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

August 2008

This Month's Contents: Ultimate Between-ness (Part 1) by Bart Marshall | A Poem by Dave Weimer | Solving Problems - The Technique of No-Choice by Douglas Harding | Words of Wisdom | Humor

Editor's Note
by Shawn Nevins

TAT Forum Editors Pen Next month is the TAT Fall Workshop, Friday through Sunday, August 29th to 31st. This issue of the TAT Forum presents part one of Bart Marshall's session notes from the 2007 workshop. As a presenter at last year's workshop, I was unable to attend the other sessions. In reviewing Bart's notes, I see I missed an extraordinarily clear and precise presentation. The clarity of his advice and his insistent demand for clarity in the participants, combined for an intense experience. What more could a person hope for from a session? I thought. Bart has done his utmost to transmit the truth.

I encourage you to attend the 2008 workshop and participate in the power and friendship of working together along the path. Registration is going on now.

Ultimate Between-ness (Part 1), by Bart Marshall

[The following is an expanded version of notes used for a session given at the 2007 TAT September Workshop , "What are You Becoming?" The session, entitled "Aligning Will and Destiny: The Effect of Intent and Between-ness on the Manifesting Mind," was presented to small groups.]

The question this weekend invites us to ask is, "What am I becoming?" It's a good question, a good seed for self inquiry, but as with any question or statement, we should look at the assumptions it's based on before we address it on the level of content or meaning. In this case there are two key ideas to examine. One is contained in the word "I," which of course invites the question, "What is 'I'?" The other is the concept of "becoming," which implies a movement or evolution from one state to another.

The highest teachings tell us that the concept of "I" is a false idea, a mis-identification that vanishes in the moment of Awakening, and that the universe this false "I" experiences is but a seeming, a mirage, a dream playing out in the timeless, changeless presence of pure Awareness. And You are That. You are pure Awareness. You are already and always All That Is. What could you possibly become?

So in the realm of who you really are, the idea of movement or evolution has no meaning. Any ideas of becoming must therefore necessarily take place within the illusion, and be experienced by the false "I," the dream character.

But false or not, this dream character is complex beyond imagination, and has a tremendous desire to improve its lot and "become" more than it perceives itself to be. It wants to become successful, admired, courageous, rich, happy... Sometimes it even wants to become "enlightened"—to "know" Truth first hand.

But how much, if any, control does this vague collection of thoughts we call "I" have over its dream life? Is the dream mechanism rigid and fixed, or is it possible for the dream character to bend it to its will?

There are two main things I think are worth studying. One is how to wake up from this dream we call life. The other is how to get what you want within it. As it happens, the formula for both is the same. finger pointing to the sun

It's a formula you might say for aligning will and destiny. By will we mean the personal will, the ego will that says, "I want this, I don't want that," and so on. By destiny we mean the sense we have that life and events unfold according to some higher will or imperative—call it God's will, predetermination, karma or whatever—that seems to operate with almost total disregard to personal will. Or does it?

What we're going to do today is experiment with a certain way of holding your head so that your desires become manifest in your life experience. Richard Rose referred to this as between-ness, which is as good a term as I've heard for it. Rose sometimes spoke of between-ness as living "without fear of failure or hope of gain," which in a way says it all, but we've got 90 minutes to fill here, so we can't just leave it at that.

Between-ness can be used to get anything a person wants in life, from the most mundane to the most exalted. As an experiment, Rose even used it when playing poker to get the cards he wanted dealt to him. He also taught that between-ness could and should be employed as a means to Self-realization. Used in this way he referred to it as ultimate between-ness.

I never really understood the concept of ultimate between-ness, and as a seeker I never consciously employed it. But as some of you know, three years ago I had a realization experience that ended my seeking, and in the time since then I've come to the conclusion that what finally did the trick was that somehow I stumbled into a state of ultimate between-ness, and that this state proved irresistible to Grace.

Which is not to say that in any way I caused it to happen. Realization is always an accident, a gift that has nothing to do with worthiness or effort. And yet it seems there is not a total disconnect between desire and actuality. In fact just the opposite. An intense, unconflicted desire for Truth may be the single most important aspect of the spiritual path.

Between-ness is a unified state that is impossible to describe without breaking it down into composite elements that can be talked about individually, but it is much more than the sum of these elements—and also much simpler than it seems when we dissect and describe it—so don't get lost in details. What we're after today is to get a taste of a complete way of being that we'll call between-ness.

Mostly I'd like to focus on the practical aspects—how to feel what it is, how to live it in daily life. But if we have time we can also touch on the mechanics of it—what's going on behind the curtain, so to speak.

As we talk about the various aspects of this mechanism, it will be helpful to have a specific desire in mind to work with rather than trying to retain the principles in the abstract, so let's do that now. Pick a desire you want fulfilled. It can be anything—a specific object, money, health, lover, Truth, anything.

Some of you may have a burning desire on the tip of your tongue, others may not be so sure. Regardless, let's take a few minutes to sit quietly and ask: "What do I really want right now?" This is not an invitation to choose a deeper or more esoteric desire, although that may happen. The important thing here, as in all self inquiry, is honesty. Pick something that has real juice for you. Pick something that seems out of reach at the moment, but not out of the realm of possibility. Something you have the capacity to receive.

As you ask, "What do I really want?" fully expect to get an answer. Wait for it. And as you listen for an answer be aware of your mental state, the expectant stillness. Bob Ferguson calls this the listening attention. It's a good thing to practice.

Also, as a desire surfaces, think about whether it may be a symptom or example of a deeper desire—whether there is a more basic underlying desire, or perhaps a bigger meta-desire that better expresses what you really want.

Now write down your desire as a complete sentence starting with the word "I."

The four elements of between-ness we'll look at today are: Intention, Confidence, Gratitude and Indifference.

The first order of business in fulfilling your desires is to know what you want and ask for it. When Rose was experimenting with between-ness playing poker, he always said out loud what card he wanted. "Steinie, deal me a jack," he'd say, and Steinie would deal him a jack.

So let's hear what you want. [Everyone speaks their desire out loud.]

Now let's refine the wording. The first thing I'd like you to do is use the word "intend" instead of "want" in the sentence, and change the grammar to make it work. Notice that your desire immediately shifts into a higher gear. I can say "I want to be rich" for years and never feel moved to do anything about it. But saying "I intend to be rich" implies a commitment, charts a course. Do you dare intend to have your deepest desire fulfilled?

But it's also important to edit out of your intention any implication that the fulfillment of it is up to you. In other words, rather than say "I intend to earn a million dollars next year," say something like, "I intend that a million dollars come into my life next year." This does not mean that you should do nothing to help it along, but it places the emphasis properly. It acknowledges a higher power and puts the heat on that higher power to come through with the goods.

This may be a good point to address the aspect of action. Setting aside for a moment the question of whether or not our actions actually cause things to happen, it is important to note that at the very least, our actions influence our thoughts, our way of being, and so should be consistent with our deepest intentions and desires. All the horses should be pulling in the same direction.

Next let's get rid of any vagueness in your intention. Make it precise, specific. Make the meaning unavoidably clear, unequivocal. No wiggle room or caveats. Make it direct, simply stated—a mantra not a dissertation. If you get the wording exactly right on a deeply felt desire, it might give you a chill or emotional reaction, maybe even scare you. That's a good sign, a sign you're getting close to the bone.

Okay let's read them again. [Everyone speaks their revised intention and they are discussed individually.]

Some common things to look for in streamlining your intention include hidden negatives and constricting prescriptions. For instance, in an earlier session today someone's intention was "I intend to experience loss gracefully." While that may be a noble sentiment and a valuable practice, it is not a good intention because it contains a hidden negative. In order for that desire to be fulfilled, loss must continually be introduced into that person's life.

Constricting prescriptions in an intention can be very subtle. For example, someone said they intended to double their salary. But that has the hidden prescription of having the money come via salary, which implies a job (which in this case he disliked). What he really wants is twice as much income—no matter where it comes from.

The entity or force we are addressing with our intentions—call it God, Higher Self, Universe, whatever—is very literal. Be sure to ask for exactly what you want, with no room for misunderstanding. This, of course, requires that you know exactly what you want, which is really the essence of it.

Another intention—a common one in the TAT environment—is the intention to "awaken," "become enlightened," "have a realization," "know Truth," "get a final answer"... It's an especially tough one to word effectively because, unlike intending to have more money or better health, with this one we have no idea what we are really asking for, or how it relates to the "I" who is asking. But if we get it right, if we intend this with power and immediacy in a way that speaks to our deepest yearnings, we may feel it as if for the first time—no matter how long we've been at this thing. In one of our earlier sessions this happened for a long-time seeker, who began to weep as he heard himself speak it out loud in no uncertain terms.

Okay, so now you have a clearly stated desire or intention. At this point you need to look at whatever might be countermanding your desire. This requires more time for introspection than we have in this setting, but on your own, think deeply about the roadblocks you yourself have set up to prevent the fulfillment of your intention.

The thing is, you are right now getting exactly what you want in life whether it seems like it or not. We all have hundreds of desires, large and small, most of them in conflict with each other in one way or another. Plus we have a whole set of fears (which are really just desires felt in the negative—and vice versa) thrown into the mix. And so, given this morass of cross-collateralized, conflicting fears and desires, the Universe is generating the only life experience that resolves and incorporates them all to the degree each is felt.

This is the source of your "destiny." On the one hand it has tremendous, seemingly insurmountable momentum and we feel helpless in its grasp. On the other, we notice it seems to respond to even small changes in the fear/desire mix.

And so in order to alter or streamline destiny by force of desire, of will, you need to not only have a focused intention, but to see clearly what you are doing to sabotage yourself and prevent it from happening.

Which brings us to the second element of between-ness: confidence. A couple of other words that are just as good or better for this are faith and certainty. They all point to the same thing. If you harbor secret doubts about your worthiness to receive or ability to handle it when your desires manifest, it will slow things down to the degree of that doubt. If, on the other hand you have 100% confidence, 100% faith that your desire is going to manifest, then it's full speed ahead. The message here is, don't just hope you get what you want, be certain it is coming. Your attitude should be that once you intend it, it's a done deal. Case closed. It's on the way.

So intention and faith go hand in hand. Together they are like the good seed. Gratitude and indifference make up the fertile ground.

to be continued next month ....

A Poem by Dave Weimer


Meandering the weedless lawn,
I walk because thinking goes further while my feet follow one another, making
their way around holes. I accompany them on the downward ground through taller
grass into the trees at the edge of the field.

My attention follows an unraveling yarn ball thrown over a cliff:

Who will die?—» Who is aware? —» Who is living?
Who is asking?—» Who is trying to answer?—»

And my mind, or something in it, shuffles through all the answers that well up,
saves the last two, and throws one away.
And my mind, or something, turns the object of my questioning and finds a
shimmering reflection of another facet, tracing its outline in the darkness.

Cobwebs connect rocks
as I step from one to another.

Sycamore branches thick as trunks lower under their own weight as their bodies
grow, misshapen, among the boulders.
With the problem in my head unwound, my eyes focus again.
I feel the night dew on my face.
The air shifts and cools in the deepening night.
Nothing changes when I close my eyes.

The moon rises low. Stars fill in the lowering branches.

No soul.

I have listened so hard that my ears have gone.
A ring of golems has formed.
Stick and mud shoulders brush against mine and falling dust coats a moonlit
My companions and I stand motionless in the clearing.

Solving Problems - The Technique of No-Choice by Douglas Harding

[This article is an extract from Douglas Harding's book, Head Off Stress, and originally appeared in the "Headless Way Newsletter."]

This is how the technique works: faced with a problem, one doesn't feebly sit back and wait for things to happen. Neither does one toss a coin, or consult an astrologer, and hope that the outcome will prove the right one. Not at all. The very definite action to be taken falls into four stages:

1. See yourself to be the Ground or Bottom Line for the pros and cons of the problem to arise from—as many of them and in as much detail as may be. Encourage them to arrange themselves in all sorts of ways. Live with that display, brood on it, sleep on it, but don't go hankering after a decision. As entertaining the problem in all its aspects, as the Screen for them to come and go on, as their Mirror, you remain neutral. Among the exhibits, however, you may well find, prominently featured, a dateline for the problem's solution. Brood on that, too.

2. One morning on waking, or during the day when you are preoccupied with some chore, the completed pattern of things to come arrives, spontaneously and unannounced, from the Bottom Line. So inevitable it seems, so conclusively does it resolve your problem, that you are left in no doubt that here is the right decision, arrived at in the right way at the right time. It has been immaculately conceived in you and for you but not by you. Certainly not by you the human being. Accordingly, it arrives carrying the authority of its parentage, which is the real You, the Source, the World's Beginning and the World's End.

3. Now it is the turn of that decision itself, of that seemingly so right design, to go on display above your Bottom Line: and to reveal its limitations and weak spots. All manner of doubts and difficulties, and dilemmas about how to give effect to the decision, are now likely to appear. Again, you don't solve them by choosing between possible alternatives. You stay with them till they, in turn, are ripe and ready to resolve themselves.

4. Finally, the plan is implemented. With interest, perhaps with awe, you watch it take shape. At no time do you feel that you are moulding or forging that shape. It forms in you as cloud-shapes form in the sky, or intricate patterns in a kaleidoscope.

Such, then, is the technique of No-choice, resulting in no stress of the superfluous and toxic sort. It works. It works creatively, coming up with unforced and unpredictable and truly inspired solutions that you couldn't possibly take personal credit for. And it works like that because, to tell the truth, it is not a technique at all, not a useful dodge for relieving you of the pains of indecision, and certainly not a recipe for a quiet life at all costs. No: it works because it's the way you are built, the way you function in any case, whether you realize it or not. All this choosing one thing in preference to another is illusory, a great cover-up. Separate individuals, as such, are powerless to make the slightest difference in a universe where every one of them is tightly controlled by the rest. Pretending otherwise, pretending that, as our sole selves, we exercise free will, is as absurd and dishonest as it is vainglorious—and stressful. Only the Source of all, under the sway of none, has free will; and only deeds which are seen to proceed from it, which are referred back to it, which are felt to be its own deeds—only these carry its marvellous smell, the smell of an originality and rightness which belongs solely to that Origin. To live the choiceless life that we have been describing is not fatalism. It is not giving up the struggle and accepting that one is a machine within a Machine. It is to identify with the Machine's Inventor, to take one's stand in Freedom itself. It is to be one's Source, to choose what flows from it, and to perceive it as very good.

~ Learn more about Douglas Harding at: www.headless.org.

Words of Wisdom

Abigail Amalton, Ikkyu

photo by Abigail Amalton at Beyond Illusion; words by Zen priest and poet Ikkyu (1394 -1481)


What if everything is an illusion and nothing exists? In that case, I definitely overpaid for my carpet.

~ Woody Allen

Reader Commentary:

I was surprised and perhaps slightly disturbed by the tone and content of the article "Why The Notion That You Cannot Become What You Already Are is Such Bullshit" in your July forum.

My view is that awakening (or whatever word you wish to use) is a fundamental change to one's view of reality. This realisation is that one is not a small and vulnerable person in a large and sometimes dangerous world. One is something completely different. This is a change of view only. And coming with this change of view is the realisation that nothing has actually changed, only how one sees it all.

So the "Notion That You Cannot Become What You Already Are" is NOT "bullshit" but how it actually is. Whether it is any use to tell anyone this is a different question.

It seems that Daniel Ingram wishes to promote a particular route to awakening involving lots of study, work and practice. His use of examples of a concert pianist, a nuclear physicist and a linguist implies that he sees awakening to the truth of reality as a learning process.

I am no expert on how people awaken to their True Nature but it does not seem like an intellectual learning process to me. It may come instantly after some traumatic experience or it may come after many years of studying many texts. Or it may never come at all to someone who has spent many years searching.
~ Steve Holloway


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