This Month's Contents: The Affirmation and the Promise excerpted from The Heart of Religion, by Phiroz Mehta | Commentary on the Relationship of a Man to Himself excerpts from Psychological Commentaries, Volume 1, by Maurice Nicoll | On Fruitive Dying excerpted from The Heart of Religion, by Phiroz Mehta | Liberation from the Need to be Liberated by Paul Hedderman | The Final Truth excerpts by Ramesh S. Balsekar | Quotes | Humor | Reader Commentary & Question of the Month |
My goal as guest editor is to shake things up a bit. Before reading this issue, check any expectations or desires to become enlightened. There is a bit of self-deception at play if you think you will become a little more enlightened simply by reading this issue (and if you do, I am not responsible for it)!
"The Transcendent is Transcendent. It transcends all thinking, and so, we can't think about it." ~ Joseph Campbell.
The TAT Forum does appear to cultivate spiritual soil that is organic enough to promote direct-knowledge of higher levels of awareness and friendly enough to confront and inspire readers to become realized.
Therefore, I hope this month's selections inspire you to look within. The contributions this month spring from my own appreciation for the Truth at the heart of all the major religions, spiritualities, and mythologies. One writer, Phiroz Mehta, devoted his life to understanding and explaining these Universal truths from various traditions and wrote about them with a clarity I had not seen before. Mehta's "study and practice of the world's great religions led him to a personal discovery of the one Way which lies at their heart."
I hope this issue serves you well.
* Please note the Question of the Month at the bottom of this issue.
The open-minded enquiry is free of the constraints of authority. Our investigation is for seeing truth, not for accepting or rejecting the verbal statements in scriptures. When we see the truth in words, there is a seeing (in the present tense), a state of awakenedness continuously giving rise to our passing feeling-thought-speech-action process. This present, living seeing does not die and become a seen (in the past tense), for then the thought-speech which last expressed the live seeing becomes a fossil, a verbal doctrine, dogma, belief or conclusion, a theological or philosophical system, a construct of mere knowledge. It ceases to be active love and enlightening wisdom. God, the Plenitude in the Void, becomes invisible; we cease to breathe the divine air, the Holy Spirit, Vayu of the Rg-veda. Instead, we are chained in the posture of mock worship to our stocks and stones, to our idols, whether of brass or of the stuff of man-made concepts.
But religious truth is the immediate, living seeing, in the here-now, and not a collection of fossils of thought. And yet, even as material fossils will yield the secret of a living story to the open-minded investigation of the intelligent, unprejudiced scientist, so too will the word of scripture yield a life-giving fragrance to the religious man who seeks rightly. The important point to bear in mind is not to look for another bundle of explanations or ideas labelled 'the true interpretation of the scripture' or 'the revelation of the secret doctrine', although explanations, ideas and statements will, of necessity, be present, or else there can be no speech or writing. Our task will essentially consist in seeing the false in the true and the true in the true. The false in the true is the misinterpretation or wrong application of the Word; the true in the true is the pure understanding and its right expression in action of the word. The Word itself represents the true. How shall we know for certain that we hold a misinterpretation or have right understanding? Intellectually, we can never know for certain! Any knowing is but a temporary mental construct. Everything changes. Out of our ignorance and fear and our pathetic passion for security, we look for and cling to anaesthetizing postulates such as unchanging goodness of God or the eternal bliss of Brahman. How can we postulate anything about the Unknown, or about that which transcends all that we know? We use the phrase, 'eternal verities'. It is a telling phrase. It makes an impact on us. But can we 'know for certain' the content or meaning of 'eternal verities'?
Religious truth is an inexhaustible well-spring. As we keep on seeing, in the present, our minds keep on producing intellectual formulations. Our task is to sift them and not hold on to them. Seeing the false in the true enables us to let go of falsity. By seeing the true in the true we have understanding. Where there is pure understanding we do not cling to the verbal formulation but let it go. Both ways, we are purified; both ways, we are in constant pure action with the activity of seeing here-now and living by it.
"...Now, we must speak about the third relationship which is really the subject of this teaching--namely, the relationship of a man to himself. For most people this relationship is unnecessary. A man is concerned usually with the first two relationships only [editor's note: the first two relationships are to our bodies and to all the affairs of the external world & other people] and to a certain extent these two are connected; if a man is starving, for instance, he has a bad relationship to his body and therefore must find a better relationship to external life in order to nourish the body. But this third relationship is different. For the purposes of mechanical life it is unnecessary. In a young country you will generally find that it is only the first two relationships that count. Food, health, business, are the main pre-occupations..."
"...Now in this commentary I wish to talk to you about this third relationship. We may miss opportunities to work because we forget about this third relationship. We may be depressed by illness or by the external situation in life to which we happen to be related at the time and, finding no particular comfort in either of them, we may feel at a loss. But over and above both these relationships lies the possibility of the third relationship. We forget to summon the Work just at the very time when we should summon it. Our ordinary thoughts connected with our ordinary daily affairs do not lead into ideas of the Work. We have to jump: we have deliberately to make a connection with the Work and we must all find different ways of doing this. You all realize how life puts us to sleep, how our pre-occupation with our life-problems cuts us off from the influences of this Work. I would define two different conditions in which anyone in this Work can find himself. One is simply that a man finds himself in the condition in which he feels immersed in things; he feels rather depressed, worried, anxious, and so on, and being as it were, unable to lift his head up, he views life along vistas of his own negative feelings. The second condition occurs when man knows he is in a bad state from the Work point of view and cannot find out how to get rid of it. I think it is this second state that is most interesting to study in oneself. One knows one is alseep, one recognizes there is something all wrong, but one does nothing to help oneself. It is just here that some of the worst negative thoughts about the Work can arise...."
"...But there are many other ways of getting oneself out of a bad inner state. You must understand that no work is possible unless you get into these bad states because they are tests or, if you like, temptations, which are absolutely necessary in order to make us skillful in dealing with them. You will not learn to swim well unless you are often dropped into the water. And it is always surprising that some of you think that if you pass into a bad state it is because you cannot do the Work... "...Now, in conclusion, as regards the Work finding a way for you when you begin to give it a place in yourself, let me say this. Everyone has problems and troubles. No one is without them. We try to find solutions--final solutions--as if afterwards there would be no further trouble. Remember that there are no final solutions to anything. To try to find final solutions to things is like trying to do away with the waves of the storms of the sea. You have a good ship, a good rudder, and a good compass. The solution to things lies in seamanship. Or, to change the metaphor--it is said in this Work that it sells leather from which you can make good shoes. You cannot clear away all the mud and stones and pebbles, but you can construct good shoes to walk over them."
Nothing, then, for me to attain or to achieve, to acquire or to gain. But much to shed: my fancies, ideals, illusions and delusions; my lust for pleasure, possessions, power, knowledge, goodness, liberation, God, Transcendence; my likes and dislikes, attachments and aversions; my ill-will, ill-tempers (masquerading sometimes as temperament), condemnations, hates, ambitions, envy, vanities and wants, emulations; my biases, prejudices, preoccupations, assumptions; my beliefs, convictions, doctrines, dogmas; my misdeeds of thought, speech (constant chatter in particular) and action, and my psychoses and neuroses; my pride and egoism; my preoccupations of mind; my busy-ness and do-gooding. Above all my self-conceit and selfness.
It is like this: if the house is dirty, I cannot put cleanness into it; but if the filth is out, the house is clean. This house of temporal being is a thing of ill. Let it be cleansed and healed and maintained whole and pure. Then I the living existent am the Temple of the Most Holy, the Eternal Home of Transcendence. The temporal being becomes the Eternal Home! For now the moving time of the mortal existent is timeless stillness breathing. With perfect shedding, there is freedom; all that is good and wonderful - peace and love and the immeasurable Unknown - is present quite naturally.
There is no way to Transcendence but many Ways of Transcendence through us. So the task before me is to shed all that makes me a thing of ill. And this is the way: tread the path of purity. As I allow myself to be washed clean, I remain quiet: never self-obtrusive, but ever alert, attentive and sensitive. And this is the way: the way of deep prayer or meditation, dhyana; the way of insight, prajna; the way of communion, samadhi. Whatsoever is present here-now, placed in my path by Life in Totality, is given whole attention. Nothing is merely accepted or rejected. Meditation, insight and communion are not isolated fragments, specialized techniques for gaining results - sublimely playful self-indulgence! They are whole life-process, like the beating of the heart and the streaming of the blood, and are operative in every activity throughout the day and the night.
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check out more from Paul on his website zenbitchslap.com
What are you when the world is considered as a whole of which you form a minuscule but essential part? What will "you" appear to be when viewed from longer and longer distances? What happens then is that the "you" first merges into the room you stand in, then to the house, then to the city and so on, until you are the world, until you are the universe from the viewpoint of infinitude.
The whole point is that "you" just do not exist as an individual entity. You are either "nothing" or "everything". Either way, the startling conclusion is inescapable: I am not what I appear to be; I am not what I thought I was. Acceptance of this conclusion, even at the intellectual level to start with, will lead to a lasting faith if you take the time, as often as possible, to sit for a while quietly. Let your body relax, let your mind cease its usual chatter, and turn your mental gaze inward. If you do this, there may occur realization (if there is Grace, if this fits in with the divine plan of the functioning of the totality), realization that the nothingness that you are is not the emptiness of the void but the fullness of the plenum, realization that "your" body is but an instrument (with eyes, ears and brains) which Consciousness uses in its functioning.
Such a realization of one's phenomenal absence as a separate entity is tantamount to the realization of our subjective noumenal presence with the whole universe as our objective body. And such realization, say the Masters (the Sufi--the Advaitan--the Taoist), is Enlightenment: I exist as phenomenal absence, but the phenomenal appearance is my Self.
Such realization translates itself in actual life as the actionless action of pure witnessing. Pure witnessing is of a dimension radically different from space-time, and is clearly to be distinguished from a mere movement in mind because: a) there is in witnessing no "witnesser" as an individual entity, b) there is no judging of what is witnessed as being "good" or "bad", and therefore, c) there is no desire to change "What-Is" in any shape or form.
In other words, such realization leads to an effortless gliding through life with a willing acceptance of whatever life might bring.
The final truth, therefore, is that the subjective "I" is all that exists. It witnesses the phenomenal manifestation (including all the me's) and its functioning, and is not aware of Itself when there is no phenomenal manifestation to witness.
Executive editor's note: The following Question of the Month responses & reader commentary were initially omitted from this June issue.
The reader commentary below was left out due to a falling-through-the-cracks phenomenon which we're looking into. ~ DW
TheQuestion responses did not initially appear because one of our editors wanted to spotlight May's question, "Does an opening of the heart have any relevance to finding Ultimate Truth?" in a future issue and had hoped to save any responses we received for that purpose. Upon reflection, we decided (er, remembered) that there is no time like now...
The reader commentary below was left out due to a falling-through-the-cracks phenomenon which we're looking into. ~ DW
Very beautiful and relevant forum this month; thank you!
After my Dad died I struggled with whether he was in heavan or hell. Being fully immersed in my church at the time, I sought answers from my Pastors and life group leaders. Their answers did not satiate me. In fact, they troubled me because their answers left doubt and in that doubt there was a possibility of Dad residing in hell. Late one night as I was mourning and thinking of Dad, I was open enough to hear the Voice. It whispered to me (and not for the first time), "Sheri, your Dad is with me!".
Indeed, answers can come in whispers.
For me an opening of the heart was a by product of the Truth. But this was only my experience. There are many ways and I suspect for some it is the other way around.
Does an opening of the heart have any relevance to finding Ultimate Truth?
I was an uncompromising atheist until my husband was diagnosed with cancer. The grief that followed his death and the death of a short lived marriage a few years later caused my heart to be broken open and turned me into a seeker of Truth. Surrendering my will is very definitely connected with keeping my heart from closing up again... over and over and over.
~ Gloria Oelman
I knew You once in all Your glory
When I was unafraid
And had no guilt to block Your light
No tears, remorse or shame
I basked in You, I had no story
To shield me from Your Love
And Your forgiveness and delight
Shone unimpeded from above
Bit by bit, my soul withdrew
I know not how, or why
I slowly turned my back on You
And thought ‘twas You who’d died
For many years my heart stayed closed
But You did not give up
When grief cracked open my resolve
The darkness glimpsed Your love
Once again, I turned to run
But now I could not hide
Your love, Your light were far too bright
At last, my will succumbed
* poem by Gloria Oelman
Q: Does an opening of the heart have any relevance to finding Ultimate Truth?
A: Ultimate Truth is the opening of the Heart to What IS!
Kylie wrote: "Loved reading this today. Thank you :)"