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

May 2009

This Month's Contents: Regarding THE subject at hand by Augie Monge | A Poem by Shawn Nevins | Yoga Sutras: The Sayings of Patanjali by Bart Marshall | My Three Women by David Weimer | Conceptually Awake by Del Martinis | Quotes | Humor |

Editor's Note
by David Weimer

virtual face Shawn Nevins told me recently about seeing the words "soul lever" written on a small pack of Kleenex. These surprising words jumped up at him from the plastic wrapper.

When I first heard them, I felt that they were too good to be left alone; I wanted to put them to use somewhere immediately. It turned out that the tissue pack had instructions written in French as well as in English. Soulever, in the tissue context, meant to lift up or to pull up.

Welcome to this edition of The TAT Forum. If you find yourself considering the collected works herein as a sort of "soul lever," well… all the better.

As always, please submit your preferably original work using the contact tab at the top of this page.

Regarding THE Subject at Hand
by Augie Monge

Who, What, When, Where, Why, How?



Me, except that I don't know who or what I really am. Enlightenment may require that the me that I think myself to be, step aside, or die.

In any case, I'm pretty much on my own. No one can help me, except perhaps for encouragement, inspiration by example or words, and tiny clues here and there that can awaken or uncover something I already know or vaguely sense. In the end, part of me will need to step up and do what has to be done; stop shying away; stop being afraid.


The Truth that is Enlightenment is described in as many different ways as there are enlightened people. Some make more sense and are more inspiring than others. Many appear paradoxically contradictory and frustrating. They are more for inspiring and pointing in a broad, vague direction than for instructing or preparing.

For example,
"The Truth will set you Free", perhaps free from fear;
"We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness", perhaps to set ourselves free of the vulnerable, lonely individuals that we think we are.
"Memento Mori"; time is short.
"Stay in the consciousness as a door to the Absolute" may point to a basic relationship or connection between awareness/consciousness and the Absolute/Truth which may be worth dwelling on and in.
"All that a man can do is desire."

In any case, the Truth will likely come as a complete surprise, like nothing I could have imagined. So, don't waste time trying to imagine what it's like. In fact, imagining and anticipating is likely very counterproductive, pushing the real Truth farther away.


Why not NOW (as a statement, not a question)! Need to stay conscious of the trap of "futurity"; looking ahead and preparing for some future time (e.g. next isolation [retreat], next glimpse...) instead of NOW.


Here. What am I at the very center of my being? For now, I find myself in no-man's land; past the point of being able to go back and settle for a life of ignorance and distraction; struggling to somehow make the leap to the Truth.


Because things aren't as they seem. We're living in a crazy dream, often nightmarish.
We're slaves in a cage; deluded; completely fooled; and suffering even more than we realize, without meaning or sense; mostly oblivious and struggling compulsively.
Whereas... The Truth shall set us free. So, what else matters? What else comes even close?


First of all, desire the Truth more than anything and don't be afraid of the apparently bottomless pit of the anguish of frustrated desire.
Remember to remember that nothing else is even nearly as important.
Everything else leads to more of the same, over and over again.
I'd give up everything; family, friends, possessions, future, past, even my life for even a moment of the Truth.

Next; Question, examine and doubt everything; every thought, desire, motive, rationalization, reason, feeling, and perception. Look for what's behind them... and what's behind that...
Don't take anything for granted.
Don't believe anything I think.
Every reaction is a 'clue'; every judgment, hurt, frustration, resentment, satisfaction, pride, fear, etc.
Look especially at attachments, addictions, habits, compulsions, lies, rationalizations and things I can't accept and reject.
Be honest. Be accepting since I'm less likely to even notice the things I can't bear to see, especially about myself.

Try anything that seems like it could help; (e.g. meditation, reading, memorization, lectures, groups, retreats, workshops, correspondence, tapes, dream-work, exercises, experiments (e.g. headlessness) documentaries, psychotherapies, psychoanalysis, self-analysis, hypnosis, self-hypnosis, diet, supplements, arts (e.g. calligraphy), exercise, fasting, time alone, etc.

Take note of the behaviors of others, ridiculous or otherwise. Notice what's behind it, why and look for similar behaviors and motives of mine.

Work with others struggling as I am. Help each other deal with resistances and barriers. Confront each other about things we might be blind to like hidden assumptions, contradictions, inconsistencies, dead ends, laziness, procrastination, excuses, rationalizations and other subtle lies (and the motivations behind them; e.g. fears, desires and prides).

Cut out unnecessary activities like entertainment and other distractions, to make available the greatest amount of time and energy possible for finding the Truth.

Spend as much time as practical sitting quietly, meditatively watching conscious/awareness itself and noting the patterns and implications of the many thoughts that come along to interrupt conscious awareness.

Practice "dying"; or at least stepping aside and not doing. Sit quietly, meditatively relaxed and stop trying to control even thoughts or observing. The so-called person trying to control everything is probably a big part of the problem and main barrier to seeing the Truth of things.

Remember the possibility expressed by the quote; "So long as one wants anything with sufficient intensity to generate anxiety about not getting it, this constriction of consciousness will detract from opening to cosmic awareness."
So, work like crazy, and strain with every fiber, but remember there's no guarantee. Accept that I may never find anything, but without regret since nothing else matters. Work "without fear of failure or hope of gain".

So, don't lose any sleep over this; figuratively, since worrying and whining do no good, or literally; since sleep depravation doesn't usually help either; making meditation nearly impossible or ineffective and is usually a sign of trying to do too much and falling back into diversionary, distracting activities.

ps; The biggest challenge, after maintaining determination to persist in the face of apparently hopelessly long odds, is to stay conscious enough to remember to continue doing all the things that need to be done (above) instead of drifting along half asleep in old habits, lost in one thought after another about the usual mundane amusements and trials of life.

Current draft; December 15, 2007
Augie Monge
(per your request)

A Poem by Shawn Nevins


I know that one word would dismantle me—
wind shaking the clear glass of this reality,
rattling my being just enough
to make me aware of the other.
One word, like a bell in an empty room.
One word like a finger poised before brittle dominoes—
Everyone has a truth they can't deny, a moment, a word—

Excerpted from:
Yoga Sutras; The Sayings of Patanjali
A new English version by Bart Marshall

1. Unity

patanjali 1.1
OM. What follows are instructions on Unity.

Unity obtains when the activities of mind have ceased.

The witness then abides in its true nature.

Otherwise, the witness is identified with the activities of mind and is just another thought-form itself.

There are five types of mind activity, both painful and pleasurable.

These are: correct perception, misperception, imagination, dreamless sleep and memory.

Correct perception may derive from direct observation, valid reasoning or accurate testimony of enlightened teachers.

Misperception is knowledge based on the illusion of forms, rather than on the true nature of reality.

Imagination is mental images derived from words and concepts rather than objective observation and sensory perceptions.

Dreamless sleep is the state of mind when thought is absent and sensory perception is in abeyance.

Memory is the retention of thoughts and images generated by sensory perception and imagination.

Cessation of mind activity is achieved through the practice of yoga and the habit of dispassionate non-attachment.

Yoga practice is the willful effort to restrain the five activities of mind and abide in a state of stillness.

To be firmly grounded, this practice must be performed with earnestness and devotion over a long period of time, all the while holding the goal in clear and constant view.

Dispassionate non-attachment is the absence of desire for experiences of the senses—seen and unseen, here and hereafter.

Supreme dispassion is indifference to the three gunas of creation—light, inertia and vibration—owing to a direct knowledge of Self.

Meditation for direct-knowing of the objective world is fourfold in nature: exterior observation, inner perception, alert stillness and the sense "I Am."

patanjali 1.18
The other state of meditation is when awareness perceives no thought or object— only the seeds of unmanifested possibilities.

It is the natural state of formless beings and those absorbed in true Nature.

Others can attain it through faith, earnestness, self-inquiry, clarity and insight.

Those who proceed with unshakable intent can attain this state quickly.

Those who practice with varying degrees of effort—mild, moderate, intense— will succeed in accordance with their efforts.

The other way to attain the natural state is through surrender to God.

God is the Supreme Being, formless, unbounded, limitless, untouched by action and desire.

The omniscience of God is infinite. Man has but a germ of awareness.

God is timeless, the ever-present master of the ancient masters.

He is called by OM.

Silently repeat this word as a mantra while meditating upon its significance.

From this comes the disappearance of obstacles to the realization of Self.

The obstacles to Self-realization are disease, inertia, doubt, carelessness, procrastination, laziness, sense cravings, false perception, inability to concentrate, and inability to stabilize higher states when attained.

Encountering these obstacles one experiences grief, despair, physical agitation and anxious breathing.

To overcome these obstacles, the constant practice of a single truth is required.

The mind can be stilled by the earnest practice of openness, compassion, virtue and indifference.

Or by breathing in and out, intentionally.

Intentional focus on any sense experience will enhance perception and still the mind.

Concentration upon the inner light beyond sorrow stills the mind.patanjali

Meditation upon a transcendent being stills the mind.

Inquiring into the experiences of dreams and dreamless sleep stills the mind.

Fixing attention on that which is nearest the heart, also stills the mind.

The stilled mind of a yoga master realizes everything, from the infinitely small to the infinitely great.

As pure crystal takes on the adjacent colors, so does the mind free of thought become indistinguishable from that which it contemplates. The perceiver, the act of perceiving, and the object perceived are seen as one.

When the mind projects names and concepts on what is seen through direct perception, confusion and delusion result.

When the mind is clear, empty of memories and knowledge, things are seen exactly as they are.

These same two conditions—projection and clarity—also apply to the perception of subtle, unmanifest realms.

The observation of progressively more subtle realms leads to the primal source.

All these meditations have separate perceptions as their seed.

When there is no perception of separateness, the supreme Self reigns.

And absolute Truth is revealed as self-evident.

The direct experience of Truth is nothing like intellectual knowledge gained from scriptures and teachings.

The direct experience of Truth supercedes and destroys all previous impressions.

When the impression of a direct experience of Truth is also wiped out, there remains only awareness without seed...

© 2006 Bart Marshall

~ For more, visit SelfInquiry.org

My Three Women
by David Weimer

My three women

My beauty doesn't know that her hair is so dark. She is where she is. She feels. She hopes. Her dark hair in a graceful way is sculpted across her head. Everything is perfect, but she senses the coolness of a shadow.

In a place that could be a church sits a grey-haired woman. A sadness. Loss. Her cheerfulness is a surprise. The upturned edges of her hair are dark brown in the sun. Is this contrary to the flowing years of eternal days fading uniformly away? This woman has been outside with the lightning and the wind, cold with the wet blowing storm and water running down her hair. She has spent content warm hours looking out at the silent trees and flashing light.

I know a third woman who has lived joys. She is seasoned in the middle of life with hair fading between colorings. She has a ritual. The next day, I always see smudges on her ears where she can't see.

I stare into their dark hair, knowing exactly what it means. I sit under a tree at the edge of a field and view her year in passing. I smell the breeze as the rains come again. I imagine her hair moving, waving, and close my eyes.

Conceptually Awake
by Del Martinis

I'm asleep, but I know that I AM!

Some of us prefer to read accounts of how others woke up. I've been addicted to books about enlightenment for years now. It makes me feel good reading about it second hand. It also gives me hope. It's also safe!

Lately, I had to wonder if these accounts told me what I wanted to hear, or was it the truth? The average person on the street, has certain expectations as to what enlightenment truly is. We are drawn to books that flower it up, talking about the light of a thousand suns blinding one, as they awaken. Everyone from Adyanshanti to Eckhart Tolle makes it sound very freeing. But how do we know, if what they say can ever truly describe the actual experience?

By definition, the awakened state is beyond the mind. Dualistic language makes it impossible to give anything but pointers, like a finger to the moon. But, the next book will certainly have something that will say the right thing, to trigger my memory of who I've always been. Like a carrot dangling, each new article will be the one, until finally realizing there's not much we can do about it.

lightening Enlightenment sometimes strikes with the abandonment of a bolt of lightning. Whatever practice the awakened had performed or hadn't, seems not to matter, after the fact. So we continue searching for a "practice" that may work. If we find it and it's a good fit, are we still capable of fooling ourselves? Will we actually do it?

It's a game I've played with myself for years now. A game I have finally grown tired of. All I have accomplished is to realize I am asleep, and aware that I am. I guess you could say, there are degrees of sleeping, as there are degrees of enlightenment.

After all of this, I'm still reading, but the thrill is gone. Why? Because, as I have narrowed down what I consider to be real, from my limited vantage point, my idea of enlightenment has changed.

Through books by Jed McKenna, Stephen Jourdain, Ken Wilber and Steven Norquist, I've come to realize enlightenment is serious business. You might want to call it the dark side. The side that doesn't fit our pre-conceived notions. An experience that annihilates who we are, and our world. For some reason, this more brutal and stark approach succeeded in breaking my addiction, in ways that nothing else had before. Knowing that the universe may be empty, or that we don't exist, scares me to a point.

Right now I'm sleeping in my own self-created insane world. Maybe I needed a radical shaking up. But am I ready to disappear?

threatening sky


"There's no certainty—only opportunity."

"This may be the most important moment of your life. Commit to it."

~ Hugo Weaving as "V" in V for Vendetta


I am a deeply religious nonbeliever…. This is a somewhat new kind of religion.

~ Albert Einstein

Reader Commentary:

Dear participants in the TAT site/forum (I've read pieces by Shawn, David Weimer, Bart and David Scoma),

I'm just starting to make my way through some of the material presented on your site. Started with the March 2009 Forum - I found it really excellent, beautifully written. Feels like a treasure of riches and insights. I look forward to taking my time and coming across more bits as I go.

I've personally begun focusing more on "inner" work in terms of integrating my "outer" pursuits with what's meaningful to me right now. Hence, I find myself experiencing an inner and outer transition - exciting, anxiety-provoking but sustained with seeing such material as you are creating. So thank you. I hope to submit material for consideration, perhaps at some point. In the mean time, I shall keep surfing, as they say.

~ S.C.


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