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

September 2008

This Month's Contents: Ultimate Between-ness (Part 2) by Bart Marshall | A Poem by Art Ticknor | The Ties That Bind by Bob Fergeson | Words of Wisdom | Video - Robert Bly Reads Antonio Machado | Humor

Editor's Note
by Shawn Nevins

TAT Forum Editors Pen I was at the TAT Foundation's fall workshop this past weekend, so this month's Forum is a couple of days late. On the drive home, I kept thinking of the number of people trying to evaluate the "enlightened state." Are you happy? do you feel fear? what does the world look like? what changes? in short, why is that any better than this? It is not an unreasonable question, but not one that leads to dynamic action, either. For one, the question arises from a fearful body and mind intent on preserving itself. Two, the questions generally arise from the desire to prove preconceptions about spiritual realizations. People look for evidence to support what they wish were true rather than truth itself. The mind looks to delay or derail this dubious enterprise called the search for truth.

The hunt for your deepest desire would be a quicker route than the hunt for an appealing enlightened state. Identify the temporary satisfactions which drain your time. Discover the fundamental uncertainty that drives your actions. Once discovered, that desire will push you beyond all questions of what others have found or what you wish to find, and will lead you to the search for what is.

Ultimate Between-ness (Part 2), 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.]

[continued from August 2008 issue] ...So intention and faith go hand in hand. Together they are like the good seed. Gratitude and indifference make up the fertile ground.

To live in a state of gratitude is not always an easy thing, but there is no more powerful practice for getting what you want from the "Universe." In keeping with the occult dictum, "As above, so below," the principle involved is easily observed on the human level. To whom would you rather give a new toy, a child who always thanks you and loves everything you give him, or a child who looks at everything with disdain and always wants something different?

In the practice of between-ness we feel gratitude on two levels. One is tied to the faith we have that we are in the process of getting what we ask for. We are so confident it is on the way that we're already grateful for it.

The other is an immense gratitude for our life, the world and everything in it just as it is. This doesn't mean we necessarily go around being consciously thankful all the time, even though that's a good practice. When you see beauty in "ordinary" things, notice a small kindness, experience love, joy, or a sense of connectedness—these include unspoken expressions of gratitude. The opposite is to live in a state of constant worry and complaint, which unfortunately is all too common.

So, we can begin to see what an incredible internal balancing act we are talking about with between-ness. On the one hand we are dissatisfied enough with our current state that we have an intense yearning, a powerful intention to improve it. While at the same time we feel overwhelmingly blessed to be experiencing things just as they are.

You could call this "dissatisfaction without complaint." It is okay to want more, to want things to be better. But that's no reason to piss and moan about your life as it is, or to engage in recreational worry about all the bad things that could happen. For one thing, it's unnecessary wear and tear on the body, but more to the point, it's counterproductive to the fulfillment of your desires.

In the confluence of desire and gratitude there is a quiet spot untouched by either—an island of high indifference. Desire and gratitude flow by but you remain unmoved. It is a place where you honest-to-God don't care. A place untouched by anything this world has dished out or offered. A place where you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that none of it matters anyway. You could also call this acceptance or surrender. There is not even a thought of desiring or being grateful. Intention and gratitude run in the background while the mind is clear and indifferent to outcome.

Intention, confidence, gratitude, indifference. Between-ness. If I were to recommend one thing to study, practice and master in life it would be this. Whether you want to be rich or enlightened or both, this is where your efforts are best spent.

A true master of between-ness can manifest very quickly, and people call it a miracle. Jesus was a master of between-ness. All the siddhis, the powers, listed in the Yoga Sutras are examples of what can be accomplished by mastering between-ness. Patanjali called it "making samyama." But everything is equally miraculous. It is only when something crosses a certain threshold of speed or credulity that we acknowledge it as a miracle.

An unconflicted intention with no countermanding beliefs, given 100% attention in a state of between-ness will manifest immediately. Truly, you can move mountains.

The Playing Field
If what we are saying here is true—and the highest teachings all report that it is—then we must ask ourselves, "What is the nature of a reality that operates on, and supports such magic?" I mean, we are talking about spontaneous creation, creation "on demand." To say the least this is inconsistent with what we've been taught to believe—that we are born into a vast pre-existing universe of separate solid objects that have evolved to their present state over billions of years.

Again it is the teachings of the masters that provide the best source of information on how we should think about this, where we should look for the truth about Creation. In the first verse of the Tao Te Ching, Lao Tsu tells us:

That which can be perceived is not the timeless That.
That which can be named is not the nameless One.

The source of heaven and earth is without form or substance.
Naming creates the ten thousand things.

When desire is absent, the mystery is obvious.
When desire occurs, creation unfolds.

Mystery and creation arise from the same source.
The source is emptiness.
Void within void.
The realm of Tao.

Over and again in all the highest teachings we are told that what we are experiencing is not a "real" world of separate solid objects, but a virtual world transpiring in appearance only. All of this—the world, the universe, all appearances—has no substance whatever. None.

Or, you could say it has the substance of thought—which has no substance—because it is thought. This is why and how your thoughts create your world. They are one and the same thing. There is no difference between a thought and an "object." They are made of the same stuff, which is no-stuff. All experience is thought-experience. Nothing is actually happening.

Rose sometimes spoke of this Totality as being Mind. To talk about it he divided Mind into three aspects—but it exists as a singularity, Mind. The three aspects are Manifested Mind, Unmanifested Mind and Manifesting Mind.

Manifested Mind is everything you "experience" as life, as the world—including yourself. It is mind-stuff made perceivable by the body and senses—which are also just mind-stuff. In terms of your immediate experience, Manifested Mind is what you perceive to be "before" you right now—everything you see, hear, think, believe… Everything. But as Lao Tsu says, That which can be perceived is not the timeless That.

The "timeless That" is Unmanifested Mind. It is Source, Void, Emptiness, Absolute, No-thing. In terms of your immediate experience it is "behind" you. The "back of your head" is blown wide open to the Absolute, the Source, the Unknowable. It is that close.

What "projects" appearances in Source is Manifesting Mind. In terms of your immediate experience, this is located at ground zero of your experience of "Here." You could say it is behind the eyes, or deep in the heart, or wherever it is that you experience "I Am." This is Manifesting Mind—the light, the projector.

Everything you seek is Here, at no distance from You. You are the Source of All. All That Is is happening right now, right where You are and nowhere else. You are the One Awareness. There is no other.

But how is it possible for a dream character to "know" this? How can it witness its own non-existence? It is an unanswerable question, a question that has importance only in the dream. All that is important to know is that, inexplicably, somehow it is possible, and that nothing separates the dream character from this realization other than its own refusal to See what eternally stares it in the "face."

In the three years since this happened for me, people have asked what I think is the key, what I would recommend as a practice and so on. I have heard myself say any number of things in response, not all of them consistent with each other—at least not on the level of words. Partly this is because my responses are specific to the person asking and to what "comes up" in the moment, but mostly it's because I have no idea what works. Nothing "works." Each person's path is absolutely unique—though what is "found" is always the same. Nothing we "do" as dream-character seekers can possibly cause Realization. The mechanism is just not in place for that.

A few weeks ago, however, someone replied to an email I had sent in a previous exchange, asking some questions about what I'd said. And as I read again what I'd written, I realized that it came as close to what I believe about "success" in the spiritual search as I have yet been able to articulate:

"I think the key is intent. If a seeker's intent is to become the Truth at all costs, then it will happen. All the reading and practices we involve ourselves with are useful only to the extent that they build intent. If a burning desire for enlightenment is not present, no amount of meditation and practices will help. If it is present, no meditation or practices are necessary. Paradoxically, this burning desire for Truth can't be a reaction against a life we object to and are dissatisfied with. It must be in conjunction with an immense gratitude for what we have been given, with a "surrender" that asks for no divine rescue or special mercies. When a person who wants Truth more than life falls in love with what is, it happens."

A Poem by Art Ticknor


Our deepest complaint
points the way:
Thoughts and things
appear and disappear
from and into the void;
that aware plenum
that self-knowing plenum
that boundless no-space, no-time plenum
always and forever
our being.

Image: "This house is empty now .. (4375854224)" by Bert Kaufmann from Roermond, Netherlands. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

The Ties That Bind, by Bob Fergeson

"Experience is binding. Intense experience is intensely binding. Observing the process of experiencing is liberating. Your experience generates experience. Experience is to the identity as food is to the body. Your identity weaves itself in a self-perpetuating chain-reaction (identity spins identity)—so long as the attention is glued to experience—and so long as the body fuels the reactor." —Bob Cergol

"The things that are holding you up personally are the negative things that have happened to you." —Richard Rose

Sadony talks of tuning the 'human radio'. To be able to pick up 'feelings' within our awareness that preclude our verbal knowledge and give us valuable information. Others speak of uncovering the wellhead to insight, of sharpening the intuition, similar references to getting information directly. How might one go about doing this oneself? Two things are necessary before this is possible.

First, one needs the incentive. After the usual ego efforts have failed, and we find ourselves with our back against the wall, only then will most of us turn within for direct knowledge from a source other than our own associative mind. This explains why failure has been called the best success, and trauma a sometimes necessary force on the path. As long as things are going to plan, why look within for some nebulous voice? observer

The second condition is to have a clear receiver, capable of being precisely tuned. The old business dictum, 'past performance dictates future performance,' indicates the trouble. Our mind has been formed from associations formed in the past, and as such has no real capacity for new, outside-the-box knowledge. Let's take a look at this and see how we can break free, and tune the receiver.

As personalities, individual selves, we are formed from experience. These experiences create an experiencer who is their sum total, or 'us'. When an experience or action is intense or charged, it creates a hot spot or 'energy knot' which stays charged as long as the experiencer 'believes' in it, thus keeping it alive. These knots are usually unconscious to their owner, and are thus able to stay in the background, acting as a filtering mechanism. All future reactions will be affected by them.

Dispassionate observation is the key. When we can observe our own reactions, without reacting, we are getting a clue as to how to free the receiving mechanism from these knots. To break up these reaction pattern hot-spots, we observe them without reaction, thus breaking the chain, and opening possibility. To observe them dispassionately removes their charge, and thus frees us from their limiting effect. We then have the possibility of freeing the attention from its obsession with the associative mind. This is tricky business, for to be present during an event that usually brings up a hot-spot, and not react emotionally as usual but instead simply observe, is not easy. We must also be on the lookout for other defense mechanisms that will keep these knots hidden and unconscious. Here's where honesty and using others as a mirror comes into play.

How many times have we dealt with situations and people by simply letting the mind run through its arrogant 'knowing', staying on automatic? How much have we missed by not being able to listen, or by running away into distraction? Can we learn to observe ourselves as we perceive, in the moment? As we go about our day-to-day routine, instead of either insisting we already know everything already, or putting our hands over our ears and tuning out, could we observe ourselves, and watch the mechanicalness of our mind at work, without emotional involvement? Instead of rushing to defend our sense of self in every moment, could we tune our attention within to something more subtle, something less self-obsessed, and perhaps pick up the still, small voice within? Over time, we may find that this voice has our best interest at heart, even when we as ego do not. Eventually, we can come to observe ourselves in more trying situations, and be amazed at how dispassionate observation clears the machine from static. Our inner self can become our own best friend, if we learn to tune the receiver and listen to our 'feelings'.

~ Learn more about Bob Fergeson at: Mystic Missal.

Words of Wisdom


Fortunately even though life may get rough "all will be well, very well." I cannot logically prove this but it is a fact (if you will let your friend make a mere assertion of what is true by his own experience), & it is a fact according to a lot of others too, that there is a Something that seeks us individually & personally with a humility & open simplicity we lack. The poem "The Hound of Heaven illustrates this (by Francis Thompson: "I fled Him, down the nights & down the days..."). ~ Alfred Pulyan

Video: Robert Bly Reads Antonio Machado

If you don't see a video clip above, then go directly to YouTube. Thanks to Poetry Chaikhana Blog for bringing this to our attention.


"Upon Hearing One Too Many Spiritual Cliches"

Neither a pandit nor pundit be
Who tries to use the simile
Of the unitive ocean and singular wave;
O God save me from this oppressive cliche!

When perhaps, perchance I take a swim
And backstoke in this concept dim,
Blow bubbles in the universal soul,
And poke a toe in the depths below,
Will he say, will he know,
My wave is but a meaningless show?

And the ocean a hopeful whim,
As empty as a dead man's grin.
Once I've dried of its liquid reach,
And rested on the bone-dry beach
I'll watch the wave of your self
Break upon my feet.

~ Shawn Nevins

Reader Commentary:

Hi and thank you for the excellent newsletter. It's always such a pleasure to see each one. I really appreciate your introducing everyone to the poetry of Ikkyu. I offer you another translation of the poem you included which shifts the meaning entirely...at least for me:

I shan't die, I shan't go anywhere,
I'll be here;
But don't ask me anything,
I shan't answer.
~ a reader in Oregon

I wanted to mention something about Bart's essay [Ultimate Between-ness]. Besides putting me in tears again, like during the actual workshop, I was reminded also of the concern I had about encouraging people to apply betweenness for monetary gain. I seem to remember [Richard] Rose saying in one of the taped lectures that he would treat his poker playing friends to steak dinners if he won money from them playing poker, using betweenness. A similar concern about betweenness and money seems to come up in Sadony's book [Gates of the Mind] where he describes losing his "abilities" for a year after using them for the financial gain of a friend or associate. But, on second thought, those cases involved potential monetary gain at the expense of others (stock market related, in Sadony's case?) while the monetary examples during the workshop were worded for gain, but at no one else's expense. Still, I always thought it would have been worthwhile to mention or footnote Rose's caution related to betweenness and matters of money.
~ A.


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