Tag Archives: listening attention

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.

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?


Capturing Inspiration

I started carrying a tape recorder about the same time as a camera, and for the same reason, to capture inspiration. And as the cameras, they’ve changed with technology. First was a cassette, then a couple of digital’s, and now the ubiquitous smart phone. They’ve been of enormous help saving ideas for writing, whether essays, material for a book, or just something I don’t want to forget on the grocery list. When I’m out walking or skiing, that’s when ideas/inspiration seem to hit, and getting them on tape before they fade away has been a life saver.

Over the hill, and far away
Over the hill, and far away

One of the many spots I associate with inspiration is shown in the blog post below:


The Wild Within

Photographer and writer Paul Rezendes has an unusual take on realization, formed from his experience outdoors as a wildlife tracker. The preface from his book, The Wild Within, gives a brilliant example of his realization, and a perfect description of the listening attention as well:

This book is an inner and outer journey into one’s self and into the wild. The journey through these pages brings us into intimate contact with the lives of wild animals and begs us to look more deeply in order to come into intimate contact with ourselves and the “wild within.” The “wild within” is not a place in space and time; it is an awareness that is unconditioned, or is uncultivated, untouched by the human hand or mind.
These pages open the door to who we are by taking us first into the forest where, through tracking and sometimes direct contact with the animals, we are able to experience and appreciate the lives of wild beings. It gives us the opportunity to see that these lives are none other than our own lives, and that no being is separate from another; that mountain, river, forest, stone, coyote, and humans are the same movement.

Paul Rezendes
Paul Rezendes

I have taken and opened the doors and windows to my own life, so that the reader can look in and see his or her own life in mine. This story is not just about me and the wild animals that I have tracked. It is meant to be a mirror to your own life. For instance, when I share with you my persona as a gang leader, I am hoping that you look at your persona, whether it be an identification as lawyer, doctor, artist, or academic. Most of us have an idea about who we are … it doesn’t matter what that idea is. It has the same basic effect of dividing us within and out there in the forest, as well as socially. Being the president of a motorcycle gang may not be much different than being the president of a nation when it comes to feelings of pride, fear, and power.
This book opens the door to nature, where we come face to face with love, fear, life and death. It takes you into the woodlands, and as you wander through the trees, you may suddenly and unexpectedly find yourself looking inwardly at something you never expected to see – something fresh, alive, and new about yourself that you never knew was there. That is my hope in writing this book, that you wake up to a whole new world, one that is not fragmented, but whole, open, and without fear. Ultimately, that is what The Wild Within is about. It is about what some cultures call waking up, enlightenment, self-understanding, wholeness, or realization.
What I mean by realization is living, being energy that is aware or awake to what is, or to what is arriving in the moment. An awareness that is at rest and has no intention for anything to be other than what it is. Although it is at rest and has no intention, it can have a dramatic action on the movement of thought in a person’s life. This action takes place out of time, and without a doer. It is an action that does not come from a center, nor is it linear. In other words, it is not a reaction. When a person is realized, this awareness is the unresisted perspective in a person’s life, a perspective without a center, and without fear or pride.
Before realization, a person’s perspective is coming from the center of where we believe our self to exist, or at least, that is where we “think” we exist, feel, and think from. This center, this self, this doer that we perceive ourselves to be, is what keeps us divided from nature out there in the world and our true nature within. This results in a sense of being at odds with nature, within ourselves and with others. The center, or the who we think we are, also creates divisions within our own species. I’m talking here about religious, political, sociological and ideological divisions. These divisions can easily develop into hate crimes, wars, etc. Living from this center causes conflict between what is, and what should be – who we think we are, and who we think we should be.
Self-understanding opens the door to the possibility of living without a center, fear, and the need to control nature and others. This book is about that door opening for one human being. It may be about that door opening for you as well.

– Paul Rezendes

for Paul’s books and to see his excellent photos, go to http://www.paulrezendes.com/


Images of Essence on iTunes Bookstore

The poetry and photo book by Shawn Nevins and Bob Fergeson, Images of Essence, is now available in the Apple iTunes Bookstore as a digital download for $3.99
Available on iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.  
To order from the iTunes Bookstore, click here:
and then click View in iTunes.

The TAT Foundation Press presents Images of Essence: a beautiful collection of poetry and photographs. Photographer Bob Fergeson and poet Shawn Nevins bring together their creative wanderings to explore the theme of The Standing Now: the moment when a pause in the passing now of our lives reveals eternity.

To download direct from the printer, go to:

Images of Essence

“It’s like Rumi with a Nikon. ” – Dr. Ron Masa, University of Yourself

The Gumb

The Gumb


“It is absolutely essential that we actually get in touch with the eternal Child.”  – William Samuel


     I’ve found dreams to be a valuable source of self-knowledge through the years, and a great trick to get around the ego’s ruthless tactic of editing out anything truly useful in our search. The following dream is no exception. I was in isolation, a spiritual retreat, and had a curious dream. I wrote it down, and later, when back from the retreat, took the time to research the information. Even now the dream stands out, for it describes a fundamental aspect of us all, one that I continually find described by others in their own words, too.
     The dream revolved around a character called the ‘gumb ‘. This term was accepted by me, as witness to the dream, being part and parcel to the world the dream presented. Only later in so-called waking life did I find the term curious. The character it described was an ordinary sort of fellow, of average height, build, and appearance, but his manner was most unusual. I was shown a series of vignettes where these characteristics were illustrated, as the dream narrator filled in the details.
     In the first scene, the gumb was attacked with spears by a swarm of meanies. Being outnumbered and with no visible means of defense, I was flabbergasted at the result. He was able to simply wave off the spears, and continue on his way unharmed. Next, his bug-like adversaries built a series of walls from cement blocks in attempts to hem him in.  Again, he simply waved his way through, never breaking stride. He never lost his cool or reacted emotionally in any way to these situations. He didn’t indulge in having his feelings hurt or stop to place blame, he just kept moving. He did not attack or retreat but held to his way, without hurry or delay.
     While I watched in amazement, the narrator filled in the story. He told me the man was called the gumb. The reason he could not be hurt or stopped was because he did not carry a watch, and was not afraid to gamble. I remembered these words, and later, back in the world of organized information, I wrote them down and began the search for this word ‘gumb’.
     While later on I found several different versions and roots of the word, the initial search was by far the most informative, and I believe, the most accurate. It resolved the dream for me. I found the word ‘gump’ in a large dictionary, and was surprised at the result. The word was Scottish in origin, and originally meant fishing in the dark, to search for with the hands, to grope and catch fish under banks or stones. It was said it later came to mean searching for insights, having no fear, and not being overly concerned with the outcome. To muddle through difficult situations thanks to a series of lucky chances. It is the root of the modern term ‘gumption’, meaning the courage to act, and the practice of common sense and presence of mind. The meaning of not wearing a watch and not being afraid to gamble began to make sense.
     The gumb’s way of living contrasted heartily with my own, for I was fear-based and living from a state of mind handed down through generations having lived in fear and desire as their basis, too. Now, don’t get this wrong, no one in this line of misfortune is to blame, for no one was aware. They were not aware that they were identified with a particular state of mind. This state of mind called the shots, and even defined perception at a basic unseen level. It gradually covered over the innocent perception of the children of each succeeding generation with a fog of fear, judgment and desire, and transformed them into identified, reactive-oriented robots, each with a pride-based ego that they were aware individuals with a handle on their lives, and the meaning of it all. What a trap, and what a joke. No wonder the image of the gumb and his way of action was so appealing.
     As time went by, I discovered this path or way of being in the writings of others, and in the actions of a few. William Samuel’sChild within, Richard Rose’s between-ness, Douglas Harding’s headless seeing, the Puer or Intermediary of Maurice Nicoll, and many other examples of this pure state of being.  While this listening attention, as I’ve come to call it, is not the final state, it is the door. It is the timeless portal between the manifest and the unmanifest, the gateway to within. It is how to live in the world, but not be of the world. The ego state of mind may be good at managing the world of daily affairs, but it cannot go beyond. The child within us transcends the world, being our link to the formless. We then see why the ancients called it the Son, and that the Son and the Father are One.
     The path to becoming the listening attention begins with self-observation. The hard work of ‘seeing’ what we really are, and what we are not. Later, we may find that we were the Child all along and had just become lost, but without this journey into time and space, we would not value our true state. To begin the homeward journey, look quickly, subtlety, without the editing of states of mind. In the moment of perception there lies a door, an attention that does not define, but simply sees. The nostalgic longing we feel at times for a better life, a real home, is a thread back to this child within. Follow it, and discover your own inner child, the gumb.


Bob Fergeson


The Listening Attention: Kindle Version

The Listening Attention is now on Amazon Kindle! Here’s an excerpt:

No matter how subtle or astute our meditation may be, we will never realize nirvana by using yet another facet of samsara. A different level of seeing is needed, a pure awareness that is not itself a product of the world or mind, but primary to the reaction pattern we call ourselves. A looking which is attentive, yet not reactive. A listening which is not affected by circumstance and the constant changes of the mind. Such an attention would lie outside of time and space, beyond circumstance, yet be aware of them as well as itself. Such a Listening Attention would also be directly connected to the formless inner realm of our True Self, and provide a Gateway to Within.

The Listening Attention
The Listening Attention





Stalking Yourself with the Listening Attention

     Above the door to the ancient temple in Delphi were inscribed the words, “Know Thyself”. These words describe the process by which we separate from our false state of ignorance and rediscover true Being. But how do we initiate this process, this grand work of spiritual discovery? What tools should we choose to come to know this thing we call ‘ourselves’? If we are to engage in the pursuit of self-definition we will need to use the best tools available. To stalk our ‘self ‘, we will need something above or behind this personality to best observe with, something of a different order. Using the personality to observe the personality simply doesn’t work. It’s like trying to lift a plank while standing on it. This self we wish to come to know is a constantly changing, moving target, a veritable chain of reactions and patterns, seldom still, but always within our sight. To observe it we will need something calm and constant. Something that looks but doesn’t react; a seeing that listens.

Shadows on Snow
Shadows on Snow


  Coming to know ourselves eventually crushes the ego, in that we find we are not what we imagined ourselves to be.  We begin to see that the person we think we are is purely mechanical, a robot. Honesty and courage will be needed if we are to accept what we see, and perseverance when we find our task difficult and wish to retreat back into imagination. This process of dis-identifying leads to ego-death, as we separate from our pattern. The simple act of clearly seeing the person we were for what it truly is, is enough to bring about its death. We find we have become that which witnesses experience, where before we were experience, creating more and more experiences in an endless mechanical pattern. We are no longer the wily animal we have been tracking, which becomes cleverer with every experience, but instead something free, eternal, and indescribable.