Tag Archives: Shawn Nevins

Points and Patterns by Shawn Nevins

 Points
  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

 

  Patterns
  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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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:

If you want High Definition, the digital version is for you. It’s also great for avoiding postage costs.

For the $9.95 budget version: mountainhigh.vhx.tv/buy/mountain-high-budget-edition
For the $19.95 supporting version (includes bonus footage): mountainhigh.vhx.tv/buy/mountain-high-supporting-price

Questions about streaming and downloading? See this FAQ.

for more info: http://www.poetryinmotionfilms.com/mountain-high.htm

 

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.
Shawn Nevins

Isolation – The Solitary Retreat

Isolation is a period of time spent completely alone, cut-off from the world’s distractions, for gaining self-knowledge. People have ventured into deserts, forests, and mountains for thousands of years to escape their fellow men, to find peace, and to find answers to their deepest questions. Such time alone may be an undistracted attempt to delve within in search of the truth of our being. Such time may also be an escape into daydream and fantasy. For me, a few days or weeks alone each year allowed a clearer perspective on the rest of my life and was a time to pursue meditation with full intensity. At the very least, it was an amazing adventure into a tradition few modern people dare to explore. What follows are some suggestions for the process.

Solitary Retreat
Solitary Retreat

 

First, you need a reason for a stint in isolation — something you wish to think about or investigate. I remember the first time I chose to spend a day alone. I sat on a blanket by the edge of a field. Shortly, I realized I had nothing to focus on. I simply had heard that it was good to spend time alone. My mind wandered from one thought to the next for half a day. Finally, I packed up and went home. Of course, it wasn’t a total waste. You learn something from any experience if you take time to ponder what happened and why. I am trying to save you a few steps, though.

 

Perhaps explaining more of the benefits will help clarify your reasons for undertaking an isolation. Many people like taking a few minutes at the end or beginning of the day to review and plan. Isolation is an opportunity to review and plan for months or years of your life. Sometimes in my isolations, I reviewed my journals from the past year. This was a priceless opportunity to see how I changed, how I spent or wasted my time, and what my actions said about my priorities. In short, to learn from my history. Next, I planned for the coming year, and developed a strategy for how I wanted to live my life.

 

You can use isolation for reviewing and planning, or for creating and discovering. Think about the scientist working late at night in his lab, the artist in their retreat, or the Native American on a vision quest. This is isolation as meditation. Eliminating distractions so we can look within and see what arises. For a moment, we put the demands of society on hold. No cell phones, no bills to pay, and no class or job to attend. Just you and the universe — you and life at its simplest. In this case, your reasons may be harder to articulate — taking the form of a feeling or intuition.

 

Once you realize a reason for isolation, the question becomes how long to spend alone. I’ve spent anywhere from a half a day to thirty days in isolation. I know others who spent up to sixty days. Avoid the thirty-day marathons for your first time. Best to start out too short rather than too long, since the ramifications of extending your time are clearer than those of shortening a stay.

 

Life is a sticky business, so you’ll need to reserve a block of time and prepare to cut the cords of responsibility. Get your life in order so you won’t worry whether or not your dog is starving while you are supposed to be contemplating the meaning of life. The older you get the harder this becomes, as not only your dog, but your kids also might wind up starving. Few students realize the luxury of time the college age provides. One’s twenties are a window of opportunity for the grand adventure of spiritual seeking.

 

Where to go is the next consideration. There are numerous spiritual retreats and even a book or two listing them (such as Sanctuaries: The Complete United States). Make sure you will be left alone. It is best to not even see another person for the duration. Having to dine with others, or listen to singing and chanting can be distracting. There are options besides official retreats. Maybe a friend or friend of a friend with land where you could pitch a tent. Parks and National Forests are possibilities. I know people who simply holed up in a cheap motel room for the weekend. What is wrong with using your own home? Many reminders of your life in the everyday world, easy to be disturbed by friends or family, and too many distracting temptations like the television.

 

Wherever you go, plan to keep your life simple while you are there. Food preparation can become a time-consuming chore or a major distraction. Some people simply choose not to eat. Fasting is worth a try. Over-eating will make you sleepy, as will lack of exercise. The more primitive your housing situation, the more planning it may take to keep things simple — how will you cook, clean, use the toilet? Beware of too broad a focus for your isolation. Don’t plan to read ten books in two days. Or plan to decide on a career, a mate, and to discover the source of thoughts. Plan a major thrust for your isolation time and let all other actions be in support of that goal.

 

So you found a reason, a place to go, and a plan to make your isolation happen. Now you are there, so what are the unexpected hurdles? Typically, people find reasons to leave. You decide isolation was a stupid idea, or you are not prepared, or now is not the best time, you feel weak or sick, you have too much nervous energy (can’t focus), or there is some emergency at home. My advice is to not shorten you isolation. If you said you would stay a week, stay a week. However, use your best judgement. If you vomit blood once (I’ve seen it happen), don’t panic and leave. If you vomit blood for two days, and are unable to identify and correct the cause, then you’ve got a problem.

 

Generally, decisions to leave can be negated by changing another aspect of the isolation. Once, I meditated so long that my knees hurt day and night, so I kept changing up my sitting style so I could continue. Another time, a book I thought would be inspiring was a dud, so I used another book. I could have said my knees hurt too much or that the book was uninspiring and I might as well go home. Adapt the details of your plan in mid-stream, if necessary to preserve the whole.

 

There is knowledge and change that will come from the isolation experience. The answer to your deepest question may not come during isolation and you shouldn’t expect it to. On a long afternoon of the twentieth day of a thirty-day isolation, as you are wishing you could sleep away the rest of time, this will seem solely an exercise in determination. That may be one value, but other values are not realized until far in the future.

 

Richard Rose gave me the best description of the attitude one should take. He said not to approach isolation as challenging God or the universe for an answer. Don’t draw a circle in the sand and say you won’t come out until you are enlightened. Instead, and this is my interpretation, work as hard as you can and be thankful for whatever happens.

 

Isolation is an invaluable experience, but even it may outlive its usefulness. Eventually, I felt isolation was no longer useful for me. Perhaps the focus of my isolations had so permeated my everyday life that I was always alone; always looking for an answer even in the midst of an outwardly typical life. Along this line, I do not recommend a cloistered life. Escaping the world through permanent isolation will become another cage from which we must escape.

 

Shawn Nevins, from the TAT Forum -November 2002

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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:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id662178671#
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:
http://store.blurb.com/ebooks/404039-images-of-essence

Images of Essence

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

Practical Wisdom

Practical Wisdom: TAT Foundation Weekend Intensive

Saturday & Sunday, April 13-14, 2013

Practical Wisdom
Practical Wisdom

Everyone wants to be wise (vs. foolish, cockeyed, idiotic, laughable, goofy, unwise). Wisdom can be practical (how to tie your shoes, avoid getting hit by vehicles when crossing the street) or impractical (how many dollar bills laid end to end it would take to circle the equator). Practicality implies helping one succeed in real circumstances. Wisdom implies deep understanding and realization.

The search for a permanent solution to our suffering and longing; the search for truth, beauty, and the creative force, is predominately set aside by the scramble for the next dollar, the next high, the next bit of excitement or security. Join us for a weekend dedicated to the work of highest value: the search for Practical Wisdom.

Featuring:

Bob Fergeson: author of The Listening Attention and NostalgiaWest photographer.

Veteran meditation teacher Michael Conners

Heather Saunders: hospice nurse and longtime spiritual practitioner.

Poet and Filmmaker Shawn Nevins

Open Space Technology – a session harnessing the wisdom and interests of conference participants

Nature Walks and Meditation Sittings

The registration deadline for the April intensive is Monday, April 8th.

 http://tatfoundation.org/april/tat_april_intensive_2013.htm