Tag Archives: TAT Foundation

Double Take on Life

Double Take on Life – from nitty gritty to neti neti

 

Two friends—one a TAT member, one a TAT friend; one living in Canada, one across the border in the US; one male, one female—have partnered to create a blog site, which they hope other TAT members and friends will enjoy and respond to.

Double Take
Double Take

About Us:

My kids call me crazy mom. I like that. Stephen, the crazy Irishman from Braveheart, is how I most like to see myself. He’s a lot fearless, a little crazy and, most importantly, has managed to negotiate a mutually agreeable contract with God as it pertains to all things life with its rogue and dangerous shenanigans. This deceptively impossible feat has allowed Stephen an ease about himself. He laughs easily, readily. Yes, I like that.
In a slightly less delusional depiction of my self, I am your average, garden variety suburban mom of two, who one day, while trying to pay attention to life, accidently discovered an affinity for writing!
Who knew?
A FB friend invited her friends to a 63 day challenge. The challenge was titled ‘Attitude of Gratitude’;  write daily about something you are grateful for. Simple enough I thought, and thus began the writing.
I did not anticipate how fun the challenge of trying to express life’s cornucopia of experiences would be! The deeper I looked, felt and dissected any given moment, the deeper I could see and feel and dissect! In trying to extract the feel of an experience, I would bump into the essence of that feeling sense. Then while examining the essence, I would discover a lingering mood, or atmosphere, that beckoned more attention! And now I must know, what is this curiosity that not only desires to look so deep, but is able to do so? What is this ever deepening sensitivity for movement, for life?
Subtler and subtler, challenging words, challenging expression.

In the fall of 2016 I met Paul. His calm energy and slow movements caught my attention.  His depth of feeling kept my attention.   We began a modern day pen-pal correspondence on everything from daily mundane interactions with the people around us (Paul can bring anyone’s life alive), critical views on women/feminism (critical is definitely my strength), love, trucks, goats, improv, sex, health and anything and everything that captured our curiosity, interest or made us laugh. Really, we’ve been blogging unintentionally for a while now!
In a larger, grander context we see many things similarly, but then dicker over the details. Other times we agree on the details but dicker over the big picture. In the end though there is love, friendship. Perhaps that is the grandest mutuality. Not at all unlike my own contract with God

——-

There’s a scene in the classic film “Taxi Driver”, where Travis Bickle, the slowly unraveling anti-hero, is having his first date over coffee with his idealized angel Betsy. She tells him that he reminds her of a line from “The Poet”, a Kris Kristofferson song – “He’s a walking talking contradiction, partly truth and partly fiction.”  Which pretty much fits me to a T, exhibiting for better or worse a lot of polarities, and providing a familiarity with often competing identities and outlooks. Head in the clouds, some college, but a blue collar job hopper for most of my life. My real education has been stolen from inspired tangents, raw experience, and a Zen teacher. By nature, I’ve always been more of an outsider compulsively observing the parade of life. And somehow crazy curious about human nature and Reality.

I think Sheri said all there is to say about our eclectic friendship. I see her as deep water. Someone who thinks before she speaks, who’s one of the best listeners I know, and one of those rare persons who’s able to be open-minded about both sides of an issue. She has a quick wit so it’s easy to improvise with her. Due to some intangible in her nature, Sheri has often served as a muse for my writing, encouraging many new things to come out I had no idea were there.

Double Take Blog

Subtraction

Fellow TAT member and friend Shawn Nevins has written a clear, personal account of his search, along with tips for seekers of all types, well worth a read:

This story of friendship, love, and the darkest nights of the soul, follows a young spiritual seeker who drops out of graduate school and spends the next decade in a spiritual search that leads from a Zen master in the wilds of West Virginia, to an iconoclastic Christian mystic in the heart of Los Angeles, and an architect-turned-sage in England. Entertaining storytelling combined with practical tips and lessons from the path of spiritual awakening make this a must-have edition for those both curious and passionate about the mysteries of life, death, and enlightenment.

TAT Foundation conscious.tv interviews

Four members of the TAT Foundation have now been interviewed by conscious.tv. These interviews are an open invitation to the wisdom these folks have become.  Thanks to interviewers Ian and Renate McNay, the lives, tribulations and paths of each of these members is available on youtube under one play list.

Tess Hughes: Fear of death through an experience when she was only eight, set Tess off on a journey to find the meaning of life. After 30 years of inquiry into her mind and experience she woke up to find there was NO SELF. From reading the work of Saint Teresa of Avila and through her personal experience, Tess has come to see that the most difficult obstacle on one’s own path is the overcoming of self-esteem. She also believes that taking full responsibility for your own Awakening will set us free.

 

Bob Fergeson: Bob is author of the book ‘The Listening Attention. He talks about his life and awakening: ‘I was taken beyond myself into the place of no concern. The years of wondering, of alternating between pleasure and misery came to an end along with the searching and longing it generated. I saw that in all that time I had never really moved; rather I simply woke up.’

 

Art Ticknor: Author of the book ‘ ‘Solid Ground Of Being’ Art talks about his search for The Truth as his life, though perfect in one way, lacked purpose and meaning. After many years working with Richard Rose’s TAT groups and many individual retreats and Douglas Harding’s work a breakthrough occurred, ‘Art Ticknor was never alive, something broke the identification with the observer, there was no regret in seeing the sense of separate self go.’

 

Shawn Nevins: ‘The Way Of Subtraction’ Interview by Iain McNay Shawn is author of four books including ‘Subtraction: The Simple Math Of Enlightenment.‘ In the foreword he says, ‘This book answers the question of how to find out the answer to who and what you are beyond any shadow of a doubt.’ His spiritual search ended on December 28th 1999 having started 7 years earlier. During that time he meditated for thousands of hours, fasted, prayed, retreated, met spiritual teachers, and never gave up. His primary teacher was Richard Rose but he also spent time with Bernadette Roberts, Douglas Harding and others. His breakthrough came when he read through a transcript of a talk by Franklin Merrell-Wolff. Shawn’s story has many ups and downs. His sincerity during his search shines through and his many realizations on his path are tangible.

 

 

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

Awakening Together Interview

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:

Audio from March Satsang with Bob Fergeson

Discernment

TAT 2015 November Gathering

Friday through Sunday, November 20-22

Discernment

Discernment.

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.

http://tatfoundation.org/nov/tat_november_gathering_2015.htm

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

Are You Serious?

  • Imagine heaven — imagine being there forever.
  • If heaven is bliss, then imagine bliss for all eternity. Imagine watching your favorite movie for all eternity — imagine hell.
  • Peace. Is peace the absence of pain, or the absence of pleasure and pain? Without pleasure and pain, how will you identify the self!
  • You are actually already dead. How will you know the moment of your death, if you are dead? Who will be left to watch?
  • Imagine being anything forever — a frog, a rock, a king, whatever you chose. What will you do when there are no more roles to play?
  • Where did eternity begin? From what abyss did the big bang spring forth?
  • Watch your hand. Watch it do its work throughout the day. It is a tool.
  • Watch your mind do its work throughout the day. Finally, watch the watching do its work — nothing but tools.
  • Hollow laughter, lightening streaks in the sky, photographs slowly fading, echoes, and glimpses of shadows.
  • You do not let go of anything. That is another trick of the ego’s designed to keep it (seemingly) in charge of the show. Everything is taken from you.
  • I see no evidence of a system that leads to Truth — only general guidelines. The rest depends on your honesty. Take heart, for all can find their way to honesty.
  • No one is more honest than a corpse. He’s telling it like it is.
  • Turn awareness upon itself. The eye must struggle to see itself.
  • Everything you think you know should be followed by the word “maybe.”
  • Everything is hopeless, yet everything that is only seems to be. You must act in the face of seeming hopelessness.
  • How could you not be serious about your search? How could you not take action? Just don’t let your seriousness keep you from seeing your emptiness.

 by Shawn Nevins

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.

 

Tips on Meditation

Confrontation is not meditation. It is a technique used to provoke meditation, to get the mind off dead center.

Preparation for Meditation

  1. Find a place that will allow you to be quiet.
  2. Reduce body-turbulence.
  3. Do not fight Nature, but take a holiday from the whole Nature-game.
  4. Provide synthetic irritation to keep the mind working.
  5. Be aware of all obstacles, and Laws
     

    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

    1. Remembering incidents of traumatic or reactive nature.
    2. Finding the final self among the many selves of voices.
    3. Analyzation of thought-processes.
    4. Going within. Employ whatever necessary.
    5. Transmission

from Richard Rose’s Meditation Papers