"If you do not fear falling alone, do you presume that you will rise up alone? Consider how much more can be accomplished by two together than by one alone." - St. John of the Cross
Traveling in a group of fellow seekers offers friendship, protection, and speeds our progress. Our friends in the search provide us with a mirror by which we see ourselves. While it is alone we must face our truth, by working with others we become part of a ladder, each one helping another to move higher.
The TAT Foundation: TAT means, "Truth and Transmission." TAT's founder, Richard Rose, with the assistance of many sincere friends, set up the TAT Foundation near Wheeling West Virginia in 1972 as a means of helping people find an answer to that elusive question, "Who am I?" For 30 years, the group has truly focused on providing a forum where Truth seekers can talk in a conducive environment. TAT offers four meetings every year. Individuals may participate as much or as little as they choose, the only requirement for those attending the meetings is a deep sincerity about finding answers to the mysteries of life and themselves. - www.tatfoundation.org
Activities are also sponsored by individual members, for members and non-members, in various locations. For a list of groups in your area,go to the
First Know Thyself : This website is an umbrella for groups meeting in different parts of the country of those who are seeking to truly understand themselves; to first know themselves. The groups listed on this page are led by and composed of people with widely varying personalities and backgrounds but there are some common denominators. Besides the fact that they all include people who are sincerely looking for real answers in life, these groups can trace their roots back to Richard Rose - a seeker who found and who dedicated his life to helping others do the same and whose efforts have proven to be fruitful. - http://www.firstknowthyself.org/
The Pittsburgh Philosophical Self-Inquiry Group- The PSI group provides a non-dogmatic environment where people seeking to discover a true understanding of themselves and their place in the cosmos can work together. It encourages individual investigation and application of the teachings of people throughout history who have claimed successful discovery of the answer to the "Who am I?" question And it serves as a matrix where each individual's progress can be accelerated by helping and being helped.
a message board for spiritual seekers looking for like-minded friends.
Group Work, from December 05:
This month's Missal takes a look at the value of working with a group. In many esoteric teachings, there are said to be three avenues of work on the Path: working on oneself, working with others, and working for the Work itself. Let's take a look at working with others, and the ways this can be accomplished.
The traditional form of working together has been the group, a brotherhood of like-minded people who strive towards a common goal. This is found in many walks of life, not just in spiritual pursuits. But in matters such as finding the true meaning of life and death, friends become truly valuable. Traveling in a group of fellow seekers offers friendship, protection, and speeds our progress. While it is alone we must face our truth, by working with others we become part of a ladder, each one helping another to move higher.
Let's look at three ways groups can work:
First, we have the group as a brotherhood, a group of friends by which we can see the many vagaries of human behavior, in ourselves as well as them. This could be likened to a mirror, in which we see ourselves through the group's reactions to our own personality. It can also be of value in that we have trusted peers which we can use for advice and constructive criticism when we can't see our way. Sometimes the efforts of our teacher are better understood too, when we are in a group and see the struggles of our fellow students as well as our own.
Surround yourself with fellow seekers: There is tremendous benefit to associating with like-minded people. Better yet is sharing an apartment or house with a group of seekers. It is a resource of ideas and inspiration, as well as help with the everyday problems of life. You will learn from each other's successes and failures. When one member is in despair, his fellows can in a sense, carry him until he recovers. - Shawn Nevins
Second, we can use the group as a source of what might be called positive tension, or confrontation. This method of friendly questioning is used in a group meeting format to bring us to a greater understanding of our own mind. Through our efforts at self-inquiry and observation, we may begin to question our patterns of thinking, and in the group sessions use the added tension and differing view points to further our awareness of ourselves.
The meetings are a mix of discussion and questioning with the overall aim of understanding ourselves and our minds better. Meetings begin with an open discussion of the topic for the week which serves as a catalyst for self inquiry. After the initial discussion the meeting moves toward questioning one another. This often takes place in a conversational format and the point of the questioning is to help each person retreat from untruth in themselves - to see where their own thinking might be clouded by desires or fears, where they might be rationalizing or if they might have unchallenged assumptions and convictions. The meeting is not intended for people who want to get together and idly talk about philosophy as an exercise and demonstration of their intellect. Meetings embody the spirit of friendship and are for people who want to take an honest look at themselves and confront the questions that are bothering them and who have a suspicion that the answers lay within. Many people who participate in this process over time will find that their thinking becomes more clear and that they understand themselves and others better.
A third way is to use the group as a way of becoming a vector, a seeker headed in a sure direction, helping those below them on the ladder of the path, as well as those brothers on the same rung. We become someone who helps, and learns the best way to help. We reach out beyond our own self centered cares, and think of others: how can we help our fellow to overcome the blocks to his self-knowledge which he may be blind to, yet are clearer to us? We rejoice when someone in the group has a breakthrough, and lend a hand to the one who has slipped. This could be likened to a return to a more innocent life, we become less dependent on our ego, and better able to reach out.
Realize that you want to help others: The ego prevents us from reaching out to others. With persistent self-analysis, you will come to have true consideration for your fellow man -- you will see your flaws in others and others' flaws in you. There is the thought that we should help others because it will help us in the long run, but this is not the same as truly wanting to help another. It is a milestone when we want to help simply because it is the natural reaction. - Shawn Nevins
We have all been living our lives from an emotion or feeling based pattern of thought, or state of mind, from which we rarely awaken. In the brief moments of inspiration and intuition, we may catch a glimpse of this, and decide to look deeper. We may be lucky enough to find a group in which we can work. When we join up with such a group and begin working to awaken from this inherited sleep or hypnosis of life, we also see the endless varieties of sleep holding sway over our fellows. From this, we see more and more of the traps that hold sway over us, and through working with these fellows, gain greater courage and conviction in our quest.
Tricks and Traps
Trap: Stuck in a Hole. We can get stuck in a negative frame of mind, perhaps a problem that takes on unreasonable significance, or a mood or funk that won't let go, and compound the problem by isolating ourselves.
Trick: Put the problem into the light. If we make the decision to face it by talking or writing to someone, we keep the problem from hiding in the dark. Sometimes just the act of sending the email or talking to a friend can burst the negative bubble and free us. Trouble is, if we make this a habit, and thing unto itself, we're liable to fall the other way into this mess:
Trap: High on a Horse. We can also get stuck in an overly positive frame of mind that might not be to our best advantage. Say we are about to make a big decision based on only one facet ( fear or desire), ignoring the other factors and consequences.
Trick: Put It Out There. Andrew Carnegie had a group of respected fellows by whom he used to run thoughts and plans before making his final decision. So can we.
Trap: Using Others To Get What We Want. Conversely, we can use others to get affirmation for our desires and fears, and instead of letting the light free our thinking, keep ourselves in the dark as to our real inner motivations. Here, it helps to pick our friends wisely.
Trick: Questioning our urges. All of the above shenanigans can be avoided if we learn to question our cravings and fears. Self-inquiry, good friends, and a better memory can save us from a lot of common traps.
The Light of Friendship
" Nothing in the search is more valuable than those whose honest concern for your long-term peace takes precedence over the pettiness of your ego. " - from The Place of No Concern
As the years go by, I find that throughout my life I have been accompanied by two kinds of friends. One is of the inner sort, the helpers of the intuition, the still small voices within that guide one, especially during times of duress. This could almost be called the Self, and could be said to be within, until we are ready to merge with it in union. The other set is of the outer variety, and cloaked in flesh and blood. These are the helpers of the human type, those steadfast beings who stand by us through thick and thin, but thankfully don't take too kindly to our ego's bull and bluster.
These two sets of friends spring from the same source as we, the Inner Self, and when we are very young we may still know this. As life and the world have their way, we drift farther from these friends, and trade them for what we come to believe are better helpers. We develop that strange exterior self, the ego, if you will, and forget what we are in favor of its sweet promises. Soon, the friends we turn our ear to, are helpers of a different sort. These forces are adverse to our clarity, and aid us only in building our newfound separate 'self'. The old inner friends are still with us; we just are too busy obsessing with the game of desire and ego security to hear them. Those of the outer variety get caught up in the new game of ego building just as tight as we. And this is as it should be, for our human destiny will have its day.
But sooner or later we come to the time when we have traveled so far afield into the world of thought and mind that we may lose all sight of true friends, and come to find ourselves surrounded by ghosts, the substitute images we have projected into our own minds, shadows of the real. Our heads become clouded with concepts and desire, fears and undefined feelings. We may long for the innocence and simplicity of our youth, and begin to question the so-called friends of the present, who may be mere reflections of our own obsessions, born of unquestioned wants and unresolved conflicts. As we see our human friends of the past becoming caught in the same web, we realize they too have become ensnared in thought and wholly identified with the mind's reaction pattern.
It is at this that time that we have the golden opportunity to reverse our course. To head back towards our Source, our Home. It is now too, that our friends are most valuable. The voice of intuition can be heard when we reflect on our life, more than when we project and justify it. Our outer buddies, too, come to our aid, for they see the good in us, our potential for becoming, and aid us in whatever fashion they can, and we allow.
At every turning point, a friend came to my aid. He was standing in the wings, and put out his hand at the right moment. Not only to pick me up, but to block my way if I was about to step into yet another fire. This may have been an inner voice quietly suggesting a new direction, or a friend showing me a part of myself, whether good or bad, that I was blind to.
This light of friendship eventually leads us to a paradox; that our friends and we are merely facets of the one Light, reflected in the mind. We can find this Light with their help, though only alone will we take the journey back beyond the separateness and discord of mind, thought, and otherness.
- Quotes of the Month -
" Because each spiritual path is unique, it is difficult to work with a group. Groups tend to either homogenize or break apart. However, if the majority of members are sincerely seeking (looking within), this will enable diversity and understanding. " - Shawn Nevins
" If you do not fear falling alone, do you presume that you will rise up alone? Consider how much more can be accomplished by two together than by one alone." - St. John of the Cross
" Friendship without self-interest is one of the rare and beautiful things of life."- James F. Byrnes
" The self-love will not permit us to realize that we are not conscious. " - Maurice Niccoll
" Without struggle, no progress and no result. Every breaking of habit produces a change in the machine."- G.I.Gurdjieff
" Dare to be naive." - Buckminster Fuller
" The Christmas Season is weird. What other time do you sit in your living room in front of a dead tree and eat candy out of your socks? " -Betty Jacobs
" Where are we going, and why am I in a handbasket ? " - saying on T-shirt
Copyright 2003 - 2006 Robert Fergeson. All Rights Reserved