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

TAT Forum
August 2001

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

This month's contents:

Tales of Love (part 2 of 3) by Richard Rose | Poems by Shawn Nevins | Opening a Path by Shawn Nevins | The Voice of the Cathars (part 3 of 3) by Louis Khourey | Clouds of Consciousness by Gary Harmon | Sincere Inquiry by Gary Harmon | Letting Go by Bob Cergol | The Mind in Time by Bob Fergeson | Finding the Inner Self by Bob Fergeson | Humor | Reader Commentary

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Tales of Love (part 2 of 3)
by Richard Rose

(~ Continued from the July 2001 TAT Forum)

Indian maiden going over falls in canoe

Courtesy of the Niagara Falls
(Ontario) Public Library

"What about those who pay and never get the chance to love [the author asked] ... like the little spiders?"

"Every reproducing creature loves. You're thinking about the millions of teenage soldiers who die on the battlefield and never had a girlfriend. But you do not see their drama. The locust digs for seventeen years to sing his song for six weeks, and dies. He never sees his children. Never knows if they made it or not. The soldier is very romantic. Nearly every one has a girl friend. Most of their girl friends are unreal, superimposed dream-copies projected upon the memory of the girl next door ... or the pin-up in the barracks.... But he's a lover. He is the creator of love stories that never come true because they have never happened yet. He is still a child enough that he loves his mother. When the moment of death comes for him, he calls for her and immortalizes her. He dies protecting her, or protecting one of his buddies, and immortalizes himself. And he sees it all coming and doesn't mind."

"But why all the pain?"

He paused, and stared at the sidewalk for a moment. "There's no pain. You are looking from the outside. The audience suffers, not the actor. The more trauma in the script, the greater the glory. The story is what's important. That's why I wanted to take a crack at writing.

"You see, love is more important than empire-building. Empire building is a vanity, unless done for the love of someone else. It is love too, but it is a frenzied method of torturing yourself to death while often alienating yourself from the real people that you might love.

"Eternity may have produced endless space and endless time ... but life is something else. Love is the song of life. The Kabbalistic God hungers for the experience of love. He got hungry, he groaned, and out came the Logos. The word. The story. The stories multiplied."

I still felt that he was missing a point. "How do you account for the evident unbalanced situation ... the cost seems to exceed the reward. A man has a moment of love, but he pays for it with years of sacrifice and suffering, getting an education ... if he survives the gauntlet that he has to run with the army and other dangers ... and finds that he has just prepared himself to start sacrificing himself for this thing called love ... for the rest of his life!"

He was waiting patiently for me to finish. "Maybe we have to prove our claim to love. In a relative world-picture we would need the pain to identify the love. Better than identifying it with hate. But I think that through this ambiguousness, or polarity of thinking, we do experience a relative love. The hunger that we really have then is to eternalize that feeling. And we do not know it at the time, perhaps, but we are helping to create a cosmic picture, which might be a cosmic experience ... eternalizing the love phenomenon."

I felt like saying that we might well be eternalizing man's ability to fool himself, but I knew this would throw cold water on the warm friendship and candor of our relationship. I made some excuse and suggested that we go sit down in his car or mine. He wanted a drink. We were on the Canadian side of the border and I did not know if they served alcohol near the falls.

It turned out he wanted a soft drink, so we picked up a couple of sodas and sat in my car. I cannot remember every detail of the conversation, but I remembered a lot of that which was said because he made an impression on me later, which somewhat intensified my memory of nearly all that was said.

I remember that when he sat down he said, "That falls is a young man's tallest tree ... and for every woman it is the symbol of the most terrible sacrifice or masochism ... an initiation for an eternal motherhood...."

I felt that I knew what he meant. Boys start climbing a tree to impress their girl friends. Then they climb tall buildings or take dangerous jobs to guarantee their mate's security. Some grown men actually try to overcome the falls itself. Quite a few went over the falls in barrels, and some of them died. Some died just trying to ride through the lower rapids. Looking across to the American side I saw several wrecked automobiles at the foot of the cliff at the water's edge. I wondered if the drivers had committed suicide on a dare ... daring the everpresent threats of nature ... for a final time. If they survived they are forever fearless, and if they died they will be free of fear.

Strangely, only one woman had ever tried to conquer the falls in a barrel. I saw her picture in one of the souvenir-booklets describing the falls. She looked as though she suffered from an unwelcome masculinity, and I do not think that she ever expected to survive. I think she wanted to experience masochism in its most extreme form.

I knew that there was some wisdom in this man, and it occurred to me that I valued his friendship. I did not even know his name and I knew that I wanted to keep in touch with him. I could not get the idea of the falls being a proving ground for the young man in search of ultimate self-validation. That same day I had to pull my son from the wall, and once he succeeded in getting through the pipes above the wall, pretending to retrieve something that had fallen on the grass on the other side. I realized at the time that James would not try it again because he had made his point. He had something to brag about when he returned home. And he felt satisfied with himself.

"What's your name?.... Mine is Rose,—Richard Rose."

"Adam." No great joy to him to know my name, this I could see.

I waited, thinking that my wait would bring out his full name and maybe a little personal history. He knew about my tactic.

"Just Adam." And this with a look that seemed to say that we were both OK, and did not need to get into personal gossip.

I was amused by his refusal to be pressed into the simple conformity of an introduction. But I felt that I knew his reasons.

"I will remember Adam ... but maybe I would not remember Adam Jones or Adam Smith who I would try to relate to all the Joneses or Smiths that I ever knew ... right?"

"Meeting people is like ships passing at sea. It serves no purpose for one ship to turn around and follow the other ship just because they did not fire upon one another. Maybe that don't put it the way I want to...."

"I know ... I know...."

"I prefer to be a story for you. I want you to know only the good part ... a few non-political ... hopefully non-egotistical minutes. The writer never tells the real nature of his characters ... just the good part ... and that is the part that we are interested in. Who knows, maybe we will meet again ... if so, that's good. But we have no shackles if we do not. People like to make themselves miserable sometimes ... now I am not aiming at you ... but people can't let go ... and when they get tight about leaving a pleasant scene they destroy the memory of the scene. All relationships have to turn into agonies. I think that is the reason people loose track of one another when somebody dies. They have a wall of agony between themselves and the person who shipped out."

"I can see that this is consistent with your idea of real love. Real love deals with people but not with capturing or holding...."

"Each man is a story ... maybe he can be a better story ... or maybe he can just play it out better. You are a brief walk-on in my story. I am a brief walk-on in your story. Our story is more vital if we play the brevity to its best.

"One of the greatest stories was the life of Christ. I wonder, though, if people really see how well He told His story. There is an art to allowing oneself to simply allow the story to happen. The art is chiefly not falling for lesser love-impulses. You see, Christ played the role of a man who loved supremely. Maybe if He had played His cards right He would have been King of the Jews. Or He could certainly have gotten rich if He healed people a little under that which was the going AMA rate. But He was heeling people so that people would love Him and so that He could sell out that lesser love itself. Now that sounded damned weird ... but I think you pick it up. He decided to be the greatest love story. So He had to show the difference between all the different forms of human love and universal love. He died in the prime of life when He would have been able to maturely love individuals, a wife or lover, or friends. And He had that type of love too maybe.

"So He gave them all up and immortalized them besides forming for all time a new, non-relative love. A love beyond the pain and the payment. He rejected the payment of His love for His mother and family which tempted Him to cling to them in a dreary life of mutual watching-over, of identification with everything that afflicted Him or them. He rejected the role as king because that role always calls for more human hate than love. He had created an esoteric brotherhood, but He gave up that fellowship, knowing that maybe by bidding for the greater goal He may have interpreted His role in the drama incorrectly, and maybe had lost the impersonal love that the brotherhood represented, and which may have been his real purpose for living...."

~ Continued in the September 2001 TAT Forum

First published in the TAT Journal No. 4 (Vol. 1, No. 4) and republished in "Carillon: Poems, essays and philosophy of Richard Rose." © 1978, 1982 by Richard Rose. All Rights Reserved. See the TAT Journal Archive page.

Poems by Shawn Nevins

He came to us as a man selling air
And we all thought twice at the offer and price
Of this thing which seemed so rare.
Was he dreaming, or really There?

Of his formula I only know
Bits and pieces of what he told:
Live the Truth, be not shy, unlock your heart,
Fear not to die, help your friend along the Way,
From untruth back away.

His map is there, the last mile up to you.
Die to live—the paradox is true.
Full of anguish over here, full of joy over there,
You were never, never anywhere.


The seed floats in perfection;
Memory does not taint its destiny.
This tiny bit of motion on a silent backdrop
Is as beautiful as the life of any saint.


It is deadly play and beautiful agony,
This place of perfect dreams.
Where only the dead see motion masquerading as life,
And the eternal, unmoving pulse
Which is utter stillness and our lasting Home
Is seen by the living as little more than a shadow.


I who has no form,
Who has no place—
Can you feel me in the wind,
Hear me in the waters,
Or see me in the trees?

Masks of God unveiling,
Speaking in tongues, arguing, seducing.
Where will your faltering forms find rest?

Blown by never-ceasing winds,
Clouds form and dissolve
Seen as shadows passing over water.


Children play as the blue sky looks upon them—
Words tumbling through silence.
When all the voices stop
And love stands poised between loss and perfection
Our heart will ache for what it believed
And for what it knows.

Opening a Path
by Shawn Nevins

I am opening a path for you.
Listen to these words.
From where are they coming?
Where do they go in the silence after this sentence?
Look into your mind. The_next_word_is_here.
You observe these words—so too does your neighbor.
Actually look at your neighbor. There is something in them, which is in you.
Now turn with me and ask, "who is observing?"
Anything you can see is not you.
So how will you define your self?

All of my words miss the mark,
But the answer is within.
Only within is better described as enveloping and surrounding,
Because to go within is to transcend.
You need only listen to the sound of the one hand clapping,
Which dissolves into silence.

Words are dust if they are not felt.

Now choose a memory
(And we won't address the question of how much choice you have).
Choose a happy, pleasant memory.
Can you hold onto this memory?
Where is it stored?
Who would you be without memory?

Nothing you can imagine will last.
All that you dream of will fail you.

We like to talk of our weaknesses and invite temptations,
But look at your sorrow and your failings.
Where do such things go when you sleep?

Everything is receding—day turns back to night—night to day.
And all is balanced between destruction and hope.

The Voice of the Cathars (conclusion)
by Louis Khourey

(~ Continued from the July 2001 TAT Forum)

Interior of the fortifications atop Montségur Interior of the fortifications atop Montségur

This was the beginning of the end for Catharism. As late as 1225, the Cathar Church was functioning quite openly, with five dioceses of Albi, Toulouse, Carcassonne, Agen and Razés. But in 1229 the papal legate in Toulouse began to enforce the anti-heresy laws, and two Perfects were arrested, one of whom was burnt and one of whom recanted—the only recantation of a Cathar Perfect ever recorded. By letter of April 20, 1233, Pope Gregory IX instituted a Special Inquisition, of which the Dominicans were placed in charge, and their zeal quickly filled the jails of Carcassonne, Toulouse and Albi, and fired the flames of an auto-da-fé at Moissac in which 210 Cathars lost their lives. Persecution became so intense during the 1230's that many Cathars emigrated to Lombardy, which had always harbored the religion, and to the Cathar "headquarters" in Languedoc, the mountain fortress of Montségur in the shadow of the Pyrenees.

As the murder of Peter de Castelnau had precipitated the Crusade in 1208, so another isolated act of violence led to the Cathars' "last stand." In 1242, Raymond d'Alfaro, a minor official in Avignonet and a Cathar Believer, took the news to Montségur of an impending visit to his town of a group of inquisitors. Pierre-Roger de Mirepoix organized a group of assassins who traveled to Avignonet and burst in upon the group of eleven Dominicans and Franciscans, mercilessly butchering them with axes and swords, while the clerics sang Salve Regina in their final moments. Despite the ruthlessness of the inquisitors, even writers sympathetic to the Cathars have condemned the savagery of this attack. Even in that era of seemingly wanton bloodshed, this event did not go unnoticed, and aroused support for an all-out assault on the stronghold of Montségur.

The fortress of Montségur, its remains still standing, is on top of a rugged peak 3,500 feet high. It had come into the possession of Raymond de Pereille in the 13th century, and he had opened it as a haven for the Perfects. On the slopes surrounding the fortress were many huts and caves in which dwelt the aged Perfects and others who had retired from preaching for a life of contemplation.

The siege by an army of several thousand began in May 1243. The besieged were between one hundred twenty and one hundred fifty fighting men, their families, and about two hundred Perfects. The natural defenses of the castle, a large provision of food and water, and gaps in the besiegers' lines enabled the defenders to hold out until March 1, 1244 when negotiations were begun. It was agreed that the garrison would be permitted to remain in the fortress for another fifteen days and, according to the terms, Montségur was surrendered on March 16. During the truce period eleven men and six women received the Consolamentum, effectively condemning themselves to death. After the surrender there were no trials nor individual executions; a large stockade was built in a field and two hundred Perfects were burned on the same day.

Their Legend

After Montségur, Catharism ceased being an established church and a social force in Languedoc. The remaining Perfects maintained an underground ministry until about 1300, but could no longer count on the support of the nobility. The Inquisition continued its work, and the last Cathars sought refuge in the Sabarthes valley of the Pyrenees. Pierre Autier, the last great Cathar minister, was burnt in 1307.

But despite their complete disappearance from the pages of history, Catharism has remained alive through the centuries, not only because of sympathy for their principled suffering, but—more interestingly—because of suggestions that they were the possessors of an occult or esoteric teaching and of a "treasure" of an unknown but powerful character.

The view looking out from the entrance of Montségur

The enduring mystery in the story of the Cathars concerns the surprising terms of their surrender of Montségur. All historians, whether or not given to esoteric speculation, have commented on it. There has never been an explanation as to why Montségur surrendered when it did, why the terms of surrender were so lenient (no one who abjured their heresy was to be killed or even imprisoned), and why the fifteen-day reprieve was sought and granted. In January 1244, two Perfects escaped from Montségur with what is generally considered to have been the monetary treasure of the Cathars, which they hid, possibly in the caves of Sabarthes; it has never been found. But on March 16, after the surrender, four other Perfects who remained hidden in the garrison while their brethren were being executed, escaped with another "treasure."

Presumably, this latter treasure was not of material value but consisted of sacred books or relics, of central importance to the Cathars. Several writers have deduced that the Cathars agreed to surrender in order to obtain a peaceful celebration on March 14 of Bema, an important Manichaean feast day, and that the spiritual treasure was not removed in January because it was somehow necessary to the celebration of Bema. To the esotericist, this required object could not have been a mere symbol, but something with truly magical properties.

Many have concluded that the Cathars were the possessors of the Holy Grail and that Montségur was, in fact, the legendary Grail Castle of Montsalvat. This belief has been widespread in esoteric circles and has been noted by the great occult writer, A.E. Waite, as well as by the modern historian of the Middle Ages, Sir Steven Runciman. This hypothesis has been most recently put forward as the starting point of the laboriously worked-out (and ultimately unsatisfactory) theory of Holy Blood, Holy Grail. The authors point out that the medieval Grail romances of Chrétien de Troyes and Wolfram von Eschenbach can be linked to the Cathars, that Wolfram places the Grail Castle in the Pyrenees in the land of Perilla, and that the historical lord of Montségur was Raymond de Pereille.

In light of the Cathar belief in metempsychosis, or transmigration of souls, Arthur Guirdham's book, The Cathars and Reincarnation, holds a unique fascination. Guirdham was an English psychiatrist who gives a true account of a female patient's dreams and memories of her prior incarnation as a Cathar. Guirdham applied to his subject a critical eye and gradually became convinced of the reality of his patient's experiences from the obscure but accurate historical data that she periodically produced.

Guirdham's healthy skepticism, as well as his sincerity, have been commended by Colin Wilson, the prolific chronicler of the occult, in his book, Strange Powers. Wilson, who met with Guirdham personally on several occasions, concludes that Guirdham's meticulous documentation of his patient's dreams and visions makes out a legitimate case for the reality of reincarnation. Wilson also refers to another book by Guirdham, entitled We Are One Another, which asserts that half a dozen people living in the vicinity of Bath, England, independently reached the conclusion that they were reincarnated Cathars.

But by far the greatest modern interest in the Cathars lies in France, especially in the southern regions where they flourished. There are a multitude of books, articles and studies that have been published about the Cathars in French, only a few of which have been translated into English. The French interest has not been just scholarly but has been stimulated by those who consider themselves to be neo-Cathars. The most famous of these was Déodat Roche, described in an article in Time magazine of April 28, 1961, as a 79-year-old "former magistrate of Arques, whose lifelong dedication to spreading the Cathar gospel, organizing pilgrimages to Montségur, and following the strict vegetarian regimen of his heretic ancestors has earned him the nickname 'the Cathar Bishop.'" Arthur Guirdham met Roche while doing his research on the Cathars, as well as René Nelli, a Professor of Sociology at the University of Toulouse, who founded a journal dedicated to the subject, Cahiers d'études cathares [Cathar research notebooks]. Guirdham also refers in his book to an Albigensian Society dedicated to the memory of the Cathars, although he does not indicate whether it is English or French.

Whether or not the Cathars left a physical treasure, or an occult teaching that has somewhere been preserved, there is no doubt that their spiritual legacy has survived. For the purity of their religious teaching, and their steadfastness in the face of extermination, they continue to live and teach in the imaginations of those who sense that man's true home is not in this world.

Selected Bibliography for "The Voice of the Cathars"

Oldenbourg, Zoë. Massacre at Montségur. Translated by Peter Green. Minerva Press, 1968.

-----. Destiny of Fire. Translated by Peter Green. New York. Pantheon Books, 1961.

-----. Cities of the Flesh. Translated by Anne Carter. Pantheon Books, 1963.

Zoë Oldenbourg originally gained fame as an author of well-researched historical novels set in the Middle Ages. From her first novel about the Cathars, Destiny of Fire, came the urge to write a comprehensive history of the Albigensian Crusade, which she did with Massacre at Montségur. Written with evident sympathy for the Cathars, yet with a proper historical objectivity, it is the best book available in English about the Cathars themselves, and about the war that engulfed them. In her novels she does not restrain her feelings and manifests a strong identification about the beliefs and sufferings of the Cathars.

Runciman, Steven. The Medieval Manichee. New York. Viking Press Compass Books edition, 1961.

Sir Steven Runciman was a renowned British historian who wrote extensively about the Middle Ages in Europe, as well as about other times and civilizations. This is the clearest presentation of the tenets of Catharism as part of the Manichean tradition, and traces that tradition through groups such as the Marcionites, the Paulicans and the Bogomils.

Madaule, Jacques. The Albigensian Crusade: An Historical Essay. Translated by Barbara Wall. New York. Fordham University Press, 1967.

A good, concise account of Catharism and the Crusade against it.

Wakefield, Walter L. Heresy, Crusade and Inquisition in Southern France, 1100-1250. University of California Press, 1974.

This book places Catharism within the context of various social and political currents. Not particularly enlightening about the Cathars themselves.

Baigent, Michael; Leigh, Richard; and Lincoln, Henry. Holy Blood, Holy Grail. Delacorte Press, 1982.

This popular book posits at the beginning that the treasure of the Cathars was discovered by a poor country priest in France early in the twentieth century, goes on to connect the Cathars to the Grail, and then launches into an involved theory about a royal line of descent from Christ. It contains some interesting lore about Catharism.

Guirdham, Arthur. The Cathars and Reincarnation. London. Neville Spearman, 1970.

Dr. Guirdham is the psychiatrist described in the article whose patient recalled her past life as a Cathar. While not particularly well-written, it is a serious book with an interesting angle.

Other books in English:

LeRoy Ladurie, Emmanuel. Montaillou: the promised land of error. Translated by Barbara Bray. New York. George Braziller, Inc., 1978.

Sismondi, J.C.C. History of the Crusades against the Albigensians in the 13th Century. Translated London, 1826. Reproduced by AMS Press, New York, 1973.

Warner, Henry James. The Albigensian Heresy. 2 volumes, published 1922-1928. Reproduced by Russell and Russell, New York, 1967.

Strayer, Joseph R. The Albigensian Crusades. The Dial Press, New York, 1971.

Clouds of Consciousness
by Gary Harmon

The emergence of a cloud materializing out of the breath of nowhere is similar to the way we have appeared, and the way we will dissipate also. Clouds appear and disappear, they are born and they die. It can be said that they transform continually but their essence remains the same. Without any planning or particular reason, clouds just materialize.

As I watch the different types of clouds floating across the sky, there is a sense of kinship. We have much in common with the 'life' of a cloud. Immortality is a prime feature of the evident transitory existence. They change from a vapor to a visible form, changing again from detectable form back to a diffusion of vapors. There is an eternal implication to the entire procedure. Our life cycle is a very similar process with no memory of the place that we have appeared from; we just become conscious of our existence. How magnificent and astounding this actually is.

Here is a contribution by Pei-chien (1185-1246) a Cloud of Consciousness that dissipated long ago. His words are just as alive as when they were first written.

Let your actions be like clouds going by; the clouds going by are mindless. Let your stillness be as the valley spirit; the valley spirit is undying. When action accompanies stillness and stillness combines with action, then the duality of action and stillness no longer arises.

It can be understood consciousness is very sky like. There is nothing to observe at all, just the unoccupied measureless space. Out of nowhere a cloud appears in the atmosphere, in quite the same manner that we are created out of emptiness. The cloud always remains part of the sky, just as we forever remain a vector of empty space.

Sincere Inquiry
by Gary Harmon

Sincere inquiry is a willingness to notice with attentiveness, exactly what is not there.

The onlooker happily dies from lack of imagination.

Earnest sincerity works faster than tortuous insincerity.

True action is the result of "know thyself" therefore "Thy will be done."

I've learned that silent friendship is often more credible than words of advice.

When all effort collapses, the mind stops and temporary shelter is no longer needed.

The most helpful advice that I was ever given has to do with stained glass windows.

The most awful thing that ever happened to you may be the best thing camouflaged.

There is no doer and nothing to be done... awareness subsequently shifts.

Acceptance and Letting Go
by Bob Cergol

(January 2000:) Maybe there's a paradox here. Acceptance and rejection are both ego based. It doesn't really matter. It's not the real you in either case. Neither accepting nor rejecting is the point of reference to have. Yet in life's conduct, it matters.

(February 2000:) In the immediate weeks following my realization I was somewhat obsessed with the thought of how does this get triggered? Pulyan gave the answer. One must quit the egocentric position. And he said you cannot do it without an outside fulcrum. His statement, "that the mind which is one with the body at all times, perishes with the body," was the immediate fulcrum which permitted me to quit the egocentric position, which allowed me to become aware. I am sure it would have meant nothing to me without the previous years of association with Rose. Anyone can do it, but you MUST finally give up the conviction that you are going to succeed in preserving yourself. How would YOU feel if you could do this. Just where would that leave YOU!?

(March 2000:) These forms are like peep-holes, through which the Absolute gazes—back into Itself. In that process, these forms become animated, and the thought arises that the form is the self. In reality that form is nothing more than a vision—for only the source Itself is. That seed thought, that the form is the self, gives rise to the whole creation in which we believe we live. Anyone can realize this since it is their true nature right now—but you have to be willing to let go of ALL that you believe yourself to be. A major obstacle to doing this is not accepting totally everything about yourself right now. I know that doesn't sound Rose-an [i.e., seemingly contradicts what people might attribute to Richard Rose's teaching —Ed.], but confrontation was directed at the ego which would maintain itself by picking and choosing aspects to conform to the image it wants to be and project. This inevitably means rejecting and hiding pieces of ourselves from ourselves.

The Mind in Time
by Bob Fergeson

We've drifted down a line to time
upon a Ray from That which shines.
It shines within in Now, not then,
in Now we live, not 'if only when.'
We've fallen down to mind in time.

We fell to mind that lives in time
bound to things that live and die.
We tie the knots in our true life-line
and lose the path to That which shines.
Ignorance ties these knots in time
that bind us into finite mind.

What sword, what axe could cut this knot
that Gordon tied to bind our lot?
A little here, a little there,
will never undo this wicked snare.
To cut the knot, this tie that binds,
will take a blade from beyond the mind.

Climb up the line back out of time
To leave our self, our proud dead mind,
To leave the things that thinking brings
For the One Clear Note of Presence's Ring.

Take faith and help from those that find
men are more than plugged-up knots in time.
Silence true gives us a clue
To leave the 'I', the 'me', the 'you.'

Take hope, and leave the mind in time,
To listen again to That which shines.

Finding the Inner Self
by Bob Fergeson

Two things can help us in making contact with the inner self. The first is the complete acceptance that we are mechanical, along with a willingness to listen to that which is not. We see we need help. The ego will resist any effort which would lead to its demotion, and the idea of actually listening to the still, small voice within will be tested at every turn.

The second is the storing of energy through conservation. We will need power, strength, and clarity of mind to pass through the valley of death and return to tell about it. The temptations and dissipations of a sensual lifestyle must be put aside. We have only time and energy for one endeavor at a time. Our vitality will be needed to develop the intuition and the capacity for clear reasoning, rather than buying fun tickets for the amusement park of illusion. The capacity and willingness to listen to the Inner Self comes at a price.

Through this two-pronged approach of accepting our mechanical nature while storing our vitality, we build the possibility of coming into contact with that which lies beyond. Until we see that the mind in time is merely a tool, and not us, we will pass by the portals to the Inner Self, and our true nature.

Before we can develop a connection with our inner self, or true intelligence, we must be shown the stark fact that such a connection does not yet exist. In other words, we must see ourselves as we truly are, a SMAARP: a self-maintaining accidental associative reaction pattern, a robot. This robot may have the programming to make its way through life in a reasonable fashion, but it is sorely lacking in answering the fundamental questions about reality, Truth and our origin and destiny. Nature will assist the majority of mechanical men on their journey through life. It will not help with matters outside its domain. For this, a form of intelligence on a higher order than associative reaction is needed.

Commentary on Responsibility
by Nisargadatta

Q: When a truth-seeker earnestly practices his Yogas, does his inner Guru guide and help him or does he leave him to his own resources, just waiting for the outcome?

N: All happens by itself. Neither the seeker, nor the Guru do anything. Things happen as they happen; blame or praise are apportioned later, after the sense of doership appearing.

Q: How strange! Surely the doer comes before the deed.

N: It is the other way round; the deed is a fact, the doer a mere concept. Your very language shows that while the deed is certain, the doer is dubious; shifting responsibility is a game peculiarly human. Considering the endless list of factors required for anything to happen, one can only admit that everything is responsible for everything, however remote. Doership is a myth born from the illusion of 'me' and 'mine.'


"Responsibility, n. A detachable burden easily shifted to the shoulders of God, Fate, Fortune, Luck, or one's neighbor. In the days of astrology it was customary to unload it upon a star." ~ Ambrose Bierce

"I have great faith in fools; self-confidence my friends call it." ~ Edgar Allan Poe

"When the grass looks greener on the other side of the fence, it may be that they take better care of it there." ~ Cecil Selig

Reader Commentary:

I liked the forum for this month [i.e., July] ... loved the Niagara Falls story.... ~ A.P.

I got a lot out of reading The Will to Resist article in the July TAT forum. In particular, I liked the part about the two different scenarios where you feel drawn toward a potentially harmful situation. I could especially identify with the second category, where you've done something before, and have a sense it's a bad idea to do it again, but when faced with the temptation you reach a "point of no return" where you feel powerless to resist. I find that, if I do manage to resist, there's a huge sense of relief afterwards—like the wave of power pushing me to do the thing recedes and I am "sane" again.

Whether it's asking "why?" or some other emergency standby method for buying time and getting distance from the situation (like calling a friend, going for a run) I've found if I can get through a few times, I feel less overpowered each following time I'm faced with the temptation. If, on the other hand, I make some sort of solid commitment to never do the thing again, or not to do it for some span of time, I find that that can actually undermine my intuition and my ability to act on it—I become so identified with my "will-power" that I get fixated on that, rather than develop the ability to really follow the inner voice telling me what is worth doing. ~ Mandy Schleifer

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