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

TAT Forum
June 2001

Essays, poems, opinions and humor on seeking
and finding answers to your deepest life-questions

This month's contents:

The Mirror by Richard Rose | A Pathway by Gary Harmon | Laugh at the Conjecture by Gary Harmon | Stages of Becoming by Bob Fergeson | The Voice of the Cathars (part 1 of 3) by Louis Khourey | Aligning Ourselves with the Will of God? by Bob Cergol | This Shedding by Shawn Nevins | A Practical Question by Shawn Nevins | Developing Intuition by Shawn Nevins | Humor | Reader Commentary

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The Mirror
by Richard Rose

Who is it that speaks to you?
Who is it that listens to me?
If all is God . . .
Can we pretend to be the soliloquy of God?

Can we pretend for a moment that we are all particles of God,
Enjoying his divinity?

A bird in the tree sings, saying,
I am here now, I am here now,
O the glory of being here now . . . .
O the glory of being here . . . .
O the glory of Being . . . .
O the glory of . . . .
O the glory of meeting a predator . . . .

And he meets a worm, which like manna
Is a delicacy, a divine aspect,
A gift of God's own body in particle form.
And he eats the worm joyously . . . .
God victorious and God experiencing destruction . . .
God sadistic and God masochistic . . .
God organic and God as fertilizer . . . .

       Ever changing
As decaying bird-food, as fertilizer,
Revitalizing less organic soil,
Creating a cradle for millions of microscopic organisms.
All singing the praises of life,
With songs of exultation, anger, despair, and fear.
All singing about the orchestral soil,
And echoing the desire of God to experience all.

Do we not hear the voice of God
Howling through the funeral sullenness,
Through the forest in the winter . . . .
Roaring in the cascading rivers,
Piercing his own sensitivities
In lightning and ocean gale,
Feeling cosmic pain in the explosion of planets,
In the quaking of planets . . . .
Or in the divine breath of a hurricane?

Are we not more fortunate than those
Who are "being there then,"
Caught and frozen in a winter wilderness . . . .
Swept over the falls of a treacherous river . . .
Swallowed by an earthquake,
Or incinerated by lightning . . .
Or flung to their death by the winds?

Should we rejoice that God
Through tiny human nerves
Experiences all forms of horror and pain,
Despair and fear?

But the God within all, in all now . . .
Witnesses that not all freeze,
Not all are drowned or torn to pieces . . .
He witnesses this only through human nerves,
In and through his audience of millions,
Through his millions of eyes, ears, and noses
That watch others dies, butchered a million different ways,
That watch others suffer,
That watch others hope and lose hope,
That witness instilled courage change . . .
To instilled despair and terror.

Can we imagine the glories of a God
So self-watching, so identified with us,—
Who are so identified with this pointless game?

Unless we visualize God as infinitely introspective
That watches the eater and the eaten,
       the beater and the beaten
Watches the millions uneaten observing
       The ones being eaten,
Watches the millions unbeaten,
       Observing the ones being beaten,—
There seems to be no point to this drama.

And now he watches another group of observers,
Less numerous than the simple observers,
       Those who watch the watchers,
       Those who study madness and record madness in a way
             that pretends to be orderly and sane,
       Who study observers
       And millions of reactions,
       Singing the praises of God by a thousand different names,
       While they train themselves to act as rescuers,
       Digging out God's victims,
       From hurricane, earthquake, or typhoon,
       From freezing, burning, or drowning,
       From terror and desire and fear,
       From thinking about origins and destiny,
       From the anguish of loving,—
Doing God's work and believing,
That God likes observers acting concerned,
Acting as though God as the victim needs rescuing,
That God as insanity needs explanation . . .
That God as destroyer needs apology,
Or needs humans taking on God's sins . . .
By acts of pious asceticism.

For God now breaks into many parts,
Observers watching observers,
And observers of observers of observers,
But which of these billions is really here now . . . .
Which of these particles, among God's infinite number of particles,
Is watching God???

Is he alive to all who watch death and life,
Is he alive to God . . .
Who rejoices in seeing God particularized?
Or is he alive who is not among the myriad observers,
The myriad eyes that sleep or remain less asleep?
Is he alive who hears through millions of ears,
Of greater or lesser dependability,
Or is he alive . . . . . .
       That turns his back on madness,
       On rejoicing and despair,
       On pleasure and pain,
       On Gods and God-particles,
       And who looks on nothingness with apathy and indifference,
       Who laughs at the thunderings of Hell
       And the shrill insanity of Heaven,
       Who feels with feelingness,
       As only God can feel . . . .

But who turns once more back to his fellow man
       I have become a mirror,

Look beyond my beauty,
Look beyond my ugliness,
Look beyond my wordlessness,
       My inarticulateness, My fractured mentality,
For I have been back there freezing and exploding,
       burning and drowning,—
I have been the insanity of those observing,
I have lost all my particles except that which is a mirror,
Which is nothing of me,
But which gathers other particles
Which are inarticulate, And which identify with other
       infinite articulations of madness.

I am that which gathers other particles,
       Let us be mirrors.

I am not a mirror of moaning or misery,
I am not a mirror of praying and pleading,
I am a mirror of the process called seeming,
I mirror the seeming . . . .
Watching the watching of seeming and dreaming.

The puppets of the Absolute have broken their strings,
Have formed agreements to dream dreams,
Have agreed to pretend to create other puppets,
And have agreed upon madness together,
Until madness has become to them as reality,
While unconsciously they hunger for
The comfort of the guiding hands of their puppeteer.

I am a mirror that madness looks upon,
And sees a hope surmounting foolishness,
I am a mirror that reflects no madness
And seeing nothing but a seeming of madness.

I am a mirror that looks not to reflect love
For I perceive no love but a seeming of love,
And I see no justice, divine or human,
But a seeming of justice.

I am a mirror that was not made and remade to reflect only seeming . . . .
I am a mirror also of myself,
Watching myself, watching myself, watching myself ad infinitum.
I am a mirror alive and aware
Aware of being aware of being aware of being aware . . . .
       Ad infinitum . . . .
Untimed and unspecialized,
Dreamless forever,
Not dreaming of life or dreaming of death,
Not dreaming of Gods or demigods.

I am a mirror with my back to humanity,
Vainly lighting a direction,
For puppets to pick up threads and contact,
Strings to the Absolute.

I am a mirror facing the Absolute,
There is nothing to face, until we turn our backs
Upon the void . . . . Upon projections . . . .
Upon particularization, Upon seeming . . . .
Until we realize we are not turning away
From a void or from confusion or meaninglessness,
Until we realize that we do not realize . . . .
Except that the Absolute has a mirror
Which it turns upon itself,

       I have had enough of my adventure,
Into endless possibilities of my self . . . .

First published in the TAT Journal No. 10 and republished in "Carillon: Poems, essays and philosophy of Richard Rose." © 1980, 1982 by Richard Rose. All Rights Reserved. See the TAT Journal Archive page.

A Pathway
by Gary Harmon

Something that has been of great value regarding "The Path" has been self-observation. Curiosity and desire will determine your intensity for introspection. Not that this needs to be done constantly, but when remembered, have a look at what is going on. What is being said, and from what point of view is our observation at the time. Self honesty is particularly important. Most importantly—who or what is observing?

For example, how many times do we say I, me, or mine when we talk about anything. We're usually implying that a duality exists, me here alone, an individual person; separate from every other thing that is witnessed "out there". As many of the most distinguished "realized" people will counsel us, we are not separate individuals. Separation exists in appearance only. We are all one and the same thing, arising from the same awareness. To believe such a radical position without direct observation would be rash. However it does merit checking out.

As an experiment—the next time you observe yourself talking about me, my, or mine. Consider what is meant; are we really just an individual that is separate from everything else? Are we merely that? Is it possible we are a great deal more? It is so programmed into us to be something that is all alone, engaged in competition with many other creatures, all fighting for personal survival. It's very easy to be the phantom that has a finite existence. It is OK to be that silhouette, as long as it is known that is part of our programming. Just notice that the assumption has appeared again. Step outside the habit of accepting this as a fact; allow other possible explanations to appear. Challenge the assuming that is so easy to fall into.

"I Am" is the classic definition of consciousness itself, the identity which represents the start of the veil of Maya. This technique used repeatedly can lead to a more accurate clarity of identity.

Laugh at the Conjecture
by Gary Harmon

Laugh at the conjecture of it all
Roar so loud you restore the driving force
As you witness the carnival of insignificance
Know that you are the starting place of the entirety

Howl at the misery of the world
Bawl so long you fracture its cold
Disintegrate into a spin and shed another skin
Strip away all your feeble fake security

Distinguish what you fear
Be all that you dread
In this there is capacity
What is there to be fearful of?

Welcome the truth
This is the bona fide you
Aware that all is tranquility
Peace intended for the wanderer

Come plunge on in
Leave your bones, leave your skin
Leave your past, leave your vessel
Leave your angst-ridden spirit

Perceive the glorious truth
Be the witness that you actually are
Gaze back into the projector
Know that everything is faultless

There need not be a cause
Rationale is not actually necessary
Scrutiny can be a hindrance
Step out of your own way, you are vacant space

Stages of Becoming
by Bob Fergeson

In the struggle for understanding and Self-knowledge, we can see definite stages in our journey. At every turn we find a new challenge or difficulty. These challenges can be found to be exciting and stimulating at the first stages, but later we find we may have stopped moving, perhaps for months or years, and cannot seem to find the true cause or block. Let's take a look at these stages and in particular the gap that must be bridged between the third and fourth, where this journey or Work can become stagnant.

Gurdjieff taught that our becoming was subject to the law of the octave, or law of seven. This closely parallels numerology and the musical scale. The following list gives a framework for understanding the first three general stages we encounter in the Work.

When we first come into contact with esoteric ideas through a teacher or friend, from intuition, or a need to escape misery, the information comes to us via the intellect. If this first note is struck hard enough, the ringing of our bell can carry us to sound the second note, and so on. Thus becoming inspired, we can begin reading and listening, and perhaps think we have a grasp of the Work in a real way. We have gained a positive, yet passive, evaluation of the idea of working on oneself. We have come to hear the Work and agree to it, in an intellectual manner. But soon concrete action is needed if we are to advance and sound the second note. The ideas of self-inquiry must be taken to heart, and acted upon. This undertaking can move us up a step or note, to actually applying these ideas to ourselves in everyday life. Finding it much harder to act on our thinking than to just speculate and dream, we must begin to put forth energy in an active manner. We may find we have joined a group or begun meditating regularly, and are practicing what was at first only believed. This is the stage where discipline and commitment start to pay off.

Time and energy spent in the active pursuit of self-knowledge can lead us to the next stage, the realization of personal difficulties. A great deal of impartial observation is necessary here, plus a degree of humility and self-honesty, for all of our hard work and newly acquired self-knowledge lead us seemingly into a dead end. We have become aware not only of our patterns, but that as a personality we are strictly mechanical, a robot. An accidental associative reaction pattern cannot change itself, and we are left in a quandary. We see we have a set pattern of personality, mood, states of mind, body type, metabolism, habits, talents, obsessions, even addictions, that are all mechanical, and more importantly, are not us. We realize we cannot do, but yet something must be done. Courage is needed here, for we must accept this fact and at the same time turn our focus inward and face the unknown. We have become an observer of our mechanical nature, but still have no experience of our Final Self.

To bridge the gap between the third and fourth notes, a surrender is needed, a recognition of Grace. At this point an inner change must occur, a dying to our former self. A discarding of the hope that the person we once thought ourselves to be, will be forever. This gives us the shock needed to drop the ego, if only for an instant. A turning towards the unknown because there is no where else to go. A listening, a turning to the silence within, only now valued because all other avenues are lost. This might bring us a strange surprise. We might find something is trying to reach us, has always been trying to reach us, and that by giving up, we find contact with something greater, and that this gate of silence makes everything possible.

The Voice of the Cathars (part 1 of 3)
by Louis Khourey

Postcard photo of Montségur, the last bastion of Cathar defense

The world cannot forget the Albigensians, the people of southern France who, over 700 years ago, suffered persecution and extermination because of their religion and their defiance of Church and crown. History recalls innumerable religions, sects, cults and movements, but the voices of none have resonated over the centuries like that of the Cathars of Languedoc, with their unwavering profession of the highest spiritual sentiments in the face of a cruel and relentless Inquisition.

While the name Albigensians (or Albigenses; French: Albigeois) is most widely used to describe the "heretics" against whom a Crusade was mounted in the 13th Century, because of their large numbers around the city of Albi, the religion that the Catholic Church so aggressively sought to eradicate is more properly known as Catharism, and its adherents, Cathars, or Cathari. The latter term, Greek for "pure ones," was not actually used by the Cathars to describe themselves, but was employed by their persecutors who sarcastically criticized their ascetic lives. The Cathars considered themselves to be simply "Good Christians," who practiced the way to salvation as taught by Christ and not corrupted, as they believed, by the Roman Church.

Their Religion

The central fact of Cathar theology, on which historians are unanimous, is that it is dualistic, that is, that it denies the universal pre-eminence of a Good God and posits in opposition an Evil Principle, Satan, who is the creator of the material universe. This dualism has caused some writers to state that Catharism was not a Christian heresy at all but another religion entirely. Such an opinion ignores the fact that there was a strong current of dualism in the early Church, especially in the East, best exemplified by Manicheanism which had a great following from Turkestan to Carthage during the first millennium. St. Augustine was himself a Manichean from 373 until 382. While it could not be denied than Mani, a Persian, was greatly influenced by the Zoroastrianism of his own land, the central thesis of orthodox Christianity itself—the death and resurrection of Christ—echoes the stories of Tammuz and Adonis from Near-Eastern mythology.

Photo of Montségur from below

There are no Cathar writings that have survived which describe their beliefs, the victors having done their best to obliterate the teachings of the vanquished. Ironically, however, the detailed records of the Inquisitors themselves have proved a rich source of information about Cathar beliefs and practices. Transcripts of interrogatories of heretics and chronicles of the Crusades have given historians much information which, surprisingly enough, often seems to be accurate.

Satan, the creator of the world, was often identified by the Cathars as the Jehovah of the Old Testament. Naturally, then, they placed no value on the Old Testament, except for occasional references to the Psalms and Ecclesiastes. This idea of matter being a creation of evil can be traced directly back to the Gnosticism of the Roman era which taught that the world was created by the Demiurge, who might have been a fallen angel (or "eon") and who was either ignorant of, or hostile to, God, the First Principle. Among the Cathars there were both "absolute" dualists and "mitigated" dualists. The former believed the Evil Principle to be co-eternal and co-equal to the Good, while the latter viewed the Evil One as inferior to God and who created the world out of inchoate elements already created by God.

Whatever their ultimate antecedents, there is general agreement that the immediate spiritual ancestors of the Cathars were the Bogomils of Bulgaria, who formed a bridge to Western Europe for the religious ideas of Asia Minor. In the Middle Ages there was substantial trade between East and West, and with the transport of goods came powerful religious concepts. It is often suggested that cloth merchants were the first carriers of Catharist teachings and that they conveyed the religion to the influential families of Europe when they came into their homes to exhibit their wares. The merchants and artisan guilds, especially the weavers and paper-makers, were always great supporters of Catharism.

Whether their dualism was absolute or mitigated, all Cathars believed the world to be an evil place where human souls, created by God, were imprisoned in matter created by Satan. There was no Hell or Purgatory other than the earth, and the goal of the spiritual life was to free the soul from the material world so that it could be re-united with its spirit which dwelt with God. If the soul failed in this effort, it would migrate after death to another body to try again. This doctrine of metempsychosis has prompted some speculation that the Cathars were actually Buddhists, in light of their similar ascetic practices, but there is no evidence of any direct influence.

Entrance to the fortification on Montségur Entrance to the fortification on Montségur

Their conviction that the world is a scene of unmitigated evil led to certain logical conclusions for those who wished to escape from the bonds of matter. It called for a life of extreme asceticism and complete dedication to the spiritual goal. Had Catharism depended for its numbers on those who were prepared to make such a commitment, it would not have concerned the Church in the least. In fact, at its height there were probably no more than a few thousand of these Cathar Perfects (Latin: perfecti; French: parfaits). But they were supported and honored by many more ordinary Believers (Latin: credentes; French: croyants) who postponed their dedication until the time of death.

By far the most important religious ceremony of the Cathars was the Consolamentum by which an ordinary Believer became a Perfect. It was the Cathar baptism, administered without water by a Perfect, and also carried the characteristics of confirmation and holy orders. Receipt of the Consolamentum was considered essential to a Cathar's salvation, but it was given only when a Believer was prepared to abandon his worldly life and adhere to the austere regimen and constant devotion of a Perfect. Consequently, most Cathars delayed the Consolamentum until they were on their deathbeds. Attending the dying and administering the Consolamentum was one of the major duties of the Perfects, and they met these obligations often at great personal risk.

To the Cathars, the Consolamentum was no mere ceremony but constituted the reception by a man or woman of his or her spirit, which was previously separated from body and soul. One who sought this transcendent experience while still healthy was required to undergo a rigorous, one-year probation known as Abstinentia, to insure that the applicant had the strength and resolve to live the demanding life of a Perfect. For once the Consolamentum was received, the body became a veritable temple of the spirit to be preserved inviolate. A Perfect was required to abstain completely from sexual intercourse and from all animal food, including fish. During three days of every week they consumed only bread and water and also observed three forty-day periods each year of more severe dietary restrictions. It is small wonder that Perfects were often recognized during the times of persecution by their gaunt appearances.

~ Continued in the July 2001 TAT Forum

Aligning Ourselves with the Will of God?
by Bob Cergol

... Or a rationalization of our suffering (let's invent some meaning to fill the hole instead of entering that "hole" to face emptiness)?

Bob's response to a statement about the need to surrender our life to God's will and our failure to do so due to fear, uncertainty and doubt.

Regarding a comment made by Andrew Cohen to the inquirer—the gist of which was that, contrary to the popular belief in God's love as unconditional, in Cohen's experience God's love was totally conditional upon giving up everything and holding nothing back:

There is nothing more conditional than total surrender of self as the condition to become aware of God's unconditional love—or become united with God in that Love. What I have difficulty with about this worded expression of genuine realization is that it suggests that the individual will was involved. As I see it, to use the same metaphor, it was the presence of God's unconditional love which made surrender possible. I have an appreciation of the phrase, "God is Love" that I never before conceived was possible. It is love without an object. Just as "God" simply is, so too, Love just is—because nothing else is. So I think it is valid to use the term unconditional love. Of course an individual's need for unconditional love suggests the "sinner." But the "sinner" only needs unconditional love from "outside" because he has no love for himself, for he is cut off from his source which is Love itself.

Re. fear, uncertainty and doubt as the culprits in our failure to do so:

There is only one fear—the root of all fear—annihilation of the self, which is the result of our uncertainty about who and what we are. Uncertainty is a saving grace, arising from the non-verbalizable "communications" from the inner man that contradict the way in which we live our lives. Doubt arises because even at the level of the ego we can sense that we are bullshitting ourselves—about death and about our identity.

The stated perspective strikes me as expressing the belief that the "I" will somehow be exalted by this "alignment with God's will." Or that suffering is a bond that can be redeemed for God's presence in our lives. The truth is that if the person were to arrive at this state, he would be dissolved into God.

All creation ... is already in alignment with the will of God. Individuals don't see it because they are totally identified with the dreamer of the dream—the personal consciousness, which is an effect of "the light in the body."

A sincere, heartfelt desire to be aligned with the will of god is but a faint echo, of "god within you"—calling you home. But you can only go if you are willing to accept personal annihilation. But as Pulyan said, "You cannot decide to not decide." and as Rose indignantly told a group of people he overhead discussing dropping egos, "What are you talking about?! You can't drop an ego! They're taken from you!"

The notion of personal surrender to a higher power is an intuition that comes through to those who strive to listen. But the ears that hear it belong to something else. And that something else cannot surrender in a willful act for that would be the opposite of surrender. The robot cannot turn the switch off. The switch that the robot can reach has two positions: On and On.

I see it this way:

Every thought, every emotion, every action, every experience is processed by the individual mind and judged as either self-magnifying or self-diminishing. Unfortunately, 99% of our mental experience is concocted after the fact by the mind. There is a disconnect from the events which occur in our lives—again, all because of the two priorities named above.

That individuality doesn't even know what it is striving to preserve. And it knows that it doesn't know! Therefore it struggles to define itself and confirm its existence. Every action it takes to define itself outwardly FAILS, leaving it feeling empty and therefore diminished. ("All things betray thee, who betrayest Me," the poet writes. Naturally, since all of that is unreal—not the self at all!—doomed to fail!) The feeling generates an ever stronger need to define. This process pretty much sums up individual existence. It's like a dust funnel in a desert storm. Much ado about nothing. Some lives express that need in an ever descending spiral of self-destruction—no less an expression of the will of god, than the bud that never blooms expresses the hidden life which is its source.

The individual mind, therefore weaves a dream within the dream that reinforces these two priorities. This dream embodies all of the pathos and conflict of which you write.

Re. "The view is not the viewer:"

Well, the dreamer OF the dream is also the dreamer IN the dream, which is to say that he, likewise, IS PART OF THE DREAM. This dreamer splits himself as the protective device that forms a nearly invulnerable bulwark against annihilation. The attention is always focused outward on this "other self" which has all these problems and WHICH USES SUFFERING TO INVENT MEANING AND PURPOSE FOR THAT SHADOW—to alleviate its suffering and fill the hole in its aching heart with this meaning—but it doesn't.

When this self thinks he is looking inward, he is in fact looking outward. That self can never really see himself. The instant that such seeing occurred would be the same instant that that self would cease to exist.

How can such a self align itself with the will of God? You cannot take positive action to align yourself with the will of god for the simple reasons that: a) you do not know god, b) you do not know yourself and c) all such actions are "positive" i.e. they postulate a direction whose root purpose is to protect and magnify the individual.

That is why it seems so true to me when both Rose and Nisargadatta talk about a negative approach. A ceaseless looking for the source of motivations, emotions, actions, etc. is an oblique approach that I think results in what Rose referred to as becoming a "will-full, will-less vector." I prefer Kierkegaard's phrase, "Purity of heart is to will one thing." There is one and only one "will of God." Aligning ourselves with the will of God is turning our attention away from all desire—the purpose and result of which is to magnify the personal self.

I think the question "What does my life express?" and "What is my life an expression of?" are good questions with a lot of dimensions. When you experience a strong emotion, what does your behavior express? During that behavior, what do your thoughts express? Extend the timeframe beyond that moment of strong emotion. What do you express in a day, a week, a month, a year, a lifetime? Extend the question beyond the scope of the personal individual. What does a rock express? A plant, an insect, a bird, the seasons, the cosmos?

This Shedding
by Shawn Nevins

This shedding—this life.
Walk down that path
And with each stride
Drop the weight of pretending.
Approach the door with empty hands
—No hand even! Nothing to claim.

Every morning, you rise a free man
And step into servitude.
Intention behind every action.

Don't try to hold sand.
Wash your hands of self.
Five open fingers or one closed fist.
Either way, the bones of a dead man
Have little to say.

A Practical Question
by Shawn Nevins

The question of what happens after death is a practical one, and the person who wishes to answer that question before investing too much effort in the game of life, is a practical person. Many consider a person concerned with death to the point of that concern interfering with the joys of life, to be crazed. However, while the house is burning, few continue to watch television. Most are searching for a way out. Life is consuming us as well as any flame would; yet few are attempting to escape.

If life ends completely at death, then why bother with the strenuous attempts to ensure security by amassing wealth, accumulating possessions, and insuring it all via Colonial Mutual? Only an idiot would play a game without knowing the rules, or if there was a chance of winning. Of course, there are an increasing number of idiots who play games simply to have fun. Their mantra is: all that matters is the playing of the game. These people have no common sense and no intuition. Their body rules the day.

Logic begs us to ask, "why, what, who, where, and when?" "Why are we here?" "What or who are we?" "Where did we come from, or where are we going?" "When will this stage play end?" These are not the questions of idle philosophers. These are eminently practical questions that any living, and soon to be dying, creature would want to know. What is the point of living in ignorance when the answers are waiting within us?

However, if one believes such questions are unanswerable, then the talk of mystics and philosophers seems a waste of time. These people choose to ignore the history of written testimonies, and succumb to the laziness and fear that keeps the majority in servitude to their disbelief in their abilities.

Man is capable of knowing the thought of the gods and grasping an answer that for all time assuages the restlessness that drives him. Either you will feel in your heart this is true, dismiss the notion outright, or mull over the possibility. Why some wait while others act, is one of the mysteries of the spiritual path.

Developing Intuition
by Shawn Nevins

It has been said before—a person without intuition is lost. They will fall prey to those whose use elegant words, but have no heart or substance. At best, they will stumble upon a true teacher, but be unable to adapt that teaching to their needs. The best spiritual teaching is not a map. Rather, the best teaching tells you how to create a map by using your common sense (logic) and horse sense (intuition).

One must realize the need to improve the intuition. The mind is our tool in spiritual research. Within mind, I include thinking, feeling, the heart, intuition, reason, and any other faculty you can name. Intuition spans a continuum from feeling one should turn left instead of right, to knowing what another person is thinking, to a taste of the profound. Intuition, along with reason, helps guide us through life. Intuition is the feeling, the hunch, and the faint whisper—often obscured by reasoned thought and not always correct.

Developing the intuition is an experiment, as each person is different. I recommend:

It will take intuition and reasoned experimentation to find methods of developing your intuition. It is trial and error. If you are completely at a loss, ask someone who is intuitive, or try anything just to take the first step and get moving.

Above all, be scientific about the process. You must test your intuition to know if it is improving. Verbalize your intuitions. Write them down and review them later to see if they were accurate. Admit your mistakes and be thankful for successes. We are trying to look within, listen quietly, and identify which voices in our mind are reliable.

To develop the intuition it must be used. Just like muscle, it will atrophy. Really you are just trying to find a technique that interests you, holds your attention, and captures your curiosity long enough for you to see the benefit. Do not be afraid to follow the intuition. Intuition will grow if it is allowed. It is the indistinct whisper, the hunch, which is usually overruled by the clear, loud voice of reason. The intuition may hint at a course of action for which the reason sees no call. Take the chance. Generally, all you stand to lose is false pride, although you will imagine it much more dangerous than that.

Eventually, there is little else to guide you on the spiritual path except intuition. You follow a feeling that somewhere within you is the answer to your questions. You follow a feeling of the profound.


Brother Theo's lesson on 'not being the body'

Brother Theo (from www.zoofence.com)

Reader Commentary:

I'm so grateful to receive the news about the TAT Forum.... Thanks to all who make this possible. Helpful pointers and reminders of truth are always a blessing. With a grateful heart and thanks,

~ Carol B.

Re: Rose's "Temptation Paper" (in the May 2001 TAT Forum):

What struck me... were the last few paragraphs beginning with the statement, "When I am confronted with temptation my greatest argument is, Why?" and "Eventually the mind denies itself the delusion, and finds a warming satisfaction in the freedom thus enjoyed." Also unusual to hear from Rose, "...I have found that it is also beneficial to practice relaxation."

Rose's premise that if you conclude that the nature of reality or the relative world is primarily mental, makes it seem very plausible that it is not unreasonable or unscientific even, to speculate on the existence of life forms which manifest primarily, if not exclusively, in the mental realm. Eckhart Tolle also writes about "entities" which afflict the individual. Tolle may know more than he's willing to say. From their writings I would say that Rose conceives these entities as beings with some degree of sentience that are part and parcel to the manifest cosmos, whereas Tolle conceives them as "living effects" of the individual's "pain body"—or perhaps something akin to a "Tulpa"-like being [see Alexandra David-Neel's fascinating Magic and Mystery in Tibet for a description of tulpas —Ed.]. Whether either of these ideas is provable or not one thing strikes me as indisputable. Individuals do often act contrary to their own best interests and few would dispute our capacity for self-delusion. The question is what is responsible for the underlying motivation. To answer that it seems smart to ask the question, "What's the payoff?" and who receives it. In some cases it is the ego, but is this true always?

Now, when confronted with an overpowering state of mind or temptation to follow some course of action which evokes internal conflict, how about combining the question, "Why?" with Benoit's exercise [see the exercise in the Benoit Zen web page]. The question precedes watching the "mouse hole" to see what sort of machinations the apparatus is going to concoct. That whole process becomes the question, "Who am I—really?" and perhaps identification with the unreal self can be broken in due course.

~ Bob Cergol

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