Once you allow the ego to grab a direct experience (say of love, selflessness, or beauty), it will claim ownership, and you may never actually go back to experience the eternal quality in real time again. Instead, the mind will merely reference the memory of the experience. The ego is perfectly satisfied with memories or imagination, being unable to tell the difference in value or meaning between imagination, memory, and direct experience. We will tell ourselves we ‘know’ all about the experience when we’re actually no longer in direct contact with it, we’re just referencing an old memory, and then playing about in the imagination. It’s a subtle but ruthless trick that takes us out of present awareness and places us in a time-based illusion of the mind. As long as we believe this easy way out, of never having to be in the moment again by using memory as a cop-out, we no longer exist. We have instead become the ego of “been there, done that”.
- Bob Fergeson
” When a man remembers himself he seeks not to be identified with his Personality. He seeks another feeling and sense of himself. He seeks to not know himself, as it were – to empty himself of himself. He makes himself passive. He wishes to receive something that has hitherto not been granted him. He seeks to lift himself above himself – above the noise of himself – above the inner clamor of negative emotions….” – Maurice Nicoll
I passed through a deep crevice at twilight,
And I saw a narrow vista of trees,
Magical in the mists-
Vocal to the hush of meaning,
Whispering to the wisdom of shades,–
Before the backdrop of eternity. . . .
And I had a friend. . .
Whose dust with mine was not the bond,
Whose love with mine was not the bond,
Whose teaching with me was not the bond,
Both of us had been to this same place,
To the twilight in the narrow crevice,
And because of this place, we are eternal.
- Richard Rose
- Shawn Nevins, from the TAT Forum -November 2002
For using nostalgia in meditation in a practical manner, I see it like this: Richard Rose used to say that guilt is a mixture of fear and nostalgia, fear being we’re afraid of being punished for the act that brought on the guilt, and nostalgia being the longing for the relatively innocent state we were in before the act. Think of it in terms of a lifetime. We may feel guilty about having lived what we come to see as a meaningless life, or an unfulfilled one. The fear manifesting as the fear of being punished for our life asleep, of not being awakened, of wasting our chance. We will die, and not know why we lived, perhaps have to pay karma for our mistakes, and just the plain old fear of death, the unknown. The nostalgia would be from the longing for our innocent state before life affected us, such as the innocent state of a baby. We didn’t have problems or even an identity then, and sense it was better. Especially if we have children or have been around babies, we can pick this up.
Nostalgia is the key to using emotion to find our way back to our original state. If we only use the mind and the imagination in our search, it becomes dry and hollow. The emotional element is brought in by the nostalgic mood; it lends a direction, a practicality, and a motivating factor missing from the head only approach.
- Bob Fergeson
Photographer and writer Paul Rezendes has an unusual take on realization, formed from his experience outdoors as a wildlife tracker. The preface from his book, The Wild Within, gives a brilliant example of his realization, and a perfect description of the listening attention as well:
This book is an inner and outer journey into one’s self and into the wild. The journey through these pages brings us into intimate contact with the lives of wild animals and begs us to look more deeply in order to come into intimate contact with ourselves and the “wild within.” The “wild within” is not a place in space and time; it is an awareness that is unconditioned, or is uncultivated, untouched by the human hand or mind.
These pages open the door to who we are by taking us first into the forest where, through tracking and sometimes direct contact with the animals, we are able to experience and appreciate the lives of wild beings. It gives us the opportunity to see that these lives are none other than our own lives, and that no being is separate from another; that mountain, river, forest, stone, coyote, and humans are the same movement.
I have taken and opened the doors and windows to my own life, so that the reader can look in and see his or her own life in mine. This story is not just about me and the wild animals that I have tracked. It is meant to be a mirror to your own life. For instance, when I share with you my persona as a gang leader, I am hoping that you look at your persona, whether it be an identification as lawyer, doctor, artist, or academic. Most of us have an idea about who we are … it doesn’t matter what that idea is. It has the same basic effect of dividing us within and out there in the forest, as well as socially. Being the president of a motorcycle gang may not be much different than being the president of a nation when it comes to feelings of pride, fear, and power.
This book opens the door to nature, where we come face to face with love, fear, life and death. It takes you into the woodlands, and as you wander through the trees, you may suddenly and unexpectedly find yourself looking inwardly at something you never expected to see – something fresh, alive, and new about yourself that you never knew was there. That is my hope in writing this book, that you wake up to a whole new world, one that is not fragmented, but whole, open, and without fear. Ultimately, that is what The Wild Within is about. It is about what some cultures call waking up, enlightenment, self-understanding, wholeness, or realization.
What I mean by realization is living, being energy that is aware or awake to what is, or to what is arriving in the moment. An awareness that is at rest and has no intention for anything to be other than what it is. Although it is at rest and has no intention, it can have a dramatic action on the movement of thought in a person’s life. This action takes place out of time, and without a doer. It is an action that does not come from a center, nor is it linear. In other words, it is not a reaction. When a person is realized, this awareness is the unresisted perspective in a person’s life, a perspective without a center, and without fear or pride.
Before realization, a person’s perspective is coming from the center of where we believe our self to exist, or at least, that is where we “think” we exist, feel, and think from. This center, this self, this doer that we perceive ourselves to be, is what keeps us divided from nature out there in the world and our true nature within. This results in a sense of being at odds with nature, within ourselves and with others. The center, or the who we think we are, also creates divisions within our own species. I’m talking here about religious, political, sociological and ideological divisions. These divisions can easily develop into hate crimes, wars, etc. Living from this center causes conflict between what is, and what should be – who we think we are, and who we think we should be.
Self-understanding opens the door to the possibility of living without a center, fear, and the need to control nature and others. This book is about that door opening for one human being. It may be about that door opening for you as well.
- Paul Rezendes
for Paul’s books and to see his excellent photos, go to http://www.paulrezendes.com/
The poetry and photo book by Shawn Nevins and Bob Fergeson, Images of Essence, is now available in the Apple iTunes Bookstore as a digital download for $5.99
Available on iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.
To order from the iTunes Bookstore, click here:
and then click View in iTunes.
The TAT Foundation Press presents Images of Essence: a beautiful collection of poetry and photographs. Photographer Bob Fergeson and poet Shawn Nevins bring together their creative wanderings to explore the theme of The Standing Now: the moment when a pause in the passing now of our lives reveals eternity.
To download direct from the printer, go to:
“It’s like Rumi with a Nikon. ” – Dr. Ron Masa, University of Yourself
” If a thing loves, it is infinite.” – William Blake
Progress on the spiritual path can be thought of in terms of value, or love. What is most important to us is what we value the most, what we really love. The path of self-discovery can be seen in these terms. We observe ourselves, and discover what our true motivations are, leading us to see what we value. Another way to see this is by checking our fact status. What we actually do everyday tells us much about what we value, and perhaps shows us the gap between our personal storyline and our actions. If this fact checking and self-observation are carried far enough, we may begin to get a look at something called our ‘self’ or personality, and begin to see its illusive nature. We may be forced to admit to its exalted status as our real true love, despite our ego’s protestations to the contrary. Using this shock as further fuel for the search, we become a bit more honest in our future assessments. If self-inquiry is carried even further, through this process of elimination we may find something more real to love than this ‘self’. Back beyond our mind’s motion, something still and silent lies. If you find a love of truth, rather than fiction, it may take you there.
Zen Camp: Campsite talks from Bob Fergeson on such topics as spiritual retreats, beauty, and nostalgia, a playlist from the Nostalgiawest Video Channel
Many of us find that we didn’t really start seeking the Truth in earnest until we suffered some trauma or catastrophe that left us with literally nothing else to do. We had to find out what was going on with our life and who we really were, for the previous experience-based system had collapsed. Why is this so common and seemingly necessary in the search for definition? First, let’s back up a step or two and look at how we are built, what our traps are, and then we may see the answer.