The Listening Attention is now on Amazon Kindle! Here’s an excerpt:
No matter how subtle or astute our meditation may be, we will never realize nirvana by using yet another facet of samsara. A different level of seeing is needed, a pure awareness that is not itself a product of the world or mind, but primary to the reaction pattern we call ourselves. A looking which is attentive, yet not reactive. A listening which is not affected by circumstance and the constant changes of the mind. Such an attention would lie outside of time and space, beyond circumstance, yet be aware of them as well as itself. Such a Listening Attention would also be directly connected to the formless inner realm of our True Self, and provide a Gateway to Within.
TAT 2013 June Gathering
Friday through Sunday, June 14 – 16
To see myself in everybody and everybody
in myself most certainly is love.
—Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
What are we devoted to? Where does longing pull us? What is love and what is Love? What prevents opening? What prevents sinking deeper within?
A Story of Love: TAT’s 2013 June Gathering provides an opportunity for those interested in remembering our primary problem and finding love on the spiritual path.
A Story of Love
The registration deadline for the June Gathering is Friday, June 7th.
Dance along with me in the Nothing Dance, celebrating Nothing at all:
A video on a mindfulness technique, filmed in March, Canyon Rims, Utah.
If the emotional element is added while attempting this meditation, it greatly adds to it, such as really wanting to be in the heart, the higher self: valuing it.
Practical Wisdom: TAT Foundation Weekend Intensive
Saturday & Sunday, April 13-14, 2013
Everyone wants to be wise (vs. foolish, cockeyed, idiotic, laughable, goofy, unwise). Wisdom can be practical (how to tie your shoes, avoid getting hit by vehicles when crossing the street) or impractical (how many dollar bills laid end to end it would take to circle the equator). Practicality implies helping one succeed in real circumstances. Wisdom implies deep understanding and realization.
The search for a permanent solution to our suffering and longing; the search for truth, beauty, and the creative force, is predominately set aside by the scramble for the next dollar, the next high, the next bit of excitement or security. Join us for a weekend dedicated to the work of highest value: the search for Practical Wisdom.
Veteran meditation teacher Michael Conners
Heather Saunders: hospice nurse and longtime spiritual practitioner.
Poet and Filmmaker Shawn Nevins
Open Space Technology – a session harnessing the wisdom and interests of conference participants
Nature Walks and Meditation Sittings
The registration deadline for the April intensive is Monday, April 8th.
In Dan Sutera’s article on John Wren-Lewis, a very important point is brought up, that of forgetting. This problem of forgetting gets little mention is most esoteric circles. Wren-Lewis tells us of two forms that this forgetting of ourselves can take. The first he calls a “slipout” and is caused by focusing the attention on and through the mind. Usually this does not lead to a complete forgetting, but occasionally one forgets “eternity” and the slipout occurs. The return occurs when one remembers the “Dazzling Dark” and returns to the “correct “seeing, or eternity consciousness. This forgetting is relatively minor, as long as the attention, or value, placed on the mind is minimal. The second forgetting, that he refers to as “screening”, is much more severe in that it is a complete loss of the Dazzling Dark, his own dark night of the soul. This has occurred rarely and comes from intense stress. Let’s take a look at these two types of forgetting and see how they occur in daily life.
G.I. Gurdjieef remarked that we need tools to remind us of ourselves, he called these ‘alarm clocks’. Little mental
mechanisms we can put into play to remind us of our aim to ‘remember ourselves’ or to reconnect to the Dazzling Dark. These alarm clocks are necessarily of a personal nature, and serve to pull us back from the outward mind, reminding us to ‘go within’ once more. Sooner or later these alarms will lose their effectiveness by becoming habit patterns and will need to be changed. One of the best methods of remembering the need to staying awake is to take advantage of our fellow seekers. Nothing serves to remind us more of when we are slipping into the mechanical mind than a good shock from a friend or fellow group member. They may know us better than we know ourselves.
The more severe form of forgetting can be caused by becoming engrossed in the first until we have become so hypnotized by the problems and demands of the outward mind that we become wholly identified with its self-madness. Wren-Lewis refers to this madness as “some kind of inflation or hyperactivity of the psychological survival-system.” The ego/mind becomes wholly concerned with its own personal brand of self-survival and we no longer have any freedom of attention. We have lost the ability to go within and listen to the Dark. At this point, Grace and surrender may be our only hope. Again, our fellows can help us see the pattern of ego-infatuation and help us to relax and turn the inner head back towards its source.
One of the best alarm clocks we can have is to remind ourselves of the three lines of spiritual work, as taught by Gurdjieef/Ouspensky. These simple reminders can help us to remember that we are not alone in our struggle, that there is help to break the spell of the outer-directed mind.
When one begins the process of looking at oneself, many hitherto unknown facets of personality begin to appear. At first we may wish to think the meditative process itself has created these behavior patterns, but soon enough we come to see that our previous state of sleep was greater than we wished to admit. If we keep at our practice long enough, we will begin to see that certain states of mind are behind the newly discovered patterns, and may be shocked to discover our true motives in day-to-day-life. When these facts come to light, the first reaction may be to sort the behaviors into good and bad categories, and then set ourselves to the grim task of removing the negative while accenting the good. In other words, the ego will start a campaign of behavior-modification meant to bring us closer to ‘perfection’. Actually this is nothing new, having been going on since birth, but the new found level of awareness gives the ego a new sense of cleverness. It’s going to outwit itself this time, for sure.
When we begin to see the underlying motivation for a negative pattern of behavior is, say, pride, we can hardly resist wanting to counter it by creating a projection of humility or altruism. If we are honest, we may see through this, but be left
wondering if there is another solution. Renewed effort in the form of continued self-observation may take us to the next step. The pride itself could be just an effect, a compensation for an underlying state of fear. As we continue with our observing, we may come to wonder if there is ever an end to all this, if the root cause of our aberrant behavior can be found. If we persevere, we eventually come to the root cause of the fear, a feeling of alienation, the battle of the self with the not-self, the mistaken belief that we are a separate thing. This thing, or body/mind, lives in constant opposition with what it sees as other separate things. The universal has become lost in the particular and forgotten itself. This unnatural situation brings about the sense of anxiety and fear underlying most of our lives.
What now? Here we find ourselves head to head with our very sense of survival, where no ego effort can help. By looking within long enough, we may come to the door of awareness, and with grace and luck, find ourselves beyond the mind. From this new awareness, we come to see the former belief in separateness to be, as John Wren-Lewis puts it, ‘some kind of inflation or hyperactivity of the psychological survival-system’. We will also come to see the futility in putting new and improved patterns of behavior in compensation for any negative ones. The old Zen warning against putting a new head on top of the one we already have comes to mind.
All negative patterns of behavior can be traced back to the ‘I am the body’ idea, the feeling of alienation. Our natural state has no sense of separateness, for it contains all. Trying to fix an ego problem with an ego effort is doomed to failure, for as Wren-Lewis again states, ‘the underlying universal consciousness, with its every-present-moment happiness, peace and wonder, gets shut out ”. True peace can only come from our true self, or universal awareness. The body/mind will then continue to function, but in a sane manner, without the inflated ego-sense as master.
The effort of self-observation is the revealing of the false. Our true nature will remain, and as such, needs no modification. All we can do is to follow the old adage for crossing a busy road: look and listen. If we can see something, anything, it’s not us. In this manner we can come to see we do not exist, yet Are, and Life can become a wonderful thing.
The cycle of desire and fulfillment may seem a trap of monumental proportions, but as all traps built in the framework of the mind, it has no inherent reality. Let’s take a look at this cycle of desire, fear, and fulfillment, and how an ache of the heart turned within is our release.
We see that if we want something and then get it, we feel better. After years of this cycle, we fall for the trick of believing that getting what we want is what life is about. And what would make us happy would be getting what we want, when we want it, all the time. We fail to look closer and see what has really taken place. Fulfilling desire simply puts it to sleep, and leaves us in the state of no-desire. It causes no fundamental change, and sows the seeds for our future discontent. If we saw behind the circumstance, we would see that the state of no desire, or pre-desire, is what we long for, and would no longer move from it out into the dual dimension of pleasure and pain, the so-called reality of life. This state of peace has been there all along as our true nature, lying much closer than any pleasure object of the world. But this peace is not peace of mind. The mind is motion, and does not manifest in stillness. This state of no-desire is stillness itself, beneath and primal to mind, and is our rest.
This trap of desire and its fulfillment also involves forgetting. We forget we are fulfilled as we really are, within, and thus move away through temptation and trickery. Not from being pushed, but from being fooled. We have become mesmerized by the world and its sensations, and have forgotten the peace that lies within. A potent cocktail, equal parts faulty memory and a profound propensity towards fantasy and projection, mixed with fear of unfulfilled desire and death, topped off with a passion for grabbing onto everything that feels good, keeps us on the endless loop of turning our attention out into the world for fulfillment, coming back into ourselves to rest, and then going back out again. We have become identified with the world and it’s dual nature, and have forgotten we are complete and forever in the state of fulfillment within, our true home. We are not an animal at heart, though we have come to believe this.
This leads to the longing of nostalgia and how we confuse the circumstances of our childhood events with a purer state within that was also present at the time. It is innocence and lack of guilt that we truly long for, a state before temptation and the chasms of the mind led us out into duality. We long for our childhood or nostalgic scenes, not because these props and times can provide peace, but because our inner state at the time was one of peace. We paint this inner state onto the scenery and confuse the two, fooled again. We mistake the event for the feeling, much as we do the act of fulfillment of desire with the state of no-desire. Nostalgia in its pure spiritual state is not the desire to live in a root-beer commercial, which might be nice, but the longing of our heart for its true state of oneness. Our inherent inner peace passeth all understanding, for to ego and mind, it’s completely unbelievable.