Tag Archives: mind

Transcendence and Ego1-Ego2

Transcendence of thought is not transcendence of self. Shifting the focus of attention away from thought and onto breath or body is a useful prelude to a meditation of self-inquiry, but as an entire meditative technique it is an exercise in self-forgetfulness. It may lead to a wonderful experience but the mind is simply resting on the I-thought, and that I-self is having a very pleasant experience while remaining safely hidden behind the cloak of mental quietude and physical ease. The notion of “coming into the body” is a form of engaging in what Alfred Pulyan describes as Ego1-Ego2.* The experience generated from this meditative technique is not the absolute realization that Rose, Nisargadatta, Maharshi, and others speak about. There is always a desire and a need for experiences to be extended in duration and intensity in order to satisfy the ego’s need for affirmation, progress, and the nagging, deep sense of lacking a final answer to the question of ultimate self-definition.

*Pulyan wrote about the Ego dichotomizing itself in order to set up a dynamic of protecting and reinforcing a “boss” ego with the need created by having a subservient ego hard at supposed spiritual work of creating experiences and thoughts that affirmed ego-self.
~ Bob Cergol, 2014 Labor Day TAT presentation
* Alfred Pulyan, a mid-1900’s Zen Master who engaged with students through the mail, in one such letter wrote about the Ego dichotomizing itself in order to set up a dynamic of protecting and reinforcing a “boss” ego … by having a subservient ego hard at supposed spiritual work of creating experiences and thoughts that affirmed ego-self. ~ Bob Cergol

Alfred Pulyan, Ego1-Ego2 Incursus
(Devices to preserve Egocentricity)

We do not pull flowers up to see how they are growing, but Ego (Self!) cannot endure being out of the driver’s seat and so even in the “work” he tries to be both objective & subjective. To be specific, Ego1 wants to watch the progress of the work with an occasional criticism or pat on the back for the Master.

“How shall we handle Ego2?” is asked by Ego1. Or – “I don’t think I (who is “I”? – why Ego1) would have handled me (Ego2!!) quite that way.” Or: “Fine,” says Ego1, “that’s showing him (Ego2).”

This schizoidal device preserves Ego at the expense of a fictitious Ego2!! You have already started this process.

Sometimes Ego1 will say he is “seeking” & does not DESIRE TO FIND. What is this? A pleasure merely in the action of the reason? Apparently. In any case, Ego2 is not even necessary here. Ego is asserting the utmost “doubt even of doubt” & refusal to go even as far as the word “the” without definition. It is a sound & invulnerable position. So is advanced psychosis, but that seems more restful – at times! Such a position (like solipsism) is fine when one is healthy, happy, young & immortal. It gets an awful kick later.

Ego1, for all that, sometimes feels that his constant observation of Ego2 (“self-consciousness”) is unsatisfactory. He may feel that his division is a faked device. In love, he may for a time forget himself (which means – become spontaneous) & the experience is delightful, unaccustomed & turns out often to be most unwise. It occurs often when young & when judgment would be desirable (for a change!), especially if the girl is not so spontaneous! If they both are, it is wonderful, but again the claims of the everyday come in, & the magic fades away. Everything in Japan used to be a “way.” There was a “way” of sword-play, of wrestling, of flower arrangement, of drinking tea, of commerce even, of drawing & painting – and the characteristic of each was spontaneity. Even archery (incredible results even in semi-darkness, splitting one arrow with another) – & such spontaneity daunts us. We are system-minded. Zen may seem to be a “system” of mass-production, but the essence of the work is individual. I have no “system” whatever for the same reason – no two people are alike. Certainly egocentricity is always the devil to be conquered, but from that central point he (ego or self) diverges in innumerable ways & uses every imaginable device, some very snide, others really subtle. He may know it too – and still throw up a smoke-screen! He resists the means to release – to the point of murder even (fortunately, since he is free to withdraw at any time, he usually withdraws under a confusion of self-justification. But if he were trapped – as I was – oh boy!!! In the Reichian technique for example the room is often a shambles).

So we DO “protect” something. And how! What? Ego? Oh no – while we live we are of course “we” & always that remains – but the “boss conception,” the “ultimate decider,” the “second line of defense,” these he INSISTS on at all costs. So Jung & others know the truth but sit in the audience (behind their desk for example) and are never part of the play. It is ludicrous to think I could help Jung – he is heavily armed. I could get ONE letter from almost everybody by promising “a new technique” but to get involved in it. Oh dear no! Most certainly not! Utterly fantastic! – who knows what –    Thus Jesus was correct. It is the treasure of the humble & for this goodly pearl a merchant sold all he had – and bought it. I can persuade almost anybody to say “O.K. Go ahead! What do I have to lose?” It is a Pyrrhic victory, it is unreal. In that way one sells toothpaste. They must come to me and really want it. Since they can easily push God away, how can I succeed where God does not? This is not a mystery I can solve. But the truly accessible, as Jesus said, are FEW. Up to you –    And so many words!
~ Correspondence with Richard Rose

material taken from July 2016 TAT Forum, http://tatfoundation.org/forum2016-07.htm#4 –Thanks to Art Ticknor, Editor

Rebirthday by Douglas Harding

The best day of my life – my rebirthday, so to speak – was when I found I had no head. This is not a literary gambit, a witticism designed to arouse interest at any cost. I mean it in all seriousness: I have no head.
headless
headless
It was eighteen years ago, when I was thirty-three, that I made the discovery. Though it certainly came out of the blue, it did so in response to an urgent enquiry; I had for several months been absorbed in the question: what am I? The fact that I happened to be walking in the Himalayas at the time probably had little to do with it; though in that country unusual states of mind are said to come more easily. However that may be, a very still clear day, and a view from the ridge where I stood, over misty blue valleys to the highest mountain range in the world, with Kangchenjunga and Everest unprominent among its snow-peaks, made a setting worthy of the grandest vision.
What actually happened was something absurdly simple and unspectacular: I stopped thinking. A peculiar quiet, an odd kind of alert limpness or numbness, came over me. Reason and imagination and all mental chatter died down. For once, words really failed me. Past and future dropped away. I forgot who and what I was, my name, manhood, animalhood, all that could be called mine. It was as if I had been born that instant, brand new, mindless, innocent of all memories. There existed only the Now, that present moment and what was clearly given in it. To look was enough. And what I found was khaki trouserlegs terminating downwards in a pair of brown shoes, khaki sleeves terminating sideways in a pair of pink hands, and a khaki shirtfront terminating upwards in – absolutely nothing whatever! Certainly not in a head.
It took me no time at all to notice that this nothing, this hole where a head should have been was no ordinary vacancy, no mere nothing. On the contrary, it was very much occupied. It was a vast emptiness vastly filled, a nothing that found room for everything – room for grass, trees, shadowy distant hills, and far above them snowpeaks like a row of angular clouds riding the blue sky. I had lost a head and gained a world.
It was all, quite literally, breathtaking. I seemed to stop breathing altogether, absorbed in the Given. Here it was, this superb scene, brightly shining in the clear air, alone and unsupported, mysteriously suspended in the void, and (and this was the real miracle, the wonder and delight) utterly free of “me”, unstained by any observer. Its total presence was my total absence, body and soul. Lighter than air, clearer than glass, altogether released from myself, I was nowhere around.
Yet in spite of the magical and uncanny quality of this vision, it was no dream, no esoteric revelation. Quite the reverse: it felt like a sudden waking from the sleep of ordinary life, an end to dreaming. It was self-luminous reality for once swept clean of all obscuring mind. It was the revelation, at long last, of the perfectly obvious. It was a lucid moment in a confused life-history. It was a ceasing to ignore something which (since early childhood at any rate) I had always been too busy or too clever to see. It was naked, uncritical attention to what had all along been staring me in the face – my utter facelessness. In short, it was all perfectly simple and plain and straightforward, beyond argument, thought, and words. There arose no questions, no reference beyond the experience itself, but only peace and a quiet joy, and the sensation of having dropped an intolerable burden.

Douglas Harding

This is an extract from On Having No Head by Douglas Harding, first published in 1961, available now through the Sholland Trust.

Breathing Underwater Part 2

A talk about the benefits of stilling the mind:

link to the original Breathing Underwater video: https://youtu.be/2lVE64vZvVE

Text of the talk:

Hi Folks, I’d like to talk with you today about a meditation exercise, that I’ve mentioned and made a little video about in the past, called breathing underwater. To me this exercise, which could be called stilling the mind, placing our attention into the quiet, the stillness, so that there’s no movement of the attention. This can feel at first like you’re breathing underwater because you’re so used to allowing the attention to run free. We’ve been taught to let this attention run out into the world for two reasons: One is the adventure of it. You could call this entertainment. The ego wants to go out into the adventure of the world to entertain itself, to look at all the strange things out here, and to identify with them, put our sense of “I” into them, so that we think we’re the ‘doer’. To get back past that sense of doership to the real reality that we’re just the observer, we keep this attention still, we can allow the will of God to come forth. This is like a trick of surrender. We can’t surrender on purpose, that’s just another ego move. What we can do is keep the attention still. Another thing we’ve learned is to try to escape. To let the attention run out into the things of the world in order to get away from the bad feelings inside of us, that may have been put there in our childhood, through school, through being told we’re inferior, bad. This is unconscious mostly, it’s not our fault, but if we can still this escape mechanism, not try to fix it, solve all the little details of it with analysis, but simply to be still and watch it and see that it’s not us. This little attention thing is like a cursor on your computer. If you hold it still and don’t click on it, then things stay still and there’s silence. This is like I said, a strange form of surrender, and that we can let our mind be still, but the world still flows through. Then God’s will is manifest rather than ours. This can be pretty scary at first to let go, it takes a long time for us to have Faith, so we don’t think the world will either fall apart, or go nuts on us, if we don’t have our little will in there trying to control it every minute. This practice, the more we do it, the more we try to hold our breath, our attention, our will, the easier it becomes until we find we can do it without effort, and that the world goes on. It can go from being brief seconds to being minutes, of allowing God to take over, and we can just relax and sit back and watch the show.

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

Questions and Answers

To receive answers to important spiritual questions, questions that concern the inner self, such as ‘who am I’, ‘what should I be doing with my life’, we will need to use the appropriate method. Big questions such as these shouldn’t be put into the emotionally based associative thinking we habitually use, the kind of thinking we use to balance our checkbook or schedule the day. In answering higher questions associate thinking gets us nowhere. Being cast into the wrong realm, these questions endlessly spin around the brain in a negative feedback loop, tying up our mind.

For great questions, we need a different level of mind, something patient and insightful. There is a gap between our associative spin thinking, and the place of tension that can contain the great question; a quiet space in which to ponder. We find this space through meditation; practicing methods to strengthen and calm the mind. People who are really busy, with kids and careers, will tell you they don’t have time to ponder. If you were as busy as they were, they insist, you’d know this. But would they meditate 2 to 3 times a day, conscientiously, they will find sooner or later that they do have time to ponder. Most of our so called thinking, is actually an emotionally based form of worry, guilt, or anxiety; it doesn’t serve a valid function. Once you see this through self-inquiry and meditation, the worry and anxiety will begin to evaporate. You find you do have time to ponder. You begin to understand how to put spiritual questions to the inner self, the unknown.

question
question

We find great answers by putting our great question up against the unknown, and holding it there with attention. We wait patiently for the unknown to respond. It requires true patience and courage, for the answer may not come immediately, it’s not associative. The process takes a while. Maybe a minute, an hour, maybe a year, even longer. Sooner or later, if we keep the tension there, against the unknown, the Inner Self will be stressed to respond with the answer, bringing resolution.

This tension-based thinking is hard to do, for there’s often no immediate satisfaction. It requires being able to both hold tension and be patient. The tension and waiting serve to break the associative loop, putting the question instead to a higher source, something not in space and time. Emotional thinking and rationalization are on the mundane level, and have no access to matters beyond.

One caveat is that we may find we’re getting answers in this tension based thinking, but not to the questions we expect. Instead of our present question, questions in the background can be suddenly answered, for the tension, once created, will jump to the next question on our list, whether we’re conscious of it or not. This can happen because the questions we’re putting to the unknown may not interest the inner self, or we may not have put them in in the right form and need to rephrase and clarify them. Or, we may not be ready for the answer, we might refuse it.

Questions held with tension in a quiet mind draw to them the corresponding answers; a process of resolution. Patience, courage, and humility are key. Remember, we ask a question because we do not have the answer; we are admitting our ignorance, and are asking for release in a determined and humble manner.

-Bob Fergeson

 

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

 

Freedom from the Teenager Ego

To enhance our probability of real spiritual growth, we need to get all the centers in our body/machine, the instinctive and moving mind, the emotional center, and the intellectual mind, all lit up and in working order. This brings us to maturity, or what’s known as good householder, so that we can stop living in the imagination and instead start dealing with what’s real. It’s easy in this day and age to get stuck in the teenager ego and refuse to accept responsibility or acknowledge the part of work in accomplishment. It’s necessary to learn to be capable of dealing with life head on, before we start thinking too much about enlightenment and a life with no resistance.

magical ship
magical ship

Richard Rose taught that we need to let go of the egos in the right order or else we risk becoming a functional idiot, useless in life, and to other people. If we remain immature too long, we risk having our minds become crystallized, fixed in an unreal belief system. It’s very painful to have to then break them up and start over to regain some resilience, a functional mind in good working order. It’s better to go through the pain of growing up and becoming an adult as an integral part of our spiritual path, rather than living in fantasy, waiting for our mythical spiritual ship to come in.

It’s the one thing that we can work on regardless; we can work on growing up into a mature man or woman, and therefore get used to the idea, in a practical manner, of what working on ourselves in a spiritual sense really entails.

This process of beginning work at our current level also takes us farther within, because we back out of the body, the hormones, and teenager dreams; and become older. Rose also said that he was trying to age a few young people. We can try and age ourselves; become wiser, more capable, more mature.

magical lights
magical lights

While we can’t force ourselves to surrender, or to be enlightened, we can work in terms of becoming more mature: at having a better mind, a wiser emotional center, and certainly we can get in shape physically. These are tasks which will develop a pattern of heading in the right direction, of not being afraid to work, of knowing what that really means rather than living in our head, imagining lights and magical powers and how everything will be handed to us because we’re special. This way, the way of the good householder, we’ve got something we can actually do; we can work on ourselves, every day.

Bob Fergeson

Facebook Enlightenment

We post the latest quote by Adya or Ramana, proud of our apparent spirituality. We agree with the wise men’s words when they tell us all the wonderful things we seemingly see in ourselves. For we have had our hard knocks; now we know and agree with the wise men. We’ve become humble, experienced, and oh so clever.

contradictions
contradictions

We agree with other people’s memes, the beautiful photos, wonderful quotes, yet strangely enough, never see our own contradictions. We fail to see how we act against our own best interests. How we never really work for the spirit, but stay in a perpetual dance of supporting and glorifying the all mighty ‘ME’. That feeling of uniqueness, our specialness; that which keeps us different and separate from others. Though when the need arises, we agree with them, and hope they agree with us. We may by turns argue with them, even yell and scream, stomp our big feet, but this is all just to maintain that separateness, that uniqueness. To help them as they help us; by loving or hating each other in turn. We can’t see how we never really change. We simply spin in the same old pattern of routine, base desires and needs, and never move towards anything higher. That would require that we go against that separateness, that specialness. But no, we continue our lazy dance, bumping into the furniture, oblivious, only hearing the music of our own special song.

end of fun machine
end of fun machine

Sooner or later the fun machine will wear out and die. Then we’ll have to get a new one; the party will continue. The dance can go on, seemingly forever, with maybe some new awkward steps thrown in here and there. But never with the realization that we contradict ourselves with every move. That the one thing we need to get to the bottom of all this madness, is to go against that specialness, that uniqueness, and instead find the similarities between us, the common ground that lies ever within, covered by the noise and distraction of our song. To go against ourselves; not in agreement, but in wisdom. To go against the feeling of ‘me’. Not in contradiction, but as a quietness, an acceptance. To move into the silence where we find we’re all the same. And that the uniqueness, rather than being the thing that helps us, has actually been our greatest enemy.

Bob Fergeson

recurrence
recurrence

 

The Paradoxical Loop

We must somehow acquire a quiescent mind in order to truly turn the head and go within. To initiate contact with the inner self, or higher centers, the mind must be capable of receiving from within, as opposed to its usual obsession with the unconscious projection of thought. Now, if we find we are not capable of a quiet mind, one that can discriminate within the inner realm, to receive intuition and insight, why not? What is bothering us? It is usually compensations based on our chief feature. Since we are largely unconscious of our chief trait or pattern, observing the compensations we have in place to deal with it may be our best bet. We may even think the compensations are themselves our chief feature, meaning we’re even further out from our center than we thought. We must deal with what our problem presently really is. We cannot afford to get lost in imagination, such as the realm of archetypes, or concept structures such as ‘oneness’ or ‘non-duality’.

Land of Paradox
Land of Paradox

If we can observe our compensations, our psychological habit patterns that keep us spinning in thought and obsession, and accept them, we can perhaps look beneath them and see their opposite, our chief feature. We do not want to fight and destroy them, or rationalize them away as meaningless. We must accept that too, if we are to be objective. We are not to blame or judge ourselves for any of this, but to bring it into consciousness and allow the higher power to do what it will.

 
Once we are blessed with a true understanding of how our mind keeps itself in charge through the compensations and chief feature, we open the possibility to find the quiet mind, what I call the listening attention. From here, we can go within; allow contact with higher centers. This itself is paradoxical, for we need the insight and intuition from higher centers to understand this, but how do we make contact until we do? Know that paradox is the sign you have reached the outer limits of the mind. From there, one must allow oneself to become; paradox yet again.

– 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