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

December 2013

This Month's Contents: All is One by Rob Kayinto | Surrender by Sheri Rink | Addicted to Seeking by Peter Lisa | Sex and the Sangha by Gordon Gross | Silent Warrior: Cross of Changes Enigma | Mr. Rose | Destiny by Shawn Nevins | Humor | Quotes | Reader Commentary |


Editor's Note
by David Weimer

It's hard to realize what I've done in the course of a year. They're very convenient place markers--these years--like bookmarks in our lives.

I'm trying to get my family to go along with a new family end-of-year tradition. I told my wife and boys that I wanted each of us to write on a piece of paper all of the remarkable or noteworthy things that we remember accomplishing this past year. A kind of solitary meditative review. Then, we'd get back together and comprise a master list for the year, which would be placed in our family scrapbook. We don't have a family scrapbook, but I think it's a good idea.

It's potentially difficult to gauge one's personal "progress" on the path toward Enlightenment--on a daily basis. We might not feel how far we still have to go. But I can look back over the time interval I call a "year" and ask,

What was I doing last year at this time? How far along was I at this time last year?

Another family tradition we don't yet have is, on New Year's Day, writing on a piece of paper what each of us wants to have accomplished one year hence, sealing this in an envelope, and opening it a year later.

What if "years" didn't exist? Would we notice?

All the best to you for the remainder of this year.
Thank you for visiting the Forum.


All is One
by Rob Kayinto

All is one.
There is only consciousness.
Tat Tvam Asi.
I am that.

Auschwitz-Birkenau
Rwanda
Darfur, Sudan
Mauthausen-Gusen
Child pornography
The rape of Nanking
Joseph Stalin
Adolf Hitler

My car needs new brakes.
My kid didn't get his share of cake.
My daughter got called names on Facebook.
I want a new cell phone.

That's all it takes. Just a few minutes of thinking from one end of the spectrum to the other, from one extreme to the mundane.

I am 1 of over 7 billion ants on this hill, fighting for my share of the pie, struggling to stay alive in a leaking boat in a shoreless sea, knowing my fate is to sink down into the icy blackness without a trace forever.

This stuff that I direct my mind towards, this 'I am' crap, this thing which at times is oh so real to me, which speaks with such clarity .... WHAT IS THE POINT IN ALL THIS??

Billions have been lived before me, most to vanish from this earth without a trace, some experiencing the depths of horrors all birthed from the minds of people's just like themselves who acted out of ... well what? From what part of themselves did they act? AND WHY DID IT HAPPEN AT ALL??

The stuff I focus on, which drives these fingers on this keyboard, from my comfy home, where I know no fear of my life being threatened by forces driven by the desire to kill ...

Why did I get this life that I have right now? Why did and does all the pain in this world continue to happen to so many faceless others ... why was I spared?

What gives me the right to do this spiritual seeking stuff and continue doing it, right here, right now, from this keyboard, when this injustice continues?

Gawd, at times like this I feel so fucking disgusted with my whining about my shit.

WHERE WAS THIS STILLNESS WITHIN THAT YOU SPEAK OF IN THE GAS OVENS OF AUSCHWITZ???

This is what I want to know! This is what I must know!

This 'thing/stillness/emptiness/void/whatever' I fantasize about, this thing Richard Rose, Nisargadatta Maharaj, Ramana Maharshi, Paul Brunton, Siddhartha Gautama, [insert any number of so called enlightened masters here] ... is this crap only on my 'to do' list only because I focus my mind on it?

Would any of this stuff be on my radar if I spent my Sundays parked in front of the TV watching football/baseball/basketball caring about if 'my team' won the bloody game??

HOW CAN I KNOW WHAT IS REAL?? WHAT MAKES SENSE?? WHAT IS THE POINT OF ANYTHING??

Is this the whiny little bitch coming out in me only because I have such a cloistered life free from the threat of being burnt alive in the gas oven this afternoon??

WHO IS IT THAT IS THINKING THESE THOUGHTS?

Gawd, I'm such a fucking coward.

This thing you claim you want to know ... am I willing to give up my job, sell the house, leave the family, then pour the remainder of the grains of sand left in the hourglass of my life into the quest for this answer? Am I willing to pay the price of everything that is this life which I claim as my own?

Fuck no.

But damn, my huge ego fantasizes about such a 'quest for truth', quietly leaving the stage from the back door, disappearing into the night, never to be seen of or heard of again, but one day emerging as an enlightened being who has the answers to everything!!! That the world will come beckoning to my doorstep craving me to save them from their suffering ... 'just look within. All the answers are inside' I will graciously bestow upon the hungry, the poor and the tired.

My god ... it's this king of thing, the fact that I can actually consider such a possibility, that such a thought comes across my mind ... this is where I just feel like throwing my hands up in the air and saying to myself 'WAKE UP IDIOT! THE ONLY THING YOU KNOW FOR SURE IS THAT YOU ARE GONNA DIE!' EVERYTHING ELSE is just bullshit! YOU KNOW NOTHING ELSE EXCEPT THAT YER GONNA DIE!

And that's why I started putting this shit out there on Facebook. I can't see my own bullshit, that I know with a pretty high degree of certainty, but maybe if I put it out there, someone else may.

Rob Kayinto 8:27pm Nov 26

Contact Rob Kayinto on Facebook


Surrender
by Sheri Rink

Surrender is one of the most misleading words on the spiritual path.

Typically we think of surrender as something we do. For example a spiritual aspirant might recognize that their need to control in her/his relationship is bringing disharmony to their partner. They then decide to surrender their need to control with the hope that by doing so they will bring harmony to that aspect of the relationship. This type of surrender, active surrender, where we participate by giving or doing something in exchange for a certain outcome, is really a cleverly disguised ego selling itself as a lofty spiritual practice. There is another type of surrender however, a surrender that happens to us, a surrender where our role is passive.

In the same example, a seeker of Truth looking at their need to control in a relationship would (instead of changing a behavior for a desired outcome) trace that behavior back to its origin and see the why and how it originated. What they would find is how that particular behavior was born to reinforce who they thought they were or wanted to be; accepted, loved, a leader at work, a gangster who belonged to something. They see the false construct of their character. If this happens enough times they begin to see clearly how everything they have been and done has been a result of something they were trying reinforce in themselves.

To see the motive is to know the false construct, and to know the false construct is to have it removed from your character. In this way, surrender stripes of a piece of who you thought you were and leaves nothing in its space. So in the end, if you have the courage and strength to look at your behaviors, even the good and noble ones, trace them back to their origin and look at the falseness within, surrender can happen to you.

The trick is not to stuff that hole with something new!

~ Email


Addicted to Seeking
by Peter Lisa

For many years I lifted weights, and although I never competed as a powerlifter or bodybuilder, my training, diet and overall discipline were much like a competitive athlete’s. For the most part, after some initial trail and error experimentation, once I found a regimen that was effective and suited my body type and goals, I pretty much stuck with it year after year, and I transformed my body and maintained a very high level of fitness as a result. Along the way, one of the most common pitfalls I noticed among people aspiring to effect similar transformations was impatiently jumping from one workout routine to another, without giving nearly enough time and effort to any one of them to allow it to produce a noticeable result. It was a syndrome that veteran trainers sometimes referred to in shorthand as CRC—chronic routine change. Not surprisingly, many of these aspirants sooner or later quit in frustration, having achieved little or nothing.

spiritual magazine You get where this is going, right? These days I see many people CRCing their way through a “spiritual” marketplace so cluttered with rebranded ideologies and technique-based bells and whistles and the experts hawking them, it’s like a seeker’s Mall of America—and unfortunately the seekers are addicted to shopping. The situation is further complicated by the fact that, unlike working out, which (if done intelligently and diligently) tends to follow pretty predictable cause-and-effect patterns to an unambiguous and readily achievable end goal, what’s really motivating many seekers is often so ill-defined that the “end” they wind up chasing after is their own tail.

So, for those who feel that this CRC business may apply to them, here's a thought experiment for you to try right now: imagine that you stop all reading of materials on spirituality, awakening, etc., and stop all participation in retreats, satsangs, formal meditation practice, and so on, not just for a few days or weeks, but pretty much indefinitely. You just live your everyday life of work, family, friends, hobbies, bills, laundry, groceries. And when you’re not legitimately engaged in any of these facets of life, you simply sit down, relax and enjoy the simple experience of being, for perhaps hours at a time, without looking for something to happen. Stop now and seriously consider this. What comes up in the body in response to this prospect? What keeps you from actually living like this all the time?

What if this frequent impulse we feel that compels us to reach for yet another book or website or activity deemed as "spiritual,” is actually the exact same impulse that drives addicts to drug themselves into comfortable numbness, or shop or gamble themselves into bottomless debt? I know this isn't a new idea. But if we acknowledge the validity of this connection, and yet we believe that what the addict reaches for when that impulse strikes is harmful, while the fix we seekers keep reaching for we consider to be at least potentially helpful, aren't we just fooling ourselves? What does that say about our alleged interest in realizing capital-T truth?

So now let’s look at this again from the perspective of being addicted to seeking: what if the next time you feel that impulse to read a book or blog on awakening, watch a teacher on You Tube, or register for a workshop or satsang, you instead simply sit quietly, relaxedly, contentedly, and without escaping into daydreams, or turning it into some dauntingly formal practice involving rigid postures, mantras or breath watching, or anything else that becomes just another remedial fix? What do you think might be the result over time of this frequent simple resting versus relentless grabbing after the next new thing you hope will save you?

Going even deeper now into the heart of the matter, what's actually behind the feverish and driven quality of the seeking? Could it be good ol’ garden variety boredom? What if what you’re looking for lies hiding in plain sight on the other side of that boredom threshold, but you never find it because the very practices you’re always engaging keep you well occupied and thus not-bored? What's your greatest fear in life? Might it be the fear of truly realizing that without all the seeking activity (not to mention the general busyness), there is simply void? Not a person experiencing a void—that’s boredom, one of the sentries at the gate of death—but nothing at all. No one and no experience. Just an elaborate and compelling mirage. Instead, like a propeller spinning so fast it looks like a solid disc, as long as one stays in motion with all the purposeful "spiritual" activity, there's a convincing (and, I contend, deeply comforting—even amidst suffering) appearance of a real and solid someone, or at least something.

Forget about "awakening" and "true nature" for a moment. Forget even about “awareness.” Let's say a sudden traumatic event occurs—a head-on collision with reality, all shocking and painful—and in a surge of terrifying and overwhelming lucidity you realize that 1) you are absolutely alone and helpless and 2) this is your time to die, to disappear without a trace—no body, no mind, no spirit, no you: Nothing. Are you ready? If you answer yes, is any of that readiness based on belief in ideas such as "what I truly am isn't born and doesn't die" and so on? If you answer no, what exactly is it you think you’re seeking? If you’re savvy enough to speculate that maybe your seeking will exhaust you into surrender at some point, what’s to stop that idea from becoming another crutch, yet another way to justify staying in motion to avoid the crucible of boredom and terminal despair right now, and always again, right now?

This isn’t intended as a blanket condemnation of practices and disciplines. Some sort of discipline will typically be necessary—until it’s not. Nor is it to advocate clinging to a practice that has proven barren—or narcotic—after a genuine trial. Rather, for those to whom it applies, it’s a call to stop compulsively jumping from practice to practice, or from teacher to teacher, and look very closely at what is motivating the CRC behavior and the very seeking in the first place. And then be ruthlessly honest about what begins to come into view as the lifetime of stirred up dust is finally allowed to settle, maybe letting you see for the very first time.

~ Email


Author's note:

This essay might seem to be, on the face of it, somewhat self-righteous and laudatory. While growing up, I had to deal with the trauma of my 13 year old sister being raped. She was never able to talk about it except to me and the experience warped her and her perception of men and relationships in a terrible way and she was never again the carefree funny girl I knew growing up. My other sister was attacked by a gang of boys when she was fifteen and fortunately I arrived on the scene in time to fight them off before anything happened to her.

When I was 12, I was the object of a well-respected priest's perverted attention but escaped. As a result, I have very little patience with those who act out predatory sexual behaviors and disrespect women and children. Especially those who wear some office of holiness in life. I think it is important to be aware and to deal with these episodes wherever they might arise. I still have compassion for those who suffer from delusion but perhaps less patience for certain types of delusional behavior. If my essay seems to be a bit self-righteous it probably is, but that was my experience and thus, my perception.

~ Gordon

Sex and the Sangha

The morning wind was howling and I could feel the van rock slightly as it was buffeted by strong gusts. The temperatures had shifted downwards and were hovering at zero, one of the coldest winters in our city we had experienced in many years. I arose from the interior of the sleeping bag in the back of the van and pulled it around me as I sat up and pockets of cold air nipped at my skin and I noticed shivers in my body. I sat upright and began morning meditation in the dark. I had been awakened a few hours before by two policemen who asked me what I was doing. I was astonished by the question. What exactly did they think I was doing in a sleeping bag in the back of a van at 2 am? They explained that they woke me because a man had been murdered a few blocks away several hours before and they wanted me to move to a safer location. I had heard gunfire earlier, but it was actually not an unusual event in that part of the city so I just ignored it and went to sleep after the late night evening meditation.

2008 had not been a good year for me financially speaking. I was a contractor doing house renovations and the market for those services had collapsed in our area. As the amount of work available shrunk the people that offered such services began lowering their prices to get what little work was available. I couldn’t find jobs anymore and was soon mostly out of money. I lost my house being unable to make payments and so reluctantly left the kids with my ex and began sleeping in my van. It wasn’t too bad in the fall and I found a quiet spot near a small stream where I could rest at night, sit on top of the van and meditate. I had done work in many houses that belonged to wealthy people. 8,000 square foot behemoths constructed for a couple who needed scooters to get around the cavernous interiors. Now I had realized the ultimate American dream. My living room was the largest in town and it didn’t cost me a penny to heat or cool it. In any event as winter crept in the situation became less than pleasant. We had a winter that hit the record books with snow and ice and sub-zero temperatures. I discovered it was difficult to stay warm and now knew why homeless people wore so many layers of clothing. I used the cold to stay awake for longer evening meditation sessions…If life hands you lemons…

Read the rest of Gordon's essay.


Silent Warrior: Cross of Changes
Enigma


~ I just like this album.
DW


Mr. Rose


“Destiny”

On my way, I look over my shoulder
at seed heads, next year’s life in waiting,
bobbing agreeably in the breeze.
The whole world is nodding:
walk on, walk on.

~ Shawn Nevins


Quotes....

"If you want to identify me ask not where I live, or what I like to eat, or how I comb my hair, but ask me what I am living for, in detail, and ask me what I think is keeping me from living fully for the thing I want to live for. Between these two answers you can determine the identity of any person. The better the answer he has, the more of a person he is."

~ Thomas Merton


Humor....


"He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends."

~ Oscar Wilde


Reader Commentary

Dear TAT forum movers and revealers,

Thank you for another marvelous issue. The November one is outstanding.

Your work is deeply cherished!

Love and Blessings,

~ Michael

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