Tag Archives: fear

Sooner or Later

The Usual Mode of Conversation Between God and Man

 

God:        Turn round, and come Home to me.

Man:   Two dozen dirty lovers before you, I must be a sucker for it.

I’d cry, but I don’t need my mother, just hold my hand while I come to a decision on this.

 

Sooner or later,

 your legs will give way, you’ll hit the ground. Turn round.

 

Save it for later,

just hold my hand while I come to some decisions on all this.

 

Sooner or later,

 you’ll hit the deck, you’ll get found out. Turn round.

 

I just need more time to think.

Save it for later,

but don’t run away and let me down.

 

Turn round, and come Home to me.

 

I’ve traveled all 7 seas, they’re rotten through and through, so what can you do?

Sooner or later,

you’ll run away and let me down.

 

Sooner or later,

your legs will give way, you’ll hit the ground. Turn round.

 

Two dozen other stupid reasons while we should suffer all this?

Sooner or later,

you’ll run away, run away, and let me down.

 

Sooner or later,

you’ll hit the deck, you’ll get found out. Turn round.

 

Save it for later,

just hold my hand while I come to some decisions on all this.

 

 

This continued for some time, right up to and through the present day.

 

 

Prime the Pump

“The key to the whole process lies in the fact that there is a fountain-spring of endless guidance and information within every human being. One only has to learn to get out of its way, to let the consciousness generate in a stilled and quiet mind. – The fountainhead lies totally within.” – Jim Burns

One of my favorite songs as a child was ‘Desert Pete’ by the Kingston Trio. The dilemma of the thirsty traveler in the song fascinated me. What would I do if came upon an old well in the desert, and found the bottle of water for priming the pump? Would I pour it into the well, acting on faith that the message in the note was correct, that there was just enough water to prime the old pump? Or would I take the easy path, and drink it?

Our spiritual life poses much the same dilemma. Do we spend all of our time and energy on life and its pursuits? Or can we invest some of it towards future understanding and possible transformation? Do we have faith that our investment will come to fruit? Are we even aware that we have energy and time, and that they can be re-directed, invested towards something higher, rather than living from day to day, spending it all on whatever desire or fear presents itself moment by moment?

The Parable of the Talents presents a similar lesson. We are given energy and life, talents, which we can invest through faith, or we can covet the energy, bury the talent in the ground, and through fear of the higher(the Master in the parable) keep our self-love intact. The servants who invested their master’s money were rewarded for their efforts, while the one who buried his talent(no pun intended) had it taken from him and was thrown into darkness.

The song tells a similar tale. Do we trust in a higher power, and pour the precious water into the well, invest it, or do we take the way of fear and need, and drink it up?

Jim Burns talked about the hidden spring within each of us, and how all spiritual work was designed to re-connect us with this wellhead. To uncover the inner fountain of spirit through faith is, in a fundamental sense, our task. Life’s trials and tribulations can plunge us deep into ourselves, and at the bottom of this dark well, we may find spiritual gold. We come to see there is something higher, that comes from deep within. That the world and its desire/fear system lead nowhere but farther into need and separation. We gain faith through insight and intuition, and one day ‘prime the pump’. We start to question our need to drink all water as soon as we are given it. We are able to resist the world and its promises, the easy bottle, and to stop doubting ourselves. This saves the energy of the moment. It’s invested instead. We are starting to have faith. The pump is primed, the inner connection is re-established. The water of wisdom and love can come forth from our own inner well.

We are given many notes on how to prime the pump, how to have Faith. Teachers and spiritual systems have been presenting this message for centuries.

One day, we may realize we have been investing, priming the pump, through simple acts such as prayer and meditation, seeing others as ourselves, and listening to our heart. The inner connection will clear, the wellhead will have been uncovered. Then the cool clear water of our inner divinity will spring forth, healing our mind and heart, guiding us back to the Source.

-Bob Fergeson

True Inquiry – Wisdom from a Friend

I was thinking this morning of how I have attempted to accomplish control over the fear of death. I saw that I was comparing my efforts to accept death, and the failure to do so, only within the context of what I believed.  I realized this could never be accomplished; it was trying to change an idea with an idea, working only in the realm of thought, rather than becoming that which observes thought.

It strikes me that much of what we call ‘spiritual work’, but isn’t direct inquiry, is this phenomenon in one form or another.

Road to Awakening
Road to Awakening

Whether it be death, anger, or whatever else we believe we need to make peace with or become, before we awaken.

Awakening is not an accomplishment.  Its road is not a series of modifications, but rather a direct seeing of what is.

This is not the same as struggling with thought to ‘remove’ thought.  You see thought directly.  You are ‘behind’ even thought.

It’s when we believe we see from the same level as thought (that seeing is possessed by an object we take as our self) that we attempt to modify it.  We believe this modification will allow a more direct seeing as the object we believe ourselves to be changes.

You cannot see through objects.  Thought cannot be made more transparent (a movement to its opposition) or more opaque (a movement towards its reinforcement) and thus solve the problem of identity.

When thought is seen as an object and not as a lens, you may ‘see’ seeing itself and thus be the truth of yourself, even here, in the world.

Facing the Unknown
Facing the Unknown

You can’t accept anything before its actuality presents.  This ‘acceptance’ would only be an idea and ideas can only be believed in. They should not be accepted at their own level, the level of ideas. True acceptance comes as the ‘I’ is chased down.

The pride of accomplishment is a sneaky bastard.  Be it positive (I did good) or negative (I did bad)

The pride of accomplishment and the pride of ownership are the same pride as that of doer-ship.  They occur at the unquestioned level of identity.  An identity of thought only pointed at but never fleshed out in what can be directly viewed as actual.  Much suffering comes from this.

– wisdom from a friend

Light of Awareness
Light of Awareness

Dark Zen – A Guru On The Bayou

Ever wondered about the connection between Zen and self-knowledge? If you have even a glimmer of interest in these matters, this book can open a new dimension for you. This much prized knowledge is delivered via the friendship that develops between a lost young man and a Zen master.Dark Zen - Bob Fergeson-1

Nostalgiawest photographer Bob Fergeson has just released a new book, set in the swamps of Louisiana. Bob couches Zen lessons and a methodology for spiritual development into a simple story that allows the teachings to shine through. This book has something to offer the complete beginner and the more seasoned seeker – simple explanations of profound truths.

The book is available on amazon, in both print and Kindle editions. The Kindle version has full color photos taken by the author in southern Louisiana.

– Dark Zen in print

– Dark Zen Kindle –

 

Bayou Glory
Bayou Glory

The origin of fear

If we take our life to be our emotional reactions, of the second level and pattern of reaction after the direct experience, we end up stuck in a cycle of fear, a no-win situation. Rather than staying in first person and the first level of reaction, we allow ourselves to become emotional, and identify with a secondary feeling reaction and the ensuing negative thoughts.

By way of example, let’s say you make a mistake. To stay in first-person would be to accept the mistake, look at correcting or leaving it, and let life flow on. “Ok I’ve made a mistake, let’s look at it objectively, not get emotional and negative about it, simply look at it and say “okay, what can we do next time? Where can we go from here?” You keep it simple, first person. You are a little bit wiser, things are a little more simple. You’ve got more freedom ahead, more confidence. You made a mistake and learned from it.

But, if we’re negative and get caught in second person, the reaction to reactions, then our thinking and feeling slides downhill. We are now focused on the ego, the ’me’, and not the problem. “You made a mistake, mistake means bad, therefore I am bad. I’m a horrible person, and I have to correct ‘me’ being bad, rather than correct the mistake. The only way I can correct being bad is to not ever make mistakes, never be bad again.”

That’s not possible in life. Life is in part a series of mistakes, or events, occurring over and over. It’s a learning process, a school. We’re trapped in a no-win situation when ‘we’ feel bad and define ourselves by our feeling reactions. We’re trying to correct ‘bad’ by not making a mistake. But we know we’re going to make a mistake, eventually, so we now have an underlying sense of fear and anxiety. We can either retreat from life, so as not to make mistakes, not be bad, or we can live in fear of the next inevitable emotional reaction.

fear
fear

The fear and anxiety is what we end up dealing with. Not the simple first action, or mistake.
We can never get out of the problem because we’re not dealing with it head on, face-to-face. We’re always dealing with the secondary reaction, which is hopeless, it’s self-maintaining once the cycle has begun.

Instead of trying to correct ‘bad’ by being perfect, we drop the emotionality, the ego of secondary reaction. Stay in first-person, and say “I made a mistake, let’s deal with that”.

This is the beginning of courage and patience, giving the possibility of a true form of love.

-Bob Fergeson

 

Holding a Straight Line

“Zen is walk, don’t wobble.” – Richard Rose

People think they’re going against themselves, but what they’re going against is a made-up fantasy, a ‘self’ they keep handy in a box in their head. They say “I’m going against my ‘self’ “. They then pick some meaningless personality facet out of the box to work on, but they never work against themselves. That’s too close, and they’re too hooked into it; they are ‘it’. Separating from this ‘self’ is a tricky, painful business, and nothing to be taken lightly.

Say we have an insight and see a goal we would like to achieve, such as not being negative. As soon as we start to work towards it, resistance naturally comes up. This resistance, or second force, may start us second-guessing ourselves because we’re under the illusion that if we were truly on the path there will be no resistance; everything will be bliss and perfection. So as soon as resistance pops up, we say ‘oh my god, I’m going in the wrong direction, I need to turn and go around, this can’t be right!’. Thus, we get blocked, sidetracked. Then we start to second-guess the second-guessing and end up in a muddle. This is wobbling. Second-guessing and avoiding resistance keeps us from walking a straight line. It comes from a profound misunderstanding of the world and how things work. There’s resistance towards anything that involves changing; especially working against ourselves. The self that you’re trying to work against is you, and it will defend itself. It will defend itself because it doesn’t want to die, just as you don’t want to die. We will defend this ‘self’, for we have taken it to be us. This is the human dilemma.

Fog Lifting
Fog Lifting

So when you want to try spiritual work, and hear you need to go against the self, the ego, it will be difficult. At first it’s going to be hell. The only way to get to the other side, is to go through it, not to second-guess yourself and take the easy way out every time there’s resistance. The resistance means you’re headed in the right direction and need to hold a straight line.

Now this goes for the intuition too, you have to see where you’re fooling yourself. The path is not all bliss and ease, that’s not a good indicator. Ease and pleasure are indicators that you’re not going against yourself, that you just coasting, not moving. We have to go through what we fear and what’s hard for us. To work against our ‘selves’, that’s the point. Not to take it easy and go towards the magic, the rainbows, the imaginary bliss, dreaming everything’s going to be wonderful. Nothing changes then, it’s happening only in our heads.

Clearing View
Clearing View

Change is hard, change is death, death to the little ‘self’. To get to a higher place or state, you have to climb. You can’t keep turning back downhill simply because you’re out of breath and your legs hurt, and your ego isn’t being pumped up. You’ve got to keep going up. You may need to use switch backs and rest stops in order to keep from burning out too soon, but that doesn’t mean you stop and roll downhill, and then wonder what happened, why nothing has changed, why the view is still cloudy and close.

– rant by Bob Fergeson

Pain as an Anchor

Anything is better than facing ourselves as we really are. Take pain. Why do we deliberately hurt ourselves and others by our actions, such as obsessions, addictions, self-centered behavior, if we didn’t need the distraction and identity that pain gives us?

I remember vividly the thought that would run through my head in the depths of alcoholism: that even if nothing was meaningful or important, that if no one cared or noticed, there was always pain.

This piece from R. M. Drake further illustrates this:

pain
pain

And the poem of Oscar Wilde, written while in prison, telling how we would rather kill that which we love , than turn and face the inner life within:

“Yet each man kills the thing he loves,
By each let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!
Some kill their love when they are young,
And some when they are old;
Some strangle with the hands of Lust,
Some with the hands of Gold:
The kindest use a knife, because
The dead so soon grow cold.
Some love too little, some too long,
Some sell, and others buy;
Some do the deed with many tears,
And some without a sigh:
For each man kills the thing he loves,
Yet each man does not die.”

Why are we so afraid of facing ourselves, as we really are? Is it a feeling of fear? Are we that afraid of the unknown, that we would trade the discovery of ourselves, for familiarity in the form of pain?

The fear of  facing the unknown was described by a friend as the fear of falling into the black hole, and willing to do anything to stay orbiting on the event horizon, even if it means being anchored to a life of pain or distraction. This anchor holds us from the release of finding our True Self, which lies beyond the fear, beyond the opposites of pain and  pleasure.

Richard Rose wrote this wonderful poem to help us release the anchors, to give us a bit of hope in the face of our clinging. That beneath the event horizon, in the seeming nothingness, there is something: the home of the soul.

I come to you as a man selling air,
And you will think twice at the offer and price,
And you will argue that nothing is there,
Although we know that it is – everywhere.

I bring a formula largely untold, –
Of forces mixed with between and betwixt.
And only seen when allowed to unfold.
And better felt when the body is cold.

I have a map to the home of the soul,
Beyond the mind is a golden find, –The Golden Find
The paradox is a guide to the goal, –
Though doubt is sacred, each man is the Whole.

(from Profound Writings, East & West)

 

–  Bob Fergeson

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

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.

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