Current picks of esoteric writings, along with old favorites:
from his book
At Home With the Inner Self
Method by Jim Burns
We were talking about free association other night and someone brought point up. This point has to be brought up. When I was doing this, I had no one to talk to. I had no one to turn to. I had no place to go to discuss things. So apparently, the forces that exist decided that they were going to give me the special gift of teaching me how to do my own learning, how to do my own teaching, how to do my own insighting. I learned how to free associate. I asked myself the questions that would take me out of the blind spots. Most people doing this get into a blind spot, get into a thought that becomes repetitive, and they're done. You don't know where to go with it.
People get into a blind spot and might stay there for the rest of their life. I didn't have that problem. I learned to ask myself the questions: What does it look like?; What does it feel like?; What does it seem like?; What does it act like? - endlessly asking myself questions. Until suddenly there was one thought that was blank and would go no further. The free association word wouldn't yield anything like the release necessary. I would change just one little inflection in the words as I repeated them in my mind, just one little inflection. I'd ask myself: What does this mean? What does it suggest? What does that make me think of? I never found one of them that I didn't find my way out of whatever trap I got into by doing that. I don't know anybody else that knows how to guide themselves out of that hole. I can guide someone else out of a hole, but I can't seem to teach them how to do it themselves.
Everything you've went through in you lifetime and haven't resolved is still sitting there waiting to be worked on. Either you get straight with some of this stuff, or you'll wish you had. It is a mountain of work. You don't deal with each individual circumstance but with the abstraction of the problem. You deal with the still existing patterns. You don't deal with the individual circumstances of things in your life. The singular psychological patterns that maintain presently held values and patterns of thinking are what you deal with. You don't deal with the individual circumstances that gradually imbued you with one particular aspect or complex. Even then it is a mountain of work.
The ability of getting a feeling to translate into words is a tricky business, but it is well worth the effort. When some insight comes up, you should stop everything you are doing, if at all possible, and pay attention to it. If a word associated with a current feeling comes up, it is often extremely important. Repeat the word until you get some sense of what it means. It is often a word at the crossroads of other concepts, and ties them together. Before you couldn't figure out how this tied into this or this tied into that. You begin to build a structure and develop comprehension.
If you hold center on a problem long enough, things will open up. It is difficult when you are first trying this. It takes awhile to develop the expertise. Sometimes the effort of trying to hold center and bring something up is so great that you simply can't do it. It takes practice. You are facing a void because you don't what you are looking for. If you keep mentally facing forward, it will eventually focus itself. You will focus what your inner nature is seeking. If there wasn't an unanswered and even misstated question you wouldn't be doing this. At this point the question isn't even formed. You just know that there has to be a better state than that which you are currently in. The unanswered is what you are seeking.
It is difficult to stay on the point when thinking about something. It may be something is so painful to you that the mind will keep drifting to almost anything to get off the painful thought. When facing the unknown, the key is overcoming the fear. You must have faith that it will work. Fear is absolutely the hallmark that you are getting near something important. When you get to this fear you know something you are looking for will be found. You know that you've found a hot spot.
You have to have consistency in doing this and facing it to produce results. You can't meditate this week, do it again next week, and then let it go. You'll wind up always going back to the beginning. On the other hand, don't expect too much of yourself. When it gets too hot, let it go for awhile. The next time around you'll be a little closer when you start and you'll go a little farther before uncomfortable again.
If you're being bothered by something, I've found that if you let your body run the show, just laying horizontal, that all the things that wander around in your mind will drift off. You'll start getting a feeling that an important thought is coming. It's a physical feeling that a thought is coming up into your brain. As soon as this happens, you know you're on the road home. The pain diminishes and you start realizing what is disturbing you.
Learning this technique is like learning a new language. The first couple of times it is not going to be very effective. You just have to lay there and be quiet until the problem comes to the surface. You have to face forward into the void, as it were, a type of tunnel vision. Ideas will come to you and eventually one will come that really hits the gong about problems you are facing. Different ideas will come to fill that void. The thing that is hard about it, when you're first attempting it, is to realize that you're searching for something you presently have no answer to. It is hard to realize that you are putting effort into putting something where there is now nothing, as far as consciousness is concerned. I came upon this method instinctively. For the first year I wondered what the heck I was trying to do. Finally it started to work. This, meditation and dreams is where I've learned everything, I never learned anything from a book.
You may unconsciously be chastising that inner work is not a good of time and energy. You may be prejudiced against your own thinking to what someone else says or you read in a book. You have to think as much of your own thoughts as do of somebody else's. In any effort you start out from zero. You may feel foolish about the things you are thinking about but you have to start somewhere. You have to realize that you are trying to be a student of yourself and that it is a good effort.
I was stumbling around with meditation and I discovered that if something was bothering me and an answer to the problem occurred to me, then it stopped bothering me. So when something started bothering me I knew I was looking for a specific answer, which was the golden key to the thing. Little did I realize how much work it would be. At first you don't know what you are seeking. Once you make the discovery of this inner satisfaction, then you know what you are seeking for. You're blind to it for quite awhile. You just know things aren't what you'd like, but you aren't able to be specific about it. Our major appetite is the need to comprehend. Comprehension is a specific appetite and even needs to understand itself. You need to know what the mind is trying to get done so you can be more effective at it. Your internal system is entirely capable, given the opportunity, to teach you what it is trying to teach you. Your inner being knows. Your outer being is always unknowing.
Your system is constantly trying to get some inner job done. It is constantly trying to get you conscious of what is distressing you. Secondly, it is trying to get you to comprehend what natural laws and patterns that distress is involved with. To know where the mistake is so you can evade making the mistake and start going with the natural flow. This is all built in by design. Try to place the problem mentally in front of you and let every tension go out of your body. Let the thing just hang in front of you. Gradually a word will come to mind that will begin to explain and alleviate the circumstances. The words form so long as you hold that center. It is uncomfortable, miserable, and the only thing that is worse is what you're trying to escape. If it is something superficial, you can deal with it superficially. If it is a deeper problem, you have to pinpoint what is bothering you. To find out what it is you have to stay on center on the problem and not slip off the point. Sometimes a flash of insight might come which lasts but milliseconds. If you miss it, you can only get back to that insight by plodding and working step by step.
You can bring on insight experiences if you learn how. You have to let go of the trivia. But you have to learn what the trivia is in reference to what you are seeking. It may not be trivia in all situations. Some insight might come up when you're at a business meeting. Now to me, for the time being, the meeting would be trivia because it is mere readily accessible, and I'd have to get away. Maybe excuse myself to go to the bathroom, to get at the source of what's coming up. You may have to try to get a handle on it by repeating the word or concept over and over to yourself. When you get a handle on it, you can keep it to get back to later. If you let it go, it may not come again. It is a way of life. You don't want to give your job away, but you have to do what is ever possible.
When you run the gamut of concentrating on something, you may want to take a break or forget it for awhile. Just when you take your mind off it, is when answers to you other problems will often come into view. This is a good thing to know from the methodological standpoint. The reason for it is very simple. When you are keyed up and putting a lot of energy into a problem, the minute you let go of the problem, all the energy has to go somewhere, and it goes to whatever the next problem is on your agenda in priority basis, even if you don't know consciously what your next priorities problem may be. The second you break off concentration, a slight dizziness sets in because of the change in concentration levels. That is when the answers will come in. The more you do this switching back and forth of levels, the more effective this process and information is. As soon as you take this high energy level off the problem you are focusing on, it will escape to the next energy level, like a spark crossing the gap in a sparkplug. Until you are good at it, you won't notice it. It will just go flashing by.
There is a free association part of the mind that is like a citizen's band scanner, constantly going up and down the channels. Your inner mind is constantly trying to get your outer self aware of what's going on within yourself until you've answered to that need. It keeps throwing balls over the fence. As you drive down the road your mind will constantly pick out this fence or that tree, or this sign. You' re accustomed to it and assume that everyone else's mind does the same thing. If you analyzed why you pick this or that to see out of everything that is available, there is a definite reason and pattern to it. It follows very closely the things that come in ordinary dreaming (which is another method of throwing balls over the fence.) The dream-maker uses these things in waking life. They are attempts to guide you to what in you is unfulfilled.
When I was young I learned that dreams were the source of all necessary information. It's good to go to sleep slowly and to wake up slowly. If you have a nagging dream, just lie in bed and be quiet. Try and be conscious of no-thing, which is different than nothing. Just let it come to you. All the pictography of the dream is an attempt by the inner stage master to throw things over the fence to key you in to what is happening in your insides. Through dreams you can repair the bridge to the inner self and again become a whole person. Realizing something in a dream isn't enough; you have to become aware of it in the waking state.
When I was good at dreams, several times I was able to go deep inside myself and hear the dream and actually be able to see it, and get a person to repeat what they said time after time until I was able to re-experience the dream. In interpreting my dreams, what I would do when I woke up was to go all the way back to the crossover state. The feelings that the dreams elicit are the things that tell you what the dream means, so you have to be able to go right back into it. Whatever the same feelings are that would occur to you when you are awake, is what the dream is trying to get to. The real point in dreams is to get it to come back so clearly that you get all the feelings as they went by.
Your inner mind is using all opportunities at all times to get you to look at something about yourself. When I had my mind and could use it, every time I found somebody I didn't like, invariably I would discover that they had something that I didn't think I could ever have. But the process of going from the initial dislike to the discovery of the secret jealousy took me months every time to work my way through it. As I'd go through the process of discovering specifically what characteristics I was so jealous about, I'd find out that the person really didn't even possess the characteristics.
My mind was just using the characteristic to bait me, to bring into my awareness something about my own values. That there is something that I consider to be important inside that I'm not consciously aware of. Your mind only uses these circumstances to bring your attention to something. When the washout was over with, what I would find out about the situation was that there was something that I valued that I never realized that I valued. My mind was just using the opportunity to bring it into view. You can't know what your real attitudes are until you get good at inner work. It's the only way you can find out.
Use your mind to see what are the implications of everything. It is an offense against a very offensive reality. You can do something about it. The people who can't do anything about it are the 99% of the population that don't know what hit them. The minute you see you can do something about it, you cease to be one of those people, although it may take awhile before it dawns on you.
The classic idea about going to a psychiatrist is that they set you down and want to know about your past. I don't want to know anything about the past, but about what brought the person in today. It is like a person looking for their glasses, and where are they? - right on their head. If I had been an analyst, a lot of the type of material I'd have written is in D.W. Winnicott's book, The Maturational Process. You couldn't spend enough time on it.
You don't have to remember anything, traumas and the like. You are never dealing with anything except what is right here. How long it has been there is another aspect. The Freudian notion that you can go into your past and set yourself free is totally false. They only achieve remembering things. That has nothing to do with it. You have to deal with the weird things you are doing now, that you started doing back then. You don't have to remember anything.
When you find the deepest past as the real now... In other words, when you find that deep past, the real now will never be the same again. When you realize that something you started nearly from the moment you were born is something you are doing right now, it instantaneously changes and will never be the same again. You don't go back. You go along the surface until you find the past in it. You don't go anywhere. It's all right here. It never really went anyplace. It' s still here.
"The Truth will set you free." There are times you are set free and you don't even know what the truth was that did it. You have to search for the concept that expresses it. It is important to search for the concept. When you find the concept that sets you free from something, and you understand how it explains a natural process that was aborted and then brought back on track, you experience a shift of realities that will take you away from the mundane for all time, the first time it happens. It can happen in a repetitive stream for half a lifetime. You are never again caught in the surface of things. You can withdraw from the surface of things and see the overriding influence that causes situations. The first time you escape the surface of things, you are relieved of it and never caught or bound in it again.
Nobody knows this when they are studying themselves. They stumble along and fall into it and get set loose from the whole thing. Sometimes they think they've lost all their sense of reality, because reality is never perceived again as the same thing from that time on. Reality is a matter of concepts. Up until this point, the most real thing in life is a hammer. After you've crossed this invisible line, the concept of "hammer" is much more real that the hammer itself. Without the concept, you could not have the hammer, but up until this point you couldn't appreciate the importance of that thought.
The usual meaning of choice, the usual meaning of will, the usual meaning of self-determination are linguistic concepts that are darn near necessary. I accept the unfoldment of me before the only audience that matters, - me. I long ago came to the realization that it has been completely out of my hands from the beginning. I know I've had nothing to do with what I've gone through. I've been the little character that sits at the crossroads. Nothing more, nothing less.
I have not had the opportunity that most people have had of being in the ordinary sense self-determining. They determine what they want to do, go out and do it, and have a reasonable amount of success. They pay their own bills and are able to do what they call "stand on their own feet." They have the ego support involved in it and it becomes a large part of their view of themselves. You must remember that I have had none of this. The body is built to answer to the first necessity. Get the bills paid. Get the food on. Get the house in shape. My hunch is that the only reason I can still put up with life is because of the experiences I've had. For me to continue life makes no sense.
A friend was talking last night about the fact that he gets so despondent. He'll get a rush of insight about something, and it will trigger a flood of insights that will come. He'll be uplifted by the passing flood of insights, even about minute things but mostly the seeing into important things he's been blind to. Then he'll go to bed one night and wake up completely in a hole and not know how he got there. The insight is gone. He looses all the insights. He can't remember anything that he's gained. He feels completely dissipated and spent and doesn't know what hit him.
I really raised his eyebrows when I told him that the whole point of the conscious effort, the whole thing you want about insight, is the insight to insight. You want to be able to get to the point where you can see how to bring insight into the hole, to keep it from crushing all the progress. That's the only impediment to an endless, continual consciousness of insight, which is what I finally got to. The key was to seek and pray, literally pray, for the insight to see what causes the depressions, because the depressions are what destroy everything.
Every time you have a specific fall into a depression, some one, specific emotional experience is involved in it, and only one. There can be a string of depressions caused by different emotions. When you resolve and dispel one big depression through conscious effort and insight - if you ever accomplish this once, you've learned the root to dispelling all depression. Free association is the biggest key. Also, you conquer the hopelessness by facing it.
The minute you can generate a goal, depression dies. The thing about depression is that you can't generate a goal. A negative long-span thinking situation is always a case of the dog chasing his tail.
To be genuinely clear, which doesn't have anything to do with Scientology's "clear," is to have answered every question you have had to date, and I've been there on a regular basis. If that isn't paradise, I don't know what is. It is to have taken every feeling that ever came into your comprehension and to have traced it all the way back to its roots.
A funny thing about depression is that it takes just as much effort as it does to be positive, but you end up with totally different results. The activity itself is not so much the key as what it produces. Being positive about things is equally as real as being negative. You have the same input, different outlook and results. The only way you can determine better or not between them is by what they produce. Between them they both suffice.
If you let negativity get hold of you, it becomes consuming and you are negative about everything. There is nothing worse and more draining than having to hate. About the only way you can correct it is to be positive about little things at a time.
Sayings of Paracelsus:
On Feelings: "What is a philosophy that is not supported by spiritual revelation? Moses did not teach physics; he wrote in a theological sense calculated to impress the feelings and awaken the faith of the simple-minded, and perhaps he may not have understood physics himself. The scientist, unlike the theologian, does not put any trust in his feelings, but believes only in his experiments, because physical science deals with phenomena and not faith."
On Faith: "Faith is a luminous star that leads the honest seeker into the mysteries of Nature. You must seek your point of gravity in God, and put your trust into an honest, divine, sincere, pure, and strong faith, and cling to it with your whole heart, soul, sense, and thought - full of love and confidence. If you possess such a faith, God (Wisdom) will not withhold His truth from you, but He will reveal His works to you credibly, visibly, and consolingly."
Three Principle Points: "Everything that happens takes place through the will of the Supreme. Conscience is the state which we have received from God, in which we should see our own image, and according to the dictates of which we should act, without attempting to discover reasons in the guidance of our life in regard to morals and virtues. We should do that which our conscience teaches, for no other reason but because our conscience teaches it. He who does not burn himself will not be burned by God, and God provided him with a conscience into which he may put his implicit trust. To learn from others, to accept the opinion of others, to act in a certain manner because others are acting in that way, is temptation. Therefore faith into the things of the earth should be based upon the Holy Scripture and upon the teachings of Christ, and it will then stand upon a firm basis.
Therefore we shall put the fundament and the corner-stone of our wisdom upon three principal points, which are: first, Prayer, or a strong desire and aspiration for that which is good. It is necessary that we should seek and knock, and thereby ask the Omnipotent Power within ourselves, and remind it of its promises and keep it awake, and if we do this in the proper form and with a pure and sincere heart, we shall receive that for which we ask, and find that which we seek, and the doors of the Eternal that have been closed before us will be opened, and what was hidden before our sight will come to light.
The next point is Faith: not a mere belief into something that may or may not be true, but a faith that is based upon knowledge, an unwavering confidence, a faith that may move mountains and throw them into the ocean, and to which everything is possible, as Christ has Himself testified.
The third point is Imagination. If this power is properly kindled in our soul, we will have no difficulty to make it harmonize with our faith. A person who is sunk into deep thought, and, so to say, drowned in his own soul, is like one who has lost his senses, and the world looks upon him as a fool. But in the consciousness of the Supreme he is wise, and he is, so to say, the confidential friend of God, knowing a great deal more of God's mysteries than all those that receive their superficial learning through the avenues of the senses; because he can reach God through his soul, Christ through faith, and attract the Holy Ghost through an exalted imagination. In this way we may grow to be like the Apostles, and to fear neither death nor prison, neither suffering nor torture, neither fatigue
nor hunger, nor anything else."
On Wandering: "The knowledge to which we are entitled is not confined within the limits of our own country, and does not run after us, but waits until we go in search of it. No one becomes a master of practical experience in his own house, neither will he find a teacher of the secrets of Nature in the corners of his room. We must seek for knowledge where we may expect to find it, and why should the man be despised who goes in search of it? Those who remain at home may live more comfortably, and grow richer than those who wander about; but I neither desire to live comfortably, nor do I wish to become rich. Happiness is better than riches, and happy is he who wanders about, possessing nothing that requires his care. He who wants to study the book of Nature must wander with his feet over its leaves. Books are studied by looking at the letters which they contain; Nature is studied by examining the contents of her treasure-vaults in every country. Every part of the world represents a page in the book of Nature, and all the pages together form the book that contains her great revelations."
On Reading: "Reading never made a physician. Medicine is an art, and requires practice. If it were sufficient to learn to talk Latin, Greek, and l Hebrew, to become a good physician, it would also be I sufficient for one to read Livius to become a great commander-in-chief. I began to study my art by imagining that there was not a single teacher in the world capable to teach it to me, but that I had to acquire it myself. It was the book of Nature, written by the finger of God, which I studied - not those of the scribblers, for each scribbler writes down the rubbish that may be found in his head; and who can sift the true from the false? My accusers complain that I have not entered the temple of knowledge through the "legitimate door." But which one is the truly legitimate door? Galenus and Avicenna, or Nature? I have entered through the door of Nature: her light, and not the lamp of an apothecary's shop has illuminated my way."
On Magic: "Magic and Sorcery are two entirely different things, and there is as much difference between them as there is between light and darkness, and between white and black. Magic is the greatest wisdom and the knowledge of supernatural powers. A knowledge of spiritual things cannot be obtained by merely reasoning logically from external appearances existing on the physical plane, but it may be acquired by obtaining more spirituality, and making one's self capable to feel and to see the things of the spirit.
On Healing: "Christ and the prophets and the apostles had magical powers, acquired less by their learning than by their holiness. They were able to heal the sick by the laying on of their hands and to perform many other wonderful but natural things. The clergymen talk a great deal about such things; but where is the priest of today who can do like Him? It has been said by Christ that His true followers would do the same things and still greater ones; but it would be difficult to find at present one Christian minister who can do anything as Christ did. But if anyone who is not a man-made minister comes and cures the sick by the power of Christ acting through him, they call him a sorcerer and a child of the devil, and are willing to burn him upon a stake."
On Dreams: " You should know that man has the capability (latent or active) to foresee future events and to read the future from the books of the past and from those of the present. Man also possesses a power by which he may see his friends and the circumstances by which they are surrounded, although such persons may be a thousand miles away from him at that time. This art is taught by the spiritual perception of man. It is a power which may become especially active in dreams, and that which is seen in such dreams is the reflection of the light of wisdom and prophecy in man. If a man in his waking state knows nothing of such things, the cause of his ignorance is that he does not understand how to search in himself for the powers that are given to him by God, and by which he may arrive at all the Wisdom, Reason, and Knowledge concerning everything that exists, whether it be near him or far away."
On Clairvoyance: "Sleeping is waking in regard to such arts, because it is the inner light of Nature that acts during sleep on the invisible man, who, notwithstanding his invisibility, is existing as truly as the visible one. The inner man is the natural man, and knows more than the one that is formed of flesh."
Preface to Paracelsus and the Substance of His Teaching, by Franz Hartmann, MD:
Recent researches in the ethereal realms of Mysticism,
Metaphysics,a nd transcendental Anthropology have proved
beyond a doubt the existence of a great number of apparently
mysterious and occult facts, whose causes cannot
be explained by a science whose means for investigation
are limited by the imperfections of sensual perception,
and whose researches must necessarily come to a stop
where physical instruments cease to be of any service.
Invisible things cannot be seen, neither can that which is
imponderable be weighed with scales; but invisible and
imponderable things, such as the cosmic ether, the light producing
power of the sun, the vital power of plants and
animals, thought, memory, imagination, will, psychological
influences affecting the state of the mind or producing a
sudden change of feeling, and other things too numerous
to mention, are nevertheless facts, and exist in spite of
the incapacity of teachers of anatomy or chemistry to
explain them. If a reasonable skeptic says that such
things do not exist, he can only mean to say that they
do not exist relatively to his knowledge ; because, to deny
the possibility of the existence of anything of which we
know nothing would imply that we imagined ourselves
to be in possession of all the knowledge that exists in the
world, and believed that nothing could exist of which we
did not know. A person who peremptorily denies the
of anything which is beyond the horizon of his
understanding because he cannot make it harmonize with
his accepted opinions is as credulous as he who believes
everything without any discrimination. Either of these
persons is not a freethinker, but a slave to the opinions
which he has accepted from others, or which he may have
formed in the course of his education, and by his special
experiences in his (naturally limited) intercourse with the
world. If such persons meet with any extraordinary fact
that is beyond their own experience, they often either
regard it with awe and wonder, and are ready to accept
any wild and improbable theory that may be offered to
them in regard to such facts, or they sometimes reject
the testimony of credible witnesses, and frequently even
that of their own senses. They often do not hesitate to
impute the basest motives and the most silly puerilities to
honourable persons, and are credulous enough to believe
that serious and wise people had taken the trouble to
play upon them "practical jokes/' and they are often
willing to admit the most absurd theories rather than to
use their own common sense.
It seems almost superfluous to make these remarks, as
perhaps none of our readers will be willing to be classified
into either of these two categories ; but nevertheless the
people to whom they may be applied are exceedingly
numerous, and by no means to be found only among the
ignorant and uneducated. On the contrary, it seems
that now, as at the time of the great Paracelsus, the three
(dis)graces of dogmatic science self-conceit, credulity,
and skepticism go still hand in hand, and that their
favorite places of residence are public auditories and
the private visiting-rooms of the learned.
It is difficult for the light of truth to penetrate into a
mind that is crammed full of opinions to"which it tenaciously
clings, and only those who accept the opinions of
others, not as their guides, but only as their assistants,
and are able to rise on the wings of their own unfettered
genius into the region of independent thought, may receive
the truth. Our modern age is not without such minds.
The world is moving in spirals, and our greatest modern
philosophers are nearing a place in their mental orbit
where they come again into conjunction with minds like
Pythagoras and Plato. Only the ignorant schoolboy believes
that he knows a great deal more than Socrates
and Aristotle because he may have learned some modern
opinions in regard to a few superficial things, or some
modern inventions, with which the philosophers of old may
not have been acquainted ; but if our modern scientists
know more about steam-engines and telegraphs than the
ancients did, the latter knew more about the powers that
move the world, and about the communication of thought
at a distance without the employment of visible means.
If the anatomist of to-day knows more about the details
of the anatomy of the physical body than the ancients,
the ancients knew more about the attributes and the
constitution of that power which organizes the physical
body, and of which the latter is nothing more than the
objective and visible representative. Modern science may
be successful in producing external appearances or manifestations
with which the ancients were not acquainted ;
the initiates into ancient sciences could create internal
causes of which modern science knows nothing whatever,
and which the latter will have to learn if it desires to
progress much further. There is no resting-place in the
evolution of the world. There is only progression and
retrogression, rising or falling. If we falter at the door
to the realm of the invisible, and dare not enter the
temple where the mysterious workshop of Nature exists,
we will sink still more into the mire of illusion, and lose
still more of the faculties necessary to perceive the things
of the soul. A member which is not used atrophies; a
faculty that is not actively employed is lost. If our whole
time and attention is taken up by the illusions of sense,
we will lose the power to perceive that which is supersensual;
the more we look at the surface, the less will
we know of the kernel ; the more we sink into matter,
the more will we become unconscious of the spirit which
is the life of all things.
But, fortunately for humanity, each evil carries its own
remedy in its bosom, each action is followed by a reaction,
and the progression of the world resembles the movements
of a pendulum that swings from one side to the
other, while it at the same time moves forward. Ages of
bigotry are followed by periods of thought that may end
in ages of skepticism; centuries of scientific or religious
ignorance, intolerance, and superstition lead to revolutions
of thought that may, again, end in atheism and crime ; but
each swing of the pendulum raises humanity a step higher
on the ladder of progression. When it reaches the point
of gravity, it would stop unless pushed on by the impulse
coming from one or the other extreme.
It seems that our age is nearing that neutral point
again. Blind "Materialism" has expended its powers ; it
may still have many pretended followers, but very few
that believe in it in their hearts. If there were any
persons who sincerely believed in it, and followed its
teachings to its last logical consequences, they would
necessarily end their days in jail or be driven to suicide ;
but the great majority of the advocates of Materialism
like the bigots of old theology, feel and think differently
from what they say: they deal out their theories to
others, but do not desire to use them themselves. Doubt,
the great enemy of true faith, is also the enemy of dogmatic
ignorance; it destroys all self-confidence, and
therefore impedes not only the power to do good in those
that are good, but it also weakens the poison of those
that do evil. The eyes of a world that stepped out from
a night of bigotry into the light of day were dazzled and
blinded for a while by the vain glitter of a pile of rubbish
and broken pots that had been collected by the advocates
of material science, who palmed it off for diamonds and
precious stones; but the world has recovered from the
effect of the glare, and realized the worthlessness of the
rubbish, and it again seeks for the less dazzling but
priceless light of the truth. Treasures that have long
been buried and hidden away from the sight of those
that were neither able to realize nor to appreciate their
value are now brought to light; pearls of ancient wisdom
are brought from the East ; fountains of knowledge that
have been for centuries closed up are again opened, and a
flood of light is thrown over things that appeared impossible,
mysterious, and occult.
As we dive into the ancient mysteries a new world
opens before us. The more we begin to understand the
language of the Adepts, the more grows our respect for
their wisdom. The more we become able to grasp their
ideas, the more grows our conception of man. The anatomy,
physiology, and psychology which they teach make
of man something immeasurably greater than the puny
and impotent being known to modern science as a compound
of bones, muscles, and nerves. Modern science
attempts to prove that man is an animal; the teachings
of the Adepts show that he may be a god. Modern
science invests him with the power to lift his own
weight; ancient science invests him with the power to
control the destiny of the world. Modern science allows
him to live for a very limited number of years ; ancient
science teaches that he has always existed, and will never
cease to exist if he desires to live. Modern science deals
with the instrument that the real man uses as long and
as often as he comes into relationship with the world of
phenomena, and she mistakes that instrument for the
man ; the Adepts show us the true nature of the essential
man, to whom one earthly existence is nothing more than
one of the many incidents of his eternal career.
There is an invisible universe within the visible one, a
world of causes within the world of effects. There is force
within matter, and the two are one, and are dependent
for their existence on a third, which is the mysterious
cause of their existence. There is a world of soul within
a world of matter, and the two are one, and caused by
the world of spirit. And within these worlds are other
worlds, visible and invisible ones. Some are known to
modern science; of others she does not even know that
they exist; for, as the material worlds of suns and planets
and stars, the worlds of animate and inanimate beings,
from man, the lord of creation, down to the microscopic
world with its countless inhabitants, can only be seen by
him who is in the possession of the powers necessary for
their perception, likewise the world of the soul and the
realms of the spirit can only be known to him whose
inner senses are awakened to life. The things of the
body are seen through the instrumentality of the body,
but the things of the soul require the power of spiritual
It is very natural that those who have not developed
the power of spiritual perception will not believe in-its
existence, because for them this faculty does not exist.
Therefore the outward reasoner is like a man who keeps
his eyes closed, and calls for proofs of the existence of
that which he cannot see ; while he who is able to see
with the eye of the soul or the intellect requires no other
proof that the things which he sees exist, and he is rightfully
entitled to speak authoritatively of his experience
in regard to that which is invisible to the majority, just
as a man who has returned from a previously unexplored
country is entitled to speak authoritatively about the
things which he has seen, and to describe his experiences;
while, as a matter of course, every listener has
the right to accept that which appears to him reasonable,
and to reject whatever goes beyond his capacity to understand;
but to deny the power of spiritual perception
because one does not possess it himself is as foolish and
arrogant as if a blind man were to deny to others the
power to see.
This power of spiritual perception, potentially contained
in every man, but developed in few, is almost
unknown to the guardians of science in our modern
civilization, because learning is often separated from
wisdom, and the calculating intellect seeking for worms
in the dark caverns of the earth cannot see the genius
that floats towards the light, and it cannot realize his
existence. And yet this ancient science, which the
moderns ignore, is perhaps as old as the world. It was
known to the ancient prophets, to the Arhats and Rishis
of the East, to initiated Brahmins, Egyptians, and Greeks.
Its fundamental doctrines are found in the Vedas as well
as in the Bible. Upon these doctrines rest the fundaments
of the religions of the world. They formed the
essence of the secrets that were revealed only to the
initiated in the inner temple where the ancient mysteries
were taught, and whose disclosure to the vulgar was forbidden
under the penalty of torture and death. They
were the secrets known to the ancient sages, and to the
Adepts and Rosicrucians of the Middle Ages, and upon a
partial understanding of their truths rests the system of
But it is a great error to suppose that the secrets of
the Alchemists can all be communicated by words or
signs, or be explained to any one who may be trusted
with them. The rendering of an explanation requires
the capacity to understand on the part of the receiver,
and where that power is absent all explanations, be they
ever so clear, will be in vain. It would be of little use
to explain the nature of a palm-tree to an Eskimo, who
living among icebergs, never saw a plant, or to describe
the construction of a dynamo-machine to an Australian
savage. A man entirely ignorant of all spiritual comprehension,
however well his intellectuality be developed,
will be in the same condition regarding the understanding
of spiritual things as the savage in regard to that
which belongs to modern civilization. In the spiritual
as well as in the sensual kingdom the perception is first,
and then comes the understanding. The greatest mysteries
are within our own self. He who knows himself
thoroughly knows God and all the mysteries of
nature. The doctrines resulting from true contemplation
are not to be confounded with speculative philosophy, that
reasons from the known to that which it cannot know,
trying by the flickering light of logic to grope its way
into the darkness, and to feel the objects which it cannot
see. These doctrines were taught by the children of light
who possessed the power to see. Such men were the
great religious reformers of all ages, from Confucius and
Zoroaster down to Jacob Boehme and Eckartshausen,
and their teachings have been verified by every one
whose purity of mind and whose power of intellect have
enabled him to see and to understand the things of the
Some of their doctrines refer to morals and ethics,
others are of a purely scientific character; but both
aspects of their teachings are intimately connected together,
because beauty cannot be separated from truth.
They both form the two pages of a leaf in the book of
universal Nature, whose understanding confers upon the
reader not merely opinions but knowledge, and renders
him not only learned but illuminated with wisdom.
Among those who have taught the moral aspect of the
secret doctrine, there are none greater than Buddha,
Plato, and Jesus of Nazareth; of those who have taught
its scientific aspect. there have been none more profound
than Hermes Trismegistus, Sankaracharya, Pythagoras,
and Paracelsus. They obtained their knowledge not
merely from following the prescribed methods of learning,
or by accepting the opinions of the
recognized gauthorities" of their times, but they studied
Nature by her own light, and becoming illuminated by the light of
Divine Nature, they became lights themselves, whose
rays illuminate the world of mind. What they taught
has been to a certain extent verified and amplified by
the teachings of Eastern Adepts, but many things about
which the latter have to this day kept a well-guarded
silence were revealed by Paracelsus three hundred years
ago. Paracelsus threw pearls before the swine, and was
by the ignorant, his reputation was torn by the dogs of envy
and hate, and he was treacherously killed by
his enemies. But although his physical body returned
to the elements out of which it was formed, his genius
still lives ; and as the eyes of the world become better
opened to an understanding of spiritual truths, he appears
like a star on the mental horizon, whose light is destined
to illuminate the world of occult science, and to penetrate
deep into the hearts of the coming generation, to warm
the soil out of which the science of the coming century
Transformation of Meaning
When I see a familiar thing without associations it looks strange. I see it in a new way. Its meaning is altered. If I can look at my friend without associations he seems strange. I see him in a new way. It is not perhaps too much to say that I scarcely recognize him for the moment. In the same way, walking down a corridor with an undetected mirror at the end I may not recognize the person walking towards me. He seems to be a stranger. I see myself without associations for a moment. Ordinarily when looking in a mirror we see ourselves through the veil of associations that we have about our appearance. The point is that when momentarily the veil of associations is stripped away, something happens. What happens? Everything becomes alive. If you can by sufficient practice relax from the Personality, which is where the network of associations lies, and from, let me add, the wrong feeling of 'I', you find yourself in a different world - a world of another meaning. Actually the world is the same, but your reception of the impressions from it is different and so it's meaning is different. When you are relaxed from Personality and Imaginary 'I' things are close to you. They speak to you. You are then truly taking in impressions. Impressions are falling on Essence. The level of Essence is higher than that of Personality. We understand that a higher level receives greater meaning. Now when you are blessed - that is, when you are relaxed from the Personality - you feel the intimacy of everything around you, as if things realized they could go on playing and you would not be angry. If you get angry you cannot relax from the Personality. Or it is as if you and everything around you felt quite suddenly at ease and something could creep out from each object and show itself alive to you. ~ And then suddenly life slams the Personality back into its place and everything is dead.
by Jim Burns, from his book At Home With the Inner Self
Starting as a child you seek guidance outside yourself because you know no better and you don't have the brain to even imagine being a source of your own guidance. Everyone wants to belong, and when you are a child you want to belong to all of the idiots who don't think, which is the whole crux of the problem. Ultimately your own system is the guidance you're seeking and is perfectly attuned to your circumstance.
In the short of it, without knowing it, a child thinks that its parents are god. Only later does the brain develop to the point where the child can have a concept of god, beyond the concept of parents. You must constantly keep this in mind when dealing with young children, because if you are harsh or strong with them, they think "god" is attacking them. They think god is all knowing, they think god' s knowledge is absolute and infallible. So if god is attacking them, they must be evil. The reason you have to be careful with them is because they can fall into thinking they are evil and never know what happened.
This carries into adulthood and when people throw god out the window. It is because they cannot stand the pressure of feeling worthless, useless, evil, and they have to throw away the thing that is making them feel that way. When one has the concept of an all-powerful god, and one sees people who are casting you upon yourself, and making you feel inferior, guilty, worthless, useless, evil, you have to throw away the concept as worthless. You are going to try and maintain your own sense of worth. You get to the point of not being able to tolerate the thought of not seeing an end to it all. The "devil" exists because of frustration. The real black forces of this earth are the pent-up forces of frustration. The desire to be positive forced to be negative. It's a half-truth based on ignorance, and a half-truth can be more dangerous than ignorance.
We are born with fantasies. The child believes his parents are god, and they are exactly equal to the job. The first time he suffers any discomfort, he can't make any sense of it. It is in complete violation to the way his mind works. The reason they give you the idea of "god on high" is because when you were a child you lived in a land of giants. One of the most important things you can do with your children is to get down on the floor and play with them. When you are a child, you have to get someone to do everything for you because you aren't big enough. The child is constantly pursued by the questions: Am I doing all right?; Am I holding my end up? When you hold your end up as an adult, you don't question it, you know it. There's something radically wrong there. I can remember these things very clearly. The mind of a young child is a gold mine. If you want to see where the main event is, just look.
The newborn infant only has wriggling and crying to signal that it wants something. The infant's mind frame is one in which it knows of nothing but itself. Everything is itself - the room, the world, the people, and it is the source of its own fulfillment. In the best situation, the mother figure, whoever is taking care of the child, has to be someone who doesn't have an inner revulsion to expressions of individuality. Most do and cannot tolerate individuality, because it reminds them of the fact that they were not allowed individuality.
If the mother figure has a positive attitude toward the child and with experience is sensitive to the child's needs and wants and provides them, then the child starts off life with acquiring the attitude of achieving success in what it wants. This attitude forms the basis for the rest of life. It can form an attitude of being the one in control, of getting what it wants. That is the whole issue and it starts at the very beginning.
This is not spoiling the child. You cannot spoil a child. What people call spoiling a child, is the parent forcing the child into the desires of the parent and which are the ones he's allowed to have. It is forcing the child to put all his desires into a particular pattern the parent decides upon. That's why the "spoiled child" always has fits and tantrums. It is because he is forced into a false self and is not allowed to be his real self. You cannot fulfill a false self. The spoiled child occurs from coddling and creating desires that are not real in the child. They are fantasies and are only real in the parent's own mind. The child is only allowed to want what they want it to want. That's the whole problem in a nutshell. The kid never gets what he wants, but only what he was allowed to want. After awhile he no longer knows what he wants, and only frustration remains.
It all starts in the mind set of the person tending the child. If they can't tolerate "joie de vivre! ", let go and let go, let her rip!, the rage to live... If they can't tolerate it and almost none of them can tolerate it, then they just put a pillow on the child's face, no matter what it looks like, and that's the end of that.
Parents beat their children because it is very well learned. They've spent their entire life beating themselves. You can't really separate between yourself and the child. There's no real guilt or pain involved in it, because in your inner mind you are chastising yourself - for things, I might add, the child may not have even done. You project some failure of your own into the pattern, you never see it objectively.
The reason we are so long in raising children is that their brain has not developed the ability to answer to themselves. You are actually an effective part of their brain. You have to do their thinking for them, because they don't have the ability to do it themselves but the need. It is a tremendous and terrible task.
You have a child, and the child is sick and you do not recognize the sickness, as was the case with me. The child from that person cannot experience release from the sickness. The child hungers for the release from its sickness without knowing that it is the need for the other person's mind in its life, to do what it can't do yet. The child without exception is being denied the presence of another person in them and they in the other. Honorably to do so is the right thing for the child. Honorably is the big word.
The child by design sees itself as others see it. If the child is seen as good and well, the child sees itself as good and well. Most of us darn near had none of being seen as good and well. The result is that most of us carry an unnamed burden throughout our lives. It generates the sense that there is something wrong here. The question of there being something wrong here is what ends up being answered to.
The work of childhood is play. The minute the play doesn't have that genuine sparkle and vivacity, they are off the track. It has to be an on-going and constant thing because the child cannot stand the frustration. Children keep dealing with something until it is over. Many traumas that occur in childhood aren't retained as psychological difficulties, but resolved right as they happen. Most serious things are post-pubescent.
It doesn't take much positive reinforcement in the average child for them to reach the point of feeling good about themselves. But if one runs into a negative aura in the father or mother, if the parent is the type of person who is so upset that they can't want to give the attention that is needed, they can' t want to and there' s nothing they can do about it. The child will spend its life looking for an acceptance that even if it finds, won't fill them up. I call this negative impression on the child "imprinting." Imprinting is an over-riding subconscious determining factor.
The thing about people who are really divorced from themselves is that they possess an almost psychic ability, being careful by what I mean by psychic. They know how to hurt. They are able through the bond that exists between parents and children, for instance, to be sensitive to when an action on their part will hurt the most. They will pick the moment when you are ripe and hit you. It is uncanny.
An odd thing is that female to male imprinting is seldom accomplished, but when it is it is very obvious. The female needs the constant presence and acceptance of a male figure. The female, in my mind, is never capable of self-determination. It is always through the male figure. It is because of their dependent role, I think. I think it is chemical.
When I see a woman who is headstrong, self-determined, independent, this is all hostility in my mind. The difference between arrogance and humility is hostility in anybody. In women it is hostility over the fact that they never felt wanted securely by their male imprinters. It could be a father, an older brother, an uncle. The odd thing about it is that this state can transpire in a woman for forty years, and then they find a man and it can completely turn around, which is the unusual thing about it. I've seen it happen several times. Unlike men, they can turn around. If men do not get a favorable imprint by the time they are two years old, there's nothing you can do about it. If a man doesn't get favorably imprinted as a child, he ends up constantly trying to control his environment. They are motivated by a desire to "engineer" in people. They want to be the pope.
If you haven't spent a minimum of fifty hours thinking about the mother-child relationship, you aren't going to have a nickel's worth of sense about what is really going on. You can't understand psychology until you understand the mother-child relationship. You see yourself as others see you, period. That is what the mother-child relationship is all about. If you don' t get treated right from the start, you never get started. It doesn't matter if you live to be a hundred, or what any therapist can do. If it isn't done right in the beginning, it's never done right. It starts with the first minute of birth and probably before.
Ideally when the infant demonstrates that it wants something to change in its environment, someone is there who understands what the child wants and sees that the child gets it. Mostly at the beginning, this is physical manipulation. Importantly the person responsible to the child should be someone who does not have a deep-seated objection to independence, their own or anybody else's. It's all there in the first six months for most people. If the string of ego reinforcement, ego encouragement, ego building and ego support is broken at anytime between then and thirty, you are still in trouble. That's how precarious it is. Nobody will make it through if it isn't - and people talk of a "beneficent god!"
The child-like state is the state that every human alive is trying to get to. When I was about twelve, I came to the conclusion that adults were insane. They were as rammy as billy goats, and so is everyone I've ever met. Until I meet an adult with the flowering feeling and drive of a young child, I will know I've never met a sane person.
There is a big difference between childish and child-like. The general state of consciousness of the child is a state that we would label euphoric. The child avoids any training that tries to burst his balloon. In our education system, all so-called learning is imposed upon the kids from without and they hate it. If the desire to learn something comes from within, the kid will devour whatever it is.
School was totally divorced from my questions. That's why I hated it. I had so many unanswered questions that I was hanging from the ceiling by my toenails. In my last year of high school, I didn't go to five classes. I'd come to school two classes late, and then hang out in the hall and smoke a pack of cigarettes. A Catholic Brother would then come out and tell me I had another million years of detention. I could pass the tests, but couldn't stand sitting in some class with some guy telling me how important an apostrophe was in a sentence, while meanwhile I'm feeling like my insides are falling out. I had no one to talk to, so I had to get my answers from the inside. I was an excellent student until I got into this, and then I didn't care if the place burned down. To me, I had to totally understand everything I studied. I didn't memorize. I had to follow my own master. There was absolutely nothing in this world I could permit to be more important.
I escaped into my mind from a world I couldn't stand. I forced myself to think. I started out with a blank page and everyone who comes up with something new does the same thing. I learned to notice when something important went by in my mind. I stopped everything, even if it took hours, to track it back down and follow it up. After a year or so of this, I never missed anything. I came to the conclusion that I had to find all my answers from within, that I wasn't going to get them from anyone else.
People were making me so miserable that I had to learn what made their heads tick. I had to do it with no fantasy involved and strictly and clearly see what made them operate. At the time I had never heard the word "psychology." I had never heard of Freud. When I fully understood people to my own satisfaction, and still it brought about no relief, it caused my inner death. I went to the other side.
Sometimes analysts claim that people or children imagine that they were abused and that this is the source of their problems. No one ever imagines they were abused. There could be a family of sixteen kids with only one that became a psychiatric patient. All the psychiatrist would say is that it was genetic. It wouldn't be genetic; he was the one that was used. He was the one that got all of the kicks. I can never be convinced that anyone can imagine that they were abused. If it is a hundred to one of people saying that he had a good home and the like, it's not possible that he wasn't abused.
* * * * *
Everyone has a built-in longing for
well, check your own feeling and fill in the word or phrase that describes it best for you. I would say "completion." Or I might borrow Franklin Merrell-Wolff's phrase, "full Satisfaction."
When a person realizes that no external pursuit or acquisition is going to provide true satisfaction, there's only one remaining possibility, and that's going within to find what one's searching for. Meditation is the process of going within, which ultimately leads to discovery of our real self our true state of being and the end of the feeling of being incomplete.
Going-within meditation involves backing away from faulty beliefs about one's identity. This requires becoming conscious of what you believe yourself to be and then looking for evidence that supports or denies those beliefs. The crux of the distinction between self and other, or self and not self, is the distinction between subject and object, between viewer and view. You're looking to know the knower, the subject and anything that becomes an object of consciousness can immediately be disqualified. Since we're looking to know the knower, there's an obvious paradox here that can only be transcended if it's possible to go beyond relative knowing to a state of absolute being.
Rest and relaxation are necessary ingredients for a healthy life, but to be a process of self-inquiry, meditation needs to be confrontational not restful. It also needs to be observational. Consider what a person may say when first asked what they believe themselves to be. They're likely to begin with something relational (I'm my parents' child, my spouse's partner, my child's parent, and so forth) or something they do (I'm a student, an employee, an employer, and so on). When reminded that those aren't self-definitions, they're likely to zero in on some variation of "I'm this body with its consciousness and memories." If they say: "I'm a soul" or "I'm a collection of molecules" it's going to be a long row for them to hoe, since they're afraid to face the facts of life and death and have buried their heads in the sands of wishful thinking.
Nobody wants to do the necessary work involved with self-definition, and everyone tries to find a way to skip directly to the expected reward. It doesn't come that way, though. Conceptually the going-within process is simple but ultimately unexplainable, since it relies on seeming accidents. Like learning algebra, for example, we struggle to comprehend what x, the unknown, represents. Sometimes the answer comes in a flash, sometimes it just becomes intuitively obvious, and sometimes the aspirant never gets it.
When we "get" the algebra of self-inquiry, we realize that we're looking for the self and anything in the view is not the self. Therefore self-inquiry becomes a process of looking. Or, to use a more neutral term, observing. We're constructed to look outward, and the farthest out we generally identify as our self is the body. Our common sense tells us that even without our fingers or toes we'd still be here, and that agrees with the self-inquiry algebra law that what's in the view is not our essential self. But if we consider the part of the body from the neck up, doubt comes into play. Doubt, by the way, is our greatest ally in self-inquiry. Would I still be here if my head were lopped off? We may not be ready to test that observation yet. But why does that question arise? Because we're thinking about thinking. In other words, when observation moves inward a bit like retracting the zoomed-out lens on our camera we become identified with thoughts. If someone asks us if we can observe our thoughts, we may say no. But since we can remember some of our thoughts, that's a clue that thoughts are being observed and recorded even though we're not conscious of it.
Becoming aware that we're able to watch thoughts may come as an accident as when we're caught up watching a film and suddenly remember we're sitting in a theater watching the film. When it occurs, the lens of our camera has receded back a step. We know then that we're not our thoughts.
Feelings are entangled with what we generally refer to as thoughts, and since they're often sensed as occurring in various body locations, we may need to go through a separate process of detachment from identification with them. A little investigation into the basic description of how the nervous system functions will show us that we perceive a feeling in much the same fashion as we perceive a tree: something affects a nerve ending near the surface of the body, which causes a series of electrochemical reactions to travel up the nerve pathway to the brain, where a picture of a tree or the sensation of a feeling mysteriously appears in consciousness. When we're talking about an emotion type of feeling, some stimulus had produced a reaction that may then be felt as located in some area of the body, but again the feeling appears mysteriously in consciousness. In any case, since they're observable, we're not our feelings. What then are we if not our thoughts or feelings and not our body (at least not parts that aren't essential to support consciousness)?
An irritation that keeps us looking for what we are, or a conscious strategy that fills in the gaps when irritation isn't present, is necessary to maintain the self-inquiry as it becomes more abstract. We may try to skip to consciousness itself as our self-definition, but if we do so we'll need to come back to something not as far within and that's the belief in being the decider in charge of doing. Symptoms of this belief are statements we tell ourselves such as: "If I don't make the right decision, there will be a price to pay," and "If I stopped making decisions, all action would come to a halt."
Generally we don't become aware of decisions unless there's prolonged conflict between various desires and fears. But if someone asks us, or we ask ourselves, why we did or didn't do something, we can often remember parts of a decision-making process that led to the witnessed results. The fact that we remember some of the details indicates that they're being observed and recorded even when we're not particularly conscious of it. But this indirect evidence may not be sufficient to convince our self-inquiry algebra that we're not doing it, that we're not the decision-making process. It may require an accidental retraction of the camera lens so that we consciously view decision-making as it's occurring in order for the fact to sink in that the process is observable and, therefore, not us. What does that leave then in our bag of beliefs about what we are? Are we ready to tackle consciousness itself?
If we define ourselves as consciousness, then we're faced with saying that we're something that comes and goes with the waking state and the dreaming state. This is liable to lead us back to our belief that we're the body, with its waking, dreaming and non-dreaming sleep states. But to believe that requires that we take somebody else's word for the body's existence during sleep. And other people, with their testimony, are appearances in our consciousness. Since we know nothing directly about their existence, they have the same merits as any other objects of consciousness our thoughts, for example. No matter how believable, their testimony is not acceptable evidence in the court of self-inquiry algebra.
To find what we're looking for, which could also be described as ultimate certainty about what we are, we cannot rely on any external authority, no matter how much value we place on it. We must become our own authority. When we have peeled away the outer layers of what we once believed ourselves to be and are left with a belief in "this individual consciousness," we seem to come up against an impenetrable barrier. Is it possible to go any further within?
I can see that I'm not my thoughts or feelings and that I'm not the decision-maker or causal agent of my body's actions (since I can observe thoughts, feelings, and decision-making). If I'm my body with its consciousness, then I'm something that was born and is going to die. I have a feeling, which might be wishful thinking or it might be intuition, that I'm not going to cease existing although I have to admit that I can't actually conceive of nonexistence. The closest I can come is to imagine a bodiless awareness with no sensation or perception, perhaps limited to endless memory replay or even witnessing a blank screen. Even the state of dreamless sleep is beyond my conscious imagination. So let me come back to consciousness as the only object of continued self-inquiry. What can I observe of consciousness?
Since consciousness appears to come and go, I can deduce that it's similar to a kitchen appliance. I can also inductively reason that something switches it on and off, and it has a power source that energizes it. Self-inquiry then might lead me to ask myself what is the source of consciousness. That very question latched onto my mind one time when I was on a solitary retreat. It stayed with me for a couple days, being the first thought on my mind when I awoke in the morning, the last thought as I went to sleep at night, and a recurring thought throughout the day. And an answer came to me one afternoon as I sat down on a tree stump in the woods. It came in the form of a simple vision or picture in my mind, where I saw that I was connected to something bigger than myself at the end of a long string. The picture satisfied the question, which then evaporated.
Another clue about consciousness didn't occur to me until years later. The reason I was identified with the body and its consciousness, both in its dreaming and waking states, was that in addition to being conscious, I knew that I was conscious. That self-consciousness, with its associated fears as well as prides, didn't appear until a few years after the body's birth. So there are two observable facts: I feel or believe that I'm what's conscious what's looking outward and is aware of the cosmos, the exterior of this body, its thoughts, feelings, decision-making, and so on and I'm also what's aware of that outward-looking awareness. This second me is inward looking. I can say that I'm a composite of the outward looking and the inward looking, but that's at the conceptual level. At the level of observation, I'm one or the other at any moment. Either I'm aware of being what's looking outward or I'm aware of being what's looking inward. Thus I firmly believe, although it may be hard to admit to myself, that there are two me's. But I also believe that to be nonsense, that there's only one me.
If you persist with self-inquiry, you'll arrive at a final opposition or contradiction in your beliefs about what you are. Continued persistence in the face of the seemingly insoluble final opposition will burn out or blow out the resistance circuitry that prevents individual consciousness of awareness. The power source what you really are has always been self-aware, and now by some mysterious discontinuity, the appliance becomes a conscious mirror of self-awareness.
A Practical Guide
Establish a daily meditation time. Establishing and maintaining a daily meditation habit may be your biggest battle. "How much time?" you may be thinking. How important to you is knowing what you are, of finding completion, of transcending life and death? An hour, for example, is 6% of a day in your waking life. What investment is pursuit of life's highest goal with no guarantee of success worth to you?
Self-inquiry meditation can be done sitting or walking. Lying down generally leads to sleep. It works best to find a place where there's no distraction. It may take some time before you build a reservoir of mental energy to make productive use of the time without becoming lost in thought for extended periods. As for any worthwhile goal, energy needs to be conserved from other activities and channeled into self-inquiry. Meditating after a meal is generally tough because brain activity is being affected by digestion. These are a few of the factors that you'll need to experiment with to find out what helps and what hinders self-inquiry.
When you begin each meditation period, remind yourself why you're doing it. If you don't remember your worded goal (to know the Self, become the Truth, or however your phrase it), feel the feeling that propels the search the hole in the chest, the longing. Then recall where you ended up the previous day. A journal helps greatly so that you're not dependent on a memory that's subject to painting the picture erroneously. The journal should document what beliefs you have about what you are, which ones you've worked on and have seen through, and which one you're currently investigating.
Beliefs about what we are aren't all that unique, but typically we haven't tried to put them into definite form. Working with others can be tremendously useful in bringing the beliefs into view and in questioning them. The basic operation during meditation is one of looking. We look (or whatever sensory analogy makes sense to you) until the belief is verified or invalidated. Thinking about what you see and your feelings about it are more material for observation.
Finding the real self is looking until what's looking is known.
Work diligently for the beauty of working, but don't strain. It's a fascinating mystery to solve. Look with light-hearted curiosity. Look for insights into your behavior. Look (feel, listen, etc.) then relax. It's the most natural thing in the world.
 From his magnificent poem "Nirvana" in the autobiographical Pathways Through to Space.
 The word comes from the Arabic al-jabr, (the science of) reuniting.
 A reader asked me why it was a long string that separated me from my source. My response was that I wasn't ready at the time to see how closer than close that source-self is.
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An Example of Effortful Meditation
Let's try to distinguish between substance and appearance.
The mind and senses discriminate the appearance of objects of experience from each other using patterns of sensory conditions: size, color, sound, feel, smell, weight, boundaries, warmth, etc. And we assume that the characteristics of each object are the object and that our senses are merely receiving external data about it. That these objects do not exist except to the mind of the experiencer is not and cannot be discovered by using the senses which tell us that the objects do exist.
An example is the "wave" created at the stadium by people standing and sitting in turn. We see a wave, moving, but this wave only exists to our sense of sight; its only substance is people, standing and sitting. The wave is merely an appearance.
The people too are only the appearance caused by the body's cells, and their version of "standing and sitting."
The cells also are only the appearance caused by molecules "standing and sitting."
...the molecules by atoms,
...the atoms by subatomic particles,
...the subatomic "particles" are not really particles at all!
...they are waves in what appears to be nothing, to the mind,
...this apparent nothing is in fact the only real substance!
But it is not within the ability of the senses to comprehend this Real Substance which is at the heart of all objects of experience because it has no characteristics that can be perceived: no size, no limits or boundaries, no color, no texture, no odor, no motion (which are attributes of the senses themselves).
Knowing that to be true is the real Knowledge. Recognition of this situation can free us from the illusion of the world as real and present the possibility of our knowing the real nature of all existence to be a transcendental essence.
This liberation from the world of illusion and knowledge of the reality is enlightenment. Liberation then is not an experience. Real, doubtless knowledge alone is the essence of it. This is why liberation is always referred to as Knowledge, Jnana, Vidya, Self knowledge - and the sage as the knower of reality.
This is the supreme knowledge, the perfect knowledge.
Self realization comes when we Identify with the Eternal Omnipresent Existent, and recognize that as our innermost essence, our Soul, our Self.
To see the Real as our true Self is to become the universe.
Effortless Meditation: A Practice of "Letting Go"
Whatever your technique of meditation, Zen, Mindfulness, TM, etc., effortlessness of practice will increase its effectiveness.
Usually we think "I am thinking" or "doing" or "feeling" or even "I am my thoughts, and my feelings, and my actions." And with that identification comes suffering.
The value of effortless meditation is that it is a pleasant, relaxing practice that loosens identification with thoughts and feelings, releases stress resulting in health benefits, and awakens subtle levels of awareness which leads to the experience of Transcendental or Pure Consciousness.
Just what does effortless mean? NO EFFORT! We sit down with the intention to do our technique, but then we "do" nothing! We welcome whatever happens as it comes. Just like remembering and forgetting a name or phone number, we remember our technique automatically.
To meditate effortlessly, sit comfortably with closed eyes for a moment. Thoughts and feelings and bodily sensations will arise within your awareness without effort on your part. Then you will remember that you are sitting there to meditate, and that remembering will be effortless ("Oh..."). That is one repetition of the effortless meditative cycle. At this point it is important to not try to "do" your meditation technique! This faint remembering is enough. Then, after a few moments, you will become lost in thought for a while until you again remember "Oh...", which continues the cycle.
To keep your meditation effortlessness, REMEMBER!
NO MENTAL OR VOCAL VERBALIZATIONS
NO RESISTANCE TO ANYTHING THAT COMES
IT'S A NATURAL, AUTOMATIC PROCESS
IN PRACTICE WE SIT LIKE THIS FOR 15 OR 20 MINUTES, TWICE A DAY.
For a brief interview with Mike from the DVD Closer Than Close, click here:
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by Marcus Aurelius
Begin the morning by saying to thyself, I shall meet with the busy-body, the ungrateful, arrogant, deceitful, envious, unsocial. All these things happen to them by reason of their ignorance of what is good and evil. But I who have seen the nature of the good that it is beautiful, and of the bad that it is ugly, and the nature of him who does wrong, that it is akin to me, not only of the same blood or seed, but that it participates in the same intelligence and the same portion of the divinity, I can neither be injured by any of them, for no one can fix on me what is ugly, nor can I be angry with my kinsman, nor hate him, For we are made for co-operation, like feet, like hands, like eyelids, like the rows of the upper and lower teeth. To act against one another then is contrary to nature; and it is acting against one another to be vexed and to turn away.
Whatever this is that I am, it is a little flesh and breath, and the ruling part. Throw away thy books; no longer distract thyself: it is not allowed; but as if thou wast now dying, despise the flesh; it is blood and bones and a network, a contexture of nerves, veins, and arteries. See the breath also, what kind of a thing it is, air, and not always the same, but every moment sent out and again sucked in. The third then is the ruling part: consider thus: Thou art an old man; no longer let this be a slave, no longer be pulled by the strings like a puppet to unsocial movements, no longer either be dissatisfied with thy present lot, or shrink from the future.
All that is from the gods is full of Providence. That which is from fortune is not separated from nature or without an interweaving and involution with the things which are ordered by Providence. From thence all things flow; and there is besides necessity, and that which is for the advantage of the whole universe, of which thou art a part. But that is good for every part of nature which the nature of the whole brings, and what serves to maintain this nature. Now the universe is preserved, as by the changes of the elements so by the changes of things compounded of the elements. Let these principles be enough for thee, let them always be fixed opinions. But cast away the thirst after books, that thou mayest not die murmuring, but cheerfully, truly, and from thy heart thankful to the gods.
Remember how long thou hast been putting off these things, and how often thou hast received an opportunity from the gods, and yet dost not use it. Thou must now at last perceive of what universe thou art a part, and of what administrator of the universe thy existence is an efflux, and that a limit of time is fixed for thee, which if thou dost not use for clearing away the clouds from thy mind, it will go and thou wilt go, and it will never return.
Every moment think steadily as a Roman and a man to do what thou hast in hand with perfect and simple dignity, and feeling of affection, and freedom, and justice; and to give thyself relief from all other thoughts. And thou wilt give thyself relief, if thou doest every act of thy life as if it were the last, laying aside all carelessness and passionate aversion from the commands of reason, and all hypocrisy, and self-love, and discontent with the portion which has been given to thee. Thou seest how few the things are, the which if a man lays hold of, he is able to live a life which flows in quiet, and is like the existence of the gods; for the gods on their part will require nothing more from him who observes these things.
Do wrong to thyself, do wrong to thyself, my soul; but thou wilt no longer have the opportunity of honouring thyself. Every man's life is sufficient. But thine is nearly finished, though thy soul reverences not itself but places thy felicity in the souls of others.
Do the things external which fall upon thee distract thee? Give thyself time to learn something new and good, and cease to be whirled around. But then thou must also avoid being carried about the other way. For those too are triflers who have wearied themselves in life by their activity, and yet have no object to which to direct every movement, and, in a word, all their thoughts.
Through not observing what is in the mind of another a man has seldom been seen to be unhappy; but those who do not observe the movements of their own minds must of necessity be unhappy.
This thou must always bear in mind, what is the nature of the whole, and what is my nature, and how this is related to that, and what kind of a part it is of what kind of a whole; and that there is no one who hinders thee from always doing and saying the things which are according to the nature of which thou art a part.
Theophrastus, in his comparison of bad acts- such a comparison as one would make in accordance with the common notions of mankind- says, like a true philosopher, that the offences which are committed through desire are more blameable than those which are committed through anger. For he who is excited by anger seems to turn away from reason with a certain pain and unconscious contraction; but he who offends through desire, being overpowered by pleasure, seems to be in a manner more intemperate and more womanish in his offences. Rightly then, and in a way worthy of philosophy, he said that the offence which is committed with pleasure is more blameable than that which is committed with pain; and on the whole the one is more like a person who has been first wronged and through pain is compelled to be angry; but the other is moved by his own impulse to do wrong, being carried towards doing something by desire.
Since it is possible that thou mayest depart from life this very moment, regulate every act and thought accordingly. But to go away from among men, if there are gods, is not a thing to be afraid of, for the gods will not involve thee in evil; but if indeed they do not exist, or if they have no concern about human affairs, what is it to me to live in a universe devoid of gods or devoid of Providence? But in truth they do exist, and they do care for human things, and they have put all the means in man's power to enable him not to fall into real evils. And as to the rest, if there was anything evil, they would have provided for this also, that it should be altogether in a man's power not to fall into it. Now that which does not make a man worse, how can it make a man's life worse? But neither through ignorance, nor having the knowledge, but not the power to guard against or correct these things, is it possible that the nature of the universe has overlooked them; nor is it possible that it has made so great a mistake, either through want of power or want of skill, that good and evil should happen indiscriminately to the good and the bad. But death certainly, and life, honour and dishonour, pain and pleasure, all these things equally happen to good men and bad, being things which make us neither better nor worse. Therefore they are neither good nor evil.
How quickly all things disappear, in the universe the bodies themselves, but in time the remembrance of them; what is the nature of all sensible things, and particularly those which attract with the bait of pleasure or terrify by pain, or are noised abroad by vapoury fame; how worthless, and contemptible, and sordid, and perishable, and dead they are- all this it is the part of the intellectual faculty to observe. To observe too who these are whose opinions and voices give reputation; what death is, and the fact that, if a man looks at it in itself, and by the abstractive power of reflection resolves into their parts all the things which present themselves to the imagination in it, he will then consider it to be nothing else than an operation of nature; and if any one is afraid of an operation of nature, he is a child. This, however, is not only an operation of nature, but it is also a thing which conduces to the purposes of nature. To observe too how man comes near to the deity, and by what part of him, and when this part of man is so disposed.
Nothing is more wretched than a man who traverses everything in a round, and pries into the things beneath the earth, as the poet says, and seeks by conjecture what is in the minds of his neighbours, without perceiving that it is sufficient to attend to the daemon within him, and to reverence it sincerely. And reverence of the daemon consists in keeping it pure from passion and thoughtlessness, and dissatisfaction with what comes from gods and men. For the things from the gods merit veneration for their excellence; and the things from men should be dear to us by reason of kinship; and sometimes even, in a manner, they move our pity by reason of men's ignorance of good and bad; this defect being not less than that which deprives us of the power of distinguishing things that are white and black.
Though thou shouldst be going to live three thousand years, and as many times ten thousand years, still remember that no man loses any other life than this which he now lives, nor lives any other than this which he now loses. The longest and shortest are thus brought to the same. For the present is the same to all, though that which perishes is not the same; and so that which is lost appears to be a mere moment. For a man cannot lose either the past or the future: for what a man has not, how can any one take this from him? These two things then thou must bear in mind; the one, that all things from eternity are of like forms and come round in a circle, and that it makes no difference whether a man shall see the same things during a hundred years or two hundred, or an infinite time; and the second, that the longest liver and he who will die soonest lose just the same. For the present is the only thing of which a man can be deprived, if it is true that this is the only thing which he has, and that a man cannot lose a thing if he has it not.
Remember that all is opinion. For what was said by the Cynic Monimus is manifest: and manifest too is the use of what was said, if a man receives what may be got out of it as far as it is true.
The soul of man does violence to itself, first of all, when it becomes an abscess and, as it were, a tumour on the universe, so far as it can. For to be vexed at anything which happens is a separation of ourselves from nature, in some part of which the natures of all other things are contained. In the next place, the soul does violence to itself when it turns away from any man, or even moves towards him with the intention of injuring, such as are the souls of those who are angry. In the third place, the soul does violence to itself when it is overpowered by pleasure or by pain. Fourthly, when it plays a part, and does or says anything insincerely and untruly. Fifthly, when it allows any act of its own and any movement to be without an aim, and does anything thoughtlessly and without considering what it is, it being right that even the smallest things be done with reference to an end; and the end of rational animals is to follow the reason and the law of the most ancient city and polity.
Of human life the time is a point, and the substance is in a flux, and the perception dull, and the composition of the whole body subject to putrefaction, and the soul a whirl, and fortune hard to divine, and fame a thing devoid of judgement. And, to say all in a word, everything which belongs to the body is a stream, and what belongs to the soul is a dream and vapour, and life is a warfare and a stranger's sojourn, and after-fame is oblivion. What then is that which is able to conduct a man? One thing and only one, philosophy. But this consists in keeping the daemon within a man free from violence and unharmed, superior to pains and pleasures, doing nothing without purpose, nor yet falsely and with hypocrisy, not feeling the need of another man's doing or not doing anything; and besides, accepting all that happens, and all that is allotted, as coming from thence, wherever it is, from whence he himself came; and, finally, waiting for death with a cheerful mind, as being nothing else than a dissolution of the elements of which every living being is compounded. But if there is no harm to the elements themselves in each continually changing into another, why should a man have any apprehension about the change and dissolution of all the elements? For it is according to nature, and nothing is evil which is according to nature.
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The Human Radio Review by
WHATS IN THE AIR, from June 1934s The WhisperVancourier to the Voice
We all possess a human radio as part of the marvelous organic equipment with which we have been endowed by the Creator; we possess it whether we know it or not, and whether we believe it or not. All of us use it in some degree, knowingly or unknowingly. It is a tragedy that men who could most benefit the world by its use, throw a monkey-wrench into their own machinery and have throughout history made it as difficult as possible for the most highly developed human radios to function without being stoned to death or thrown into a madhouse.
Ordinary radios have their own territory of reception, and amplify, at the will of their owners, any program being broadcasted at the time within those limits. To know whats on the air, one need but to consult the various radio reviews, or the radio section of the daily paper. These assist one in tuning in to programs which otherwise he would never know were on the air unless he spent his entire time at the radio manipulating it from one end of the dial to the other, hearing only fragments of each program. But inasmuch as these programs have been designed and are being executed knowingly by men, their intentions can be scheduled and announced.
With the human radio, however, man can only listen in to what he is able to catch. All of Nature broadcasts continuously and permanently, retaining all history in her memory, and man, though its crowning blossom on earth, and the hands by means of which she may serve herself, is after all but a part of the Whole. He is the divine child that sprang from the union of the Creative Spirit that we call God with the body of material things that we call Nature. In this cocoon of mortal flesh a human soul is born, and man, seeing only the flesh, thinks that the birth of the soul is the end of all when it casts off its chrysalis, the human body, whose only purpose is as the shroud of incubation that insulates and preserves the individualized spec of Life until its transformation from a worm to a butterfly is complete.
Until then its wings cannot be used, but they are developing though unseen. And what would be the result if the butterfly refused to develop its wings because it could find no use for them in its cocoon? And it is thus with unseen, neglected faculties of the human mind, without which we would be as helpless after death as a butterfly without wingsfaculties which have puzzled science because of the little practical use for them in this life as we know it. There is little real use, it seems, in the toys of children, but it is the children who play as if the world depended upon it with toys, who later wield tools and weapons as masters of men.
So if one cannot put it to definite, practical use at once, still it would behoove him to play with the human radio, developing his Intuition, Imagination and Memory into the powerful wings of freedom for the human soul which they are destined to be. But instead of playing with it, the Game of Life, man suffers with it, accepting conditions and programs without any effort to change them or get something better.
The air is full of programs for the human radio who will only tune in to them. For years I tuned my dial from end to end to run the gamut of its possibilities, accepting griefs and joys alike, but now I tune in to well-tested programs upon which long experience has taught me I can depend for normal thinking and stability at the Fulcrum of life.
There is something lacking in the newspapers of today, something which in small measure I have been quietly trying to supply: a Human Radio Review, as it were, broadcasting a few fragments of what I have found, and continue to find in the air, a willing entertainer, comforter, helper or tantalizer of man, according to the adjustment of this own mechanism. He can become a wise man or a fool, a madman or a genius; the intricacies of all knowledge are at his disposal, or the simplicity of Wisdom, just as he desires or thinks.
To help others develop, perfect, adjust and atune their human radios is one of the main objects of my life. And in this connection, as time passes, I shall develop a service which might fittingly be called The Human Radio(P)reviewcalling attention to whats in the air for the human radio that cares to listen, and making suggestions to help the readers tune out of uncomfortable programs into more beneficial ones aligned with human progress.
You may rest assured that the air is not completely filled with sermons. There is plenty of humor and entertainment, plenty of music to lift the soul above material clouds, or plunge it into the primitive earth. There is the breathtaking panorama of History, not as it is written, but as it was, and still is, in Natures all-seeing Memory. And there are the whispers and shadows of a limitless future offering us our choice of what it and we shall be.
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Can You Simply Observe? by Bob Fergeson
I've heard it said that all we need to do is observe, and this alone will take us to realization. Let's take a look at this thing called observation and see what is meant.
First, lets break it down into observation, and self-observation. By observation we can take to mean the observing of the view before us, by the ego or individual body/mind. A created thing watching its own creations, then adding to the mess by creating more reactions to that which it just 'observed'. By self-observation we can mean the observing, or listening to, the entire above mentioned process, without identifying with the secondary reaction. We would then take in impressions through an observing 'I", a listening silence, which does not make judgements or assessments of that which it observes. It also has no ulterior motive, such as laziness or pride. I can't see much use in looking at the first form, observation, if we mean looking outward through the senses at our behavior in the world, and forming opinions about what a good job of observing we're doing, while the business of our life suffers for the effort. This may be good for those who have yet to venture outside their own imaginations, but for most it would be better to take a look within, at the strange and unfamilar workings of the inside of their own head.
A few points are in order here. One is that of honesty. We will not gain much if we twist or ignore certain observed facts to keep our beloved self-image intact. The ego is the enemy here, not our friend. Another is objectivity, and a little compassion. We do not wish to judge, condemn, praise or otherwise color the observations, but to see them and their patterns clearly. Finally, we will need courage and earnestness to take the task to its final conclusion: our own internal death and consequent freedom.
The main point to remember and strive for, is not to get caught in the trick of not observing the present-time observer. Who was looking? What was it that made the observation? We must make complete observations, not just of the action but of the reaction as well. The ego can split itself endlessly and we may get deluded by our growing catalog of observations into thinking we're making headway. Until we catch the devil in the act, we are only spinning about in the personality, endlessly creating more observers.
Let me see if I can illustrate how this trick works. Say you observe something about yourself, a faux pas in respected company, and realize you've been doing this for years, but were blissfully oblivious. You have observed the hereto unknown behavior, in real time, plus perhaps realized how it was a part of a long standing pattern. But did you observe your reaction, in real time, of the self you were observing with? In other words, say you were shocked at seeing this perhaps embarrassing thing about yourself. Did you include this in your observation?
The true observer, or silent witness, sees both the object, or observed behavior, and the corresponding subject, or observer, at the same time. Seeing both of these parts of the ego in real time, as they play their game of observer and observed, subject and object, can give you a taste of a deeper watcher, a seer which lies beyond the ego, on the doorstep of Eternity.
Like what it does not like.
The highest that a man can attain is to be able to do.
The worse the conditions of life the more productive the work, always provided you remember the work.
Remember yourself always and everywhere.
Remember you come here having already understood the necessity of struggling with yourselfonly with yourself. Therefore thank everyone who gives you the opportunity.
Here we can only direct and create conditions, but not help.
Know that this house can be useful only to those who have recognized their nothingness and who believe in the possibility of changing.
If you already know it is bad and do it, you commit a sin difficult to redress.
The chief means of happiness in this life is the ability to consider externally always, internally never.
Do not love art with your feelings.
A true sign of a good man is if he loves his father and mother.
Judge others by yourself and you will rarely be mistaken.
Only help him who is not an idler.
Respect every religion.
I love him who loves work.
We can only strive to be able to be Christians.
Don't judge a man by the tales of others.
Consider what people think of younot what they say.
Take the understanding of the East and the knowledge of the Westand then seek.
Only he who can take care of what belongs to others may have his own.
Only conscious suffering has any sense.
It is better to be temporarily an egoist than never to be just.
Practice love first on animals, they are more sensitive.
By teaching others you will learn yourself.
Remember that here work is not for works sake but is only a means.
Only he can be just who is able to put himself in the position of others.
If you have not by nature a critical mind your staying here is useless.
He who has freed himself of the disease of tomorrow has a chance to attain what he came here for.
Blessed is he who has a soul, blessed is he who has none, but woe and grief to him who has it in embryo.
Rest comes not from the quantity but from the quality of sleep.
Sleep little without regret.
The energy spent on active inner work is then and there transformed into a fresh supply, but that spent on passive work is lost for ever.
One of the best means for arousing the wish to work on yourself is to realize that you may die at any moment. But first you must learn how to keep it in mind.
Conscious love evokes the same in response. Emotional love evokes the opposite. Physical love depends on type and polarity.
Conscious faith is freedom. Emotional faith is slavery. Mechanical faith is foolishness.
Hope, when bold, is strength. Hope, with doubt, is cowardice. Hope, with fear, is weakness.
Man is given a definite number of experienceseconomizing them, he prolongs his life.
Here there are neither Russians nor English, Jews nor Christians, but only those who pursue one aimto be able to be.
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Isolation by Shawn Nevins
Isolation is a period of time spent completely alone, cut-off from the world's distractions, for gaining self-knowledge. People have ventured into deserts, forests, and mountains for thousands of years to escape their fellow men, to find peace, and to find answers to their deepest questions. Such time alone may be an undistracted attempt to delve within in search of the truth of our being. Such time may also be an escape into daydream and fantasy. For me, a few days or weeks alone each year allowed a clearer perspective on the rest of my life and was a time to pursue meditation with full intensity. At the very least, it was an amazing adventure into a tradition few modern people dare to explore. What follows are some suggestions for the process.
First, you need a reason for a stint in isolation -- something you wish to think about or investigate. I remember the first time I chose to spend a day alone. I sat on a blanket by the edge of a field. Shortly, I realized I had nothing to focus on. I simply had heard that it was good to spend time alone. My mind wandered from one thought to the next for half a day. Finally, I packed up and went home. Of course, it wasn't a total waste. You learn something from any experience if you take time to ponder what happened and why. I am trying to save you a few steps, though.
Perhaps explaining more of the benefits will help clarify your reasons for undertaking an isolation. Many people like taking a few minutes at the end or beginning of the day to review and plan. Isolation is an opportunity to review and plan for months or years of your life. Sometimes in my isolations, I reviewed my journals from the past year. This was a priceless opportunity to see how I changed, how I spent or wasted my time, and what my actions said about my priorities. In short, to learn from my history. Next, I planned for the coming year, and developed a strategy for how I wanted to live my life.
You can use isolation for reviewing and planning, or for creating and discovering. Think about the scientist working late at night in his lab, the artist in their retreat, or the Native American on a vision quest. This is isolation as meditation. Eliminating distractions so we can look within and see what arises. For a moment, we put the demands of society on hold. No cell phones, no bills to pay, and no class or job to attend. Just you and the universe -- you and life at its simplest. In this case, your reasons may be harder to articulate -- taking the form of a feeling or intuition.
Once you realize a reason for isolation, the question becomes how long to spend alone. I've spent anywhere from a half a day to thirty days in isolation. I know others who spent up to sixty days. Avoid the thirty-day marathons for your first time. Best to start out too short rather than too long, since the ramifications of extending your time are clearer than those of shortening a stay.
Life is a sticky business, so you'll need to reserve a block of time and prepare to cut the cords of responsibility. Get your life in order so you won't worry whether or not your dog is starving while you are supposed to be contemplating the meaning of life. The older you get the harder this becomes, as not only your dog, but your kids also might wind up starving. Few students realize the luxury of time the college age provides. One's twenties are a window of opportunity for the grand adventure of spiritual seeking.
Where to go is the next consideration. There are numerous spiritual retreats and even a book or two listing them (such as Sanctuaries: The Complete United States). Make sure you will be left alone. It is best to not even see another person for the duration. Having to dine with others, or listen to singing and chanting can be distracting. There are options besides official retreats. Maybe a friend or friend of a friend with land where you could pitch a tent. Parks and National Forests are possibilities. I know people who simply holed up in a cheap motel room for the weekend. What is wrong with using your own home? Many reminders of your life in the everyday world, easy to be disturbed by friends or family, and too many distracting temptations like the television.
Wherever you go, plan to keep your life simple while you are there. Food preparation can become a time-consuming chore or a major distraction. Some people simply choose not to eat. Fasting is worth a try. Over-eating will make you sleepy, as will lack of exercise. The more primitive your housing situation, the more planning it may take to keep things simple -- how will you cook, clean, use the toilet? Beware of too broad a focus for your isolation. Don't plan to read ten books in two days. Or plan to decide on a career, a mate, and to discover the source of thoughts. Plan a major thrust for your isolation time and let all other actions be in support of that goal.
So you found a reason, a place to go, and a plan to make your isolation happen. Now you are there, so what are the unexpected hurdles? Typically, people find reasons to leave. You decide isolation was a stupid idea, or you are not prepared, or now is not the best time, you feel weak or sick, you have too much nervous energy (can't focus), or there is some emergency at home. My advice is to not shorten you isolation. If you said you would stay a week, stay a week. However, use your best judgement. If you vomit blood once (I've seen it happen), don't panic and leave. If you vomit blood for two days, and are unable to identify and correct the cause, then you've got a problem.
Generally, decisions to leave can be negated by changing another aspect of the isolation. Once, I meditated so long that my knees hurt day and night, so I kept changing up my sitting style so I could continue. Another time, a book I thought would be inspiring was a dud, so I used another book. I could have said my knees hurt too much or that the book was uninspiring and I might as well go home. Adapt the details of your plan in mid-stream, if necessary to preserve the whole.
There is knowledge and change that will come from the isolation experience. The answer to your deepest question may not come during isolation and you shouldn't expect it to. On a long afternoon of the twentieth day of a thirty-day isolation, as you are wishing you could sleep away the rest of time, this will seem solely an exercise in determination. That may be one value, but other values are not realized until far in the future.
Richard Rose gave me the best description of the attitude one should take. He said not to approach isolation as challenging God or the universe for an answer. Don't draw a circle in the sand and say you won't come out until you are enlightened. Instead, and this is my interpretation, work as hard as you can and be thankful for whatever happens.
Isolation is an invaluable experience, but even it may outlive its usefulness. Eventually, I felt isolation was no longer useful for me. Perhaps the focus of my isolations had so permeated my everyday life that I was always alone; always looking for an answer even in the midst of an outwardly typical life. Along this line, I do not recommend a cloistered life. Escaping the world through permanent isolation will become another cage from which we must escape.
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The Seeker's List of Things to Do
by Shawn Nevins
1. Fall and rise a thousand times if need be:
I know some people who will set a goal to meditate every morning, do so for a week, then give up after they miss a morning. They despair over their temporary failure. The key is to keep at it, even if you miss every other day. Even if you never manage to meditate every single morning, to keep trying is what matters. If you approach the task in that manner, you will discover of what you are capable, and what you are -- likely different than your original conception.
2. Become a habitual seeker:
The same idea as Richard Rose's vector. With enough time, you become someone who continually questions the world around and inside of them. You will want to know the truth of matters and be open to more than one possibility or the easy answer. Your eyes and ears will always be open to new sources of information.
3. Give up, then try again:
You can't control this one, but it is useful to know that it will occur. There is some magic in the process of giving up, as it weakens our conception of what we are. Our conceptions of our self as a seeker are stripped away, leaving only Rose's "egoless vector" which searches simply because there is nothing else to do. This temporary giving up is also the rest period necessary for any exercise.
4. Realize that you want to help others:
The ego prevents us from reaching out to others. With persistent self-analysis, you will come to have true consideration for your fellow man -- you will see your flaws in others and others' flaws in you. There is the thought that we should help others because it will help us in the long run, but this is not the same as truly wanting to help another. It is a milestone when we want to help simply because it is the natural reaction.
5. Be thankful:
You are fortunate to be willing and able to ask questions of self-definition. You are fortunate for this day of possibilities stretching out in front of you. There is a bit of magic in giving thanks, as doing so recognizes that we are not the center of the Universe and relinquishes some of our imaginary control of life.
6. Become a decent human animal:
Meaning that with honest introspection, you will become more compassionate and less defensive as you recognize your vanities. Also entails learning how to provide for yourself in the world. On a physical and social level, we become more at ease and better players of the game. You do not need to become a saint or an expert mechanic, however.
7. Look for the source of thoughts:
Or look for the source of feeling, or intuition. Whatever you believe yourself to be, look to find where it originates. This will lead you to the source of your self. This question is phrased in many ways and may change over time. I began wanting to know what my purpose was, and ended by wanting to know what (if anything) was unchanging within me. Richard Rose describes this as backing away from untruth, which is correct in that we should not postulate what we might find. However, there is an intuition of the eternal within us which is helpful to follow -- a garbled message from the Absolute.
8. Look in whatever way keeps your attention:
You will get bored of looking within. Keep looking for teachers and methods, so that when you come to the end of your current way, you won't lose time wandering in search of another. Every person must find their own way -- a customized method of going within. You must craft your own key.
9. Will to do one thing -- keep one iron in the fire:
Focus is the solution to any problem. If you are trying to play the stock market, get a promotion, find a spouse, and get a college degree, you will obviously have trouble finding time to meditate, read, and seek out spiritual teachers. Time spent looking within is rewarded with proportional results -- up to a point. Like any exercise, rest is part of the equation.
10. Find a teacher(s):
A teacher is a friend with more experience on the spiritual path. It may be a series of teachers -- each giving you a tool to use in your inner exploration. A book or tape may be as important as a living person.
11. Always desire more, never be content:
There are side benefits to a spiritual search. One may make fascinating friends, have travel opportunities, may even be regarded as a teacher in their own right, all before finding an answer to their deepest question. There arises the temptation to settle for a lesser prize. This is a powerful temptation whose only cure is to project out your life strand and ask if you are heading where you want to be. When you are old, what will you want to say about your life? When it is just you facing the unknown, where will you find certainty?
12. Surround yourself with fellow seekers:
There is tremendous benefit to associating with like-minded people. Better yet is sharing an apartment or house with a group of seekers. It is a resource of ideas and inspiration, as well as help with the everyday problems of life. You will learn from each other's successes and failures. When one member is in despair, his fellows can in a sense, carry him until he recovers. If the group is too small, less than four perhaps, then the odds are the number of depressed members will outweigh the number of inspired and drag down the whole lot.
Because each spiritual path is unique, it is difficult to work with a group. Groups tend to either homogenize or break apart. However, if the majority of members are sincerely seeking (looking within), this will enable diversity and understanding.
13. Spend time alone:
From a few minutes a day to weeks-long isolations. This is a time to evaluate what you have accomplished and where you want to go. It is a time of intense concentration, intense looking within. When alone, it is easier to realize that we are the sole judge of our life and what matters is that we find the thing which settles our soul. A person may camp out, get a cheap motel room, go to a retreat center, or even hide out in their own room.
14. Know that the Hound of Heaven is real:
Refers to the poem by Francis Thompson. There is something calling you -- God, Rose's Invisible Current, or the Voice of the Silence. Become aware of your intuition (heart), your hunger and yearning for certainty. You hide with endless diversions from your hunger and yearning. You fill the emptiness in you with material goods, or even love. Yet, you are truly, always alone. There is simply you and a haunting question that sooner or later you must confront.
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The Use and Abuse of Teachers
By Shawn Nevins
Let us say you find a living spiritual teacher. Someone you feel is authentic. Now what do you do? Do you sit at their feet and try to absorb some etheric "presence" you hope is emanating from them? Do you ask every question that pops in your head? Do you wait for them to give you a blessing or hand you the sacred robe and bowl? Do you sit at their feet and take copious notes, listening attentively, hoping they will speak the secret formula to end all suffering? The best teachers will point you in a direction and show you how to walk. Your job is to listen and to learn by doing.
You can accumulate knowledge from a teacher. Not knowledge about your true being, but knowledge as to how to discover your true being. Those who believe they discovered knowledge about their being from the words of a teacher are merely memorizing information. You know nothing until you experience. Some teachers provide methods to help you find your own answers. This is knowledge given to you to use. Use it. Try it. Don't just theorize about it. Use their methods, but adapt them to your personality.
When the opportunity arises to ask questions, ask them. Don't be shy. Your shyness is fear. Be willing to ask what haunts you. Ask questions about your self and not the nature of the Absolute, God, and Heaven. The nature of such is best explained in silence. Ask about methods you have tried. Tell your successes and failures. Be willing to expose your ignorance. Secrets bind you to the mind. Open your mouth wide and let the teacher swallow your ignorance. From your ignorance will arise courage.
Don't be lazy. Read what the teacher writes. This saves time wasted in asking what is already answered. Come prepared and take notes. Come wanting answers. Your half-heartedness is a delusion. In your heart is determination.
Don't waste your time learning the details of your teacher's life. No need to write a biography. It is good to know that, like you, he was a person with weaknesses. That is reason enough for hope.
Some teachers use silence in their teaching. In that case, don't spend all your time asking questions. Be quiet in their presence and pay attention to their being. In silence, truth is unveiled. Don't project. The profundity, the depths, the great unknown you feel is in you. You and the teacher are one, but this must be felt and not intellectualized.
At times, you will grow angry and critical of your teacher. Study this. Your negativity is a projection of your frustration at your inability to act with 100% commitment. Your anger is your frustration with your limited life, your lack of progress, and your lack of earnestness. Your criticism is your habitual way of life attempting to preserve itself --your ego fearing change.
Always default to your gut feeling, your highest light, and your purest intuition. Don't let the teacher's advice overrule what you feel in your heart. You may discover you were wrong, but that is the only way you will develop the ability to find your path. That you must do, for the teacher cannot lead you all the way. The journey's end is within you.
Points and Patterns by Shawn Nevins
First, one must realize that the only answer to what ails them is a total answer. The only hope lies in discovering if there is anything permanent in the self or even in the Universe. Without certainty in regards to our fundamental nature, all our life is built upon vagueness, hopes, and fears.
Second, one must find ways of exploring, searching for the source of their awareness. With introspection, one becomes aware that they are an observer of their experience and even their thoughts. Is this awareness permanent, though? Is it of the body or does it emanate from another source?
Third, one must focus their energy on one priority. It should be obvious to you and your friends for what you use your time and thoughts.
Fourth, one must remember the urgency of the task. You are moving toward Truth, but could always be moving quicker. Evidence points to the possibility of various after-death fates, but the discovery of the Foundation of All negates the concern for body and mind. It is not wise to die in ignorance.
Fifth, one must watch for patterns of behavior that hinder the accomplishment of the above tasks. Refer to Richard Rose's "List of Obstacles"
[in chapter five of The Albigen Papers] and add "doubt in our ability to achieve."
Sixth, you create the details of these steps and you continually explore systems and teachers, picking and choosing that which appeals to your intuition and reason. Every person has multiple locks or blocks and will require different keys along the way. Teachers and systems are aids for you to create your own path
1. By studying patterns, we become aware of how few decisions we make - things happen to us. By this humbling realization, we increase our desire to know. Humility brings power. The humble man admits his robotic nature and uses that nature to better his quest. Thus, we establish a pattern of increasing frustration and increasing desire for an answer.
2. You did not bring yourself to where you are. Yet your belief in will keeps you where you are (i.e. guilt keeping you stuck).
3. All of your flaws and failings are already known - there is nothing to hide. The pretense of hiding ties you in knots.
4. To discover patterns requires memory. Our flawed memory requires aids such as: keeping a journal, time alone for recollection and reflection, and the memory of our friends.
5. What is one negative pattern you live in today? How did it manifest in the past?
The Validity of Love, by Shawn Nevins: I can not count the times I scoffed at such statements as, "the universe is Love," or that, "all there is, is Love." Yet, tonight, I find myself writing, "There is only Love." The difficulty lies in the word "love." It is as full of pre-conceptions as the word "God." However, some ears may respond to "love," but not to "allness," so it is helpful to explore further. Love is not something we do. To be kind, thoughtful, positive, happy, or caring has nothing to do with Love. It is a feeling which is with us always, but only surfaces when we crack a little at the seams -- meaning when we relax our continual guard against the perceived threats of the world. Sometimes it is another person who allows us to feel the love that is always within us. Are we loved by another person, or does that feeling originate within us, available to us at any time, if we let down our guard (ego)? Love is not between two people, because there are not really two people there. There is only Love -- an ever-present oneness that has nothing to do with bodies. Search for the essential feeling behind your experience of love -- beyond romantic tingles, beyond your concern for other human beings. What is love telling you of your importance and the importance of others? "That the other is more important than me," you say. Think though, if the other person experiences the same feeling of love as you, then love is saying no one is important. Yet the majority of lovers and poets of all mediums use love to exalt the human condition and glorify our misery. A misery caused by claiming for the transient body a feeling that is eternal and all pervading. "I am in love," means not that you possess a feeling. It means that you rest in a sea of Love and are like Ramana Maharshi's salt doll dissolving in the water. Love is the light shining through the spaces between your atoms. Love is the impersonal reality of your Self.
On Controlling the Mind, by Shawn Nevins: I'd say that bringing the mind under control requires developing some distance / freedom from the mind. In doing that, we find we are more than we thought we were. To control, we develop superior perspective and wonder where this progression will end.
The Woman's Path, by Cecy Rose:
For almost 25 years I've been involved with the TAT Foundation. My first introduction to the Albigen System was when I was a graduate painting student in Providence, RI and was encouraged by a friend to attend a lecture on Zen by a fellow named Richard Rose, who ended up becoming my husband, as providence would have it. So my circumstances have provided me with some very personal insights into the workings of the system, and the one factor that became immediately obvious was that woman's path is different from the man's.
You may argue that men and women are created equal when it comes to spiritual work, but I don't wish to indulge in argument. I'm pointing to the process of arriving at Self-Realization and how each of us works within that. I lived in a houseful of women, some married, some single, for about 7 years and discovered that to apply the principles of the Albigen System, certain pre-requisites were in order, that didn't apply to the men. The first was to keep track of the monthly cycle. This may sound like nonsense to the average socio-politically correct person, but common sense will tell you that we are biological creatures as well as spiritual ones, and the two are inseparable as long as we're in this relative existence we call living. There's a book called Brain Sex that lays it out very clearly.
So, what does keeping track of the monthly cycle have to do with spiritual work? Just ask yourself if you're the same person (or if you think you're the same person) every day. We all go through moods, but when you start to pick out a pattern, you know there's something going on in a consistent manner that has nothing to do with how someone looked at you or what kind of day you had at work. If a woman has a fairly consistent (regular) cycle, the tracking is a piece of cake - well, seemingly. As I got into this practice of watching myself from day to day, I realized that some days were more conducive to meditation, where others made it nearly impossible to concentrate. Rather than beating myself up over the fact that I was having a bad meditation, I could chalk it up to the day of the month and accept the fact that this too would pass and maybe that day could be better used for something else, like housecleaning.
Once you get the pattern identified, it is important to look back from month to month to prepare for what is to come - and it is interesting how consistent it really is. Some days are very intuitive, some very philosophical, some very physical, some very psychic, others downright frustrating. But by being able to become an observer there is a lot less identification with the body rhythm and more harmony with it. Instead of PMS being the enemy, it can be used as a time for intense discernment. Instead of being "the curse," menstruation becomes a gift of intuitive/psychic insights. Women, in general, have the advantage of being more intuitive so that the head banging logical approach can be avoided altogether. Sorry, guys.
I'm not saying that the Albigen System excludes women - it just requires us to take extra measures to insure that we get the maximum results. Milk from thorns, as is pointed out in The Albigen Papers, is a good example of how women can reap the benefit of a clear perspective by watching their daily changing mood.
Seduction by Bob Fergeson
Her sunny was as wide as an airplane smile,
He drew her to him in a calm hurry.
Height alone could hold him down,
keeping inside the dirt.
Your Current State
by Shawn Nevins:
Take a moment to be aware of your current state. Now, imagine that yesterday you died. You are exactly where you are right now, only you are dead. Nothing has changed, except that you are dead. Everything that you do from here on out is the action of a dead person -- it means nothing. Try as you might, your actions have no effect. Your touch is that of a ghost, your mightiest efforts like a soft breeze.
Your friends call your name, but as you reach out to them, you see that they too are ghosts. All that you hold dear, is like a storybook -- it existed, but was made to be set aside.
In all the universe, there is only you. Utterly powerless to even cast a shadow upon a wall.
You are dead, yet you feel alive. A Light shines through your form, animating your thought. Listen for your ceasing to be, it is calling. Let the ghost cry for the loss of it's self -- tears of Truth to set it free.
You died the day you were born. How long will you wait to go Home?
Thoughts on the Limitations of the Finite Mind
I have often marvelled at my ability to repeat the same mistake, often repeating a pattern of mistakes steadily down through the years. This observation runs contrary to a feeling that I'm actually getting smarter, or better, as the years run by. One also hears this from ones' peers, that we used to be pretty stupid way back when, but now, thank God, we're better. As we look at the younger generation, we see them repeating the patterns of folly we suffered through, and realize we can do little to help them with our experience. A little self-observation, and honesty, will also show us that we ourselves are only getting better relative to our own mistakes. The man we were 5 years ago was not as smart as the man we were yesterday, but much better than the one of 10 years ago.
This apparent progression from the ignorance of our past to the sureness of our present state can be seen to be only a realtive shift. Though the mistakes I made in the past month may not be near to the seriouness or frequency of the time of my adolescence, I still made them. I will most assuredly make more in the future. If we look at this seeming progression from relative ignorance to relative wisdom, we see that it is still not a real change. We are still functioning with a limited finite mind, even though it is seems to be becoming more effecient. This seeming movement is merely a statistical one if we look at it a little closer.
There is an old illustration we might find useful in better understanding this. If a ball is dropped, it appears to travel through space until it finally hits the ground. If we look at this in another light, we can see that this apparent movement, leading to a contact between ball and ground, is not as it seems.
If we take X as being the distance between the ball and the ground, and then look at the ball when it has traveled one-half X, and then repeat this several times, we find that the ball, according to this system, will never hit the ground. It will always be only halfway there, regardless of what numbers we assign to X.
No matter what numbers we give to the distance between the ball and the ground, if it only travels half of these numbers at a time, it will still not be in a different position relative to the ground. To finally make contact with the ground, a total change of being will have to occur. The ball and the ground will have to enter into a common relationship, or they will have to become one unit. Let us look at our three objects, the ball, ground and seeming distance between them, in another light.
If we take the ground to be another ball, but of infinite mass and circumference, from the perspective of the smaller one we would see a plane stretching in all directions, from horizon to horizon. The finite mind, or smaller ball,could not conceive of this in any real way, it would be unaware of the ground, or infinite mind, having nothing to gauge it against. It's only relation would be one of attraction, a gravitational pull leading from multiplicity and ignorance back to the state of contact and oneness.
If we equate the state of wellness with that of Enlightenment, and the state of sickness with that of ignorance, we can get a better look at the illusion of getting better. When we read of the experience of men who have made the change to the Absolute state as described in works such as Cosmic Consciousness, by Richard Bucke, we find they describe it as sudden. There is no "better" state, but a sudden, complete change. The ball hits the ground and is a separate thing no more.
We are also told by men who have made the trip to Reality that there is no learning about it, you become it. The ground is always halfway away until you merge into it. The ball cannot learn about the ground, it cannot get better, it can only get well, or become. This sudden Wellness, or Becoming, is spoken of by the Zen teachers of old as Satori.
If we view the ball as having freedom of choice between directions, either moving towards the ground or away into the void, we can see another fallacy. The ground, or infinite ball, would appear to the smaller sphere to be so uniform, motionless and never changing as to be practically invisible. A projectile cannot be fired at an invisible unknown object, it has to have a direction to its movement. The best way the ball would have to facilitate movement towards the Infinite would be to retreat from that which it knows, this knowledge being finite. Since the ball has been existing in the realm of the finite, it need simply move away from what it thinks, or knows not to be the Infinite, and in this manner back into the ground by a retreat from error.
The gravitational field of the ground would also attract the ball, if the ball would allow control of its actions to be governed by it. This could be compared to the surrender of our will to a Higher Power, or the allowing of something greater than ourselves to run the show. This would necessitate the perfection of not only the reason, but also the intuition, to screen out other attractions of a less desirable nature. Much time and effort could be wasted on tangital directions perhaps prompted by less than infinite objects.
Let's look at this from another angle, one of the ball, or finite mind, being ego. The ego is best described as the relationship between the sentient and insentient. From this point of view, the ego's efforts to become less finite, or more clever, are still seen to be a hopeless struggle. We can look at the man who comes to that point in his life where he realizes how much he is like his father. Perhaps not liking this state of affairs, he may devise new schemes to escape. He becomes more clever. Still, if he is honest with himself, he will see that not only has he learned the ego-tricks of his father, he has added new ones of his own. He has mired himself more completely into error, and still is only half-way home, heading more and more deeply into multiplicity.
The men who have made the leap into the Infinite speak not only of having made a relentless inquiry into their own nature, but also of a surrender. The ball may find that the Ground of All Being will come to it, when all is said and done.
Are You Serious?
The following is a piece that was written by Shawn Nevins for a TAT meeting in July of 2000. The subject of the session was Are You Serious? The purpose of asking the following questions to a group of people that have committed themselves to finding an answer, is to provoke thought. It is intended that the person who read the statements, and then the questions that follow the statements, be honest with himself or herself. We like to feel that we are always honest, but when confronted in such a manner, maybe we are not. Thus, if you catch yourself fabricating an answer to a question
that only you know the answer to, you have new found evidence. Perhaps we are not as honest with ourselves as we like to think that we are.
ARE YOU SERIOUS? Read the following. If you aren't serious, hopefully it will make you so at least for a few minutes. Don't despair, though -- lunch is at 12:30:
Imagine heaven -- imagine being there forever.
If heaven is bliss, then imagine bliss for all eternity. Imagine watching your favorite movie for all eternity -- imagine hell.
Peace. Is peace the absence of pain, or the absence of pleasure and pain? Without pleasure and pain, how will you identify the self!
You are actually already dead. How will you know the moment of your death, if you are dead? Who will be left to watch?
Imagine being anything forever -- a frog, a rock, a king, whatever you chose. What will you do when there are no more roles to play?
Where did eternity begin? From what abyss did the big bang spring forth?
Watch your hand. Watch it do its work throughout the day. It is a tool.
Watch your mind do its work throughout the day. Finally, watch the watching do its work -- nothing but tools.
Hollow laughter, lightening streaks in the sky, photographs slowly fading, echoes, and glimpses of shadows.
You do not let go of anything. That is another trick of the ego's designed to keep it (seemingly) in charge of the show. Everything is taken from you.
I see no evidence of a system that leads to Truth -- only general
guidelines. The rest depends on your honesty. Take heart, for all can find their way to honesty.
No one is more honest than a corpse. He's telling it like it is.
Turn awareness upon itself. The eye must struggle to see itself.
Everything you think you know should be followed by the word "maybe."
Everything is hopeless, yet everything that is only seems to be. You must act in the face of seeming hopelessness.
How could you not be serious about your search? How could you not take action? Just don't let your seriousness keep you from seeing your emptiness.
QUESTIONS -- Answer any you choose.
DREAMS -- There is great beauty in the world for human eyes and endless variety for the tasting, but you are more than human. You are that from which life emanates.
1. Is there one thing you want to do with your life, or two, or three? Is there one thing you are doing with your life, or two, or three?
2. What are you looking forward to in the coming months?
3. What would you like to be when you grow up?
4. What will you do if the search doesn't pan out? What is your backup plan?
5. What would you do, if you could do anything?
6. How much money would it take to solve your financial woes?
7. Where would you go, if you could go anywhere?
DISTRACTIONS -- You have everything you need, are as complete as you will ever be, and tomorrow never comes.
1. What did you do for fun the past two weeks?
2. How do you relax?
3. What is your biggest waste of time each day?
4. Since April, name one task from which you were sidetracked. What was the cause?
DILIGENCE -- "If I tell you to go five miles, don't walk one, then turn around and come back." -R. Rose
1. What was your biggest accomplishment of the last six months?
2. What was your most courageous act? What caused it?
3. When was your last isolation/time alone?
4. What are you doing to improve your intuition?
5. What have you done this past month to help a fellow seeker?
6. Since April, what has led you to look within, meditate, examine your thoughts?
The Listening Attention
Many years ago while on a canoe trip in the southern swamps, I noticed a phenomena of will which I have lately come to call 'the listening attention'. In recent years this became apparent once more, and the importance of it as well. Since it first happened involving the simple act of tending a damp campfire, let us examine it under this same scene.
My friends and I were camping by the river and had settled in for the night. We had also taken a small dose of LSD. After some time of taking turns tending the fire, I began to notice a strange phenomena. I could tell exactly how the fire needed to be tended for the best possible efficiency. I also noticed that my friends were not aware of this, and were only able to approach the problem through associations, past experience, etc. For me, the fire's needs were obvious, in the moment, and simple. No theoretical pattern or form learned from the past or an outside source was necessary. While my friends struggled to find the right placement of the logs, different geometric patterns of sticks and twigs, and tricks they had heard from old timers, I knew what needed to be done, and simply watched myself doing it. At the time I wrote it off as a product of the drug and an over active imagination.
Some twenty years later, after a renewed interest in the workings of the mind, I again noticed this phenomena. I came to see that there were two different wills, or attentions, at work. One of them was the normal, everyday attention, or will. This part could only act through an associative process, or trial and error, and could only draw on information in the personal memory. It was also liable to any manifestations of the ego which might be present at the time. This will, as 'me', would try to force the issue at hand, and thereby burn energy through emotion. If circumstances went against it, it would become angry or despondant. If things went its way, it would take credit. It had no direct connection with the task at hand.
The other attention, or will, was not personal, had no concern for the ego, and was directly connected to the present. In a way, it had no individuality at all, but was simply the observing of the fire, and the remembering of the aim at hand: the best efficient burn, or flowing of events. Things could follow their natural pattern, with no interference or wasting of emotional energy. There was no fear of things not conforming to its desire, and no pride if things did.
I've since come across a quote attributed the Roman emperor Hadrian, that he had found freedom though a strenous practice of aligning his will to that of destiny. This 'unaligned' will, or egoic desire, can be seen to be a no-win situation. Since it has no direct link to the moments events, but is only connected through individual memory or association, it is always playing a game of catch-up, trying to judge events and itself after the fact. The 'freedom' Hadrian speaks of is not egoic, and does not come from doing what one wants, of having infinite choice, but rather from aligning oneself with the Divine Will, in which there are no 'choices'.
The connection with this Divine Will is made in silence, hence the name "listening attention". It involves a surrender of one's personal desire, a letting go which opens to the discovery of what some call a 'higher power'. Goethe remarked that happiness is not in doing what you like, but in liking what you do. This acceptance of an inner guidance does not come easy, but in it, a great peace is found.
I remember a story of a modern day zen teacher and several of his students. The students were attempting to dig a ditch, going about it in the usual way. Soon the teacher was the only one in the ditch, while the perplexed students stood by. The ditch was actually digging itself, leaving the students with a koan of no-mind that hasn't been forgotten.
With the discovery of this Divine will, we can also find a door to insight and answers. The purpose of this is surely not just to enable the better burning of campfires or the digging of ditches, or even to the saving of our precious vitality, but to show us an end as well as means. For through this surrender, we can find the path to a higher order of thinking. The way to insight and wisdom lies through this door, and possibly an understanding of who we really are.
In trying to duplicate this experience, find an activity you're used to, that is already a mechanical habit. Walking, driving, and other easy movements can give one the feel. Ouspensky's classic illustration of running down a flight of stairs can show how things do happen without our personal involvement. With practice, this quiet freedom can be seen to permeate everything. The only thing that need be remembered is our aim, to find the voice of silence of that which IS. To those who are still in the spell of mundane life and whose ambition rules the day, this will seem foolish. But to those who believe there is something more real than the smoke of pride and worldly ambition, the trip through the fire of self-surrender will be worth any burning.
Listening Attention 2
This month's commentary is about what I call the "Listening Attention", a meditation technique, if you will, which I've found to be a gateway to our Inner Self. The poet John Davis once said he felt the highest meditation was "listening with the eyes". This is a good starting definition. Another would be to look with attention, but without interpretation: to listen, the attention turned both inward and outward at the same time, with no thought or expectation. No expectation, judging or defining; no thought, no mind. This combined attention uses both the inner ear and eye, and is turned towards the inner heart and the outer world simultaneously. It is passive in that it does not project an image, or thought; it is active for the same reason, in that it is a pure attention, an active not-doing. There is no sense of an 'I' involved, for that would mean the springing forth of an image, which the attention would become identified with. It does not entail a motionless, inert body, for it can be found while engaging in activity.
Before talking about how to find this portal to the Inner Self, let's first explore why it would be a worthwhile endeavor. First, I'd like to clarify that this is not a technique for adding another 'spiritual' behavior to our list. We do not need to put another head on top of the one we already have, but need to somehow get back to a truer state we have lost through years of conditioning. In other words, we do not need another form of hypnosis or new way to put ourselves further to sleep, but to find how to become un-hypnotized, more awake. I have to assume if you've come this far that you have reasons for engaging in spiritual work. Enough time spent digging through the patterns and habits of the mind will eventually lead one to the unflattering realization that one is mechanical, a robot. I like to call this creature we find ourselves to be, a SMAARP, a Self-Maintaining Accidental Associative Reaction Pattern. Most of us start this journey to self-discovery convinced we are smart SMAARP's, and it can take quite a few blows to our proverbial fat heads before we realize we are mechanical, that the mind can never solve the problem of self-definition by itself. We need help. The listening attention is a door to going within, to re-connecting with our inner man, to that part of us which Knows. Once we are convinced of our robotic nature, we may come to see the value of connecting once again with the intelligence that created us.
The silent passage to the inner world is always with us, it does not need to be formed, just found, but we may need years of preparation to see it. A great deal of self-analysis, ' work on one-self ', is usually needed in order to get beyond the ego and its belief that the mind and worded thoughts will lead us to the Real. A lifetime of learned behaviors, emotional blocks, fears, self-doubts, and wishful thinking need to cleared away. We must reach a point where we can slip behind our compensatory thinking patterns long enough to let something real get through. All repressed emotional material and debilitating drains on our energy must be dealt with, too. We will need all our strength to face the unknown, alone and unarmed.
There will be much resistance to the attempt to go within. Our physical needs must be met, giving us the thought that time spent "doing nothing but listening" to be sheer folly. The need for distraction in social endeavors, TV, movies, and other forms of feeding the head, will need to be dealt with. Our family and friends will most likely not share the value we place on finding a connection to the Inner Self, as it does not bring an immediate material reward and is not conducive to maintaining whatever psychological dramas might be in place.
Perhaps the most effective resistance to our inner journey will not come from outside, through society or family, but from our own fear of the unknown. We may find we are both unwilling to let go of our old way of being, and not willing to take a chance on something new. For most of us, some form of suffering or trauma is necessary before we will trust our own inner guidance. Fear can block us at every turn, until we take our meaning from within, from the present, and release our mental hold on the projected past or imagined future.
These struggles of self-discovery are also necessary to find the right individual method for the listening attention. I found that moving about, through hiking and cross country skiing, to be the best way for me. I could not sit still long enough to bring about the inner relaxation needed, or else would simply fall asleep. I know of one man who would drive, spending hours behind the wheel of his car becuse it would give his outer mind and body just enough to do to allow his inner self the freedom to surface. If sitting in a chair will work, great, it would sure save a lot of time and gas. Knowing what body type and disposition we have is a great help in opening the door.
A good example of how this can happen was during one winter as I was struggling to improve my cross-country skiing technique. I was caught between the technical advice given by instructor friends, and the feeling that I knew what to do if I would just listen to the inner voice instead. I finally decided to go with my instincts, and my skiing quickly reached a new level of freedom and skill. Affirmation was quick in coming, for one day as I was thumbing through a skiing magazine, I noticed an article by a coach on what techniques the fastest skiers used. The system he described was exactly the one I had found, and had been discovered by his athletes in much the same way. While this may hardly seem a momentous step in self-discovery, it gave the clue that trusting my own intuition and inner guidance was a good idea, and that rote learming through mimicking others would not bring me any closer to learning to go within. Every one must find his own portal into the listening attention through his own experience and faith.