Mountain High – Touching the Void with Bob Fergeson

“When the thought and the mind goes away, all you are left with is the real part of yourself…. In the quiet, there is a sense of eternality and unconditional love.”
~ Bob Fergeson

The sense of eternality marks the work of photographer, mountaineer, and spiritual teacher Bob Fergeson. Set among the Rocky Mountains, Bob’s story weaves the passions of the creative life and a love for the outdoors into a compelling narrative of a spiritual search. From his childhood attempts to capture moments of ethereal, quiet beauty with a Brownie box camera, Bob’s life careened towards a crushing encounter with alcoholism, then flowered in a time of self exploration through painting, drawing, and dreamwork, led to years of spiritual disciplines, and culminated in a final encounter with Truth that left him weeping on a Colorado mountainside.

Whether you frame your quest as a search for God, truth, enlightenment, awakening, certainty, or an aching longing to fill a void inside, you will find this feature-length documentary is more than just a film, it is a resource that you will mine for inspiration and advice again and again.

Stream Or Download The Movie:

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For the $9.95 budget version: mountainhigh.vhx.tv/buy/mountain-high-budget-edition
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for more info: http://www.poetryinmotionfilms.com/mountain-high.htm

 

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Going Within – by Bob Cergol

Richard Rose writes in his booklet on meditation:
“The ultimate aim of meditation is to go within. Going within means to find Reality by finding the Real part of ourselves. It does not mean merely playing around inside the head with random observations which we have discussed as being important to understanding the natural mechanism of man’s mind.”
“When we begin to meditate in the attempt to go within we should simply observe our self. We cannot really do it simply. It is a very profound task or attempt.”
He also writes in that booklet of the levels of meditation, of which “Going Within” is the 4th level. The instruction given is: “Employ whatever necessary.”

 

What does it mean to “go within”?
It’s not a place, and you don’t really “go” anywhere. It refers to the direction of one’s attention.

 

What is it that you do to “go within”?
Life is basically an experience. Experience is a continuous stream. We can categorize our experience as “inner” and “outer.” Inner experience refers to the totality of our individual reaction to outer experience — and on another level to inner experience itself in a spiraling, even “tail-chasing” process so the line between inner and outer is blurred — and ultimately may prove to be a false distinction, i.e. all experience is external….
Going within means a shift in the object of seeing or listening, of one’s attention from the perceptions and events swirling around us to the seeing or listening to our reactions to life’s experiences.

 

What determines those reactions?
We engage ceaselessly in evaluating whether our sense of self is affirmed or diminished. The former is pleasure. The latter is pain.

 

Which reaction is dominant for you? What is its source?
What fills your attention most of the time?
I believe that fear of death develops in concert with the development of identity, for the simple reason that intellectually we know that the body is mortal and therefore cannot be the vehicle that will ensure survival of that identity. The escape mechanism is to disassociate from the body, place oneself anterior to it and take possession of it, as it were. But since there is no hard proof, there is this core knowledge of the lie, and our lives become an incessant, doomed-to-fail effort at proving the independent existence of that identity by attempting to magnify it through experience.

 

What is the motivation for shifting your attention away from external experience to look at inner experience? Or said another way, what motivates you to examine what is occupying your attention?
The primary motivation is whenever experience diminishes the sense of self. It is not really motivation since the shift is a reaction. If looking at the internal experience of reaction is painful, the automatic reaction is to shift the attention away either by engaging in rationalizing analysis or by engaging in alternative mental or physical activity.

 

What result do you expect from “going within” as you conceive it?

 

Consciousness versus Awareness: definitions
The dictionary defines the words “consciousness” and “awareness” as synonyms, and each word is used in the definition for the other. The definition for both words depends on there being an object to which consciousness or awareness applies. This implies that there must be a subject who possesses the attribute of consciousness. One is either conscious of something or not. In this sense the words are verbs and denote action by an individual being — even if that action is itself either automatic — or an unconscious action!
Students of the esoteric have this concept that “God” or the “Source” is pure “awareness.” They conceive this awareness to be a possession or attribute of God’s, just as they perceive it to be an attribute or possession of their own self — or one that can be acquired. Realization is conceived as adding god-like awareness or consciousness to this same personal self. This all stems from an egocentric point of reference that places their ego anterior to everything else. Seekers of enlightenment have this idea that they will become god-like, or one with god, or attain this god-like awareness, and so there is the presumption of personal immortality and eternal ego consciousness.

 

Let’s see how this would apply to God, Supreme Being or Transcendental Awareness:
What is the object of this consciousness or awareness? What is God aware of?
If God’s awareness is without object then, how is God alive according to our concept of being? Does God know that he’s alive?
Does the knowledge of “being alive” require an identity? Would you be alive without your identity? — Without your body? Without your mind? Without — YOU!?
If God is all-knowing, what does he think about?
If God is beyond all thought, what occupies his attention?
If God is the object of his own attention, how long is God’s attention span?
If God is beyond time and exists eternally, then how could God not be eternally bored with himself?
If you believe in your own immortality, or even the possibility, what will the object of your attention be for eternity?
Can you imagine yourself, your identity with all its history, as the object of your consciousness for eternity — with no ability to alter that history? Is that realization? — Or the definition of Hell?

 

*
I distinguish between the two words consciousness and awareness.
For me, consciousness is personal and temporary; awareness is impersonal and timeless. Consciousness is the experience of individuality, and awareness is that which powers it. The “experience of individuality” is motion on a background of immobility — a whisper that cannot alter or penetrate the silence. Consciousness is a point. Consciousness is the point at which the un-manifested intersects the manifested. Awareness is boundless.
Awareness is consciousness without an object, unless you wish to say that awareness is its own object.
How then does an individual become aware of that which is anterior to that individual? The question seems a contradiction — indeed a Koan!
The short answer is by “abandoning the ego-centric position” — another paradox. The verb abandon implies action by the ego, which action itself would reinforce the supremacy of the ego’s position. Therefore it is said that the ego is taken from you or dropped. When one “gives up” or “expires” it is not a voluntary action but a spontaneous acceptance or natural consequence….
The process is negative or subtractive. The end result is not created by the process.
  *
- Bob Cergol
*
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Deduction, or Induction?

Trap:thinking that Liberation is a conclusion, a deduction: a product of thinking. If we are identified with the mind, we become trapped into believing it will eventually solve the problem of self-definition and thus leave us in peace. But the mind being a problem creator as well as solver, it will simply lead us into a new problem complete with a new, better solution, and so on, without end. Even worse, if we’re lucky, it may force us to constantly defend, project, and renew any thought-based solution until we wear ourselves out, and are forced back to honest self-observation.
Trick: there is no solution, for there is no problem. Peace of mind is dependent on nature and circumstance; liberation is our true and present nature. While a quiet mind is a necessary step and found through effort, it is not the final goal. By a combination of watching our thoughts and looking at the looker, we become detached from the mind, and find that true peace lies beyond it. Then, circumstance and our daily life will no longer be the problem, since a solution is no longer sought in thought, world, or mind. No longer hounded by the mind to fix ourselves, our lives simplify, and we reside in peace within, while the mind and its world of thought is relegated to practical matters, only.
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A New Guide on the Path

For Those Who Desire To Follow the Practical Way

The Wisdom of Franz Hartmann

     1. Know that All is One.
     2. Know that everything is Thyself.

Magic, White and Black
Magic, White and Black
     3. Know that the One in a state of vibration produces the great multiplicity of forms and activities in the Universe.
     4. Know that if you examine this multiplicity from the standpoint of your intellectual reasoning, you will arrive at the following deductions:
     5. Everything that you call ” Life,” ”Energy,” ” Substance,” is a Duality.
     6. Everything has a tendency to return to Unity.
     7. All desire and therefore all suffering originates from duality.
     8. Let thy aspiration be for enlightenment.
     9. Know that the result of the joys experienced by the attainment of enlightenment is happiness.
     10. Rise above the state of condensation.
     11. Know that the result of the joys experienced in the state of condensation is suffering.
     12. On the road from Unity in motion to tranquility is the state of condensation. It is the cause of your illusions, because you imagine it to be tranquility; and it is the cause of your doubts, because you regard it as the object of your desires. Know that the striving after the unification of the duality is the only source of your will, your desires, and of those joys whose results you call ”suffering.”
     13. Know that the door for the solution of that which is fixed is what is called ”Matter.”
     14. Know that everything has to pass through that door.
     15. Know that the door for the solution of the fixed is also called ”Life.”
     16. Know that everything has to pass through that door.
     17. And that the long sojourn in ”Matter” and the interruption of the voyage by ”Life” means retardation in the solution of the fixed and procrastination in the unification of the duality.
     18. Enforce the practice of the power of that which is solved over that which is condensed.
     19. Direct your attention to the consciousness of that which is dissolved over that which is condensed.
     20. Carry this consciousness through all the planes of your being.
     21. Elevate your whole body to the capacity to think, to hear, and to see.
     22. Cause it thereby to become a fit instrument for the use of your self-consciousness of the One and of your self-power (resulting from unification).
     23. Conquer the pains resulting therefrom.
     24. When the divine Language is once heard within thy heart – when the King within thy interior has once obtained dominion – when thou hast passed through water and fire, and thy spirit has become the life of thy blood – then you may say: I am, I go, and I remain.
from Franz Hartmann’s ‘Magic, White and Black’
Parabrahm
Parabrahm
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The Seeker’s List of Things to Do

The Seeker’s List of Things to Do
by Shawn Nevins

—–

 1. Fall and rise a thousand times if need be: I know some people who will set a goal to meditate every morning, do so for a week, then give up after they miss a morning. They despair over their temporary failure. The key is to keep at it, even if you miss every other day. Even if you never manage to meditate every single morning, to keep trying is what matters. If you approach the task in that manner, you will discover of what you are capable, and what you are — likely different than your original conception.

 

     2. Become a habitual seeker: The same idea as Richard Rose’s vector. With enough time, you become someone who continually questions the world around and inside of them. You will want to know the truth of matters and be open to more than one possibility or the easy answer. Your eyes and ears will always be open to new sources of information.

 

     3. Give up, then try again: You can’t control this one, but it is useful to know that it will occur. There is some magic in the process of giving up, as it weakens our conception of what we are. Our conceptions of our self as a seeker are stripped away, leaving only Rose’s “egoless vector” which searches simply because there is nothing else to do. This temporary giving up is also the rest period necessary for any exercise.

 

     4. Realize that you want to help others: The ego prevents us from reaching out to others. With persistent self-analysis, you will come to have true consideration for your fellow man — you will see your flaws in others and others’ flaws in you. There is the thought that we should help others because it will help us in the long run, but this is not the same as truly wanting to help another. It is a milestone when we want to help simply because it is the natural reaction.

 

     5. Be thankful: You are fortunate to be willing and able to ask questions of self-definition. You are fortunate for this day of possibilities stretching out in front of you. There is a bit of magic in giving thanks, as doing so recognizes that we are not the center of the Universe and relinquishes some of our imaginary control of life.

 

     6. Become a decent human animal: Meaning that with honest introspection, you will become more compassionate and less defensive as you recognize your vanities. Also entails learning how to provide for yourself in the world. On a physical and social level, we become more at ease and better players of the game. You do not need to become a saint or an expert mechanic, however.

 

     7. Look for the source of thoughts: Or look for the source of feeling, or intuition. Whatever you believe yourself to be, look to find where it originates. This will lead you to the source of your self. This question is phrased in many ways and may change over time. I began wanting to know what my purpose was, and ended by wanting to know what (if anything) was unchanging within me. Richard Rose describes this as backing away from untruth, which is correct in that we should not postulate what we might find. However, there is an intuition of the eternal within us which is helpful to follow — a garbled message from the Absolute.

 

     8. Look in whatever way keeps your attention: You will get bored of looking within. Keep looking for teachers and methods, so that when you come to the end of your current way, you won’t lose time wandering in search of another. Every person must find their own way — a customized method of going within. You must craft your own key.

 

     9. Will to do one thing — keep one iron in the fire: Focus is the solution to any problem. If you are trying to play the stock market, get a promotion, find a spouse, and get a college degree, you will obviously have trouble finding time to meditate, read, and seek out spiritual teachers. Time spent looking within is rewarded with proportional results — up to a point. Like any exercise, rest is part of the equation.

 

     10. Find a teacher(s): A teacher is a friend with more experience on the spiritual path. It may be a series of teachers — each giving you a tool to use in your inner exploration. A book or tape may be as important as a living person.

 

     11. Always desire more, never be content: There are side benefits to a spiritual search. One may make fascinating friends, have travel opportunities, may even be regarded as a teacher in their own right, all before finding an answer to their deepest question. There arises the temptation to settle for a lesser prize. This is a powerful temptation whose only cure is to project out your life strand and ask if you are heading where you want to be. When you are old, what will you want to say about your life? When it is just you facing the unknown, where will you find certainty?

 

     12. Surround yourself with fellow seekers: There is tremendous benefit to associating with like-minded people. Better yet is sharing an apartment or house with a group of seekers. It is a resource of ideas and inspiration, as well as help with the everyday problems of life. You will learn from each other’s successes and failures. When one member is in despair, his fellows can in a sense, carry him until he recovers. If the group is too small, less than four perhaps, then the odds are the number of depressed members will outweigh the number of inspired and drag down the whole lot.

 

    Because each spiritual path is unique, it is difficult to work with a group. Groups tend to either homogenize or break apart. However, if the majority of members are sincerely seeking (looking within), this will enable diversity and understanding.

 

     13. Spend time alone: From a few minutes a day to weeks-long isolations. This is a time to evaluate what you have accomplished and where you want to go. It is a time of intense concentration, intense looking within. When alone, it is easier to realize that we are the sole judge of our life and what matters is that we find the thing which settles our soul. A person may camp out, get a cheap motel room, go to a retreat center, or even hide out in their own room.

 

     14. Know that the Hound of Heaven is real: Refers to the poem by Francis Thompson. There is something calling you — God, Rose’s Invisible Current, or the Voice of the Silence. Become aware of your intuition (heart), your hunger and yearning for certainty. You hide with endless diversions from your hunger and yearning. You fill the emptiness in you with material goods, or even love. Yet, you are truly, always alone. There is simply you and a haunting question that sooner or later you must confront.
-
Shawn Nevins
-
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TAT 2014 June Gathering

Stories of Discovery: Personal Journeys on the Spiritual Path

at Claymont Society, WV,  Friday through Sunday, June 13 – 15

Claymont

http://tatfoundation.org/june/tat_june_gathering_2014.htm

Featuring:

  Ben Rainey – Musician and long-time spiritual practitioner, Ben is a popular presenter at TAT gatherings. Read Gatha and The Scent of Longing for samples of Ben’s poetry.

  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.

http://tatfoundation.org/june/tat_june_gathering_2014.htm

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Favorable Conditions: Increase Your Probability

Franklin Merrell-Wolff gave two favorable conditions which he felt were vital to success in the spiritual search: a desire for liberation, and a spiritual guru.  The serious life-long commitment, coupled with a realized teacher, whether within and/or without, were indispensable helpers on the Path.

Heavens Above
Heavens Above
He also had a list of Barriers to Recognition:
    The first being Egoism, which though it can bring greater power to the task of solving the problem, it gives unusual difficulty in rendering the microcosm fluidic.
     Somnambulism, a tendency toward wakeful sleep, is a barrier through weakness rather than strength in the subject-object field, though this type is more accessible to induction, or transmission. Training in self-determination and a strengthening of the individuality is needed here.
     Sensuality, being the opposite of spirituality, is next.  All desire for sense-based pleasure(or pain), carries our attention in an outward direction, toward illusion and nothingness, away from the Source Within.
     False predication, or the reversal of value, was the last.  We fall into the error of projecting our own eternality onto the objects in consciousness, and place the illusory nature of objects onto our own awareness. We wonder how the universe evolved consciousness, when the correct question would be how did the universe come to be taken as real.
“Recognition actually is a spontaneous induction out of Spirit Itself. Man’s personal effort merely removes barriers in his nature that inhibit this spontaneous induction.
“Awakening is re-integration for the individual consciousness of the inseparable parts that have been, apparently, divided. Thus, this Awakening does genuinely destroy the universe, in the sense of Its being a power over the Awakened Man. The latter, after the Awakening, may focus attention upon and act within the relative universe at will, but the significance of his doing so is precisely that of entering a dream and consciously playing a part in it.”

Star Streaks
Star Streaks
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Being as Image

Trap:Being as Image. If we take our being as our image of ourselves, derived from our thought/feelings, we limit ourselves to the being of an image; we are an ever-changing symbol created after the fact of our very projecting of that same image from our thought/feelings. When you look in the mirror, do you identify with the image you see, the image you would like to see(improved version), or with That which sees ?
image as being
Trick:Look carefully at your thoughts and feelings. A teacher once remarked that we are much better creators than observers. Another says that identity spins identity. By questioning our thoughts and feelings, we may see this ‘self’ creating process in action, and perhaps slowly back out of our mind-made images into the listening attention. As pure observing, we are free from limitation, for instead of being trapped in form and mind, we now contain all images, all thoughts and emotional reaction. Our being now is as air, still and aware.
Trap: Fear of pain and death. But if we give up our self-images, especially the improved ones of our dreams and vanities, it hurts, for we are left with nothing to stand on. All that is left is fear of dissolution, death, no-image.

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.

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The Shifting Image of Identity

” When two subatomic particles where one is the negation of the other, such as positron and electron, are brought into conjunction, the result is mutual destruction–in their place a flash of radiation that spreads indefinitely throughout space. So also is the effect of the mutual cancellation of all dichotomies of experience and thought. The flash of radiation that spreads indefinitely through space is the symbol of the Enlightened Consciousness. To achieve the mutual cancellation is to effect the Mystic Death, and this requires faith and courage. ” - Franklin Merrell-Wolff

 

     As we go through life, and the path of spiritual seeking, we find we have many ups and down. Upon closer examination, this emotional roller coaster is seen as being caused by identifying with a succession of images, which tend to cancel and replace each other in our never-ending quest for a secure identity. We completely identify with a pleasing image, say that of being a sincere seeker of truth, only to have the facts show otherwise. This can lead us into a negative state, and to fall back for security on a previous image, possibly even a negative one. Since any image is better than none, we will even cling to ones of self-pity and loathing if need be. Anything other than facing the self-less void of no-image. Soon, our energy may recover, we may get a lucky break, feed on flattery and hope, and then identify with an image creatively based on the new, positive circumstances. As life goes on, the circle of identification with the ever-changing parade of images continues. If we are lucky, we will tire enough of this zero-sum game to perhaps pause,…  and begin to question the entire process.

Point of Infinity
Point of Infinity

     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.

     Since this false universe is based upon a false premise, it must be continually re-created. As the actions of life are played out, we must continually re-act to them, life being change and flux. The action dictates the form of the reaction, thus the subject (ego) is continually being modified by the object (world, inner or outer). Soon enough, the action-reaction pattern is taken to be “my life”, and even “me”. We become so engrossed with this pattern that we believe we are actually seeing a real, stable reality we call the world, from the likewise stable point of our ‘self’. We never notice that this ‘self’ is a continually changing reaction-pattern wholly dependent on circumstance,…  until something goes wrong.
     Most of us are unlucky enough to put off questioning the dream of life until tragedy and trauma interrupt. Some, such as Merrel-Wolff, had an in-born intuition waiting to speak when conditions were ripe.  For those of us who need a more forceful wake-up call, the realm of action-reaction must provide. Once we receive this blow to the head, called by some the “first conscious shock”, we begin to question our previous belief-system. We may come to hear from others who have been down the road before us, that there is another way of looking, a clearer, more direct method of seeing. We may get the feeling, reinforced with strange facts, that the world is somehow the reverse of what it appears, that things are somehow “backwards”. Our guides may hint that we have been fooled by experts, and have now become experts at fooling ourselves.
     If we are lucky enough to meet teachers such as Franklin, we may pick up something valuable from them, an induction, not on the level of our usual perception. We may come to feel as if an inner light has appeared, an inner gong has sounded, and a part of ourselves that we had long forgotten has awoken. We are thereafter, never the same. We have become aware, though perhaps dimly, of the Transcendent. There is now the realization of the possibility of reconnecting to the Transcendent Identity we have lost. We now turn our attention Within, and perhaps find that we are Eternal, and that this Soul we Are and ever have been, is directly connected, via a Current, to Its Indefinable Source. It may take the commitment and work of a lifetime, but we have come to know there is no other task worthy of our time. If we persevere, we may make the jump from subject-object consciousness to the Great Space, the Infinite Capacity, where subject and object cancel each other out, and we Recognize our Self as having no boundary, free of the chains of subject-object, the endless suffering in the shifting sands of identity-as-image.
Bob Fergeson
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The Trap of Bigger is Better

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.

A Harsh Life
A Harsh Life

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?

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