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

January 2008

This Month's Contents: The Good, the Bad, and the Innocent by Bob Fergeson | Poems by Ricky Cobb | Acceptance and Surrender by Art Ticknor | Excerpts by Maurice Nicoll | Video - Nisargadatta Maharaj | Humor

Editor's Note
by Shawn Nevins

TAT Forum Editors Pen I was reading scans of an esoteric magazine from the 1920s and '30s called The Great Work in America, and was bemused by the editor's call for reader submissions. Bemused because here I am ready to make the same call across the chasm. Most of our submissions come from a literal handful of contributors, and your original essays, poems, and photographs are welcome. You can also send suggestions for favorite works by other authors and we'll see if we can get permission to reprint them. Finally, there are a couple of other ways to help.

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The Good, the Bad, and the Innocent , by Bob Fergeson

[These are Bob's notes from his 2007 talk at the TAT Foundation's April Conference. I encourage you to attend the April 2008 TAT meeting to see more of these fascinating speakers. —editor]

The author: good, bad, or innocent? Clint: good, bad, or innocent? Good, the Bad, and the Innocent: we'll look as these terms as they apply to finding better possibility to go within. Then we'll look at three steps to upping this bit of possibility, to become more 'accident prone'(increasing the probablity of realization). These are steps I've seen with hindsight that happened in my life that are a way to explain how we can better find the listening attention, and also, once we have found it, to apply it long enough to get results.

Define and explain 'doorway' and 'gateway' --The listening attention looks both ways, out at the universal projection or world, and at the individual's mind and memory, along with visualization, etc., and also can look within to the unmanifest realm, and is capable of receiving insight therefrom. The listening attention can look at this inner self as well as the manifest side or outer self. The ego or dualistic mind only sees the memory or visualized projected image of its own making, after the fact.

This talk is about the possibility of change, of becoming something more capable of having an accident(realization). Change can been seen through two ways: knowledge -- realizing you want to know more and there is more to know; and being -- seeing our state, knowing it can and should be changed, and wanting to change it.

Defining 'good' and 'bad' and 'innocence'.

The Inner Child or self or the listening attention is not good or bad, but innocent, meaning it does not operate from a book of rules subject to time, society and politics. It's innocent because it sees everything as new every moment, not only from experience and the idea of making itself look good or be bad. It can use the mind, it's not cut off from this intelligence, but is not beholden to the mind or emotion to uphold a sense of self.

The listening attention 'sees', or is aware; it does not relate to or think from the mind, though it sees the mind as well. The listening attention is non-dual, it doesn't split things into pairs of opposites, good/bad.

'Intelligent spontaneity' is another definition of innocence.

Some quotes to illustrate different people's views of the listening attention:

The Child and Its guidance are essential in our search. If one thinks his religion, his philosophy, or his theology is the means to finding the FINAL Answer, he is mistaken. The Child of Light and Love is the pathfinder, the guide, the wayshower up the mighty mountain. Science, religion and philosophy can take us a great distance, but the Child takes us to Dominion. It is absolutely essential that we actually get in touch with the eternal Child. - William Samuel

Stop talking and thinking, and there is nothing you will not be able to know. - Seng Ts'an

Active receptivity is needed, not a passive agitation. - Ravi Ravindra

Contemplation is that condition of alert passivity, in which the soul lays itself open to the divine Ground within and without, the immanent and transcendent Godhead. - Aldous Huxley

When I want to understand, look at something, I don't have to think about it - I look at it. - J. Krishnamurti

We look back and analyze the events of our lives,... these are intellectual questions. There is another way of seeing, a backward-and-forward-at-once vision, that is not rationally understandable. The spirit approaches the matter differently. - Rumi

Most people don't know how to listen because the major part of their attention is taken up by thinking. - Eckhart Tolle

Let there be a silent understanding and no more. Away with all thinking and explaining. - Huang Po

Allow the Source of Being to maintain contact with you: ignore the impressions and opinions of your customary self. If this self were of value in your search, it would have found realization for you. But all it can do is to depend upon others. - Amin Suhrawardi

Good/bad as the manifestations of the mind. The mind being dual, everything is split into pairs of opposites. By trying to be good, we leave the bad side of us in the unconscious, and refuse to acknowledge it. If we are a rebel, we don't want to admit our good side, and leave it unused.

Story of the drunk in rehab who was singing and asking “do you want to be bad? I like to be bad.” This is an example of the line of good/bad, as the drunk was reacting to his parents wanting him to be good, by being bad.

Story of when my mind first began to split the world into pairs of opposites. Outside the Corner Cash Grocery in elementary school when I realized I was putting things into the categories of good/bad, of opposite pairs, such as: Ford or Chevrolet? Hershey bar or Milky Way? Something was changing, and something was being lost, but it was a long time before this became clear.

The examples of how the body and hormones can be tricked, like the one about the astronauts and hitting them on the bottom of their feet for the re-orientation of the body to 'up and down', which is lost in weightlessness, and the one for SAD(seasonal affective disorder), which is shining a light on the backs of your knees in order to trick you into thinking it's summer. The body and the mind are easily tricked and since the ego is from the body or the mind and relates to it, it is easily tricked too. We get so far away from the child and intelligent spontaneity that we're lost in experience and in routine and we don't believe that we can change or even begin to observe the routine.

Let's look at some ways that can be the tap on the feet or the light on the backs of the knees to return us to a more direct way of seeing.

To be continued next month....

Poems by Ricky Cobb

The birdsong out my window lifts my soul,
But I can hear it not in the house.
A Friend, OH What a Friend!
Who gives so freely.
When is it ever? Forever now?
I try to guess the seconds moving by on the clock
   and lose myself sleeping away the hours....


How does 1 become 0?
It removes itself.
If there is 1 and it is subtracted
who is left to know?
Does 1 + 1 make 2? Or does it make infinity?
If infinity is lost to itself is nothing left? Or something
   that was there all along beyond infinity?
Back again I doze into timeless slumber,
it's too much to work out these mathematical numbers.

Acceptance & Surrender, by Art Ticknor

secret garden We often see the truth before accepting the implications. Acceptance is another way of describing surrender. To accept the truth, we have to surrender a contrary belief.

If we observe children at play, we see that kids surrender a favorite toy when they become tired of it or when they see another one that looks more enticing. Our pet beliefs are like the toys of childhood that we don't want to let go of. Eventually we may tire of them or trade them for more appealing ones.

The final belief that prevents us from accepting the truth of what we are is the conviction that we are a separate something, an aware entity. If we look at or feel directly what we're looking out from, we intuit that it is the ground of awareness. In other words, what we are at the core of our being is awareness. But accepting that fundamental truth involves surrender of the core belief of separate I-amness. Getting to this final surrender is a struggle, a fight to the death. The trauma accompanying this ego-death varies in intensity depending on age and other factors, but describing the final self-realization or recognition as a death experience is a common denominator across centuries and cultures.

It may be possible to bypass a prolonged struggle and go directly to the final opposition of truth and belief, but it's more likely that there are secondary beliefs or self-identifications that will have to be seen through and accepted first. The secondary misidentifications take forms along the lines of: I am this body ... I am the thinker, the feeler, the experiencer ... I am the doer, the decider, the judge, and so on.

I met a student recently who was graduating from a top-flight engineering school and had been accepted in a Ph.D. program in computing and neuroscience on the west coast. During an earlier period in his undergraduate studies, he had realized that the self is merely a construct of the mind -- and that threw him for a loop for several months. Since then he's kept extremely busy -- a technique we use to avoid accepting implications -- and has determined on a life-direction of being able to bring scientific proof of his realization to the academic community.

His realization is a valid one, but a conclusion that the self doesn't exist is a faulty deduction. Buddha's comments on anatman, Bernadette Roberts's calling her awakening an experience of no-self, and the various descriptions of ego-death from self-realized individuals need to be understood as attempts to point to the truth by negating a universally held belief. When we discover or admit what we really are, we surrender our belief in individuality as our essence. The individual self exists as all things exist, in the sense of the Latin roots of the word, by standing outside of the Self. The individual exists as a projection of the Self, as an entity in a projected world of entities.

Excerpt from Maurice Nicoll

Monet Impressions: Sunrise

"When I see a familiar thing without associations it looks strange. I see it in a new way. The point is that when momentarily the veil of associations is stripped away, something happens. What happens? Everything becomes alive. If you can by sufficient practice relax from the Personality, which is where the network of associations lies, and from, let me add, the wrong feeling of 'I', you find yourself in a different world. Actually the world is the same, but your reception of the impressions from it is different and so it’s meaning is different. When you are relaxed from Personality and Imaginary 'I' things are close to you. They speak to you. You are then truly taking in impressions. Impressions are falling on Essence. Now when you are blessed - that is, when you are relaxed from the Personality - you feel the intimacy of everything around you, as if things realized they could go on playing and you would not be angry. If you get angry you cannot relax from the Personality. Or it is as if you and everything around you felt quite suddenly at ease and something could creep out from each object and show itself alive to you. ~ And then suddenly life slams the Personality back into its place and everything is dead."

A Little Nisargadatta for the New Year:

If you don't see a video clip above, then go directly to YouTube.


Ben Franklin portrati


Men & Melons are hard to know.

~ Ben Franklin, 1733 Poor Richard’s Almanac

Reader Commentary

I just wanted to say that the December 2007 Forum was exceptional. I loved Bob Harwood's poem, "You Can't Hide From Me", Paul Constant's piece, "Soap Bubbles" and the excerpt from Douglas Harding's book "Face to No-Face". I found your piece, "The Business of Seeking", to be particularly poignant.

Thanks, and keep up the good work. ~ E.A. from London


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