This month's contents:
Intuition and Reason by Richard Rose | The Black Wall by Shawn Nevins | Poems by Shawn Nevins | Silence Ends the Search by Bob Harwood | Last Supper by Art Ticknor | Nirvana Project Management by Art Ticknor | The Penny That Blots Out the Sun by Alfred Pulyan | Our State of Mind: The Ring that Binds by Bob Fergeson | Humor | Reader Commentary
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By meditation men1 have improved their Intuition.
By suffering and adversity, men have improved their Intuition.
By abstinence from food, or from certain foods, men have improved their Intuition.
By abstinence from sex action men have improved their Intuition.
By the establishment of a system of shocks, or alternation between abstinence and indulgence, between suffering and happiness or even ecstasy, men have improved their Intuition.
By various mental exercises men have improved their Intuition.
By the practice of concentration on one thing, then on many things, then on nothing, men have improved their Intuition.
By the practice of remembering the self, men have improved their Intuition.
By the practice of concentration on various nerve centers, men have improved their Intuition.
Reason may be improved by the coordination of similarities and opposites in nature.
Reason may be improved by qualifying all statements with their relative nature.
Reason may be improved by exploring the "possible opposite" of that which seems to be final.
Reason may be improved by listening to the words of those who firmly believe in opposition to ourselves.
Reason may be improved by the study of mathematics.
Reason may be improved by the study of symbols, words, numbers or figures, or by the juggling of these, or by exchanging or interpolating symbols of one system for those of another system, and by the resulting effect of all this upon memory and imagination.
Reason may be improved by desire, or by fear.
Reason may be improved by the determination to reason.
1Richard Rose once quipped in a public talk that he was not about to go through a paranoid listing of all the sexes.
~ From Carillon © 1982 by Richard Rose. All Rights Reserved.
Death is inside each of us. I don't mean that we will all die one day. I mean that if we peer inside, down the mazy layers of noise that pass for a mind, we discover a black wall of the unknown. Behind this, inside us, is death.
Light masquerades as darkness inside you—true Life as death. I don't know why. I don't know why it is easier to look away, toward the mischief of the world, than inside. Yet the resolution of our driving questions is inside. By turning away from that which you see in the field of the mind (since anything you see cannot be you), you will surely travel to these dark gates.
That is the essence of the approach. It starts with the proposition that anything observable is not us. What you see through a microscope is not the microscope, and what you see via the mind is not the mind. "The view is not the viewer," Richard Rose said, though for years I couldn't grasp what he meant. However, I did understand that anything observable is not permanent, and that is what I wanted to know: what about me would not change and fade away—was there anything Real?
"Not this, not that," as the Upanishads said over 2500 years ago. I am not that cup of water on the table. I am not the hand typing this sentence. I am not these words appearing in my mind. I am not awareness. This may take years to grasp. You can't just conclude. You have to experience. You have to look inside your mind and decide for yourself.
Again and again you go a'searching, rejecting every thought as not you, every sound or vision, and your sense of self even, because you see them all in your mind's eye. Yet, some thing turns away from all these objects—an awareness that is impossibly aware of itself and senses something else behind it. It tries to turn upon itself only to find itself. It—you—have come to the black wall.
The image of the black wall is indicative of what I sensed. It was an unknown around which my awareness pirouetted with itself—a desperate dance at the dead end street of the mind. You may explain the feeling with a different image—perhaps simply as fear, or wonder, or perplexity, or intense tension as if trying to grasp infinity or zero.
The method of rejecting what we see as not us takes us directly to the fundamental uncertainty of our self-knowledge. That fundamental uncertainty hides behind the fear of extinction. Your life of honesty and determination will carry you through this wall, through death, to Life.
Following are two quotes that strike at the heart of going within. They challenged and inspired me to keep looking:
Am I this body of thoughts in my mind? No. One gets a little closer to his thoughts than to anything else, and it's a little harder to untangle this. But if he watches and studies closely enough, the thoughts come to me. I accept or reject them. That which accepts or rejects them is different from the thought. And then I finally reach this point where I find that I must be this something, in some sense, different from other people. I'm not the mind, I'm not the feelings, I'm not the body—that I see. But I surely am, I surely am an individual, apart from others.
Now what you've gotten a hold of is a very difficult fellow—it's your ego. He can sneak around and confuse you like the dickens. You can spend years trying to get behind him. And what you do, you can get into an infinite regression. You look at your ego. All right, here am I and all of a sudden it dawns upon you that that which is looking at the ego is really the I. So you stick that one out in front. You look at it again, but then your realize it couldn't be, because here is a something that is observable. At last it finally dawns that I AM THAT which is never an object before Consciousness. And mayhap, at that moment, in your analysis—the Heavens will open.
~ Franklin Merrell-Wolff, The Induction.
From this point, as we look to the right, we notice that we can also look at awareness, and we can be aware of consciousness, and of looking at ourself looking indefinitely. We do not take a step forward, but are taken forward from here, by that which seems to be an accident,—an accident which does not come unless we have struggled relentlessly to find that which was unknown to us, by a method which could not be charted because the end or goal was unknown. We must have first become a vector. We must first have spent a good period of time studying our own awareness and consciousness with our own consciousness until we accidentally or by some unknown purpose,—enter the source of our awareness.
~ Richard Rose, Psychology of the Observer
I've come Home.
Sit with me....
He weaves a web
Ocean's waves inside me
Looking at your soft underbelly,
What is this gentle breeze on my face,
A quiet morning by the water
Only you don't answer
When you're that close to dying,
At the age of twenty, I became consumed with a wide range of existential questions. Is there a God? What is the meaning of life? What is a subatomic particle? What could explain the observer paradoxes in modern physics? In an effort to answer these kinds of questions, I spent ten years studying philosophy and science and doing a lot of thinking. During those ten years I never found a single answer. At the age of thirty, I discovered Zen, and I spent the next ten years reading Zen books and thinking about koans and enlightenment. During those ten years, I added a lot of questions to my list, but I never found a single answer. At the age of forty, my optimism waned and I began to feel like a rat in a trap. I worried that I might die without ever learning anything important. Fortunately, some business problems put me under a lot of stress, and in an effort to acquire some peace of mind, I started doing a simple breath awareness exercise.
After doing the exercise for a week, I realized that when I watched my breath, I was interacting with the world differently than when I pursued abstract thought. I therefore increased my practice to two hours each day. After two months, I increased my practice to three hours each day. After five months, I began falling into deep states of samadhi. Soon thereafter I had my first mind-blowing enlightenment experience.
After that first experience, I realized that everything I was searching for could be found through silent awareness. For the next fifteen years I went on silent retreats and solo hikes in the mountains. Gradually, the answers to my questions appeared. At the age of fifty-five only one question remained. I wondered how it was possible to remain in a unified state of mind following an enlightenment experience. During the previous fifteen years I had had many enlightenment experiences. Some of those experiences had been shallow and some had been deep. Some had been so deep that I stayed in a selfless and empty state of mind for several days thereafter. Some had been so deep that it took months before the effects wore off. Some effects never wore off. Nevertheless, sooner or later I always seemed to return to a dualistic state of mind—a "me-in-here" looking at a "world-out-there." I thought that surely there must be some way "to make the two become one" forever.
On August 17, 1999 I was hiking up a mountain in Colorado when I had yet another experience of psychological unity. A few hours afterwards, I was surprised to realize that my 35-year-long spiritual search had come to an end. I knew the answer to my final question. I realized that there had never been a "me" who was sometimes psychologically unified and sometimes divided. I realized that who I was was the dynamic, mysterious, and intellectually unknowable field of reality itself. Although there had seemed to be a separate "me" who periodically became unified with reality, this had been an illusion. There was no "me." There was only oneness—only what is. Who I am was THAT!
My lifelong search had been based upon a fundamental error created by reflective thought. After seeing the truth clearly, I was free. I was never again bothered by any kind of existential question, and I was finally able to relax and live an ordinary life. From that time until today, I have known that wherever I look I am looking at myself—a unified field of being. The observer and the observed are one. Yes, I momentarily manifest as a particular human being, but my True Self is infinite—beyond space and time. Who I am has never been born and will never die.
Most people think that I am a separate human being, but they are dreaming the same dream that I used to dream. If they want to see the real me, then they must stop thinking and become silent. The secret of all secrets is that there is no secret. Everything lies in plain sight. If you don't see it, then be patient and be persistent. Jesus taught his disciples two parables about the importance of persistence. Keep looking. Stay silent. Sooner or later the truth will appear.
Bob has written two books: "A Path to Christ Consciousness, Non-Conceptual Awareness Practice As A Doorway To The Infinite" and "Pouring Concrete, A Zen Path to the Kingdom of God," his spiritual autobiography. They can be ordered through BEFOREthought.com.
The path to nirvana is a seemingly complex undertaking. So the question may come up about whether we can apply modern project management techniques such as Critical Path Analysis (CPA) to expedite our success.
CPA was developed in the 1950s to control large defense projects, and it has been widely used since then to plan a project's tasks, relate their interdependencies, and monitor their scheduled completion. With the project to find or recognize what we are at our core, however, we don't know what it will take to accomplish it. In fact, the goal itself isn't known. The best we can do is to get an idea of what it's not. And, in fact, the entire process is not one of construction but of deconstruction. We find or become the truth by retreating from illusion and delusion.
There is a path, but we will not know whether we're truly on it or off on meandering byways. Richard Rose described this path as a ladder, the next rung of which wouldn't be known until we are standing on it. He laid out an approach for climbing this "Jacob's Ladder" in an inspired small book titled The Psychology of the Observer. In the story of Exodus, Jacob dreamed one night of a ladder set upon the earth, reaching to heaven, with angels ascending and descending it. Our climb up the ladder of self-definition is one of retreating from untruth about the self, using the mind to understand the mind and, if successful, to go beyond it. The reason this retreat is possible is that messages from the core of our being are coming down the ladder into the conscious mind. If the core of our being is referred to as Light, the messengers coming from the center to the periphery, where we're currently caught in a hypnotic trance, are like photons—not fully subject to the restrictions of space-time relativity.
The modification to Critical Path methodology that we need to make in order to apply it to our quest for self-definition—for realizing what we truly are, and the unimaginable Full Satisfaction that results—is to focus on the critical. We will need to monitor what we're doing, and whether we're living our life in a way that's aimed at understanding that life, with ongoing careful evaluation. There will be crucial, decisive forks in the road where choices will either hasten or retard our progress. The more we clarify our values and convictions, the more we'll be capable of sustaining a nuclear chain-reaction when something bigger than our individuality—Francis Thompson called it "The Hound of Heaven" in a moving poem by that name—has withdrawn all the props that hold that artificial self-identity in place and has given us the opportunity of completing the journey back to the point we've never, in reality, left.
Q: So is it attitude, is it hard work, is it luck? ... I continually feel that my spiritual path is one of hurry up and wait. Do this, try that. If that doesn't work try this. It's not what you do but that you do something, but you must meditate and conserve energy. But wait, what's with all this effort? That's my problem, too much effort :)
Oh well, at least I get to vent out my frustration. I feel better now.
A: Attitude? Hard work? Luck? The truth is, we don't know.
If you stand by the door long enough, it may open.
If you knock loudly enough, it may open.
If you pound hard enough, it may open.
The door is behind you; you're looking away from it.
The door is already open, but you can't see it.
The non-self cannot see the Self.
The non-self is all that is knowable.
The doorway is the threshold between the knowable and the Unknowable.
The Unknowable cannot make the transition known.
The more we realize that the Unknowable is what we desire,
And the more we lose our desire for the knowable....
Frustration is good. Action increases frustration. Spiritual action = questioning. Questioning occurs both by thought and feeling.
We all go through life maintaining our belief system, or state of mind, to the point of controlling everything in sight, so as to keep the ego of body and mind alive and well. This will hold even in the face of death, for we would rather be right than admit our error and live with it. We also grant our fellow man this same hell by forcing him to be as we, even if it means controlling his every action, all in order to keep our precious ego afloat. To grant ourselves freedom, eternal and infinite, we must do the same for everyone else, and leave the hypnotic ring of attachment to the ego of body and mind. Through the clear examination of our very "selves," and those of our friends, we break the ring and find freedom in simple awareness. This is how we become, and in so becoming, free ourselves from the chains of mind and ego.
Most of us base our relationships on unexamined belief systems, and see others as merely things to be manipulated, hypnotized, and brought into that system, as we were. We don't see each other as real, but as objects either in our belief system, and thus right and in the proper place in the systems hierarchy, or as threat-objects to the system, which must be changed or removed. Thus, people are either acceptable recruits for our personal state of mind or are heretics and should be attacked. This is all to keep our ego afloat, for if we are to be right, our beliefs must be upheld by not only our own mind, but by everyone else's as well. Thus, we cannot question ourselves, which is the same as coming to know ourselves, for that would call the whole belief system into jeopardy.
Most states of mind involve the application of pressure to keep us running in the circle of body and mind. We feel a certain pressure, perhaps coming through the body, as a need for a certain pleasure. The mind is then used to rationalize the pressure-releasing act. The mind can also be the initial source of the pressure. We may have an irrational fear, never really questioned but now a habit, which the mind forces on the body, causing it to perform irrational actions. These circular patterns of behavior and rationalization tie up our energy and direction, negating any real spiritual progress. We are left trapped in a world of inner fantasy and imagination as concerns our inner journey, for the real motivations of our daily life are left to forces of direction other than our own. These forces then use us as agents to recruit our friends into whatever peculiar trap with which we have become enamored, creating another ring of attachment and descent.
How can we escape from this ring, this trap of identification with the dominant state of mind of our body-ego? Ruysbroeck points to the path to freedom when he tells us of the differences between the Servants of God, His Friends, and His Sons. Each step along the inward path requires more and more objectivity to the very thing we know the least about: our very "self." The hidden must be revealed, whether we believe in it or not. Each step along the path from Servant to Son requires a lessening of attachment to objects, whether these objects are people, desires, fears, or our own manifestation as an apparent body/mind. The Servant deals in the world of objects, serving his conception of the higher good through the manipulation of these objects according to his beliefs. As these beliefs are questioned and called into the light of discrimination, the seeker becomes less attached to objects, and moves inward towards the formless. His progress is helped by those above him, the true spiritual Friends, who see clearer than he, and grant him the freedom to become as they.
One way to see the hidden but dominant state of mind that runs our life is to observe how the trap of unconscious belief works in our friends. It is much easier to see the irrational habits, desires and fears in those around us, for it is not so threatening to our own ego. The mistakes, rationalizations and contradictory behavior of those familiar to us can be used as a door to our own mind. We may begin to see how our relationships are based on mutual neediness, in keeping similar states of mind afloat. If we are lucky, we may have the intuition that the imperfections in our friends are much the same as those hiding in us. This can be a frightening thought, for once we see clearly the traps of body and mind that snare our friends, we get the hint that we, too, are just as unconsciously snared.
By taking this simple step within, and realizing that we are asleep to our basic motivations and drives, we lessen their hold on us, and become less attached. Most attachments are dependent on a mental image, usually that of a state or object which we wish to possess, coupled with the ego's illusion that we are in control and know what we are doing. Through questioning our desire or fear of these mind-objects, we become a little freer, and self is a bit diminished.
In moving within, to a state of mind less attached to the systems of desire and fear, of energy loss and objects, we come to move in a straight line, rather than in the downward spiral of the blind leading the blind. From this straighter path leading within, we can also help those of similar bent. If we have no pressure forcing us to change the world of objects, having lost our attachment to them, we will no longer treat our friends as objects, and thus grant them the freedom to move within also. We may begin to get hints that they, too, are using us as examples of what states of mind can do, and are thus making progress through viewing our particular displays of folly.
Through the seeing of "self" in our friends, we may gradually come to see "self" in ourselves. This "fathomless staring and seeing" leads to the lessening of attachment to this "self" and its eventual demise through a startling discovery. We come to see that there are no separate "selves" or objects, including our own "self" or that of our friends, but only the Universal Awareness of Man.
Inspiring.... It inspired me to dust off my copies of Franklyn Merrill-Wolf, Doug Harding, and Bernadette Roberts, three of my favorites. I most especially appreciated the piece on "Silence" of which I am a big fan so to speak. ~ Barbara Dusek
I want to thank you all for the work you do on the news letter. I especially found Further Impressions of the Headless Way, by Shawn Nevins, and Silence, by Bob Fergeson helpful. ~ Shelley (Sedona, AZ)
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