Into the Deep

As I walk along the snowy trail
my face to the starry sky,
the night air feels as rain.
The animal self howls and moans
at the night, for it
knows of its illusory existence,
of its own eternality, its life and death.
For it heard, as I heard,
these words we spoke:
Rest easy in the Deep,
as the Deep….
for We are the Deep.

Orion in the Deep
Orion in the Deep

“The earth was formless and void,
and darkness was over the face of the Deep,
and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.”

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20 Spiritual Tools You Can Use On Your Path

20 Spiritual Tools You Can Use On Your Path, by Ricky Cobb III

1. Humor as healing energy/remedy. “One thing you must be able to do in the midst of any experience is laugh. And experience should show you that it isn’t real, that it’s a movie. Life doesn’t take you seriously, so why take it seriously.” – Richard Rose

2. Forgetting yourself. Absorption in activity or concern for others.

3. Remembering yourself. Usually after a period of forgetting yourself. “I am” (Gurdjieffian) exercises, Harding experiments, Feeling into the body, etc. Move out of thinking and look or feel what is actually happening in and around you. Stop the imagination/daydreaming.

4. Put questions to the test. At the start, questions of finders can be helpful. Later, use your own questions. How can I test this out or find out if it is true or not? Test your ideas and beliefs. Compare and contrast the ideas and see if they match reality. Experiment and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there or ask someone else’s perspective on something you always thought was true and hadn’t thought of to question.

5. Question everything. What you can’t see is what is too close to you to be seen by you. Therefore, what has been unquestioned is what is taken for granted or what you are unaware of or cannot yet see. What is seeing? What does the questioning? Distance can be gained by questioning what isn’t real. Reality withstands questioning.

6. Make it your own. Franklin Merrell-Wolff mentioned he made a modification of his own and that was a key. Give your personal twist to your practices, put yourself into whatever you do. Enjoy it, love it even. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there in some way.

7. If at first you don’t succeed, don’t give up. This path requires a small amount of insanity (doing the same thing over and over again and getting the same results). It might not be the 20th time but the 21st time you hear/see/do something that it takes effect or becomes clear within you. Sticktoitiveness.

8. Make a commitment to the Truth. The Essential part of you is already committed. Bring action to your commitment or make it real in some way.

9. Can’t choose between two seemingly equal choices? Pick one and go with it. Even if you fail you will have succeeded at eliminating a wrong choice.

10. Perception and perspective. As you see it so it is. See it good, it is good. See it bad it is bad. It is bad, because you see it bad. It is good because you see it good. Discover the connection between ideas of things and things ‘themselves.’ There are limits to this, of course, but you must discover where they are and how far they go.

11. The mind is like the body. It can be full or stuffed from over indulgence. Too many ideas can be like fat and cause sluggishness. Slow down rest in silence and quiet. Let the mind burn away what it has learned or is chewing on. Meditation, physical work or exercise where the mind is free to wander are good to allow this processing to occur.

12. Same goes for the body. Lack of exercise will cause sluggishness in the body as well as the mind. Exercising the body will allow the mind to be free. They are interconnected and a healthier body will lead to a healthier mind. By intentionally introducing stress to the body in a controlled manner with exercise, you will take life’s uncontrolled stresses better by being used to the body’s stress response. In fact, it may even make you more efficient and better able to respond to whatever is thrown at you. Willingly undergoing adversity is taking responsibility for life, good and bad. And you’ll feel better.

13. Acceptance. Relax in the present moment putting aside judgments, worries, and thoughts. Acknowledge the reality of what is, as it is what’s not false (like the worries). If you cannot accept something do what you can to change it if it is within your power to do so. If it isn’t within your power develop the power or pray to a higher power. Trust in your prayers or own ability or the specific combination of the two. “Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.” -St. Augustine

14. Should isn’t always what is. What you think should happen and what actually does happen aren’t the same. Learn what your expectations are so you can drop them.

15. How? The answer to how is yes. From the title of a book I haven’t read. The title is enough. How? By any means be necessary. If it’s important you’ll find a way or means to make it happen.

16. Why….? Any why question can be answered that there is no why, only what is. This means that an answer to why wouldn’t be sufficient to change your being; it would only temporally satisfy your intellect. Go beyond thought or kill your mind by seeing between thoughts. What is there?

17. Intuit. Feel before you think. But don’t forget to think too! The combination is common sense or practical right mindedness.

18. Triangulate. Richard Rose’s Jacob’s Ladder and Herbert Benoit’s Conciliatory Principle. Study opposites and see where you are in relation. The point isn’t to find the middle spot between opposites and stay there but to back up the swinging arm of the pendulum to the still fulcrum point.

19. Don’t confuse levels. A Course In Miracles talks about confusion of levels. This would be like taking some spiritual advice literally without understanding it might refer to the absolute level rather than the relative level. An example of that might be the saying “nothing needs to be done” and so you interpret that to mean you don’t have to do anything. Doing still needs to occur but the problem is with the identification here. If you’re still a body and stop doing things that body will be in for a lot of trouble. Another example might be taking practical specific advice for you and confusing it as some abstract nebulous thing that must occur on a ‘spiritual’ level rather than on a relative ‘normal’ level. Use common sense about what your next step is.

20. Group-work. Work with others to be a mirror and allow them to be one for you. While there is no specific recipe or instructions one can follow to become enlightened (or find what you really are) and every path is individual and unique, specific to each person, you can still work together with your fellow seekers to compare notes, discuss ideas, provide support or warnings and give inspiration or suggestions to one another. It may save you time or trouble on your path.


Ricky Cobb III

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Intuition and Reason by Richard Rose

By meditation men have improved their Intuition,
By suffering and adversity, men have improved Intuition,
By abstinence from food, or from certain foods men have improved their Intuition.
By abstinence from sex action men have improved their Intuition.
By the establishment of a system of shocks, or alternation between abstinence and indulgence, between suffering, and happiness, or even ecstasy, men have improved their Intuition.
By various mental exercises men have improved their Intuition.
By the practice of concentration on one thing, then on many things, and then on nothing, men have improved their Intuition.
By the practice of remembering the self, men have improved.
By the practice of concentration on various nerve centers, men have improved their Intuition.


Reason may be improved by the coordination of similarities and opposites in nature.
Reason may be improved by qualifying all statements with their relative nature.
Reason may be improved by exploring the “possible opposite” of that which seems to be final.
Reason may be improved by listening to the words of those who firmly believe in opposition to ourselves.
Reason may be improved by the study of mathematics.
Reason may be improved by the study of symbols, words numbers or figures, or by the juggling of these, or by exchanging or interpolating symbols of one system for those of another system, and by the resulting effect of all this upon memory and imagination.
Reason may be improved by desire, or fear.
Reason may be improved by the determination to reason.


Copyright Reserved – 2003 by Richard Rose
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Learning to walk a straight line

This Tricks and Traps has to do with the value of having an aim or direction to hold to, whatever the circumstance:
 Learning to walk a straight line, regardless of the mood of the dream.


Trick: Thinking with our feelings. We can become mesmerized by our current mood, whether elevated or depressed.  Convinced that we are the mood, we make plans, decisions, and conclusions, based on our current level of energy, only to have the entire thing change as the energy level waxes and wanes, leading us into the
Trap of bodily existence: We take our very definition of who we really are, from our feeling of our body’s moods, based on its current energy level. If we’re tired and depressed, we plan and dream as tired, depressed beings; when we’re high and mighty, so goes our thinking. The circle of circumstance turns and spins, and having no safe harbor or aim, so go we.
On the Path
On the Path
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Saint Nicholas

According to local Irish legend, Saint Nicholas is buried in Co Kilkenny. The grave is said to be in the ruined Church of St Nicholas, Jerpoint. The church is all that remains of the medieval village, Newtown Jerpoint, that fell to ruin by the 17th century. The village was surrounded by the Cistercian Jerpoint Abbey, founded in 1183. Located on 1,880 acres, the abbey had its own gardens, watermills, cemetery, granary, and kitchens. It served as a launching point for Irish-Norman Crusaders from Kilkenny. The abbey was disolved in 1540.

The ruined church is now found on privately held farm land. Located to the west of the abbey, the church has an unusual grave slab with an image of a cleric, thought to be a bishop, and two other heads. The cleric is said to be St Nicholas and the heads, the two crusaders who, so the story goes, brought Nicholas’ remains back to Ireland. Though the church dates from 1170, the grave slab appears to be from the 1300s.

St. Nick
St. Nick


The tale tells of a band of Irish-Norman knights from Jerpoint, traveling to the Holy Land to take part in the Crusades. On retreat, as they headed home to Ireland, they seized St Nicholas’ remains, bringing them back to Kilkenny, where the bones were buried.

Evidence lends some posible credence to this tale as the Normans in Kilkenny were keen collectors of religious relics—possibly even more so than the Italians. And it is known that Norman knights from Kilkenny participated in the Holy Land Crusades.

Another version of the story tells of a French family, the de Frainets, who removed Nicholas’ remains from Myra to Bari, Italy, in 1169 when Bari was under the Normans. The de Frainets were crusaders to the Holy Land and also owned land in Thomastown, Co Kilkenny. After the Normans were forced out of Bari, the de Frainets moved to Nice, France, taking the relics with them. When Normans lost power in France, the Nicholas de Frainets packed up once again, moving to Ireland. This story has the relics being buried in Jerpoint in 1200.

This poem by Bill Watkins commemorates the legend:

‘The Bones of Santa Claus’

Where lie the bones of Santa Claus
To what holy spot each pilgrim draws
Which crypt conceals his pious remains
Safe from the wild wind, snows and rains.

It’s not in Rome his body lies
Or under Egypt’s azure skies
Constantinople or Madrid
His reliquary and bones are hid.

That saint protector of the child
Whose relics pure lie undefiled
His casket safe within it’s shrine
Where the shamrocks grow and rose entwine.

Devout wayfarer, cease your search
For in Kilkenny’s ancient church
Saint Nicholas’ sepulcher is found
Enshrined in Ireland’s holy ground.

So traveler rest and pray a while
To the patron saint of orphaned child
Whose bones were brought to Ireland’s shore
Safe from the Vandal, Hun and Moor.

Here lie the bones of Santa Claus
Secure beneath these marble floors
So gentle pilgrim, hear the call
And may Saint Nicholas bless you all.

article from Stair na hÉireann:— with Lisa Dublin and John JQ Quigley.
Guiding Light
Guiding Light
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Fasting the Mind

“The greatest need of our time is to clean out the enormous mass of mental and emotional rubbish that clutters our minds” ~ Thomas Merton.

Feeding the head, if it’s not regulated, leads to a negative state of overload. It is the childish dream of acquisition without conflict; ‘I wanna do what I want’, taken on a mental level. If you let an animal, the animal part of your self, just do what it wants, it will eat and eat until it gets sick. It will never have time to process and digest, never get needed exercise or sharpen its wits through the trials of the hunt. It ends up fat, sick, and obsessed. The same with feeding the head. If we do nothing but read books, watch YouTube videos, even attend retreats and talks, but never actually exercise our mind through concerted actions, discipline it through reason, and rest it through silence, it too becomes fat and lazy.


We get caught in a downwardspiral, tending to blame everything on outer circumstances: “why can’t I do what I want, why won’t they let me do what I want, if I could do what I want I’d be happy”. If there is no reason or restraint put into action to exercise the mind and lend experience rather than ever fulfilled desire, we become bloated and sick, and place the blame for our discomfort on others and the world.

monkey mind
monkey mind

This is where isolations, or solitary retreats, come into play. If you can go into isolation, even small periods of ‘tech fasting’ during the week where you’re not putting information into your head nonstop, your mind can digest and comprehend. Otherwise, the imagination takes over and the mind gets fat and lazy, lost in the fog of information overload. You’ll have little chance for true realizations. You’ll instead be miserable; mentally constipated. And if you’re miserable, you’ll be always looking to be happy. See how this leads into a downward spiral: “I need to do what I want, don’t you understand that I’m miserable, why can’t I do what I want?” You’re not deprived, but exactly the opposite. You’re obsessed, craving more and more, and down the slippery slope you go.

beware of your head
beware of your head

If you can fast the mind through solitary retreats, no books to read, no YouTube videos to watch, no teachers to listen to, no friends to pump you up, then you can let the mind become lean and free. Even short quiet periods during the week, such as going for a walk around the block, without looking at your phone, can work wonders. You’ll think better, you’ll open the door for resolution. This is why solitary retreats can be so valuable, especially nowadays when our minds have become arrogant and obsessed through constant exposure to the internet, ‘smart’ phones, and their ceaseless stream of meaningless information. Take a walk, and watch your head rather than stuff it. Go on a solitary retreat and fast your mind, let it get slim and trim, and perhaps something meaningful will slip through.

– Bob Fergeson

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Images of Essence


Images of Essence, featuring Nostalgiawest photographer Bob Fergeson and poet Shawn Nevins is available in a .pdf file format for viewing on your computer or phone for only $6.99.  For iPhones and iMac, it’s available from Apple for only $3.99!

Great idea for Christmas!

Click on the links below to get yours now!

For .pdf file download, click here:

For iPhone from the Apple Store, click here:

Open Trail
Open Trail

 from the book:


Without lifting a hand,
the world becomes more
than I could ever make it.


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Beauty as a Path Within

Trough Springs Canyon
Trough Springs Canyon

One fine day in the spring of 1997-8 or so, I was hiking out of Trough Springs Canyon. I had made the trip to the creek in the bottom, taken my weekly shower in the rarity of flowing water in the otherwise dry desert, and was walking up the thousand feet of elevation gain to my truck back at the trailhead. The past week or two had been spent in solitary retreat, fasting and reading, sitting in the desert’s immense silence. The exercise of hiking provided a break in the routine; I was in good spirits as I trudged up the narrow canyon through the large rocks.
The end of the ridge I would soon be walking on came into view above and to my left. From the perspective of being down below the sheer cliffs it took on the appearance of a peak, a glimmering tower of red sandstone set against a stark blue desert sky. I couldn’t stop looking up at it; it began to capture my attention in a strange way. After a few glances, I stopped at a switchback and turned towards it, and was hit with a beauty I have rarely seen. The peak hadn’t changed, but in that instant something in me was open and unguarded, and I couldn’t turn my head from the view. I gazed in awe at the rock, and could not believe it to be so maddeningly beautiful.

Heartbreak Peak 2
Heartbreak Peak 2

The view had somehow opened me up. I don’t want to sound too poetic, or grandiose, but that’s what happened. My heart began to ache, both figuratively and physically. My chest was in agony, and I thought of William Blake’s words, “…portions of eternity too great for the eye of man.” I could not hold the beauty, it was too much for my heart to bear. So it broke.
I do not wish you to think I’m exaggerating. It happened so fast and unannounced that I had no time to stop it, something I probably would have done if I could have. But the process had begun, and all I could do was drop to my knees on the rocky trail and weep. I had wept tears before: when my father died and I realized what his life had been like, for him. And when my dreams of the secluded life on the Zen Master’s ashram had been dashed from a good dose of reality. But this time it was somehow different. I was not weeping for the loss of something, or from the shock of hitherto unseen truths; I was simply allowing the beauty of my own true existence, reflected in the desert peak, to become apparent and real. I could now accept it, even though my mind could not believe it.

Trough Springs View
Trough Springs View

My heart had been opened, and in an unselfish manner. There was no loss of a loved one, or dashed hopes, but simply the seeing of things objectively, letting the beauty come through before it could be washed clean of its power by the reasoning mind. It flowed through unhindered, unabashed, and unexpected. I no longer had a need to filter perception; to keep my heart safe and secluded from its own treasures. I began to weep not only for the impossible view before me, but at my own heart’s opening. It was free, free of the tight bonds of reason and practicality. Free of the ‘shoulds’, the rules, the restraints. Not free to ‘do what it wants’, to indulge in the childish fantasies of teenage youth, but free to simply be, without correction.
Every time I hike that trail I try to capture with my camera the beauty of what I’ve come to call Heartbreak Peak. The photographs are pale copies, some better, some worse, but the view itself is still astounding. What hits me when I now re-visit that lonely canyon isn’t as much memory, but gratitude. Gratitude that something opened a crack in my heart to let in Grace and Love. That spontaneous breaking of the prison wall that was keeping me locked up as well as secure, allowed the higher part of me to make contact. It forged a connection from the low to the high, from the mundane to the eternal. I can now walk that trail, I try to visit it every year or two, and sing praises to my Self. I was rescued and delivered from the ‘secure’ unconsciousness of a buried heart, to blindingly clear Light and Love.

Heartbreak Peak
Heartbreak Peak

Now that I’ve had a few years to dwell on the above event, it’s become clearer to me what happened, and why it’s so important for anyone on the spiritual path. My Zen teacher used to take those who could make the trip, to the east coast seashore in hopes of catching that Beauty through a sunrise over the ocean. He had seen before what an effect this could have on the heart, if the person was ready. Maurice Nicoll wrote of Beauty and the Puer Aeternus, how the eternal child is our intermediary between the mundane and the divine, and how Beauty can be a door through which we allow the divine to make contact. Before the above event, the trip to the seashore and the words of the wise were only theories with which I had no real relationship.
If you have the chance to allow Beauty to break you, whether through a sunset, the eyes of a child, or a desert peak, don’t fear. It may seem you’re losing control and it’s too much to bear, and it is. But don’t be afraid, for if you follow Beauty and Love within to your own heart, the Infinite may become your Home.

– Bob Fergeson

Trough Springs Trail
Trough Springs Trail
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Bart Marshall – Buddha at the Gas Pump Interview

Bart Marshall
Bart Marshall

Bart Marshall describes his spiritual path as “self-guided eclectic.” It began with a death experience in Vietnam in 1968 and ended in 2004 on an airplane at 30,000 feet over the Atlantic as he returned from a workshop with Douglas Harding. In those intervening years he “turned over every rock” in his quest for a final answer, but counts three teachers as the most influential: Richard Rose, Nisargadatta Maharaj, and Douglas Harding.

He founded Self Inquiry Group (SIG) in Raleigh, North Carolina (, and for many years held weekly meetings before stepping back in 2013. Sometimes called “the reluctant guru” by those who know him, Bart nevertheless travels widely to speak when asked, and teaches retreats and intensives with Deborah Westmoreland (Conscious TV interview) events that have proven to be highly transformative for participants.

Bart is the author of The Perennial Way: New English Versions of Yoga Sutras, Dhammapada, Heart Sutra, Ashtavakra Gita, Faith Mind Sutra, and Tao Te Ching, and an upcoming book, Christ Sutras (Fall 2014), which contains the complete sayings of Jesus from all sources arranged as topical sermons. He is currently completing a book of essays on spiritual matters, Becoming Vulnerable to Grace.

Interview recorded 11/8/2014

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Points and Patterns by Shawn Nevins

  First, one must realize that the only answer to what ails them is a total answer. The only hope lies in discovering if there is anything permanent in the self or even in the Universe. Without certainty in regards to our fundamental nature, all our life is built upon vagueness, hopes, and fears.
  Second, one must find ways of exploring, searching for the source of their awareness. With introspection, one becomes aware that they are an observer of their experience and even their thoughts. Is this awareness permanent, though? Is it of the body or does it emanate from another source?
  Third, one must focus their energy on one priority. It should be obvious to you and your friends for what you use your time and thoughts.
  Fourth, one must remember the urgency of the task. You are moving toward Truth, but could always be moving quicker. Evidence points to the possibility of various after-death fates, but the discovery of the Foundation of All negates the concern for body and mind. It is not wise to die in ignorance.
  Fifth, one must watch for patterns of behavior that hinder the accomplishment of the above tasks. Refer to Richard Rose’s “List of Obstacles” [in chapter five of The Albigen Papers] and add “doubt in our ability to achieve.”
  Sixth, you create the details of these steps and you continually explore systems and teachers, picking and choosing that which appeals to your intuition and reason. Every person has multiple locks or blocks and will require different keys along the way. Teachers and systems are aids for you to create your own path


  1. By studying patterns, we become aware of how few decisions we make – things happen to us. By this humbling realization, we increase our desire to know. Humility brings power. The humble man admits his robotic nature and uses that nature to better his quest. Thus, we establish a pattern of increasing frustration and increasing desire for an answer.
  2. You did not bring yourself to where you are. Yet your belief in will keeps you where you are (i.e. guilt keeping you stuck).
  3. All of your flaws and failings are already known – there is nothing to hide. The pretense of hiding ties you in knots.
  4. To discover patterns requires memory. Our flawed memory requires aids such as: keeping a journal, time alone for recollection and reflection, and the memory of our friends.
  5. What is one negative pattern you live in today? How did it manifest in the past?
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