earlier poem after a recent winter retreat. In its current form, it reflects his current form...


Silence
by Greg Nicholls

Looking up at the sky on a clear night and seeing the all the stars dotted amongst the vast emptiness there is the discovery how silent it is. This silence is not just the silence out there in the heavens but also that silence taking place within the body of the gazer.

Is this silence the God that is peace on Earth to all men, women and children? This God isn't the God of any religious system, or God to believe or ask anything of, but the silence that is momentary freedom in letting go of all anxiety and worry and letting God be.

This silence can be discovered throughout the day — split a piece of wood, lift a stone and it is there. Unfortunately in the struggle for physical existence and relentless entertainment the silence of God has to be constantly rediscovered.


You have to stop

If you don't see a video clip above, click here.


Thoughts on not thinking
by Joel Schibbelhute

I get it now.
There's nothing to get.
After all, our thoughts about thoughts are just thoughts, are they not?
Any Advaita teacher worth their salt will tell you.
You can't think your way to awakening/enlightenment/etc.
You can't get it.
The deck's stacked against you.
So, I quit.
I'm tired of trying to get what can't be got.
I'm gonna forget about all the mental torture,
and just live my life simply, moment to moment,
and not worry about this seeking stuff.
Hey, wait a minute.
What did I just say?

If you relate to this, let us know...


Quotes....

Q: "inaudible ... pull yourself up ... inaudible"

R: "You can’t pull yourself up to a rung at all until you know there’s a rung there. The system that we talk about is one of a reversal from error, not a postulation and an approach to a rung. This to me is the whole error of organized religion. They postulate a God that they cannot prove. And then they postulate a lot of human attributes to that God. He is what we want him to be. He has concepts of justice similar to our own. He wouldn’t salt us down and eat us by any chance. He loves us. The rabbits think the same thing about us, perhaps, that we wouldn’t salt them down and eat them; we may be gods to them, because we seem to be able to pull some tricks, some magic that they can’t pull. But regardless, we postulate a whole theological system and then pretend. It’s like children who concoct a game in the back yard: 'You’re going to be this and I’ll be this and then we’ll go by these rules.' And the whole human race is doing this.

"But the path, the real path – and this is the reason I use the word Zen a tremendous lot because they’re one of the few people who use it – is that you don’t take anything. When you take the koan 'mu' you’re taking a koan that asks you a question that’s almost nonsensical without any answer, and that’s 'Who Am I?' And you ask it over and over and over. Or 'Why?'

"But this is a lot more sensible than saying 'I am so-and-so' – or 'I am a creation of God.' Immediately you’ve spoken yourself out a whole big bundle of strings you’re going to have to analyze and explain. And nobody ever does it. They just create more string, they just wrap more around the ball. "

~Richard Rose, answering a question during a talk in Cleveland, Ohio, November 12, 1974.



Humor....

“I went to a bookstore the other day. I asked a woman behind the counter where the self-help books were. She said, ‘If I told you, that would defeat the whole purpose.’” ~ Brian Kiley

“How many people here have telekinetic powers? Raise my hand.” ~ Emo Philips

"I don't want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it by not dying." ~ Woody Allen


Reader Commentary

What if you just said, “I want to know what’s going on,” and decided to find out—directly?
I think that something can occur for someone who does that. Go within. Find out. Try.

~ M.S.


Did you enjoy the Forum? Then buy the book! Beyond Mind, Beyond Death is available at Amazon.com.

 

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