Tag Archives: longing

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

 

“In Charleston graveyard upon Release”

all praise to thee
all praise to thee

Hail moon! Hail sun!
Hail sacred tree.
The center now shall hold!
Almighty God, who healeth me.
All praise to Thee!

For Thou art One!
I know! I know!
As Thou art There above.
But Many in us Here below.
O yes, I know!
I know it’s so!

I’ll give my best,
I’ll give my all.
In Faith, I am assured.
That from this World we cannot fall.
No! Not at all.
We cannot fall!

So let me live.
So let me die.
A moth unto Thy Flame.
Light unto Light! To Thee I fly.
Nor question why.
To Thee I fly.

My burden great.
My spirit free.
A goal I dimly see.
Almighty God, who healeth me.
All praise to Thee!
All praise to Thee!

– John Davis

Second Edition – Images of Essence

 The TAT Foundation is pleased to announce a second edition of Images of Essence is now available in a new, more affordable paperback version. This beautiful book of poetry and photographs has been likened to “Rumi with a Nikon,” and the authors’ creative wanderings touch a deep cord of recognition of the profound in everyday life.
Now available for $17.95 on Amazon and for $2.99 in a digital edition for the Kindle.

 

Into the Deep

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

Orion in the Deep
Orion in the Deep

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

Fasting the Mind

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

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

overloaded
overloaded

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

monkey mind
monkey mind

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

beware of your head
beware of your head

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

– Bob Fergeson

Bart Marshall – Buddha at the Gas Pump Interview

Bart Marshall
Bart Marshall

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

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

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

Interview recorded 11/8/2014

Seeker’s Stories

Seeker’s Stories: fellow seekers tell their stories of life on the Path

Paul Schmidt,  Ike Harijanto,  Rupert CriswellTim Howell,  and Dave Martin describe their struggles with self- inquiry and illusion.

The Path
The Path

Whatever I had been doing was serving me. Robert Adams has said “Every desire every urge is a search for the Self.  But we’re misdirected”.  I’d agree as it seems my path has turned out to be one of reorientation.  Finding my way now to a point that must be reconciled with myself.  – Tim Howell

 

click here or on their name to read their personal accounts:

http://mysticmissal.org/blog/?cat=192

Ennui

Ennui  by  Ike Harijanto

 

It is not blind

for it has no eyes.

A glob blubbery blob, marshmallowy,

yellow, bloated Ennui

blows thick smoke from a hookah drooping

off its thick puckering lips.

 

For Life and Love it’s an ogre so hungry.

Beware of its smoke for it can swallow

whole and drag low,

then all motions drags a clunky

laborious chain of “Why?”

 

Marshmallow Ennui imperceptibly

turns into sticky molasses Depression quickly.

It’s not a morphing; it’s a giving of way,

for Depression is a desperate try

against falling so deeply asleep that is Ennui.

 

It drags you into a gray-brown bog,

Blowing its drowsy fog.

I fall asleep without knowing it,

thinking I’m awake, thinking I’m aware.

 

553830_439267869427405_548650054_n

Ennui is a know-it-all thinking, “I know too much.”

Ennui is an armchair traveller claiming, “Been there, done that.”

Ennui is jadedness yawning, “Meh,

seen everything already.”

Familiarity turns into a malady.

But don’t waste your life feeling guilty,

For it’s not you

who says, “All is done; nothing to do.”

It’s Ennui!

 

How did I fall asleep? I don’t know;

Didn’t catch myself nodding.

In this thick heavy fog, God of Light, please show

Just a needle of Your Light piercing.

From this aggressive vortex pull of Sleep,

that seducer,

I want out, I want to wake!

 

Henri in ennui, again

What are you, Ennui?

A resistance born of negativity,

a lack of meaning of life, or merely,

a superfluous entity?

What an irritating allergy

sapping energy,

this chronic, addictive serving of me.

Why are you here? What are you trying to tell me?

More importantly, how do I

widely open my eye?

 

Ennui

Thrill is not its remedy,

for Ennui’s not a hole

for the Muse to fill with lively creativity.

Maybe it’s a bothersome additional

to simply shoo, shoo.

 

Can’t reason with that entity.

Need I take it so seriously?

Ennui, ennui, go away

Come back another…

Well actually, don’t bother!

 

– Ike Harijanto

 

* The hookah is a reference to a poem by Charles Baudelaire entitled “To the Reader” in his Flowers of Evil

Henri in ennui
Henri in ennui

The cat is Henri, guru of ennui, found on youtube : http://youtu.be/Q34z5dCmC4M and FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/henrilechatnoir

A Seeker’s Story by Ike Harijanto

At some point early in life a feeling came that I was eccentric. I thought I wanted something no one around me seemed to want, and that was sincere, dependable love. All I found from people, young and old alike, was instead indifference, rejection, untrustworthiness, unpredictability. So I thought, if I was able to so intensely want something that seemed unimportant to others, that must have meant I was insane. Only in God could I put my trust, because a God unknown, unseen, nebulous certainly would not, could not betray me. God was the center of my devotion, my life. Slowly, though, the considerable commotion in my head I called intellect and reason made me abandon it.

Several more rejections and betrayals of trust from those around me, and I declared, “Love is a myth.” I was furiously baffled at the way I was created, feeling such a strong desire for something that could never be true. By declaring–––pretending, really–––I knew the truth about love, I unwittingly saved myself from feeling utterly devastated by the conviction that it closed its door on me. I began keeping a journal. Only in the blank pages of my journal could I confide safely. Something that doesn’t have any capacity of returning my love would not, could not reject me.

Young adulthood was a period of restlessness and confusion from not knowing what I sought in life. I thought I was unrealistic, “too philosophical,” wanting and doubting too much. Moreover, I saw that I was a different person from one day to the next, unable to keep a promise I made to myself. I became unpredictable and untrustworthy, exactly like those I had condemned. I looked around at my peers and saw them sail away, seeming to know where they were going. There I was, an enigma to myself, feeling I was left behind. “Did I miss a class everybody took?”

As loneliness pervaded uncontrollably, I isolated myself more by turning toward texts and dead scholars, looking for hard, solid, steely wisdom. I had a notion that it would take me superiorly beyond any dependence on others, and I would then be impervious to the pain of rejection. And dead people, they surely would not, could not reject me. The search for wisdom gave a purpose, a grand one, in fact, and a direction to my life.

My notion of wisdom at the time was a kind of knowledge I would swallow or possess, and the best chance of finding it was in the academic humanities. So I made a plan to lock myself in the university ivory tower and shut the door on any personal relationships. I was convinced that anything to do with my heart was a major distraction, complication, obstruction. I was on a lone secret mission, believing no one would understand it, or worse, they would ridicule me if they found out. I was not going to let myself be rejected ever again.

Shortly after the plan was made but not yet realized, my father died. The incident gave me an intimate preview that we all die, and we die alone, without exception. But my newly found purpose protected me, for better or worse, from being in touch with the situation of my heart. My rocket was on and nothing was to stop me.

Before the first semester even began, I met Art Ticknor at a meeting of the Philosophical Self Inquiry in Pittsburgh. During that first meeting he engaged me one-on-one, and I was surprised to find myself saying things I would never have said to others. Shortly after came another surprise in the form of trust. Brief though it may be, it was impressive because my life hitherto has shown it to be impossible. There was also an element of judging Art by his cover, as well, I suppose. He dressed typically, and I tend to peer with suspicion at people in robes living in the 21st century Western world. A massive gong fell and hit my head when I received my first major confrontation: “The direction is within,” he said. With all my might I tried to yell “No!”––but to my dismay, I was convinced he spoke the truth. I had just moved across the world on a search that had barely begun, when I realized I was to turn around. A giant monkey wrench thrown into my plan. Nonetheless I was compelled to turn around and look at the only “within” I knew. What I saw then, what was brought to light, was how separated I had been, alone and thoroughly lost in the wilderness. It reminded me of the preview I’d seen, that we all die, and we die alone. I was a lost sheep feeling certain that if ever there was God, It was not looking for me. The feeling of utter aloneness combined with an immediate conviction that the project I had taken on was too big for this little me led to the onset of a depressive period like I had never thought possible.

Art showed me a direction I thought I already had. First and foremost, he showed me trust and friendship I had stopped looking for. Deep down, though, I couldn’t help but still wanting them. To a sick, sick person, however, sweet water tasted bitter. The confrontations hit so many sensitive spots that I recoiled from pain and fright, and contracted inside. I was unable to see friendship, I saw only threats. Fortunately (I can say this now), I kept on coming to the meetings, albeit all closed up like a porcupine ball, compelled by a force I could neither understand nor ignored. Left to reason alone, it would not have made sense to keep on touching a hot stove when I already knew it was hot. But something other than reason told me I needed to take the bitter medicine to get cure.

I received my diagnosis early and am grateful for that. The sickness turns out to be ec-centricity, that is, being off-center–––that childhood feeling confirmed. The rejections I perceived in my childhood may not be the cause but actually the result of this feeling. I had lost my center long before I abandoned my childhood God. I don’t even remember how and when this happened. But once upon a time….

My life so far seems less about finding cure, than it is about realizing the pervasiveness of the sickness. Being out of center seems to also mean out of touch with reality. The idea of becoming schizophrenic, out of touch with reality, used to spiral me into panic. But reviewing over a decade of journals shows me undeniably, time and again: I live in the mind, not in the world; I interact with perceptions and stories, not reality. After years of psychological work and spiritual education, I am no more ethereal, no more sober, no more liberated. I wonder if I myself may be the cave of Plato, and not simply in it.

Coming in contact with Art and TAT rocked my boat till it almost flipped over. My life-cruising and life-building slowed down considerably. A good thing, I think, for I was only building a house of cards, and cruising through life as a sleepwalker, shutting my eyes to where my life will inevitably conclude, as I saw with my father’s. Adding spirituality to my life doesn’t seem to redirect its course either. My life is still going nowhere but toward the cemetery. For a while I used depression to deny it, but now it feels like a returning to reality. (Every impressive, sometimes seemingly out of the world, insights I ever had feel now like a simple return to reality, not an addition of knowledge like I had expected in my grand search for wisdom.) I can no longer pretend that death belongs to some distant, nebulous future and won’t really happen to me. I can no longer believe that aging is going to magically prepare me for it. My father did not have time to prepare for his death and spent his last moments in panic. If truly we all die, and we die alone, I don’t want to die in panic. Even then I still forget all too often.

That said, if self-inquiry has resulted in anything so far, it is only that I became less and less sure I know the self whose life and death I’ve been so concerned about, the one in this story, telling it, reading it. Honestly, I only claim to be a self-inquirer without having actually done much of it, because I was so confident I knew the “I” I was referring to. But everything I can refer to, perceive, sense, conceive of seems to be the mind through and through; an experience all the way down, including myself, my existence. What then? Do I just wait till this experience is over, since experience comes and goes? Is there something, anything, beyond experience? I’ve heard there’s a place: within. The work now is figuring out where within really is. I thought I knew, and that resulted in a deeper depression because I unquestioningly accepted what I saw there as “that’s it. Nothing more. Nothing else to be done. Might as well be dead now.” Pretending to know is a heavy burden, indeed!–––one I’m so prone to fall into. Truly, one must doubt everything especially one’s claim to knowledge.

Here’s another way to say it all over again. A principal intuition is confirmed, one that has been driving my life but I tried to deny. Behind the devastation of rejection and the desire for friendship and trust is a feeling for, pull toward, Utter Love. Because It was inconceivable to my mind, in my bewildered anger I called It a myth, a mere idea that could never, ever be real. Along the way, though, I learned that inconceivability does not equal impossibility. Love is possible. My contact with Art, to name only one person, has made me doubt my claim that It is impossible. Moreover, the search for Love turns out to not be a lone endeavor. It is acknowledged, praise the Lord, through my contact with fellow eccentric, off-center seekers. And this is another confrontation to one of my beloved beliefs: a challenge to the belief of being an individual doesn’t have to always be painful, after all. Now I finally hear what a French philosopher, Henri the black cat, said a while ago: “The life of a philosopher cat is nothing without friends. Perhaps I should share my treats with others.”

I still don’t know what Love is. So yes, you can say this “business of seeking” has not turned its full “profit” (though thinking of anything in terms of a business upsets the bohemian in me). But acknowledging the possibility of Love, isn’t this itself already a miracle? This acknowledgment is really the restoring of my faith in Love, because faith is always in relation to something one can’t conceive of but sense possible. This alone is already worth more than whatever it has cost, if it did cost anything of value!

I’ve been living my life for a distant goal. Be serious and work hard now, and reap the reward later. If ever. But it was probably no seriousness, no real work, but a playing around in a make-belief of what life was about and the proper way to live it.   But I did not know life, and do not still. Now that depression and panic have slackened their claim to knowledge about life and death, I want to play. Not to play around, for, God help me, I no longer want to live a make-believe life toward an imaginary, distant dream. But to play to get in touch with I-know-not-what, call it my heart, that is most authentic, most alive, most actual. Then to express it, or to get out of the way so thoroughly that that Genuine What may come forth unobstructedly. To live a life of devotion again. To live in love and wonder every instant. It’s a feeling that every day I’ve been striving to contact and approach. Still much frustration, that at the end of the day I somehow miss, and I go to bed with an unfinished business. Strangely, writing this wish feels already like a prayer come true.

 

Coda: In telling this story I sounded like I knew what was happening at the time it was happening, and where everything was leading to. Actually, though, the directing and the shaping only happen here in telling the story, in selecting certain things and leaving out many others. In telling it, the story loses solidity. It’s all so neat and tidy. It may well be a creation, for my whole life is a memory.

– Ike Harijanto

I Started Seeking as a Finder

I started seeking as a finder. I joined an eastern Bhakti path early in youth, complete with a guru and the promise to clear my way to God. It afforded me a direction, meaning, fellowship and family. I left the path after being disappointed and finding it unable to fulfill its promises. Leaving a committed path after 20 years was no easy matter. I had however gained a direction in life that had in the least given me a practical ego. Here my attitude towards spiritual transformation led me truly to become a seeker. I made an intention to look in all directions, turn over every rock however mundane. I had had a guru so it was easy for me to ignore the circus around the “stars” of groups and traditions I found. Looking directly into what was being offered during my search changed my focus as a seeker from the heart to the head. I dug into inquiry with quite an amount of zeal. I was largely solitary in my approach without guru, peers or friends on the way. After 5 years of this I made an intention to find someone with integrity to help me drive this new direction home. Almost immediately I found TAT and Richard Rose. Where I hadn’t felt any integrity from the spiritual types I encountered Rose seemed to personify it. I contacted the local rep and started attending get togethers. After a time the fog and confusions of all the various teachings and traditions, my beliefs and attitudes, began to par down. I was shown to see past them to what was more real. The path became one more accessible to me directly. It wasn’t on high and available to those who please a divinity or until one acquired the requisite qualifications .These new influences led to the recognition of the simple message that all the teachings and traditions east and west ancient and contemporary are trying to direct our distracted attention.

Guiding Stars
Guiding Stars

I thought at one time I had gone too far off. Going this way and that. Traveling away from the goal. Progress seemed slow and hard come by. Complaining about this to a friend he commented that I have never left the path. Whatever I had been doing was serving me. Robert Adams has said “Every desire every urge is a search for the Self. But we’re misdirected”. I’d agree as it seems my path has turned out to be one of reorientation. Finding my way now to a point that must be reconciled with myself.

– Tim Howell