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

October 2005

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

This month's contents:

Bernini window - St. Peter's, Rome  

Deposition of Conclusions by Richard Rose | Strategies by Bart Marshall | Poems by Shawn Nevins | Lawn Mowers, Books, and Fire by Shawn Nevins | I Said to My Soul by T.S. Eliot | What Do You Really Want? by Art Ticknor | Call & Response by Art Ticknor | Look! Look! by Foyan | Whatever by Gary Harmon | What Do You Love? by Bob Fergeson | Humor

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Deposition of Conclusions of Life's Philosophy
by Richard Rose

It has occurred to me for some time that there should be some deposition of thought concerning philosophy, the pursuit of Truth, the means to pursue it, and a decision as to the nature of good and bad or right and wrong procedure.

The purpose of such a deposition:

In the past I have embarked upon paths of endeavor and then have been weaned away by the exigencies of a livelihood. Thus may this be written as a reminder of aims.

A person's mind is easily swayed by that for which he hungers at a given moment, and if his philosophy is not at hand, desires may supplant it with rationalizations. It is my belief that even a momentary sidetracking allows for the habit of occasional momentary sidetracking, which can evolve into a habit, which can evolve into continual sidetracking, or a life contrary to the basic intention of the thinking mind.


In the first place we must face the prospect of thinking. If we are to contemplate Being, discuss it, or write about it, we must employ thought. Being is that which man attempts to intensify with pleasure, to prolong with Science, and to extend beyond death with philosophy and proof. Perhaps we can have Being without thought, but can we have proof of it without thought?

I hold that man's right to doubt is sacred. Hence we must have proof. But is there anything really proven?

We come back to thought. The theories about thought are myriad. I used to have a little theme: do we think or do we think that we think? How many people are doing our thinking? Does a man think or does he live like an automaton with a parallel dream about what is going on, but having neither control over life nor over the accompanying dream? Or does someone else dream the whole thing ... or something else dream it?

I can find little solace in the profound "I think, therefore I am" solution. In the first place Descartes never proved that it was he doing the thinking.

I don't believe that anything can be proven to the satisfaction of all agnostics. I do not propose to institute any such effort, mainly because words must be used and words are a highly elastic and relative medium, and we would wind up having to prove the definition of every noun and verb in the dictionary.

Many theologians say that the finite mind cannot grasp the infinite. I am not so eager to put such a restriction on the mind until we know its nature better, but I think that they are right in this regard: the great unknown Truth, or the Infinite, will never be proven with words.

Likewise, I do not expect to prove that London exists with words, but with words I can chart a course that will bring all to London. So I set about writing this down without any attempt to define or prove.

dense jungle thicket In the quest we may wander through a thicket ... we may get lost in a morass ... walk aside to avoid a tree ... may stray considerably ... but the alternative is futility ... to live until death in the thicket.

It might be granted that nothing is proven, and that for man to waste his lifetime plotting paths out of ignorance is futile. But even the futilist does things, and thus against his own reasoning. Suicide, the proper termination of a futile life, is seemingly futile also, unless we are sure we are spiting the gods.

Foolish action is not commendable. The only reasonable life is one that is governed by the most consistent reasoning.

It is possible that our thoughts and actions may be imposed on us: by mores, environment, heredity and desire. Or totally by a God. But neither of such is proven, and until we are absolutely sure that we are robots we should act as though we are free, and some of us will be impelled to seek for individuality and survival.

If we are irrevocable automatons then we cannot think, nor act, nor prove anything. Any life in the future will also be automatic as far as we are concerned, so our so-called salvations will also be fixed, and we will have nothing to lose by our speculations.

If we are not utter robots, but merely slaves, we will have little proof of our escape from slavery and darkness until the dungeon is pierced, since we have never yet been on the outside. We must speculate about the first rock to remove in the dungeon wall.

If we are to institute a plan it can only be a system of eliminating the unlikely ifs and holding fast to the likely ifs until they become unlikely. This is a system of reasoning.

I hold that we must admit that which we are before we can advance. If we do not know ourselves we must admit that which is possible concerning ourselves, eventually narrowing down the more possible away from the less possible.

I admit that reason is the automatic compilation of memory data. The memory is in a large, if not total sense, automatic, or involuntary at the least. Memories pile up as evidence. In reasoning we compile memories in regard to the subject at hand. The consequent action is decided by desire. We survey the different piles of evidence, pro and con, and decide which will bring that which we desire. Philosophy is the result of a compilation of desires, in memory, and the consequent decision among them of which desires are the most desirable.

For instance we desire pleasure, immortality, power and children. Then we reason. Which is the most important? Immortality seems to be because it gives prospect of prolonged pleasure, eventual power, and individual survival, and hence no need of race or species survival. If reason despairs of immortality, then we will settle on one or two of the remainder, depending on our singleness of purpose.

Then comes the actual philosophy. The mind has found that which it wants, so it builds a heap of rationalization as to why it wants it. A Spinoza may fill a book with pleasure philosophy, a Nietzsche may do the same in preaching for the power of Superman, and there is no need to list all the books that pretend to tell the proof of the author's private heaven and the passports to the same.

In a sense all are right. Spinoza is right because all decisions are the result of a desire for the greatest pleasure ... eternal heaven. Each to his own conceit of it. The immortalists merely say that the greatest pleasure is heaven, and go on from there. And he who loves power wishes to be a god, and that engenders immortality.

This all makes the mind look rather mechanical. To a certain extent. Perception may be pre-ordained. Memory is definitely. We can only remember that which we experience. The reaction (reason) is regulated by the desires, which are only checkmated by stronger desires, and surmounted only by a single overwhelming desire, which is planted in us from outside.

Remove the survival desire from organic life and creation crumbles to dust.

Now someone may say we live in fear. That we conform to laws for fear of punishment. That we embrace religion because of fear of death. That which we fear is the cessation of pleasure (life). When life ceases to be a pleasure for long enough man becomes indifferent to the fear of death. Some even find pleasure in embracing death.

Fear is merely the con. Desire is the pro.

We start out intently thinking that we are able to analyze our being, to prove something. The process of proving seems to point to fatalism. Fatalism eliminates the ability to act. We may only observe ourselves. But it is not yet proven. Heredity is forced upon us. Mores are a part of our social inheritance, but they can be opposed if the desire is strong enough. The same with environment. We can desire a change, but can we change our desires?

Our desires narrow down to the desire to learn, the desire to have fun, and the desire to prolong life. The desire to learn may surprise some, but even the amoeba seems to demonstrate some curiosity. The cow wanders more quickly on a full stomach. Many are carried away by curiosity and spend much time in learning, and little in fun, until they learn enough about fun to make it a checkmating desire.

It has seemed to me that this inbred curiosity generally terminates or aims at pleasure. The desire to have fun is generally climaxed in sexual pleasure. We may enjoy nature, but we will enjoy it better with a companion. When we see that sexual pleasure leads to having children, and children will deaden our spirits somewhat to pleasure, we may inhibit the organism somewhat, but then curiosity will return until new avenues of pleasure tempt us, until in the end we are still tricked into pregnancy.

The desire to prolong existence is a necessary seed in all life forms, to prevent curiosity or the appetites from leading us into destruction before the purpose of life is carried out. All this seems to hint that we are foreordained. The insect lays its eggs and dies. The spider breeds, devours its mate, then bears its young. There are more people having children than there are monks and nuns. This latter would indicate that the strongest urge given to man is the desire to propagate. The parent rationalizes a kind of immortality through his posterity and obeying the divine law.

But all this does not mean that we must raise children. There is nothing proven that the trends of the majority are infallible. It merely means that the maker of mankind was first aiming at a larger and larger herd.

We cannot choose the basic desires, but we can choose among them.

To epitomize this writing so far:

© 1955 Richard Rose. All Rights Reserved.

by Bart Marshall

Wooden bridge over lake. Photo by the author. Photo by the author

As I turned over all those rocks on my spiritual search, I was always trying out recommendations about what I could do to hurry this process along-what I could do, what I could be, to speed things up. Even if the teaching was that there is nothing to be done, I'd want to know what the technique was for not-doing. Always thinking it was up to me whether or not this was going to happen.

But is it up to me? Can this shift in perception, be brought about by the efforts of an illusory individual? Some teachers say there is absolutely nothing a person can do to bring about this experience, so don't bother. Even teachers like Rose who recommend extreme effort on the spiritual path say that those efforts are not what bring about the experience, if indeed one happens. As Rose says, "There's no recipe for a lightning bolt."

Statistically, though, people who report having a conclusive spiritual experience are usually those who've spent considerable time pursuing spiritual activities. So of course, like everything else on the "path," it's a paradox.

The spiritual path, if we are going to call it that, seems to be a process of maneuvering the mind onto shaky ground, into a state of uncertainty that makes it vulnerable to intervention by an "outside" force. A very delicate contortion. The question is not really "How can I bring about a spiritual experience?" but "How can I become susceptible to Grace? How can I become accident prone?"

From that angle, it seems these general practices are the kind of things that might help maneuver the mind into a vulnerable state. Nothing new here. These ideas are scattered all throughout the teachings and literature. And of course some are in apparent contradiction with each other. In no particular order:

Absorb Teachings
Do the research. Study what's been said and done before. Turn over every rock, as Rose said, but doubt everything. Let it soak in but don't believe a word of it. Neither believe nor disbelieve. Neither accept nor reject. Just let it all rattle around in there.

Assume Authority
Work out your own salvation. Take responsibility. Be your own disciple. Trust your innermost experience. People give over responsibility for their health to doctors, and for their salvation to priests and gurus. It makes no sense. Harding: "You are the sole and final authority on what it's like being you. On what is happening right where you are." Buddha: "Be a lamp unto yourself. Be a refuge to yourself. Look not for refuge in anyone beside yourself."

Focus Intent
Purify, focus and refine intent. Is Truth what you really want? For most so-called seekers, self-realization is not really their greatest desire—it is a means to an end. We want to be self-realized because we think it will improve our lives in some way—bring peace of mind, power, approbation. Also, we're too scattered, full of conflicting desires. Beware of conscious and sub-conscious desires sabotaging spiritual aspirations.

Cease Knowing
Possibly the single biggest obstacle to realization is thinking you already know what's going on. Stop thinking you know anything. Return to the child-like state of wonder, unknowing, mystery. Have only questions, never answers. If an answer comes, question it. Return to unknowing. Only an empty cup can be filled. Become a vacuum of unknowing and God will rush in.

We think we already know 95% of the truth ("I'm a substantive being with my own consciousness in an infinitely vast, infinitely old universe of separate, real objects...") and just need answers about that last 5%. We don't want to entertain the idea that the 95% we're standing on is 100% wrong.

Rose was always asking people, "What do you know for sure?" Always trying to prod them into questioning their beliefs. Knowing is Original Sin—in the sense of the true meaning of the word sin, which is "to err, to miss the mark." Christianity implies it's knowledge of sex that kicks mankind out of paradise. No. It's any and all knowledge. If any knowing whatsoever is present, you are on the wrong side of the gates. You have drifted into illusion. Knowledge is ignorance. God is unknowing.

Investigate Personhood (What am I?)
This is the classic path of self-inquiry. Who am I? What am I? Not an analysis of personality traits, but real inquiry into the true nature of self. Is there a self? Is there a person named "I"? Nisargadatta: "You think you are a person who was born, has parents and memories, and will someday die. You are not." When I first read that I got chills. I was never again safe from that thought. The only way out was through it.

What is the mechanism of memory? We rely heavily on memory for our sense of self, for our personhood. But what is memory? In Blade Runner, the replicant babe Harrison Ford falls for argues that she is real because she has memories. She tells about seeing a spider when she was 4-years old or something. But her memories are just implants, part of her programming. She's a robot, fresh off the assembly line, programmed with a lifetime of memories. How is that different from your experience of memory?

Practice Inlooking (Where am I?)
Look directly at the source of looking. Where is the receiver, the processor of the experience now on display? Ask without answering. Ask without knowing or "almost" knowing. Ask without holding onto a base paradigm into which revelation must fit. When you look without knowing, what do you find at ground zero? Where exactly is ground zero? At the exact GPS coordinates of the most intimate pinpoint of your awareness, is anyone home?

Harding experiments like the one we did earlier* are a prime example of this kind of inquiry. There are many other techniques for this and you can make up your own. This type of self-inquiry seeks to answer the question "Where am I?" and uses vision and attention more than thought. The basic idea is to relocate your attention from external objects to the source of looking-to look at the looker.

I used to do this by trying to turn my physical vision around 180 degrees—to stand in front of myself and look back through my own "face." I just couldn't make it work using that image. Too many mental contortions.

For me what works better is to keep the same visual position—looking out—but simply reel attention back in until it rests at ground zero of my experience, at the exact GPS coordinates of the source of my view. Attention is not the same as vision, though they are closely aligned when the eyes are open. Separate them. Bring attention back towards you like a target at a pistol range until it comes to rest at the source of looking.

You can do this anytime, anywhere. Look out as usual. I see people, walls, books. My attention is naturally and habitually drawn to objects "out there." Now let attention come towards you until it rests in the middle distance-in the empty space between the source of looking and the nearest object in front of it. Now let attention rest in as close as it gets-ground zero, zero inches—at the source of all that is arrayed before you. What do you find there?

Apprehend Time (When am I?)
Investigate time in the same way you investigate personhood. Chip away at the concept of time like you chip away at the sense of identity. Step out of the apparent flow of time and take a look at it. Can you catch time in the act? Can you experience duration? Is a skeleton or photograph in the present proof of a past? Where is past and future? Where is now? Where is the exact point that future becomes present and present becomes past? What does that pinpoint of presence feel like? Can you feel past and future?

Abandon Hope
The opening line of a sutra by the third Zen Patriarch of China reads: "The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences." Rose called this "betweenness." It's a way of holding your head as you go about the business of life. Do, but don't care. Do without expecting results. It is a kind of surrender. Do whatever you do without expecting good things to come of it.

Favor Simplicity
Mental and physical circumstances have an effect on the amount of time and energy available for the search, so it's an advantage to maintain a clean, well-ordered life. As Rose used to say, get your house in order. Limit complexities. Tie up loose ends. Arrange your life for clear thinking.

Also, favor intellectual simplicity. Occam's Razor: the simplest answer is usually correct. Watch how your mind loves complexity. Complexity is in the opposite direction of Truth.

Choose Silence
Silence is the medium of transmission. Silence inside and out. You can't hear if you're not listening. When silence is an option, choose it. Turn off the car stereo. Turn off TV. Stare into space with no agenda. Listen. Cultivate no-thought.

Befriend Death
Zen is sometimes described as "learning how to die." People reporting a spiritual realization agree that the person they thought they were was not present for the experience. For myself, I can say there was no trace of Bart whatsoever, not a shred, not a thought—so gone he never was, and no one to care to look for him. The mind has no way of labeling this except to say "death."

Befriend death. An unprepared and overly-fearful mind may fight realization because it seems like death, so it's often recommended we come to grips with our own physical death as part of our spiritual preparation. Get comfortable with the messy ways bodies die. Meditate on your own death. Read How We Die. Volunteer with Hospice. Anything that might help dilute the fear of death.

*These notes are from Bart's presentation at the April 2005 TAT conference: "Beyond Mind, Beyond Death." Visit TAT's video page for more information.

Poems by Shawn Nevins

I don't know any more
my place in this vision.
Today I am hopelessly confused
and utterly at rest.
A pale, blue-green sky
is my eye, my heart, my soul, my mind.


One word
silently slipped
among the whispering leaves of your world.
One unguarded look
and all your life,
starkly silhouetted
against the dark totality of sky
between your every branch.


Somewhere deep inside
a door opens:
one man reads a death sentence,
while another leaves the room.
Who was that prisoner?
Who rose from the bench
and spread throughout the chamber
like the scent of younger days?

A forgotten memory releases its secrets,
silently filling the cup
from which you drink.


I look right through
into Shining,
and will never capture those eyes with these.

My heart was out there all along.

This world just gives images
that give words
to Shining.


"A Sharp Wind"

A mouse threads his way through dried grass.
A tiny package of fear
down amongst last year's thoughts and weeds.
Far from stalking the truth,
the hunter had best start listening.
In the hush of fear are creeping tigers
and darkness.

Lawn Mowers, Books, and Fire
by Shawn Nevins

A riding mower sits in my garage surrounded by wrenches, WD-40, starting fluid, and oil-covered rags. It hasn't started since my brother dropped it off. His neighbor gave it to him, though I now suspect this an act of self-preservation cloaked in generosity. Every couple of weeks, I kneel before it, study it for a few minutes, wipe off some oily dirt, and remove a part. I put the part back on, then turn the key with a glimmer of hope that sputters and dies.

This weekend I pulled out a small engine repair book, and plunged into the esoteric world of carburetors and fuel systems. However, the book was about small engines in general and there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of variations in design. My particular beast was nowhere within those pages. I slid the book back onto the shelf and headed for the garage. After kneeling before the mower for a few minutes of quiet contemplation, I yanked off the carburetor, soaked every crevice with cleaning fluid, and slapped it back into place—perhaps thirty minutes of labor. I turned the key and it sputtered, then revved into life.

San bushmen in Botswana "opening" fire

Now to the point. I procrastinated in-depth work on the mower because I could not find a specific service manual. I wanted a book, an expert to hold my hand through the repairs. This wasted time because within me was enough experience and knowledge to fumble through the process with a chance for success. I've read a few repair manuals, talked shop with people, and fiddled with engines on occasion. I had the knowledge, but not the faith and trust.

On the other hand, last winter, I tried starting a fire by rubbing two sticks together. After a number of exhausting, frustrating attempts, I decided to research the problem. Through the Internet, I found numerous people who shared their fire building skills. I read many pages and carefully gathered the recommended woods and tinder. When further research yielded little new advice, I knew it was time to try. After two failed attempts, I started a fire in about one minute. Since then, I've started numerous fires and taught others the same skill.

There is a point to this story, as well. No doubt, I would eventually have stumbled upon how to start a fire with two sticks. That is, if I was determined enough to keep trying in the face of many failures. I saved many weeks of frustration by reading and then taking action.

Here is the message: read. When beginning a spiritual search, read, read, and read some more. You need the background knowledge to go out and create a path for your self. Books give you information and inspiration. Information to modify to fit your particular personality and inspiration to give you faith in your ability to do anything you set your mind to, or die trying.

The answer to starting the fire was not solely in the words of others—the answer was in my hands. The written word helped my hands to move, and once they moved properly that knowledge became part of me.

Reading is abused by many—like the graduate student who is forever reading the work of others rather than carrying out his own experiment. Spiritual teachers advise us that the answer is within, not in any book, so many people put down their maps and wander aimlessly, looking between their legs for a way home. The beginner is highly unlikely to abuse reading. Great men, and even some fools, will study the work of others before embarking on their adventure, and look to the words of others for encouragement throughout their journeys.

The day may come when you put down your books, and your momentum of search is enough to keeping you working. Till then, books focus your attention on the spiritual search. The more attention applied to the problem, the greater your chance of success. With the knowledge from books, you can fix lawn mowers, start fires, and even answer the most important question in your life: Who and what are you?

I Said to My Soul
from East Coker by T.S. Eliot

I said to my soul, be still, and let the dark come upon you
Which shall be the darkness of God. As, in a theater,
The lights are extinguished, for the scene to be changed
With a hollow rumble of wings, with movement of darkness on darkness,
And we know that the hills and the trees, the distant panorama
And the bold imposing facade are all being rolled away—
Or as, when an underground train, in the tube, stops too long between stations
And the conversation rises and slowly fades into silence
And you see behind every face the mental emptiness deepen
Leaving only the growing terror of nothing to think about;
Or when, under ether, the mind is conscious but conscious of nothing—
I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.

What Do You Really Want?
by Art Ticknor

What do you really want from life? What do you want to become?

vector wheel If you aren't able to identify the single desire that's most important to you, your life will lack focus. If you can identify your number-one priority, can you fast-forward and determine whether accomplishment of your objective would provide full satisfaction? Will you be complete if you don't know whose life it is, who or what you are in your innermost core?

Are you what others see and what you see when you look in a mirror—a person who was born and is going to die? If that's your self-definition, moments of happiness are always stalked by death waiting in the wings. You can try to reassure yourself with wishful thinking (belief) about what follows death, but you don't know for sure.

Death is the number-one fact of life, and unless you know with absolute certainty what your relationship is to death, life will play out before a backdrop of misery.

It's possible to discover your essential nature—and this discovery solves the riddle of life and death for you, eliminating existential anxiety.

Call & Response

How can I, the mind, get beyond the mind?
How can I, the ego, transcend the ego?

I run an old version of Norton Utilities on my computer. One of the things it does is to check the speed of Internet transmissions. It does this by "pinging" sites and measuring the time it takes for the echo to come back.

reverse vector How would your inner self try to contact you? Think it's possible that our Source is pinging 6 billion sites it has created, hoping to get some echoes back?

Hello ... hello ... hello ... look at me ... back here ... hey ... hey ...
Hello ... hello ... hello ....

Look! Look!
by Zen Master Foyan (1067 - 1120)

Realization obliterates the subject-object split; it's not that there's some mysterious principle besides.

autumn dream, Rung Kang People who study the path clearly know there is such a thing; why do they fail to get the message, and go on doubting? It is because their faith is not complete enough and their doubt is not deep enough. Only with depth and completeness, be it faith or doubt, is it really Zen; if you are incapable of introspection like this, you will eventually get lost in confusion and lose the thread, wearing out and stumbling halfway along the road. But if you can look into yourself, there is no one else.

This is a matter for strong people. People who do not discern what is being asked give replies depending on what comes up. They do not know it is something you ask yourself—to whom would you answer? When people do not understand an answer, they produce views based on words. They do not know it is something you answer for yourself—what truth have you found, and where does it lead? Therefore it is said, "It's all you." Look! Look!

The path is not revealed only after explanation and direction; it is inherently always out in the open. Explanation and direction are expedient methods, used to get you to realize enlightenment; they are also temporary byroads. Some attain realization through explanation, some attain realization through direction, some attain by spontaneous awakening; ultimately there is nothing different, no separate attainment. It is simply a matter of reaching the source of mind.

You have to be able to monitor yourself. When people proceed on the path because they are confused and do not know their own minds, they come to mountain forests to see teachers, imagining that there is a special "way" that can make people comfortable, not realizing that the best exercise is to look back and study your previous confusion.

People nowadays mostly take the immediate mirroring awareness to be the ultimate principle. This is why Xuansha said to people, "Tell me, does it still exist in remote uninhabited places deep in the mountains?"

If you ask what power we should have all of, it is the power of nondeception. If you see anything in the slightest different from mind, you forfeit your own life. Thus for those who attain the path, there is nothing that is not it.

~ These excerpts are from the "Keys of Zen Mind" chapter of Instant Zen, the teachings of twelfth-century Ch'an master Foyan (Fo-yen Ch'ing-yuan), translated by Thomas Cleary.

by Gary Harmon

If you don't understand the Way exactly before you,
How will you know the path as you walk?

The sights vary in quality and various forms,
Hearing the words, don't look for any meaning,

Sounds are both loud and so distant,
It is as though they go by yet do not,

On and on getting nowhere
Is this walk really necessary?

Then why O why should we be concerned,
Can't be late always on time

All the objects of the senses interact and yet
This can not do so we walk on,

This path is a sonnet of despair 'cause
I know my aim gets me nowhere,

For no reason I continue on and on,
No motivation simply nothing else left to do.

The journey is the reason that answers and echoes,
These empty halls have no walls

Oh yes at the present that is the significance
That IS the magnitude of the importance,

Nothing else matters, nothing is important,
It is all or nothing, simultaneously both yet neither

There is no one to get acquainted with,
Vast narrow up and down, timeless eternal,

So we come to the end of this little journey,
This voyage went no-where with no-one, but how hilarious,

Nothing yet everything, get on the bus,
Don't make a fuss, and so says all of us.

What Do You Love?
by Bob Fergeson

"If a thing loves, it is infinite." —William Blake

Progress on the spiritual path can be thought of in terms of value, or love. What is most important to us is what we value the most, what we really love. The path of self-discovery can be seen in these terms. We observe ourselves, and discover what our true motivations are, leading us to see what we value. Another way to see this is by checking our fact status. What we actually do everyday tells us much about what we value, and perhaps shows us the gap between our personal story line and our actions. If this fact-checking and self-observation are carried far enough, we may begin to get a look at something called our "self" or personality, and begin to see its illusive nature. We may be forced to admit to its exalted status as our real true love, despite our ego's protestations to the contrary. Using this shock as further fuel for the search, we become a bit more honest in our future assessments. If self-inquiry is carried even further, through this process of elimination we may find something more real to love than this "self." Back beyond our mind's motion, something still and silent lies. If you find a love of truth, rather than fiction, it may take you there.

canyon lake Finding this still-point depends largely on our state of satisfaction with our beloved "self." If the state becomes one of dissatisfaction, we have the incentive to look for something more stable. Hearing from others that have gone before that there is something somewhere "within," and that it is worth any effort to find it, also adds to our incentive. By looking at what we love, we can come to love the truth, and find there is something worthwhile inside us other than mind-motion and change. Let's take a look at how this path might turn out, and some of the pitfalls and signposts along the way from love of "self," to Love Itself.

We hear of this so-called still-point, called by such names as silence, stillness, the center, the Source, what we really are, etc., and wonder. If our intuition is not clouded by the dissipations of relentless pleasure-seeking and the resultant fear, we may discover a longing, a nostalgia deep within that tells us we may have once known this silence, and still love it more than we might know. This longing is fed too, perhaps, by being tired of the jostling effects of life, its traumas and endless no-win scenario, leading only to death and dissolution.

So, we read the books and search the Internet, finding many who tell of the way back to this stillness. They vary from the intellectual work of Hubert Benoit, to the practical experiments of Douglas Harding. We find the paths back to this center also called by many names: "the inner movement," "self-remembering," a "double-pointed arrow of attention, one directed in, one out," "observing the observer," "looking back at what we are looking out of." Many speak of "silence," and even the many forms of silence. From this information alone, we may not come any closer to really knowing this still-point, but if we persist in looking, we may get lucky and discover much that it is not. We begin to see that it cannot be something of the mind, for we find the mind is motion. We may be fooled into thinking that the stillness is something we can manufacture, that it's found only in ashrams or monasteries, or that we can force it onto the relative world through controlling the environment. Or we may decide to create it within by controlling our mind, forcing it to think only what we have been told we should think, and discover that this too, is folly.

When the still-point is finally reached, even if only for a moment, it is unmistakable. If we have allowed ourselves to hone our intuition and clear our thinking, we will find that this silent place within is not just a concept, but very real. The movement necessary to turn our attention back away from the outer and inner movies of the mind and senses is found to be also something real, and not a thought or concept at all. We find too, that we forget, and are carried back into the mind at every instant. But if our love for the silence is true, it will turn us back into it again and again, provided our previous experience with the mind and its motion has been enough, or too much.

This is where what we value or really love comes in. If our meaning is taken from the changing scene of the relative world, we will keep our attention directed towards it. We will turn away from the silence within, and our longing will be for the excitement and changes of the mind. We may declare our love for the center, but our attention will long for the agony and ecstasy of the world of form. Boredom with silence too, means our value has not yet moved inward from the world to truth, but remains trapped by the colorful kaleidoscope of the mind, and the energy releases of the body.

This part of the journey is a journey within. We retreat from our former love for motion and change, and move inwards toward simplicity and truth. After the still-point has been found, and correctly valued, our attention is then turned round, and we begin a new phase, one of our new love being tested. While we continue to hold a part of our gaze on the still-point, it being what we really are, we also turn round and engage in the world of action. This is to test our love, to see if the trials and tribulations of the outer world can knock us off course, and change our point of reference. If we come back to the center, time and time again, during and despite every trial, we find we are becoming less of the world and more of the silence. In any situation in life, no matter how difficult or how often we forget, if we eventually return to the still-point as our anchor, we find we are becoming one with it. We become that which we love.

~ See Bob's web sites, The Mystic Missal, NostalgiaWest, and The Listening Attention.


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Why women live longer than men.

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