All posts by mysticmi

The Dangers of Culture

by Franz Hartmann

“There are thousands of people who work hard all their lives, without accomplishing anything which is really useful or enduring. There are thousands who labour intellectually or mechanically to perform work which had better be left undone. There are vastly more people engaged in undermining and destroying the health of man than in curing his ills, more engaged in teaching error than in teaching the truth, more trying to find that which is worthless than that which is of value; they live in dreams and their dreams will vanish; they run after money, and the money will remain while they themselves perish and die.
The obstacles which arise from the external world are intimately Franz Hartmannconnected with those from the inner world, and cannot be separated; because external temptations create inward desires, and inward desires call for external means for gratification. There are many people who do not crave for the illusions of life, but who have not the strength to resist them; they have a desire to develop spiritually and to gain immortality, but employ all of their time and energy for the attainment of worthless things, instead of using it to dive down into the depths of the soul to search for the priceless pearl of wisdom. Thousands of people have not the moral courage to break loose from social customs, ridiculous habits, and foolish usages, which they inwardly abhor, but to which they nevertheless submit because they are customs and habits to act against which is considered to be a social crime.”

— With the Adepts, An Adventure Among the Rosicrucian, by Franz Hartmann (1910)

Double Take on Life

Double Take on Life – from nitty gritty to neti neti

 

Two friends—one a TAT member, one a TAT friend; one living in Canada, one across the border in the US; one male, one female—have partnered to create a blog site, which they hope other TAT members and friends will enjoy and respond to.

Double Take
Double Take

About Us:

My kids call me crazy mom. I like that. Stephen, the crazy Irishman from Braveheart, is how I most like to see myself. He’s a lot fearless, a little crazy and, most importantly, has managed to negotiate a mutually agreeable contract with God as it pertains to all things life with its rogue and dangerous shenanigans. This deceptively impossible feat has allowed Stephen an ease about himself. He laughs easily, readily. Yes, I like that.
In a slightly less delusional depiction of my self, I am your average, garden variety suburban mom of two, who one day, while trying to pay attention to life, accidently discovered an affinity for writing!
Who knew?
A FB friend invited her friends to a 63 day challenge. The challenge was titled ‘Attitude of Gratitude’;  write daily about something you are grateful for. Simple enough I thought, and thus began the writing.
I did not anticipate how fun the challenge of trying to express life’s cornucopia of experiences would be! The deeper I looked, felt and dissected any given moment, the deeper I could see and feel and dissect! In trying to extract the feel of an experience, I would bump into the essence of that feeling sense. Then while examining the essence, I would discover a lingering mood, or atmosphere, that beckoned more attention! And now I must know, what is this curiosity that not only desires to look so deep, but is able to do so? What is this ever deepening sensitivity for movement, for life?
Subtler and subtler, challenging words, challenging expression.

In the fall of 2016 I met Paul. His calm energy and slow movements caught my attention.  His depth of feeling kept my attention.   We began a modern day pen-pal correspondence on everything from daily mundane interactions with the people around us (Paul can bring anyone’s life alive), critical views on women/feminism (critical is definitely my strength), love, trucks, goats, improv, sex, health and anything and everything that captured our curiosity, interest or made us laugh. Really, we’ve been blogging unintentionally for a while now!
In a larger, grander context we see many things similarly, but then dicker over the details. Other times we agree on the details but dicker over the big picture. In the end though there is love, friendship. Perhaps that is the grandest mutuality. Not at all unlike my own contract with God

——-

There’s a scene in the classic film “Taxi Driver”, where Travis Bickle, the slowly unraveling anti-hero, is having his first date over coffee with his idealized angel Betsy. She tells him that he reminds her of a line from “The Poet”, a Kris Kristofferson song – “He’s a walking talking contradiction, partly truth and partly fiction.”  Which pretty much fits me to a T, exhibiting for better or worse a lot of polarities, and providing a familiarity with often competing identities and outlooks. Head in the clouds, some college, but a blue collar job hopper for most of my life. My real education has been stolen from inspired tangents, raw experience, and a Zen teacher. By nature, I’ve always been more of an outsider compulsively observing the parade of life. And somehow crazy curious about human nature and Reality.

I think Sheri said all there is to say about our eclectic friendship. I see her as deep water. Someone who thinks before she speaks, who’s one of the best listeners I know, and one of those rare persons who’s able to be open-minded about both sides of an issue. She has a quick wit so it’s easy to improvise with her. Due to some intangible in her nature, Sheri has often served as a muse for my writing, encouraging many new things to come out I had no idea were there.

Double Take Blog

Subtraction

Fellow TAT member and friend Shawn Nevins has written a clear, personal account of his search, along with tips for seekers of all types, well worth a read:

This story of friendship, love, and the darkest nights of the soul, follows a young spiritual seeker who drops out of graduate school and spends the next decade in a spiritual search that leads from a Zen master in the wilds of West Virginia, to an iconoclastic Christian mystic in the heart of Los Angeles, and an architect-turned-sage in England. Entertaining storytelling combined with practical tips and lessons from the path of spiritual awakening make this a must-have edition for those both curious and passionate about the mysteries of life, death, and enlightenment.

TAT Foundation conscious.tv interviews

Four members of the TAT Foundation have now been interviewed by conscious.tv. These interviews are an open invitation to the wisdom these folks have become.  Thanks to interviewers Ian and Renate McNay, the lives, tribulations and paths of each of these members is available on youtube under one play list.

Tess Hughes: Fear of death through an experience when she was only eight, set Tess off on a journey to find the meaning of life. After 30 years of inquiry into her mind and experience she woke up to find there was NO SELF. From reading the work of Saint Teresa of Avila and through her personal experience, Tess has come to see that the most difficult obstacle on one’s own path is the overcoming of self-esteem. She also believes that taking full responsibility for your own Awakening will set us free.

 

Bob Fergeson: Bob is author of the book ‘The Listening Attention. He talks about his life and awakening: ‘I was taken beyond myself into the place of no concern. The years of wondering, of alternating between pleasure and misery came to an end along with the searching and longing it generated. I saw that in all that time I had never really moved; rather I simply woke up.’

 

Art Ticknor: Author of the book ‘ ‘Solid Ground Of Being’ Art talks about his search for The Truth as his life, though perfect in one way, lacked purpose and meaning. After many years working with Richard Rose’s TAT groups and many individual retreats and Douglas Harding’s work a breakthrough occurred, ‘Art Ticknor was never alive, something broke the identification with the observer, there was no regret in seeing the sense of separate self go.’

 

Shawn Nevins: ‘The Way Of Subtraction’ Interview by Iain McNay Shawn is author of four books including ‘Subtraction: The Simple Math Of Enlightenment.‘ In the foreword he says, ‘This book answers the question of how to find out the answer to who and what you are beyond any shadow of a doubt.’ His spiritual search ended on December 28th 1999 having started 7 years earlier. During that time he meditated for thousands of hours, fasted, prayed, retreated, met spiritual teachers, and never gave up. His primary teacher was Richard Rose but he also spent time with Bernadette Roberts, Douglas Harding and others. His breakthrough came when he read through a transcript of a talk by Franklin Merrell-Wolff. Shawn’s story has many ups and downs. His sincerity during his search shines through and his many realizations on his path are tangible.

 

 

Becoming

When you go into openness, the listening attention, you have become something good. You are something good rather than trying to feel good. You also have become in terms of: you don’t need to learn, you don’t need to think, you don’t need to analyze, compare, use concepts. You’re out of the thinking mind. You are, you’re awareness, the listening attention. In that state all the thinking, comparing, etc., are seen as lower states of the body mind.  They have their functions, but they cannot tell you what you are;  the lower cannot create the higher.

This is how you describe becoming rather than learning. You go from experiencing and thinking to just existing, to being. This doesn’t happen by constantly trying to get thoughts in the right order, get the thinking right then you can become, it’s more like you have to get sick of the thinking and clearly see that’s it’s a dead end and drop it. There’s no thinking that has to happen per se, it’s only the realization of what thinking is, and how it doesn’t ever lead anywhere in terms of becoming.

listening attention
listening attention

Sooner or Later

The Usual Mode of Conversation Between God and Man

 

God:        Turn round, and come Home to me.

Man:   Two dozen dirty lovers before you, I must be a sucker for it.

I’d cry, but I don’t need my mother, just hold my hand while I come to a decision on this.

 

Sooner or later,

 your legs will give way, you’ll hit the ground. Turn round.

 

Save it for later,

just hold my hand while I come to some decisions on all this.

 

Sooner or later,

 you’ll hit the deck, you’ll get found out. Turn round.

 

I just need more time to think.

Save it for later,

but don’t run away and let me down.

 

Turn round, and come Home to me.

 

I’ve traveled all 7 seas, they’re rotten through and through, so what can you do?

Sooner or later,

you’ll run away and let me down.

 

Sooner or later,

your legs will give way, you’ll hit the ground. Turn round.

 

Two dozen other stupid reasons while we should suffer all this?

Sooner or later,

you’ll run away, run away, and let me down.

 

Sooner or later,

you’ll hit the deck, you’ll get found out. Turn round.

 

Save it for later,

just hold my hand while I come to some decisions on all this.

 

 

This continued for some time, right up to and through the present day.

 

 

Prime the Pump

“The key to the whole process lies in the fact that there is a fountain-spring of endless guidance and information within every human being. One only has to learn to get out of its way, to let the consciousness generate in a stilled and quiet mind. – The fountainhead lies totally within.” – Jim Burns

One of my favorite songs as a child was ‘Desert Pete’ by the Kingston Trio. The dilemma of the thirsty traveler in the song fascinated me. What would I do if came upon an old well in the desert, and found the bottle of water for priming the pump? Would I pour it into the well, acting on faith that the message in the note was correct, that there was just enough water to prime the old pump? Or would I take the easy path, and drink it?

Our spiritual life poses much the same dilemma. Do we spend all of our time and energy on life and its pursuits? Or can we invest some of it towards future understanding and possible transformation? Do we have faith that our investment will come to fruit? Are we even aware that we have energy and time, and that they can be re-directed, invested towards something higher, rather than living from day to day, spending it all on whatever desire or fear presents itself moment by moment?

The Parable of the Talents presents a similar lesson. We are given energy and life, talents, which we can invest through faith, or we can covet the energy, bury the talent in the ground, and through fear of the higher(the Master in the parable) keep our self-love intact. The servants who invested their master’s money were rewarded for their efforts, while the one who buried his talent(no pun intended) had it taken from him and was thrown into darkness.

The song tells a similar tale. Do we trust in a higher power, and pour the precious water into the well, invest it, or do we take the way of fear and need, and drink it up?

Jim Burns talked about the hidden spring within each of us, and how all spiritual work was designed to re-connect us with this wellhead. To uncover the inner fountain of spirit through faith is, in a fundamental sense, our task. Life’s trials and tribulations can plunge us deep into ourselves, and at the bottom of this dark well, we may find spiritual gold. We come to see there is something higher, that comes from deep within. That the world and its desire/fear system lead nowhere but farther into need and separation. We gain faith through insight and intuition, and one day ‘prime the pump’. We start to question our need to drink all water as soon as we are given it. We are able to resist the world and its promises, the easy bottle, and to stop doubting ourselves. This saves the energy of the moment. It’s invested instead. We are starting to have faith. The pump is primed, the inner connection is re-established. The water of wisdom and love can come forth from our own inner well.

We are given many notes on how to prime the pump, how to have Faith. Teachers and spiritual systems have been presenting this message for centuries.

One day, we may realize we have been investing, priming the pump, through simple acts such as prayer and meditation, seeing others as ourselves, and listening to our heart. The inner connection will clear, the wellhead will have been uncovered. Then the cool clear water of our inner divinity will spring forth, healing our mind and heart, guiding us back to the Source.

-Bob Fergeson

Listening with Attention

Leave thought and feeling, for just a moment, and just listen with your eyes. Look around. How amazing we are, to be aware. And thus the world becomes amazing once again too.

This simple awareness is love unfettered, pure bliss, and needs no product of thought or feeling to give it it’s meaning. We can tell if what we are, in the moment, is pure awareness, or a product of thought/feeling, by looking for the gap of time. Anything produced by the brain, of chemical or reactive make-up, is revealed for what it is by the ever so slight gap between our original perception and the near-immediate reaction, and consequent mind-projection. This projection is usually all of the process we are aware of, and what is usually called reality. All thoughts and feelings are separated from awareness by this slight gap, and thus being in time, are not our true eternal nature.

new morning
new morning

Thinking and feeling is an after-the-fact reaction in the mind realm that has the unfortunate side effect of either being good or bad. Plain awareness is blessedly free of such nonsense. Like an alert idiot, our awareness gratefully doesn’t know any better, doesn’t have a clue if we’ve been bad or good, if we are worthy or worthless, or anything else for that matter. It just is, and as such, so are we.

Bob Fergeson, photo by nostalgiawest

Working Within

“How then can we change being? By applying the knowledge of the Work through self-observation to ourselves. And remember that you do not change by being told what to do. You only change through seeing what you have to do when you realize what your being is like.” —Maurice Nicoll

Sooner or later the task of changing our being, of becoming, moves from simple mental learning through advice and association to the inner task of developing the intuition. How well this works is ultimately about how well we can hold tension and work within. The practical thing to “do” then becomes the real time observation of our own attention. The work moves within, and is no longer about character building, a better personality, becoming charismatic or invisible. There are several ways to describe this simple trick of watching or chasing your attention: the experiments of Douglas Harding, which show how to look at what you are looking out of, learning to listen with the eyes, to listen with the attention, the two-way seeing or self-remembering of Gurdjieff and the double-pointed arrow of attention, one pointed within, one without, and the art of mindfulness. To be successful in these tricks, we must be able to relax for at least a second from constantly and unconsciously upholding our sense of self. This split second of seeing who or what we really are, is our slipping behind the mind or ego and seeing through it rather than as it. Now, if you have trouble practicing experiments of the type listed above, or are unable to catch the meaning behind them, why is this? What’s blocking you?

The ego1-ego2 game is a great enemy in direct seeing. When the exercises are practiced, the ego-mind is rendered quiescent, if only for a split second, but long enough for one to be free from the mind’s pressure to create, project and solve problems, drama, or conflicts, such as getting what you want, avoiding what you fear, etc. But in the next instant after the “seeing” has ended, the mind will rise up and become active once more and the ego-self, largely through memory, will then lay claim to the credit of seeing, dragging us out of eternity and taking away any incentive to actually “see” again. An insidious trick has just been played on us, for the ego, as ego1, has just laid claim to “seeing,” and places all blame for actions opposed to seeing on a fictitious character it creates and then uses as scapegoat: the hapless ego2. Thus, we are taken out of action and thrown back where we started: identified with the mind in time. Seeing is now relegated to memory only, for we are unconscious of the whole above trick. The ego has thus kept its throne, and we, as awareness, are back asleep.

If we get what’s taking place in the above experiments (by seeing it, rather than mentally understanding it), then our intuition will know what to do next, knowing now what the attention is and how it moves from one view to another. Here’s a test to see if we really do see this:

Look at a familiar object, say a tree out of your window, and watch the mind as it works. Observe how this mind associates the tree with names, memories, information, etc. Notice how it does this automatically, unquestioned. Now, practice two-way seeing, the listening attention, while looking at the tree. Allow yourself to look back at what you are looking out of, the aware silence, and look forward or out at the object as well. Can you now look at the tree without “knowing” what it is? Without knowing what you are, simply because you are? The mind is now silent and all is okay, for nothing is separate. No separation of things, no creating of things, is needed; no labeling or judging, qualifying or describing. You are not enlightened or ignorant, for you have no need to create yourself or “be” anything.

Now, while still observing the tree, allow the mind to work, as it rises up and again starts the process of creating objects with characteristics, separating “you” from the “tree,” and separating the tree from everything else, as the string of associated concepts stream forth. Can you see the difference between these two states? Can you see your attention move between these two views? Can you be honest about this? Does your heart have anything to say about value and meaning in relation to these two very different states?

If you can’t “do” the above experiment, or dismiss it as unimportant, what is blocking you? Why is your intuition being shut out, and thus not picking up on this? If you think the above is not important, or can’t relate to it, and still insist on someone or some system telling you something practical to do as a spiritual exercise, or if you are honest and admit you just can’t follow any of it, the reason lies within, in something blocking you. Perhaps an energy knot in the emotions, most likely hidden, unconscious, but active and alive. This knot blinds as well as binds you to it, keeping you unconscious, so as to maintain the status quo of the tension and energy system of knots known as “you.”

If seeing still makes no sense, and you are at a loss as to practical method and the next move on your path, this then is what you can do: become conscious of what is blocking your intuition. Perhaps going back through your life story with its accompanying emotions is in order, to free you of the energy knots that bind your attention. What needs to be done will be seen, if steps are taken to improve the intuition, clarify one’s values, and to hold and increase the tension of questioning, of looking. Taking advice and direction from outside as an easy way out of the tension of having to develop one’s own intuition ends in robbing one of the grace that comes from within.

– Bob Fergeson

On Learning to Listen

“It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” – William Shakespeare, Macbeth
     Paracelsus was known to be able to look at anything, an herb, plant or mineral, and divine its essence, and thus its purpose and use. A direct knowing, given by the Universal Intelligence, to one who had ears to hear. How might we tap into this direct insight of the universe? Most of us are trapped with only a very limited ‘knowing’ which is basically the description of opinions derived from an arbitrary point of observation; a fixed pattern, based only on the recalled past. This ‘knowing’ or ego/mind, is hardly capable of knowing itself, much less the essence of an herb, plant, or our Source. This ego is derived from the experience of a character in a story, who is basically unconscious; a scripted unwitting idiot telling a tale, ultimately signifying nothing. To know directly, as Paracelsus, we would have to leave our story-drama and its trap, and become something wider, deeper. We are capable of hearing more than the mind’s obsessive chattering about our personal character’s recalled experiences. We may begin to wake up, and feel as Arthur Dent in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: “Did I do anything wrong today, or has the world always been like this and I’ve been too wrapped up in myself to notice?”
     Only something which has no vested interest in the drama can look outside of the character in its tale, and see the universal reality behind the dream of life. This is a very scary proposition, it threatens the very system of the drama, for we derive our identity from our character and story-line, each defining the other. The drama is seldom questioned, for this can only happen by stepping outside of it; a paradox. We refuse to listen to the voice of the silence within, because that would imply we don’t know it all already. How can we learn to turn to this inner listening, to hear the voice of intuition, of insight?
     Spending time alone is one way. We take a break from the distractions of our electronic age with its cell phones, computers, TV’s, etc., plus the well meaning but distracting voices of our friends and family. This can give us time to learn to appreciate silence, and to listen. Perhaps we’ll reacquainte ourselves with a long lost companion deep within: our own heart. Time spent alone removes the relentless pressure imposed on us by society to conform to its standards, and allows our mind to clear and become quiet. Another pressure is the ego’s defense against its main fear, the unknown. This also requires much time and energy, and blocks out anything that doesn’t fit the storyline. Nothing from the higher power within is allowed to get through.
     Another way is to spend time with those who value listening within, and have found their connection to the inner voice. These fellow seekers can save us time and energy, having been down the long road to their inner self and thus able to help us along our path as well. The higher energy fields of these companions will give the inner self a taste of its own potential. Their inner calm and quiet are a stark contrast to the tale of sound and fury we have been dreaming so hard, without question.
      The world of dreams is similar to this drama we call our life. When in a dream, we take it for real, and the experiences of the dream as telling us a true ‘knowing’ about the dream-world. But when interpreted upon awakening, we see it as only a story of our character’s mind, and this ‘knowing’ as being simply a description of this mind that made the dream-world. The individual pattern or view-point is what’s known. Nothing is objectively known about the so-called things, inhabitants, or possible reality of the dream.
     To find the reality behind the dream, and possibly behind the dream character, we must find something higher.  This universal intelligence is constantly speaking to us, always trying to get our attention. This voice of insight or intuition is drowned out by the voices of the characters in our drama. Look bravely at the plots of the dramas in life you’ve seen. They all end the same, and nothing is gained. Death conquers all, and the story with all its sound and fury, endlessly repeats. Question the character you’ve been lost in, and the drama of your own so-called life and its significance. Search fearlessly to find the nameless Something behind the play; the calm, clear reality beyond the dream, where nothing is done, nobody’s there to do it, and all is perfect in silence.

 

” The exercise of clairvoyance requires a passive state. ” – Franz Hartmann
 –
Bob Fergeson