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

TAT Weekend Intensive: Doing Nothing vs. Being Nothing April 12-13, 2014.
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March 2014

This Month's Contents: Become Becoming by Li-Young Lee | Longing by Art Ticknor | The Hole Within by Sunil Vidyarthi | Longing is the Core of the Mystery by Rumi | Breathing Below Surface by Jesse Cook | Enlightenment: You've Got to Long For It by Linda Clair | A Visit by Mace Mealer | A Zen Poem by Ikkyū | Humor | A New Home for TAT Moves Closer to Reality | Reader Commentary |

Editor's Note
by Heather Saunders

May the longing become so unbearable, that no other choice remains but to resolve it once and for all.

Become Becoming

by Li-Young Lee

Wait for evening.
Then you'll be alone.

Wait for the playground to empty.
Then call out those companions from childhood:

The one who closed his eyes
and pretended to be invisible.
The one to whom you told every secret.
The one who made a world of any hiding place.

And don't forget the one who listened in silence
while you wondered out loud:

Is the universe an empty mirror? A flowering tree?
Is the universe the sleep of a woman?

Wait for the sky's last blue
(the color of your homesickness).
Then you'll know the answer.

Wait for the air's first gold (that color of Amen).
Then you'll spy the wind's barefoot steps.

Then you'll recall that story beginning
with a child who strays in the woods.

The search for him goes on in the growing
shadow of the clock.

And the face behind the clock's face
is not his father's face.

And the hands behind the clock's hands
are not his mother's hands.

All of Time began when you first answered
to the names your mother and father gave you.

Soon, those names will travel with the leaves.
Then, you can trade places with the wind.

Then you'll remember your life
as a book of candles,
each page read by the light of its own burning.

by Art Ticknor

How could we be separate from what we really are? (Think about it....) Heartache results from buying into the fictional individuality belief (FIB):

"I am a sentient creature with its personal awareness," you say.
"There are no sentient creatures. Awareness is self-aware," the teacher says.
bridge "But I can't see that!" you say.
"That's because you're thinking about it, not looking at it," the teacher says.

You're conscious, and you know that you're conscious. Consciousness is like a light illuminating objects. Becoming conscious of awareness is becoming conscious of what powers that light.

There's a vibrant longing that leads us back to consciousness of awareness. It's reflected in our dissatisfaction, in our desire for unity, completion, wholeness, love, eternality....

Certain scenes or images or sounds may remind us of its existence. My personal list includes scenes of communal harmony, often associated with churches and music: A brass choir playing "Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory" on an Easter Sunday morning in Binghamton, New York when I was eight or ten; antiphonal choirs singing in the front and back lofts of a Lebanese Orthodox church and fugues vibrating the interior of a college chapel as we walked under the organ loft at the chapel entrance; a brass band standing under the dome of a Spanish mission outside San Antonio, Texas, welcoming the local people to Sunday morning mass, and so on.

We try to fulfill the vibrant longing "out there." But its message is that an internal home is the place of completion, of eternality without conflict. When the excitement and adventure of traveling wears thin, it becomes more and more apparent to the weary traveler that fulfillment doesn't lie over the next hill or around the next bend. As an old hymn intones: "Come Home, come Home, ye who are weary, come Home."

~ From Art's book, Solid Ground of Being.

Check out Self Discovery Portal for more about Art.

The Hole Within

Cut me in a thousand pieces
And thousand fold again
You will find nothing
But a hole within.

My Guru said,
Son, you will find what you seek
Buried within your heart
Within your head.

I looked, really looked
By being gentle and warm
Closing my eyes, crouching on the floor.
But all I could find
Was a hole within.

Is this a joke
Riddle or paradox?
Which, I will never get
Until I look, even though all there is
Is a hole within.

Wise ones say look no further
You are it.
Some say don’t look at all
There is nothing to find.

All you need
Is already here.
But when I look
All I find is a hole within.

I have no other word
There is no hole, not a bright light
Nor a blue Buddha,
Or a long haired Shiva.

When I close my eyes
Honestly all I see is nothing
But a faint sense of the candle light.
So please, don’t ask me to look
for even the hole within.

~ Sunil Vidyarthi

From The Dead-end (Up) Here.

Longing is the core of the mystery.

Longing itself brings the cure.

The only rule is, Suffer the pain.

Your desire must be disciplined,

and what you want to happen in time, sacrificed.

~ Rumi

From Rumi: The Big Red Book by Coleman Barks.

Jesse Cook: Breathing Below Surface

Enlightenment: You've Got To Long For It
by Linda Clair

LC: So, I laugh when people say – it sounds ridiculous when people say, ‘You can’t want this.’ You’ve got to long for it. The longing becomes so strong that it becomes painful. It’s just a longing for home. You just want to be home.

Q: Why is it so hard to go home?
LC: Because we’ve come so far from home.

Q: We should be able to return.
LC: Yes, that’s what I’m saying, ‘You can go back.’ But, because we’ve come so far away, for most people, they’ve got no idea where home is. You feel it inside sometimes, this sense of – it’s almost homesickness, longing.

Q: This is not home. That is not home.
LC: That’s all you can do. Just say, ‘This is not home.’ But, what I can do is guide you home.
The only thing that really gives me true joy now is to see people who want to come home.

Q: Did your longing change?
LC: For me, the longing became stronger and stronger. It became stronger, deeper, more painful at times. I’d walk along the beach in the morning, and I would just feel this separation between me and the sea, this beautiful place. I’d be in this amazing place, and yet I’d still feel separate. There was just this longing for union, not to feel that separateness. So, for me the longing became stronger. The closer I got – it’s like when you’re going home, and you really want to be home, and it’s within sight, and you just want to be there. It’s nothing to do with a geographical thing, of course.

Q: Did the longing change through stages of waking up?
LC: There are stages. The longing became more intense. I became stronger and the possibility – it became more possible – and there was this sort of excitement there at times, but there was still part of me that felt maybe it wasn’t possible. I know in the end, during the last stages, the last big retreat I did - even when it was starting to happen, and I knew it was happening - the mind came in and said, ‘This isn’t possible in you.’ That’s how strong it is, ‘This can’t be happening in you.’ And then, it just gave up. But, you have to wear it down.
Preparing your body for the shock of being free.
That’s what this is, what this is doing - wearing it down, preparing your body for the shock of being free, and wearing the mind down, bit by bit by bit. Times like this, where you do intensive sits, are periods where you wear it down to a large degree. Everything you do in your life is part of it. But, periods like this where you’re much freer from the pull of society - which is really all mind – and, in a group like this, concentrated, doing this day after of day - big chunks fall away. But, you don’t often see that until afterward - until you go back into your life and suddenly realize, ‘Oh my God, I used to react really strongly to this, and now it’s gone.’ And, you feel the repercussions from something like this for months afterward, the rest of your life.

Q: Is that detaching?
LC: Yes. You see how much you’ve let go of. It can’t happen all at once - it’s too much. But, it happens gradually, gradually. As you see that, then this whole thing becomes so attractive, and you see that it’s possible in you, not just in someone else, but it’s possible in you.

Q: Can this be hard on relationships?
LC: Yes. You don’t lose anything that’s really valuable. Some relationships with friends might fall away; others become stronger. So it does change. That is scary for some people.
It’s your suffering or that idea of separation that keeps you going.

Q: I feel the longing.
LC: That’s why you’re here.
It’s your suffering or that idea of separation that keeps you going, not all the amazing experiences you have, and I had some amazing experiences, but nothing compares to this, no experience.
No thought is worth thinking. No experience is anything compared to this. It was bigger - much bigger than I could ever have imagined.

~ Transcribed by Augie Monge from a section of Q&A from the Raleigh Retreat with Linda in March, 2012.

Learn more about Linda Clair at Simple Meditation.

A Visit

Loneliness stopped by

for a visit last night.

He must have heard me

polishing memories

of holding my kids.

It’s been a while

since he and I were

constant companions.

I understand him

better now.

So I made some

tea and we talked

a while.

He tells me

business is good.

~ William Mace Mealer

From Alethea at Aphelion, A Book By God and Mace, 2006.

Email .

Every day, priests minutely examine the Law

And endlessly chant complicated sutras.

Before doing that, though, they should learn

How to read the love letters sent by the wind

and rain, the snow and moon.

~ Ikkyū

From Ikkyū and The Crazy Cloud Anthology: A Zen Poet of Medieval Japan, translated by Sonya Arutzen.


A New Home for TAT Moves Closer to Reality

Many of you will recall last year's essay A Vision of Home for TAT. In short, it laid out this vision:

· A small piece of property adjoining public lands.

· A house for a live-in caretaker.

· Either a wing on the house large enough for meeting space, or a separate building.

· A cabin for isolation retreats.

· Location within an hour and a half of a major airport.

· A reasonable distance from Columbus, Pittsburgh, Raleigh, and the DC Metro areas.

It is our hope to be of greater service to TAT members and friends by creating a spot on earth where people could do retreats and hold meetings for minimal fees—where the emphasis was on friendship and the search. Our former home was on Richard Rose’s farm and was a sanctuary for many years, and a crucible. He once told me it was like the desert—where you go to meet God. With this in mind, we officially kicked-off our fundraising campaign in early February, with a goal of $250,000. We are now 44% of the way to the goal. We've had donations from $50 to $10,000, so no amount is too small, and many hands do truly make light work. This will only succeed as a true community effort, and this is a personal appeal to you, the many readers of the TAT Forum, to lend a hand in this great endeavor and create a benefit for yourselves and others that will last many years. To make your donation, use the contribution button below. If you would like to send a check, please email or call (510-725-5195) for more information. TAT is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit educational organization and qualifies to receive tax-deductible contributions.


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