Bob Fergeson, author of The Listening Attention and Dark Zen: A Guru on the Bayou, is a spiritual teacher who focuses on the nuts and bolts of spiritual seeking while also conveying with his presence the ineffable message of Reality. Hopefully this Bob Fergeson interview offers a taste of both.
In this episode with Bob Fergeson, we discuss the emotional traumas and “knots” which can block one’s ability to access the Listening Attention. Bob offers tips and techniques for releasing these knots and freeing this blocked energy.
… A spot on earth where people can do retreats and hold meetings; where the emphasis is on friendship and the search.
As promised last month, there is good and surprising news to report
regarding TAT’s new home, the likes of which brings to mind a quote on
commitment that was posted for many years at Richard Rose’s farm: “All
sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have
As you know, over two years ago TAT purchased the “Thomas Green Rd.”
property in Roxboro, NC. Building a retreat center from the ground up
proved a challenge, but with new determination that “somehow we’re going
to make this work” the project recently stirred to life again. What
happened next was unexpected to say the least.
“A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s
favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, and meetings and material
assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.”
Through a lot of creative thinking, individual commitments, hustle, and a
“whole stream of events,” TAT closed on a separate 15-acre property
with a large home suitable for meetings! The Thomas Green property
previously purchased will be sold as soon as possible.
Here are the details on the new property:
In Hurdle Mills, North Carolina, only 35 minutes from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Situated on a beautiful 10-acre site, with a separate 5-acre parcel upon which another structure could be built in the future.
Has a 5-bedroom, 5-bath home, with a third floor than can be
converted to sleeping areas, and a large garage that could be converted
into a main meeting space.
Bob Fergeson has agreed to be a “teacher in residence”—which offers
exciting possibilities for the property beyond the quarterly TAT
We have a caretaker for the property, as well.
We will hold the April 2020 meeting at the new property, but to do that
requires a collective effort to accomplish the following immediate
Create a parking area—estimated cost $3,000
Upgrade the water system—estimated cost $4,000
Chairs and tables—$1,000
Beds and bedding—$8,750
Repayment of a short-term loan. Depending on how much we recoup from
the sale of the Thomas Green Rd. property, potentially as much as
Yard equipment and tools—$2,500
Other household items—$4,000
Let’s bring this to life! “The job is upon us,” Richard Rose said, “and
it is worthwhile.” To contribute to the “Homing Ground” project, mail a
check made out to the TAT Foundation to:
PO Box 873
Mechanicsburg, PA 17055
Big checks, little checks, all are welcome. Or you can use PayPal
(though we lose 2.2% of your donation to PayPal fees) by choosing the
“Make a Donation” button on our Homing Ground page. See photos, as well, on that page.
on behalf of the TAT Trustees
Paul Rezendes and George Leoniak ask the questions: what does it mean to be Awake, or is Enlightenment real?
Author and photographer Paul Rezendes joins tracker George Leoniak in an impromptu discussion of what it means to be awake. Paul clears up misconceptions around the terms ‘awake’ and enlightenment’ and how they may not be what we think.
The first half is video of the two in discussion, while the second half features Paul’s landscape photos with the audio. Click the title link below for the vid on Vimeo:
“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 connected 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)
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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
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