Francis Bennett is a spiritual teacher in the contemporary, non-dual spiritual tradition. He offers a blend of the Buddhist traditions he deeply studied, the contemplative Christian mystical tradition which he lived during his many years as a Roman Catholic, Trappist monk, as well as the Hindu Advaita-Vedanta teaching of Sri Ramana Maharshi. Francis has worked in ministry in the area of pastoral care in the hospice movement and as a hospital chaplain. He tells the story of his spiritual life, and details his preferred spiritual practices, in his book, “I Am That I Am.” Please visit Francis’ site: http://findinggraceatthecenter.com
Yoga and meditation instructor, Leesa Williams has been a long-time spiritual seeker who has been influenced by TAT, Linda Clair and Adyashanti. She currently teaches conscious relaxation at a local college and runs a self inquiry group in Lynchburg, Va.
As one of TAT’s first members, David Gold worked closely with TAT founder and spiritual teacher Richard Rose and documented those years in his book “After the Absolute”. Following that period, Dave helped guide and mentor thousands of young people with the college-based Self Knowledge Symposium in Raleigh. In recent years, Dave worked directly with Spiritual Teacher Andrew Cohen and his EnlightenNext organization. While drawing on his life experience in business and family, Dave promises to engage those present as a lifelong seeker who recently became “an eternal finder.” http://davidrgold.com
Rapport facilitator Michael Gegenheimer is an early student of TAT Founder Richard Rose and has presented at a number of TAT meetings and works with a local group in Columbus, Ohio.
In his book, Psychology of the Observer, Richard Rose illustrates a retreat from the mind’s frailties through Jacob’s Ladder. Paul Constant will do a walkthrough of Jacob’s Ladder to illustrate Rose’s methods of finding our way back to our Source. For a sampling of Paul’s writings, visit http://www.searchwithin.org, or read some of his essays in the TAT Forum.
The registration deadline for the June Gathering is Friday, June 6th.
Trick:Look carefully at what is actually happening in the course of a 24 hour day. We start out our day in a dream world in our sleep, then we go through the ‘death’ of waking up, and start another dream, our daily life. Even the seemingly simple act of walking from a room outside into the daylight is an enormous change, but we’re so asleep we no longer notice it, much less the changes in personality that automatically ensue whenever circumstance dictates. Through simple honest observation, we can come to see how tenuous and vague our waking life ‘self’ really is. This shock turns our attention within, and we find ourselves looking back at what we are looking out of, no longer obsessed with our image-creating mind and its desires and fears.
Franklin Merrel-Wolff speaks often of the subject-object consciousness, the Transcendent Consciousness, and the difference between them. Let’s take a look at the subject-object realm and see if we can relate it to the above predicament. We first get into this mess of needing a self-created image to identify with, when we are first brain-washed into believing that the world, or mind-created images, are the reality, and our own awareness, an illusion. Wolff calls this ‘false predication’. This happens before we are wise enough and strong enough to resist, even though we may know better. Soon the magic spell of hypnotic conditioning has done its work, and we are hopelessly dependent on mind-created images, or objects, for our very sense of being. We even create a subject-image we call “I”(ego) which we soon become so taken with, and let it so close to our hearts, that we forget our real Self, and come to completely believe in this “thing” we call “me”. The false universe of the subject-object consciousness is thus brought to a level of value far and above that of its Creator.
Trap: Bigger is Better. The all too common trap of sensual thinking applied to spiritual matters. That Nirvana or the Kingdom of Heaven is just being really, really high for a really long time.
Trick: What Goes Up, Must Come Down. If being exceedingly high is your definition of Nirvana, you’ll sooner or later find your corresponding version of Hell. Instead, develop a trustworthy memory, learn to listen, and observe your self. Try being aware, in the moment, of your motivations, your experiences, your very reasons for living. Learn to wield the sword of discrimination, rather than squirming about inside the oven of pleasure and pain.
Haven’t you cooked enough?
“The daily remembering and clear admission of our internal angst is key to the eventual ability to face the moment. It gives us energy and incentive to separate from being identified with the psychological manifestations of personality in the drama of the sleepyhead-knucklehead, and how this misidentification traps our attention in the illusions of the mind. Once relaxed, we can jump straight into the still, aware silence: the listening attention. In other words, we go straight from personality right back up to what we really Are. We gofrom being a very complicated psychology, to being a very simple two-way seeing. We learn how to listen, to just look at the facts always in front of our vision, while simultaneously looking back at what we really Are. Psychological work is used only to show us that we don’t have a quiet mind, no freedom of attention, and thus cannot tell the real from the false. Once we realize that having a quiet mind is something you simply find, it’s always there just under the surface, you no longer have to think about it, put effort into it, build it up.
It’s a retreat from complicated error and projection back to the simple truth of ourselves as aware capacity, indescribable and real”.
- Bob Fergeson, The Listening Attention
Here are three tricks to bridge the gap between our ego/idea of ourselves and our fact status:
When I first came across Bob Fergeson’s site and articles a couple years or so ago, two things struck a chord with me – his article on the Puer Aeternus and his description of ‘nostalgia’, the sense that I’d once been someone or had something or been somewhere that I no longer was.
The place or thing or person did not seem to matter as much as the sense of something ‘missing’, the longing of a ‘return’. It did not make immediate sense but I went back to the articles over and over.
There was something there, some truth I sensed but was not quite able to experience or realize. If there is anything different these last few years, it is that – the sense that I am finally on to something, close to something, something I’d given up on ever finding many, many times but never quite been able to get completely out of my system.
My life before that was much like anybody else’s – an attempt to get through life with the least amount of pain and the most amount of pleasure I could, trying to fit in and believe the same things that all the people around me did. The problem was that nobody was ever ‘right’ for very long… The other problem was that none of them seemed able to see that they were wrong, let alone admit it.
Everybody around me seemed to be frozen in place, like the colored blocks in the video game ‘Tetris’ that slowly descended down, down and fell into some niche, locked in by other blocks, never to move again.
For some reason that always scared the hell out of me. The only thing that scared me worse was that despite all my flailing around and so-called careful maneuverings to avoid that for myself, I seemed no more happier than they were. I could find no path out, no viable alternatives.
As a teenager I was drawn to true crime books and autobiographies of those that lived outside the rules, so much so that I would later ‘explore’ some of those options but find out they were no more fulfilling than any of the others.
I tried desperately many, many times to call off the search, pretend I didn’t care, lose myself in some other pursuit or endeavor, tried to buy into the bullshit, but eventually, every time, out would come the flashlight or flamethrower and out would go another illusion…
But then, every once in a while, I would catch wind of – something.
According to the Zen Ox Herding pictures, most of my life has been the first one – aimless searching, with the sound of cicadas droning in the background.
But then there was the second picture – the discovery of footprints in the dust and snow every once in a blue moon, just enough to keep me going on…
And then, during the last 4 or 5 years, finally, glimpses of the rear of the bull in the readings of some of the works of Richard Rose and the Tat Foundation, Eckhart Tolle, Byron Katie, Jed McKenna, etc., and the resonances they evoked within me.
But not much more than that until just a couple weeks ago.
Then, finally, I believe, I not only saw the whole animal but actually touched it, briefly – long enough to know it is real. The funniest, oddest, most wonderful thing about it was that suddenly a lot of things I’d read about it – ‘closer than close’, ‘the simplest thing’, ‘something you already are’, suddenly made sense. Laughingly so!
Am I ‘enlightened’? No, but I believe I’ve not only finally had a glimpse through the brick wall of the Secret Garden, but smelled and tasted the fruit.
I find myself now back at the wall, aware of what lies on the ‘other side’ (Ha!), playfully searching for another hole, another glimpse, feeling now as if it’s more of a ‘relaxing into’ that is needed than a ‘search’.