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

June 2009

This Month's Contents: Something for Nothing by Bob Fergeson | The Everlasting Mercy by John Masefield | All You Need to Do by Art Ticknor | Words of Wisdom | Video: Beyond Mind, Beyond Death | Humor |

Editor's Note
by Shawn Nevins

TAT Forum Editors Pen If we are what we do, as Richard Rose states in the epigraph to Bob Fergeson's essay, then this time of year I am most likely a lawn mower or landscaper. Warm days, plentiful rains, and long hours of sun bring a bounty of grass and weeds to that American tradition called the lawn. Yes, I am house-bound, lawn-indentured by my dreams come to unforeseen fruition. Every now and then, I manage to lift my head from labor and wonder "what the hell am I doing, and why?"

Then I remember... that the ground under my knees is a planet orbiting a tiny sun among a galactic billion, and the green of one blade of grass is as good as any end to this life that I could ever devise. None of it matters one whit, and I don't care, yet I'll come inside when the light begins to fail and try, try to find the perfect set of words to say—this matters. I hope you enjoy this month's offering of reading, thinking, and watching.

Something for Nothing
by Bob Fergeson

"We are what we do, not what we think we do."
"The fact that you don't act means you don't have conviction." —Richard Rose

I've found as I get older that some of the seekers I meet are getting long in the tooth too, and suffer from a lack of conviction (inability to act) brought on by a combination of age and success in life. They have time and money relative to their youth, but are reluctant to use them towards their spiritual path. Perhaps this is not done consciously, but could be that a life-time of work and struggle, not only in the outer world but also in the realm of personality, vanity and ego along with the effects of aging, have left them almost unable to act any other way. The strange thing about them is their 'conviction' of commitment to the spiritual path, and the simultaneous lack of ability to act in that direction.

The following is a list of characteristics peculiar to this type of fellow and some questions for him in the hope he will see, and resolve, his paradox:

"The Everlasting Mercy"
by John Masefield

This is an excerpt from Masefield's poem which Douglas Harding favored

There's always crowds when drinks are standing.
The house doors slammed along the landing,
The rising wind was gusty yet,
And those who cam in late were wet;
And all my body's nerves were snappin'
With sense of summat 'bout to happen,
And music seemed to come and go
And seven lights danced in a row.
There used be a custom then,
Miss Bourne, the Friend, went round at ten
To all the pubs in all the place,
To bring the drunkards' souls to grace;
Some sulked, of course, and some were stirred,
But none give her a dirty word.
A tall pale woman, grey and bent,
Folk said of her that she was sent
She wore Friend's clothes, and women smiled,
But she'd a heart just like a child.
She come to us near closing time
when we were at some smutty rhyme,
And I was mad, and ripe for fun;
I wouldn't a minded what I done.
So when she come so prim and grey
I pound the bar and sing, "Hooray,
Here's Quaker come to bless and kiss us,
Come, have a gin and bitters, missus,
Or may be Quaker girls so prim
Would rather start a bloody hymn.
Now Dick, oblige. A hymn, you swine,
Pipe up the 'Officer of the Line,'
A song to make one's belly ache,
Or 'Nell and Roger at the Wake,'
Or that sweet song, the talk in town,
'The lady fair and Abel Brown.'
'O, who's that knocking at the door,'
Miss Bourne'll play the music score."
The men stood dumb as cattle are,
They grinned, but thought I'd gone too far,
There come a hush and no one break it,
They wondered how Miss Bourne would take it.
She up to me with black eyes wide,
She looked as though her spirit cried;
She took my tumbler from the bar
Beside where all the matches are
And poured it out upon the floor dust,
Among the fag-ends, spit and saw-dust.

"Saul Kane," she said, "when next you drink,
Do me the gentleness to think
That every drop of drink accursed
Makes Christ within you die of thirst,
That every dirty word you say
Is one more flint upon his way,
Another thorn about His head,
Another mock by where He tread,
Another nail, another cross.
All that you are is that Christ's loss."
The clock run down and struck a chime
And Mrs. Si said, "Closing time."

The wet was pelting on the pane
And something broke inside my brain,
I heard the rain drip from the gutters
And Silas putting up the shutters,
While one by one the drinkers went;
I got a glimpse of what it meant,
How she and I had stood before
In some old town by some old door
Waiting intent while someone knocked
Before the door for ever locked;
She was so white that I was scared,
A gas jet, turned the wrong way, flared,
And Silas snapped the bars in place.
Miss Bourne stood white and searched my face.
When Silas done, with ends of tunes
He 'gan a gathering the spittoons,
His wife primmed lips and took the till.
Miss Bourne stood still and I stood still.
Miss Bourne stood still and I stood still,
And "Tick. Slow. Tick. Slow" went the clock.
She said, "He waits until you knock."
She turned at that and went out swift,
Si grinned and winked, his missus sniffed.

I heard her clang the Lion door,
I marked a drink-drop roll to floor;
It took up scraps of sawdust, furry,
And crinkled on, a half inch, blurry;
A drop from my last glass of gin;
And someone waiting to come in,
A hand upon the door latch gropen
Knocking the man inside to open.
I know the very words I said,
They bayed like bloodhounds in my head.
"The water's going out to sea
And there's a great moon calling me;
But there's a great sun calls the moon,
And all God's bells will carol soon
For joy and glory and delight
Of someone coming home to-night."
Out into darkness, out to night,
My flaring heart gave plenty light,
So wild it was there was no knowing
Whether the clouds or stars were blowing;
Blown chimney pots and folk blown blind,
And puddles glimmering in my mind,
And chinking glass from windows banging,
And inn signs swung like people hanging,
And in my heart the drink unpriced,
The burning cataracts of Christ.

I did not think, I did not strive,
The deep peace burnt my me alive;
The bolted door had broken in,
I knew that I had done with sin.
I knew that Christ had given me birth
To brother all the souls on earth,
And every bird and every beast
Should share the crumbs broke at the feast.

O glory of the lighted mind.
How dead I'd been, how dumb, how blind.
The station brook, to my new eyes,
Was babbling out of Paradise,
The waters rushing from the rain
Were singing Christ has risen again.
I thought all earthly creatures knelt
From rapture of the joy I felt.
The narrow station-wall's brick ledge,
The wild hop withering in the hedge,
The lights in huntsmans' upper storey
Were parts of an eternal glory,
Were God's eternal garden flowers.
I stood in bliss at this for hours.

O glory of the lighted soul.
The dawn came up on Bradlow Knoll,
The dawn with glittering on the grasses,
The dawn which pass and never passes.

"It's dawn," I said, "And chimney's smoking,
And all the blessed fields are soaking.'
It's dawn, and there's an engine shunting;
And hounds, for huntsman's going hunting.
It's dawn, and I must wander north
Along the road Christ led me forth."

Read the complete poem at Poemhunter.com

All You Need To Do
by Art Ticknor

Guru: All you need to do is let go.
Chela: What do you mean? Let go of what? facing it

G: Your faulty beliefs about what you are.
C: How do I do that? I don't know how.

G: Everyone knows how to let go. What prevents it is pride or fear. It's generally easier to see the fear side of the argument. What are you afraid to let go of? What is the threat?
C: Well, I'm afraid to let go of control. The fear, I guess, is that things will spin out of control … my life will become chaotic, maybe I'll even go crazy.

G: And what are the implications of that?
C: Well, if I go crazy I won't be able to function normally, people will shun me or lock me away somewhere. I won't be able to live a productive life, to get what I want from life. I'll die miserable and unfulfilled. Even if I stay sane but things spin out of control, I won't be able to pursue what I want and may not be able to stay alive.

G: If you let go your hopes will die … or you will die….
C: Yes, that's what it comes down to.

G: You're stuck, then, aren't you … postponing the inevitable.
C: That's how it feels. Isn't there any way out?

G: That brings us back to the solution, which is quite simple: just let go.
C: If I know how to do that, as you say, what prevents it?

G: You're turning away from the fear rather than facing it.
C: How do I do that?

G: By introspecting the mind … learning to watch the mind without getting caught up in its activity. Specifically what you'll be looking for is to observe what you actually control of the mind's operation. You tell yourself that you're in control, afraid to let go of control. Look, and see what of the mind's operation you actually run.
C: That's it?

G: That's it.

Words of Wisdom

Some of you will remember that in that very basic Mahayana Buddhist scripture, the Diamond Sutra, it says that if you can look into your emptiness and not be somewhat scared, congratulations! Because it is a very uncommon thing. We have a great fear of looking this way because it is a kind of death. If you are scared of it I congratulate you because it means you have got it. I say, go on with it and you will come out at the other end. Beyond the fear is the experience of death, what I call the Present Death Experience. And then Bang! the resurrection. So you die as one tiny little lump of stuff and you explode to become the lot, you are resurrected to become the lot. So if you feel a little bit scared I would say that is absolutely great. Stay with it and it will come right.

~ Douglas Harding - 1991 Sydney workshop

Video: Beyond Mind, Beyond Death -The TAT Forum Book

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It's true I had a lot of anxiety. I was afraid of the dark and suspicious of the light.

Time is nature's way of keeping everything from happening at once.

~ Woody Allen


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