The Seeker’s List of Things to Do

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

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 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.
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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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Simple Truth

“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.

Peak in Upper Muley Twist Canyon
Peak in Upper Muley Twist Canyon

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

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Who’s in the Drama

Trap: complete hypnotic identification with the current character in our life-drama.  For every situation we encounter in life, we create a fitting character, and become identified with ‘it’, calling it “I”.  We do not see the change that occurs in our ‘self’ when the situation changes, as we switch our sense of “I” into the new character, or ego. The mind blurs or hides this change-over, creating a seemingly seamless flow through the many egos and their parts in our personal drama.
Trick: creation of an observing “I”. To break the spell of the mind and its reaction-creations, an impartial point of reference is needed, an unattached observer. This “I” does not take sides, is not a judging or naming function, but simply an aware link between the many other “I’s” which lead us around by our nose everyday, and night. The trick within this trick, is that we are already this pure “I”, but have lost touch with our Selves through identification. Through the ‘creation’ of an observing “I”, we get a glimpse of something greater, of possibility, a taste of our natural freedom.
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Three Tricks

Here are three tricks to bridge the gap between our ego/idea of ourselves and our fact status:

1. Practice a technique for seeing the personality indirectly. In the beginning, we may not be able to see ourselves directly, so the use of techniques such as dream study or journaling can help get us started on the path of self-discovery. Reading back through a journal can be a shock, we may think we are an earnest, positive and altruistic seeker, when the journal notes may show us to be a negative whiner who thinks only of himself.

 

2. Group Work. Nothing can help with seeing ourselves quite as much as the mirror of a group. To take advantage of the group setting though, one may need to learn to listen. Even in the work place, we may be getting all the information about ourselves we need, but refuse to hear it.

 

3. Watch your emotions. Take the time to sit quietly twice a day, first thing in the morning and before you fall asleep, and see what your heart is telling you. Not to the endless justifications or judgments in the mind, but to the knots or tensions in the background. Can you feel these? What are they related to? Can you bring up words to describe these knots? Do you have mixed feelings about the days events? Where are the contradictions?

 

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True Crime and Tetris – by Dave Martin

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.
Tetris
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’.

We’ll see!

Dave Martin

 

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