Bob Fergeson and Tess Hughes will share their stories and teachings through a series of workshops, inquiry, and discussion, designed to free your own inner guide.
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
This past Sunday, March the 20th, I was privileged to talk with Regina Dawn Akers from Awakening Together. We discussed many topics relevant to the spiritual search, a good evening that I hope will be informative to those longing to look within.
The audio of the interview is available on their web site through this link:
Discernment means separating the wheat from the chaff, the more true from the less true.
In spiritual work, discernment relates to the truth of being: Who or what are we at the core of our beingness? In religious terms we might say that the goal is becoming one with God or All. In psychological terms we might call it self-realization or -recognition.
The mind is our tool, our worksite, and our playground in the search for Truth. We capitalize truth to indicate that what we’re looking for needs to provide an absolute answer to our core identity in order to be fully satisfying. Of course there’s no way to know if that’s possible unless we “find it,” “go there,” or “become it” (highly paradoxical implications).
“If the Truth is within us, and we do not see it, it can only be that we see through the glass darkly,—at this stage of the game.” ~ Richard Rose, The Albigen Papers, from chapter 7, which is titled “Discernment.”
Meet our presenters:
Anima Pundeer: Penny that hides the Sun. Discerning the Problem
Mumukshu, a Sanskrit word, is one who discerns the basic human problem of self-non-acceptance and seeks freedom from this. It is from this standpoint that Vedantic philosophy helps us start the inquiry. Neti-Neti – not this, not this – is a path of discernment which finally takes us to what IS.
Anima is a super busy mother of two. Lives in Houston Texas with her family. When she has spare moments, she weeds her vegetable patch.
In June of 2004, she had an experience where she realized her All-ness and One-ness… She finally knew Freedom. She feels immense gratitude for all the help and guidance she got from her fellow seekers. She feels she couldn’t have made this without her Guru and her friends … and the only way she feels she can help anyone is by sharing her own struggles and obstacles.
Looking forward to seeing everyone soon…
Bob Cergol: DISCERNMENT: Retaining the identity of the Real Observer in various states of mind
In the paper on Discernment in his book The Albigen Papers, Richard Rose lists the above phrase in a list of techniques that help us understand ourselves.
Have you ever said about someone, or just as likely, about yourself: I was lost in thought…. I was swept away…. I got caught up in the mood…. I was swayed by the crowd…. I don’t know what came over me!
You’ve wondered, marveled and puzzled over your observation that you disappear during nightly sleep. But what about the countless times throughout your waking day where the very same thing happens?!
This Friday evening session will attempt to set a tone for the weekend’s theme in the form of a guided meditation followed by whatever discussion spontaneously ensues.
Bob was 19 when he met Richard Rose and had a teacher-student relationship with him for the next 20 years, including living several years at Rose’s house and farm. At the end of that period, and shortly after getting married, his search culminated in a self-transcendent realization. Bob’s writings have appeared over many years in the TAT Forum, and in presentations on several of TAT’s conference DVDs. Bob and his wife have two girls, now both in college, and he works in the I.T. field.
Bob Fergeson: Discerning a True Direction: Nostalgia as Our Inner GPS
“Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really want. It will not lead you astray.” ~ Rumi
For the interactive sessions, we’ll give personal examples of nostalgia, looking for clues as to how they help discern base feelings and moods from true longing. In preparation, participants are encouraged to remember glimpses of nostalgia, to share them with their fellows.
Bob is a Colorado based teacher, writer, and photographer. His work attempts to use the feeling of longing and nostalgia as a way within. He spends his time washing windows and hiking, as well as exploring our inner country with fellows from the Denver Self-Inquiry Group.
Paul Constant: Absorbing Conflict
In this session, we’ll use the group’s energy to maximize our discernment of opposites. Through a combination of interactive discussion, silence, and full group exercises, we’ll attempt to cultivate something deeper and widen our perspectives. Paul will walk us through a few simple approaches that point us away from the world of paradox and toward what is.
Paul has been a TAT member since 1985. His fascinations and explorations are directed toward integrating body, mind, and Essence through rapport. Read his essays Friendship and Spiritual Rapport, or listen to the audio recording of his September 2015 presentation titled Softening Our Attachments and Becoming What Is (MP3 file; 1 hr, 12 min). Paul and his wife live in Pennsylvania. They were adopted by two kittens in 2013.
Shawn Nevins: The Lying Mind
The Lying Mind – You know what you want. You know the truth. If so, then how, why and where does your discernment get mangled? Through exercises and discussion, we’ll get to the root of the lying mind.
Shawn “Fell onto the spiritual path in 1990,” had an enlightenment experience in 1999 and since then has enjoyed making films, writing and working with the TAT Foundation as well as his own small group in California. See his work at poetryinmotionfilms.com.
Tess Hughes: Separating the wheat from the chaff; the Absolute from the relative
Tess credits the teachings of Richard Rose and The TAT Foundation with bringing her decades long seeking to a final resolution, the awakening to her True Nature. She loves to share this with other seekers.
Tess asks participants to have pen and paper at the ready for an exercise intended to get participants to catch and note their passing reactions and thoughts to presented stimuli, as a means of becoming discerning about their “within”.
The registration deadline for the November Gathering is Saturday, November 14th.
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:
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.
(from Profound Writings, East & West)
– Bob Fergeson
by Shawn Nevins
Confrontation is not meditation. It is a technique used to provoke meditation, to get the mind off dead center.
Preparation for Meditation
Unless we examine the thought process simultaneously with intense psychological analysis, there is a chance that we may be sidetracked for long periods of time, meaning years
Levels of Meditation
from Richard Rose’s Meditation Papers
20 Spiritual Tools You Can Use On Your Path, by Ricky Cobb III
1. Humor as healing energy/remedy. “One thing you must be able to do in the midst of any experience is laugh. And experience should show you that it isn’t real, that it’s a movie. Life doesn’t take you seriously, so why take it seriously.” – Richard Rose
2. Forgetting yourself. Absorption in activity or concern for others.
3. Remembering yourself. Usually after a period of forgetting yourself. “I am” (Gurdjieffian) exercises, Harding experiments, Feeling into the body, etc. Move out of thinking and look or feel what is actually happening in and around you. Stop the imagination/daydreaming.
4. Put questions to the test. At the start, questions of finders can be helpful. Later, use your own questions. How can I test this out or find out if it is true or not? Test your ideas and beliefs. Compare and contrast the ideas and see if they match reality. Experiment and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there or ask someone else’s perspective on something you always thought was true and hadn’t thought of to question.
5. Question everything. What you can’t see is what is too close to you to be seen by you. Therefore, what has been unquestioned is what is taken for granted or what you are unaware of or cannot yet see. What is seeing? What does the questioning? Distance can be gained by questioning what isn’t real. Reality withstands questioning.
6. Make it your own. Franklin Merrell-Wolff mentioned he made a modification of his own and that was a key. Give your personal twist to your practices, put yourself into whatever you do. Enjoy it, love it even. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there in some way.
7. If at first you don’t succeed, don’t give up. This path requires a small amount of insanity (doing the same thing over and over again and getting the same results). It might not be the 20th time but the 21st time you hear/see/do something that it takes effect or becomes clear within you. Sticktoitiveness.
8. Make a commitment to the Truth. The Essential part of you is already committed. Bring action to your commitment or make it real in some way.
9. Can’t choose between two seemingly equal choices? Pick one and go with it. Even if you fail you will have succeeded at eliminating a wrong choice.
10. Perception and perspective. As you see it so it is. See it good, it is good. See it bad it is bad. It is bad, because you see it bad. It is good because you see it good. Discover the connection between ideas of things and things ‘themselves.’ There are limits to this, of course, but you must discover where they are and how far they go.
11. The mind is like the body. It can be full or stuffed from over indulgence. Too many ideas can be like fat and cause sluggishness. Slow down rest in silence and quiet. Let the mind burn away what it has learned or is chewing on. Meditation, physical work or exercise where the mind is free to wander are good to allow this processing to occur.
12. Same goes for the body. Lack of exercise will cause sluggishness in the body as well as the mind. Exercising the body will allow the mind to be free. They are interconnected and a healthier body will lead to a healthier mind. By intentionally introducing stress to the body in a controlled manner with exercise, you will take life’s uncontrolled stresses better by being used to the body’s stress response. In fact, it may even make you more efficient and better able to respond to whatever is thrown at you. Willingly undergoing adversity is taking responsibility for life, good and bad. And you’ll feel better.
13. Acceptance. Relax in the present moment putting aside judgments, worries, and thoughts. Acknowledge the reality of what is, as it is what’s not false (like the worries). If you cannot accept something do what you can to change it if it is within your power to do so. If it isn’t within your power develop the power or pray to a higher power. Trust in your prayers or own ability or the specific combination of the two. “Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.” -St. Augustine
14. Should isn’t always what is. What you think should happen and what actually does happen aren’t the same. Learn what your expectations are so you can drop them.
15. How? The answer to how is yes. From the title of a book I haven’t read. The title is enough. How? By any means be necessary. If it’s important you’ll find a way or means to make it happen.
16. Why….? Any why question can be answered that there is no why, only what is. This means that an answer to why wouldn’t be sufficient to change your being; it would only temporally satisfy your intellect. Go beyond thought or kill your mind by seeing between thoughts. What is there?
17. Intuit. Feel before you think. But don’t forget to think too! The combination is common sense or practical right mindedness.
18. Triangulate. Richard Rose’s Jacob’s Ladder and Herbert Benoit’s Conciliatory Principle. Study opposites and see where you are in relation. The point isn’t to find the middle spot between opposites and stay there but to back up the swinging arm of the pendulum to the still fulcrum point.
19. Don’t confuse levels. A Course In Miracles talks about confusion of levels. This would be like taking some spiritual advice literally without understanding it might refer to the absolute level rather than the relative level. An example of that might be the saying “nothing needs to be done” and so you interpret that to mean you don’t have to do anything. Doing still needs to occur but the problem is with the identification here. If you’re still a body and stop doing things that body will be in for a lot of trouble. Another example might be taking practical specific advice for you and confusing it as some abstract nebulous thing that must occur on a ‘spiritual’ level rather than on a relative ‘normal’ level. Use common sense about what your next step is.
20. Group-work. Work with others to be a mirror and allow them to be one for you. While there is no specific recipe or instructions one can follow to become enlightened (or find what you really are) and every path is individual and unique, specific to each person, you can still work together with your fellow seekers to compare notes, discuss ideas, provide support or warnings and give inspiration or suggestions to one another. It may save you time or trouble on your path.
Ricky Cobb III