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Philosophical Self-Inquiry Discussion Group

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Do Not Fear the Darkness | Radical Possibilities? | Searching for the Way | Conquest of Spiritual Boredom | The Seeker | We walk about.... | Are fleas the purpose of life? | Is there a fundamental awareness that we're not aware of? | Why Don't You Know Yourself? | Your Task? | The Usual Mode of Conversation Between God and man | The Cry of the Heart | If The Answer is Within, How Do We Find It? | What is the Purpose of Life? | Can We Know with Certainty What's Right? | Confronting Basic Issues | The Soul Answers Never by Words | Is Sacrifice Necessary for Inner Development? | The Glory: Does Death Get the Final Word? | Second-Hand Opinions and Beliefs | Man's Position? | What is Thought? | Spiritual Physics & Engineering | Go for a Total Answer | How Came Death and Birth? | The Fountain of All Good | Are Your Values Working? | Race-Horse & Donkey | Self-Examination | Finding Balance | Whose life is it? | Finding the Inner Self | Discipline | Butterfly | Pursuing the Impossible Dream | Knowledge and Action | Need to Search? | Life Goals | Am I the Questioner? The Question? The Answer? | Where Will You Find the Truth? | Looking for Success? | Is There Really Nothing to Do? | Attachment or Happiness? | Tired of Ruminating? | Psychological Fear | Passion for an Answer | Is Completeness Possible? | Whence Happiness? | Liberation | Self-Delusion

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   Do Not Fear the Darkness

Dylan Thomas, knowing that his father was dying, extruded his feelings into a poem that ended with the lines:

Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Do they resonate with your own feelings?

There is no need for fear.

My velvet blackness removes all cares,
dispels all vulnerabilities,
terminates all threat
without and within.

Immersed in me emptiness is filled,
longing is finally answered,
permanence is found.

Here, and only here, is love complete,
mother, father, mate, child, friend perfect.

Only when you have lost your self in me
will you find what you've been looking for.

   Radical Possibilities?

  • Is it possible to satisfy your deepest questions about yourself and the cosmos?
  • Is there a nondogmatic, free-for-the-taking system for doing so that has proven results?

   Searching for the Way

A trinity of method used in the West is that of science, religion and psychology. The first and last are severely limited by their definition. Science cannot be a way of life for the individual, though it may consume his total interest, and psychology has built a concrete ceiling over its head above which at present it firmly refuses to rise. In any event, psychology is concerned with the instrument of progress, with the car rather than the driver, and the Way must be trodden by a man who uses the instrument of his mind. The way of religion is a much larger subject. All religions have their genesis in the spiritual experience of a very advanced mind, and although the followers of the religion so established are working at second-hand, so to speak, they are attempting to apply what they understand of the Message which was their Master's attempt to speak of his experience. But though the way of religion is chosen by millions for its warmth and human comfort, it has its dangers for the man on the Way. As Jung pointed out in a famous passage, religion can be used as a shield to protect the individual from the very Truth which he believes he is seeking, and to many it is undoubtedly a form of escape from the problems of daily life. ~ Christmas Humphreys, The Way of Action

   Conquest of Spiritual Boredom

There is no more pathetic spectacle than that of an age that is bored with life. Materially our modern world is richer than perhaps any preceding age; spiritually we are paupers. Not all our truly wonderful physical accomplishments, not all our abundance of amusements and sensations can hide the fact that we are poor within. In fact, the task of the latter is to hide the poverty within; when our inner life is arid we must needs create artificial stimuli from without to provide a substitute, or at least cause such an unbroken succession of ever varying sensations that we have no time to notice the absence of life from within. ~ J.J. van der Leeuw, Conquest of Illusion

   The Seeker

The transformation of an ego-centered being to a free being does not take place either easily or quickly. One is converted into the other gradually, by a series of stages, and each stage carries its own dangers and difficulties. The transformation begins when one of the selves in a man's personality (the Seeker) develops an awareness of the state of sleep, or, alternately, a hunger for the fourth state of consciousness (Baudelaire's "Taste of the Infinite"). The Seeker forms as a result of the working in man of the will to meaning and the will to self-transcendence.

The self or group of selves that comprise the Seeker form a definite force in the personality, creating a ferment, a restlessness, a dissatisfaction with all the games that have previously proved satisfying. The effect of this force is often disruptive and may produce great misery.... ~ Robert S. De Ropp, The Master Game

   We walk about, amid the destinies of our world-existence, encompassed by dim but ever present Memories of a Destiny more vast – very distant in the bygone time, and infinitely awful.

We live out a Youth peculiarly haunted by such dreams; yet never mistaking them for dreams. As Memories we know them. During our Youth the distinction is too clear to deceive us even for a moment.

So long as this Youth endures, the feeling that we exist is the most natural of all feelings. We understand it thoroughly. That there was a period at which we did not exist – or, that it might have so happened that we never existed at all – are the considerations, indeed, which during this youth, we find difficulty in understanding. Why we should not exist is, up to the epoch of our Manhood, of all queries the most unanswerable. Existence – self-existence – existence from all Time and to all Eternity – seems, up to the epoch of Manhood, a normal and unquestionable condition: – seems, because it is.

But now comes the period at which a conventional World-Reason awakens us from the truth of our dream. Doubt, Surprise, and Incomprehensibility arrive at the same moment. They say: – "You live and the time was when you lived not. You have been created. An Intelligence exists greater than your own; and it is only through this Intelligence that you live at all." These things we struggle to comprehend and cannot: – cannot, because these things, being untrue, are thus, of necessity, incomprehensible. ~ Edgar Allan Poe, from Eureka

   Are fleas the purpose of life?

Are you here to live and die, collecting experience in the interval (as dogs collect fleas) or pursuing a path that you hope will result in passing a final exam that guarantees you entrance into a place where, leaving this decaying carcass behind, you can begin collecting more experience?

  • Is it possible to discover "the facts" about life and death rather than basing your life on a guess, which in turn is based on 1) believing what someone else has said, or 2) rejecting what someone else has said?
  • Are you following the ostrich's proverbial behavior, sticking your head in the sands of "I don't want to think about it" – knowing that dying only happens to others or only occurs so far in the future it's not worth thinking about, or that there's nothing you can do about it anyway?

   Is there a fundamental awareness that we're not aware of?

O sweet nature of the unborn light, purify my mind and enlighten my understanding so that I may be conscious of you! ~ Meister Eckhart

You are aware prior to birth and aware after you die, so you begin with awareness, but you are not conscious of awareness. ~ Richard Rose

   Why Don't You Know Yourself?

WHAT IS WRONG: For your part, obviously something is wrong with you – that's why you go to others for certainty. If you were all right, why would you ask others?

KNOW YOURSELF: I tell people to get to know themselves. Some people think this means what beginners observe and consider it easy to understand. Reflect more carefully, in a leisurely manner, what do you call your self?

MIND'S EYE: It is as though you have an eye that sees all forms but does not see itself – this is how your mind is. Its light penetrates everywhere and engulfs everything so why does it not know itself?
Zen Master Foyan (1067 - 1120)

   Your Task?

The self is simply a bundle of perceptions. Perceptions themselves, their organs, and things perceived are without substance, as the Heart Sutra tells us. Yet at the same time, the self is the agent of realization and the setting of serious practice. The Buddha pointed out that it is difficult to be born a human being and difficult then to find the Buddha Dharma. Indeed. When you reflect on the infinite number of happenstances that coalesced to produce you, then you understand how unique, how precious, how sacred you really are. Your task is to cultivate that precious, sacred nature and help it to flower.
Hakuin Zenji (1689-1796)

   The Usual Mode of Conversation Between God and man

God: Turn round, and come Home to me.

    man: Two dozen dirty lovers before you, I must be a sucker for it.
    I'd cry, but I don't need my mother, just hold my hand while I come to a decision on this.

Sooner or later,
your legs will give way, you'll hit the ground. Turn round.

    Save it for later,
    just hold my hand while I come to some decisions on all this.

Sooner or later,
you'll hit the deck, you'll get found out. Turn round.

               I just need more time to think.
    Save it for later, but don't run away and let me down.

Turn round, and come Home to me.

               I've travelled all 7 seas, they're rotten through and through, so what can you do?
    Sooner or later,
    you'll run away and let me down.

Sooner or later,
your legs will give way, you'll hit the ground. Turn round.

               Two dozen other stupid reasons why we should suffer all this?
    Sooner or later,
    you'll run away, run away, and let me down.

Sooner or later,
you'll hit the deck, you'll get found out. Turn round.

    Save it for later,
    just hold my hand while I come to some decisions on all this.

This continued for some time, right up to and through the present day.
- with apologies to The English Beat -
By Bob Fergeson

   The Cry of the Heart

"To its human characters there is salvation in nothing else in the universe. The story only has the authority to answer the cry of the heart of its characters, that one cry of the heart of each of them: Who am I?"

From the autobiography of Isak Dinesen (Baroness Karen Blixen), author of Out of Africa, referring to the human "story."

   If The Answer is Within, How Do We Find It?

"Both Ramana Maharshi and J. Krishnamurti insist that the answer to the problems of life is to be found within, that deep inside us lies all we need. In this, of course, they are in line with all the real sages and seers."
Douglas Harding, Look for Yourself

If the answer is within, how can be go about finding it?

   What is the Purpose of Life?

A questioner asked Ramana Maharshi the above question.

His response: To seek to know the significance of life.... Those who do not seek such knowledge are simply wasting their lives.

Could the purpose of your life be to seek the significance of your life?

   Can We Know with Certainty What's Right?

Character = moral or ethical courage.

  • What is true character?
  • Who has it?
  • How can it be developed?
  • What is its relationship to self-doubt and moral cowardice?
  • Can we know with certainty what's right?

Want to get your head on straight? Find your life-direction? Understand yourself? The Philosophical Self-Inquiry Discussion Group is aimed at facing fears, building character and finding life-direction.

   Confronting Basic Issues

  • What am I doing here? Does my individual existence have meaning?
  • What should I do with my life? Is purpose something I have to invent or something to be discovered?
  • Is there a way to think clearly, uncontaminated by the many forms of conditioning to which we've been subjected by parents, teachers, peers, canons of culture, religious authorities, possibly even genetic memories, and so on?
  • Is there a way to think coolly, uninfluenced by our often-conflicting fears and desires?
  • Who am I? What is the essential nature of my being?
  • Where did I come from? Did my awareness arise out of nothing, coincident with my becoming self-conscious in this body?
  • Where am I going? Will my awareness evaporate at or soon after death?
  • What is my relationship to the cosmos? To my fellow creatures?
  • Is truth relative to the observer? Is an observer only able to perceive a corner of the truth? Is it possible for the finite mind to become less finite?

What's the basic issue in your life?

   The Soul Answers Never by Words

"As long as we, in philosophy, ask questions concerning reality, while we are bound in the illusion of our relative standpoint, and then try to deal with these faulty questions by means of the intellect, which is the mind functioning in the realm of relativity, it is quite impossible to come to a realization of living truth. At the very best we can hope to get an answer to our wrong question, which answer, since the question was wrong must necessarily be wrong also and therefore without value. The agnostic is at least safer in declaring that these questions cannot be answered, that man cannot know ultimate things. This may not be true, but at least it safeguards us from these pseudo-answers which do but act as mental soporifics. When the agnostic says, 'we cannot know, ' he is right if he adds the words 'by the aid of our intellect,' since the intellect is the instrument for observation in the world of relativity, and fails us when we desire to attain reality. Then the intuition alone can serve as a way of knowledge, the intuition being the experience of reality in our being....

"We can escape from the circulus vitiosus of wrong question and wrong answer only by recognizing that the questions are asked from the standpoint of illusion and that the intellect is bound to this same illusion. It is only when we surrender both and leave all trappings of the world of relativity behind that we can enter the world of the Real and there experience Reality, which does not answer wrong questions, but rather sweeps them aside and gives us a realization of living truth instead, in the light of which the very questions become absurd. 'The soul answers never by word, but by the thing itself that is inquired after,' says Emerson. We do not gain an answer in so many words, but experience a living reality which shows the absurdity of the wrong question and makes a further answer superfluous."
J.J. van der Leeuw, The Conquest of Illusion

   Is Sacrifice Necessary for Inner Development?

"Fusion, inner unity, is obtained by means of 'friction,' by the struggle between 'yes' and 'no' in man. If a man lives without inner struggle, if everything happens to him without opposition, if he goes wherever he is drawn or wherever the wind blows, he will remain such as he is. But if a struggle begins in him, and particularly if there is a definite line in this struggle, then, gradually, permanent traits begin to form themselves, he begins to 'crystallize.' But crystallization is possible on a right foundation and it is possible on a wrong foundation. 'Friction,' the struggle between 'yes' and 'no,' can easily take place on the wrong foundation. For instance, a fanatical belief in some or other idea, or the 'fear of sin,' can evoke a terribly intense struggle between 'yes' and 'no,' and a man may crystallize on these foundations. But this would be a wrong, incomplete development. In order to make further development possible he must be melted down again, and this can be accomplished only through terrible suffering...."

"In what way can one evoke the struggle between 'yes' and 'no' in oneself?" someone asked.

"Sacrifice is necessary," said Gurdjieff. "If nothing is sacrificed nothing is obtained. And it is necessary to sacrifice something precious at the moment, to sacrifice for a long time and to sacrifice a great deal. But still, not forever. This must be understood because often it is not understood. Sacrifice is necessary only while the process of crystallization is going on. When crystallization is achieved, renunciations, privations, and sacrifices are no longer necessary. Then a man may have everything he wants. There are no longer any laws for him, he is a law unto himself."
~ P.D. Ouspensky, In Search of the Miraculous

   The Glory: Does Death Get the Final Word? James B. Kaler heiligenschein

Witt: "One man looks at a dying bird and thinks there's nothing but unanswered pain, that death's got the final word, it's laughing at him. Another man see that same bird, feels the glory, feels something smiling through it."
~ from The Thin Red Line (1999 video)

Note: Click here for an explanation of the phenomenon in the photo.

   Tired of Second-Hand Opinions and Beliefs?

  • What do you know for sure?
  • What opinions and beliefs do you have?
  • Where did these opinions and beliefs come from?
  • Can anything be known for sure until the knower is known?
  • How do you know?

   Man's Position?

"There is an Eastern tale which speaks about a very rich magician who had a great many sheep. But at the same time this magician was very mean. He did not want to hire shepherds, nor did he want to erect a fence about the pasture where his sheep were grazing. The sheep consequently often wandered into the forest, fell into ravines, and so on, and above all they ran away, for they knew that the magician wanted their flesh and skins and this they did not like.

"At last the magician found a remedy. He hypnotized his sheep and suggested to them first of all that they were immortal and that no harm was being done to them when they were skinned, that, on the contrary, it would be very good for them and even pleasant; secondly he suggested that the magician was a good master who loved his flock so much that he was ready to do anything in the world for them; and in the third place he suggested to them that if anything at all were going to happen to them it was not going to happen just then, at any rate not that day, and therefore they had no need to think about it. Further the magician suggested to his sheep that they were not sheep at all; to some of them he suggested that they were lions to others that they were eagles, to others that they were men, and to others that they were magicians.

"And after this all his cares and worries about the sheep came to an end. They never ran away again but quietly awaited the time when the magician would require their flesh and skins.

"This tale is a very good illustration of man's position."
~ P.D. Ouspensky, In Search of the Miraculous

   What is Thought?

  • It is really extraordinarily interesting to watch the operation of one's own thinking, just to observer how one things, where that reaction we call thinking springs from.
  • Thought in human relationships is always demanding pleasure, which it covers by different words like loyalty, helping, giving, sustaining, serving.
  • Thought is so cunning, so clever, that it distorts everything for its own convenience.
  • Thought in its demand for pleasure brings its own bondage.
  • Those who think a great deal are very materialistic because thought is matter. Thought is matter as much as the floor, the wall, the telephone are matter. Energy functioning in a pattern becomes matter.
  • A new fact cannot be seen by thought. It can be understood later by thought, verbally, but the understanding of a new fact is not reality to thought.
  • Thought can never solve any psychological problem.
  • Thought is crooked because it can invent anything and see things that are not there. It can perform the most extraordinary tricks, and therefore it cannot be depended upon.
  • But if you understand the whole structure of how you think, why you think, the words you use, the way you behave in your daily life, the way you talk to people, the way you treat people, the way you walk, the way you eat – if you are aware of all these things then your mind will not deceive you, then there is nothing to be deceived. The mind then is not something that demands, that subjugates; it becomes extraordinarily quiet, pliable, sensitive, alone, and in that state there is no deception whatsoever.
    ~ Excerpts on thought from J. Krishnamurti's Freedom from the Known

   Spiritual Physics & Engineering

"In spiritual matters, man must become identified as a vector, or force, if he wishes for results. If this vector is aimed in the wrong direction, his life is wasted. Most people do not even bother to make of themselves a vector, even in uncertain spiritual drives. They announce their objectives before they begin to study, and then later announce that they have reached it.

"The Law of the Reversed Vector states that you cannot approach the Truth. You must become (a vector), but you cannot learn the absolute Truth. Not knowing the Truth in the beginning, nor even the true path, we still wish to move toward the Truth....

"We must back into the Truth by backing away from untruth. We still may gamble a bit, because we will not know those things which are untrue in every case. We must develop a faculty, consequently, for being aware of the difference between things true and things untrue. And it will not come suddenly. But we must begin with a simple start, and with faith in progression."
Richard Rose, The Albigen Papers

   Go for a Total Answer

Bold enough to challenge life to reveal its meaning? Looking for a method of finding your own answers?

Orientation meeting to discuss ways and means of finding total answers to your deepest life-questions and what the Philosophical Self-Inquiry group has to offer.

   How Came Death and Birth?

Who am I? How came this world? What is it?
How came death and birth? Thus inquire
Within yourself; great will be the benefit.

The above stanza from the Annapurna Upanishad lays out the direction of self-definition and the promise of reward for successfully doing so. What we find, though, when we attempt to inquire within, is a plethora of problems that prevent a smooth journey.

Are there "laws" of spiritual searching, the understanding of which can accelerate our progress? See Laws for a view of this by Richard Rose.

   The Fountain of All Good

"Look within; within is the fountain of all good. Such a fountain where springing waters can never fail...."
Marcus Aurelius

Is there such a fountain? Where is "within," and how does one get there?

   Are Your Values Working?

Do you know why you desire what you desire, why you fear what you fear? What motivates you? What are your values? Where did they come from? What prides and fears may they be supporting?

   The Race-Horse and Donkey Team

Franklin Merrell-Wolff writes in Pathways Through to Space of the problem where Logos (intellect) dominates Eros (refined feeling). He likens this situation to a team made up of a race-horse, straining to run, hitched to a donkey who's digging in its heels in stubborn refusal.

Douglas Harding describes a similar barrier to the final Breakthrough in On Having No Head: Zen and the Rediscovery of the Obvious. All discoveries along the way "leave the wayfarer profoundly unsatisfied. There remains an ache, an unidentified longing. In spite of all this quite genuine spiritual 'progress,' an all-important region remains untraveled, or at least insufficiently explored. It's a dark and dangerous country inhabited by monsters, and it cannot be by-passed. It is the area of the will. Here ... the unregenerate ego is still at work...." There remains a blindness to one's personal and separative will or ego, he tells us.

What's the solution?


"The unexamined life is not worth living." - Plato

  • What's an examined life?
  • How do you do it?

"To understand everything except yourself is comical." - Kierkegaard

  • Who's laughing?

"To understand others is to have knowledge; to understand oneself is to be liberated." - Lao-tzu

  • Liberated from what?

   Finding Balance

People talk in reverential tones of finding balance on the spiritual path. It sounds so reasonable and wise to proclaim, "I am a spirit and a body." That thought is often followed by this type, "Pleasure exists, so I must partake in it. Please pass the beer." Not that there is anything detrimental to drinking alcohol. What is detrimental is that such proclamations prevent us from discovering what we really are.

Only a fool proclaims he is a spirit and a body. What you are is a body attempting to discover if it has a spirit. Our body, as it currently exists, focuses on the outward world and survival in the jungle of life. We must change our focus to the inner world and to ultimate survival. Those who protest about finding balance are letting the body hide the potential spirit.

In your current state, you cannot presume to know what a balanced life is. Society enables you to sit at a desk all day, sit in front of a tv all night, and still meet your basic physical needs. Such a lifestyle is not healthy for the body, much less conducive to undertaking a spiritual quest. Any balanced or middle way should not be modeled on the average lifestyle. Merely adding meditation (a contemporary alternative to Sunday church attendance) to mundane life will give you a meditative mundane life.

You must be willing to change to become a truth-seeker. You must discover the lies you live, and that will require much purposeful unbalancing. Such disciplines as fasting, dietary modifications, meditation, celibacy, and challenging fears may elicit howls of protest from the body and mind. For example, a beer-drinker might abstain from drinking for a year (perhaps seriously distorting his lifestyle), and discover he doesn't need or want it. Thus, he refines his self-definition and discovers a new position of balance, grace, and strength. Such seeming distortions of normal life may lead to further interesting experiments that challenge your deepest assumptions about your needs, likes, and identity.

Do not worry about finding balance. Rather, identify what prevents you from focusing and thinking about a single goal – the discovery and answering of your deepest life question. You must discover through experimentation the lifestyle your particular body and mind combination needs in order to unravel the mystery of its existence. Balance will naturally flow from meeting this need. As truths about your self are discovered, balance will be discovered. This is a unique and dynamic process, changing as we change and clarify our question. A question we live, breathe, and become.
Shawn Nevins, from the November 2001 TAT Forum

   Whose life is it?

"How is it that we need all this prodding, all these warnings and earnest invitations and promises of infinite rewards, to persuade us to take a really close look at ourselves? Why don't all intelligent and serious people make it their chief business in life to find out whose life it is?"
Douglas Harding, "Self-Enquiry: Some Objections Answered," from Look for Yourself: The Science and Art of Self-Realization

   Finding the Inner Self

"Before we can develop a connection with our inner self, or true intelligence, we must be shown the stark fact that such a connection does not yet exist. In other words, we must see ourselves as we truly are, a SMAARP: a self-maintaining accidental associative reaction pattern, a robot. This robot may have the programming to make its way through life in a reasonable fashion, but it is sorely lacking in answering the fundamental questions about reality, Truth and our origin and destiny. Nature will assist the majority of mechanical men on their journey through life. It will not help with matters outside its domain. For this, a form of intelligence on a higher order than associative reaction is needed."
Bob Fergeson


"Discipline is just choosing between what you want now and what you want most."


"Once upon a time, I, Chuang-tzu, dreamed I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of following my fancies as a butterfly, and was unconscious of my individuality as a butterfly. Suddenly I was awakened, and there I lay myself again. Now I do not know whether I was a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am a butterfly now dreaming I am a man."

  Pursuing the Impossible Dream

"Every night, half of the people in the first row are crying when the star is singing To Dream the Impossible Dream. It's sad to see successful, middle-aged men with tears streaming down their faces, regretting that they didn't pursue their 'impossible' dreams."
An oboe player in the orchestra for The Man from La Mancha

  Knowledge and Action

"He moves, and He moves not. He is far, and He is near. He is within all, and He is outside all.

"When a sage sees this great Unity and his Self has become all beings, what delusion and what sorrow can ever be near him?

"Into deep darkness fall those who follow action. Into deeper darkness fall those who follow knowledge.

"One is the outcome of knowledge, and another is the outcome of action. Thus have we heard from the ancient sages who explained this truth to us.

"He who knows both knowledge and action, with action overcomes death and with knowledge reaches immortality.

"Into deep darkness fall those who follow the immanent. Into deeper darkness fall those who follow the transcendent."
From the Isa Upanishad

Note: Who follow the immanent means those who retreat into the luxury of imagination, believing they can create objects of desire – by physical means. Who follow the transcendent means those who try to objectify transcendent possibilities or possible attainments, rather than wait to realize transcendent powers or truths.

  Need to Search?

"I remember thinking I just want more. This isn't it. Fame is not the goal. Money is not the goal. To be able to know how to get peace of mind, how to be happy, is something you don't just stumble across. You've got to search for it."
George Harrison (1943-2001), "The Quiet Beatle"

  Life Goals

"I wasn't feeling that good about my life, and I've been looking for a lot of answers for a long time – about what I should do with my life – about what interests me – about what is a good goal to go for in life. And I've had a lot of trouble finding one. And that's been a big problem. I've tried all kinds of different things ... and each one of them has seemed to fail."
Paul B, U. of Pittsburgh grad student

  Am I the Questioner? The Question? The Answer?

The first meeting of the winter/spring semester will look into what the Philosophical Self-Inquiry Discussion Group is and how it can help you in your search for answers. This will provide an introduction for newcomers checking out the group and a review for people who've been participating in the activities. Examples of questions the group functions to address are:

  • Who or what am I?
  • Am I here for a purpose? If so, is it something to be created or discovered?
  • What is my relationship to the visible cosmos?
  • Did I exist before birth? Will I continue after death?
  • Am I the questioner? The question? The answer?

  Where Will You Find the Truth?

Speak to me, O Guru, of that which is True and that which is certain.

And thus it came about that the Guru spake to his chela. Wherein will you find the Truth? Shall the guru who trades thee Truth for rice extend to thee a commodity worth more than the rice?

Shall the guru who asks you to rely on faith support thy quaking soul at death?

For is not faith an instrument and not an end in itself. The faith of the Mohammedan is fatal to the Christian, and separate creeds call upon us to extend faith to them while they stand apart and even opposite to one another. So that the sacred implementation of faith is used as a weapon rather than a celestial lever.

Though I possessed the Truth, particular and absolute, still I could not give it to thee, for how could I converse except by words, which are relative.

I say that the Truth is in thee, but that with the help of the guru thou mayest find thyself. And to know thyself, thou must first know that which thou art not, lest thou mistake thy alter-ego for the real.

And you wouldst ask me for that which is certain, and I say that all that thou wouldst know in honesty is that thou knowest nothing for certain. And if thou knowest this, thou hast made a worthy beginning. Let thy beginning be from zero. Fill not thy mind with false assumptions, and let the doubt live until it is drowned in evidence.

Look at thyself to see if thou thinkest from fear or desire. Among thy fellows, thou will see great numbers who have followed a vain religion out of fear. Others have changed their religion out of a desire for the seemingly better things the other religion offers. Others will change religion because of benefit to their economy. And thou will look with scorn upon all of these but forget to ask thyself, "What do I really know for certain? What has brought me to the door of this temple – has it been true intuition or masked desire?"

This I would tell thee as a certainty. Man cannot learn by starting with presumption. Man cannot start with the Truth because he knows not where it is or what it is, and since he cannot have anything proven to him when he is not acquainted with it, he must become acquainted before the proving.

Man must make a start. He must seek. Not knowing what the True is, he must in every situation take that which is evidently more true than the other. Thus will he approach the altar. Seek thou for books and people. These are thy guru until thou findest the Guru who knows all. Look not with scorn on the great soul of Buddha, who gives advice to the ages to seek the path and the sangha. In the darkness, even the sage goes hand in hand with a sage to take surer steps and avoid the abysses. And this is brotherhood.

Seek not ye out men who profess to know all, for these men are liars. If they knew all, the world would join to build temples to them. But seek ye humble men who will with thee build, stone upon stone, a wall to keep out the forces of ignorance and adversity and to retain that which thou mightest forget if thou hast no wall to remind thee. Gather ye from the far corners of darkness, and joined in groups work ye and comfort one the other. And let all exult with the progress of one.

Turn thy back to the light lest it blind thee, but advance toward it in this manner. Always thy face shall be toward the darkness of ignorance, for thou need not be wary of the Light.

Make one step in seeking, and make another. And these things shall be made known to thee, and with each step it will be easier to follow the next.

Help another to thy level, and the seeds of brotherhood are planted, and then shalt thou rise.

Thus spake the Guru.
From "The Books of the Relative" by Richard Rose, in the October 2002 issue of the TAT Forum.

  Looking for Success?

"Success develops arrogance, and one's spiritual progress is arrested. Failure, on the other hand, is beneficial, inasmuch as it opens one's eyes to one's limitations and prepares one to surrender oneself. Self-surrender is synonymous with happiness."
Ramana Maharshi

"Unsuccess is the guide to Paradise."

  Is There Really Nothing to Do?

"Some say, 'What is the use of talking about Truth when many writings on Zen tell you that there is nothing that you can do about finding Truth or Reality.' These people have the idea that life is futile, and that all we should do about it is meditate – with the chance that we may stumble upon the awareness of Reality. However, regardless of the writings to which they refer, no man writes or teaches if he thinks it is futile to write without some assurance that it will result in action. We must discount the writers that write for cleverness only, or to merely impress readers with their complex mentality."
Richard Rose, Carillon

  Attachment or Happiness?

"... To be free means to be free from attachment. Attachment means, "I have something." But to be free means, "I have nothing." You see, when you hold on to absolutely nothing, you are free – automatically. And the truth that liberates is the profound recognition of just that fact – that your own natural state is already free. The only thing that keeps us in bondage is the unquestioned belief that there is something fundamental that is missing from our own self. So out of ignorance of our own natural state, we bind ourselves to people and things, convinced that through creating attachment we will find happiness and contentment. But it never works that way. Because where there is attachment, there is always fear of loss. And where there is fear, there can never be real happiness or deep contentment. It is the revelation of enlightenment itself that shows all of this directly to us – the perennial truth that real happiness and the only lasting contentment lie within us as our own True Self, our own natural state, already full and complete as it is. But in this unenlightened world, we are all deeply conditioned to believe that happiness and contentment lie somewhere outside our own self. If we truly want to be free, we renounce that way of thinking. We give it up because we have had intimations of a profound happiness that is already present deep within our own self, a lasting contentment that will be ours only when we finally stop looking for it anywhere else."
Andrew Cohen, Living Enlightenment

  Tired of Ruminating?

"I think that Reagan is a great spiritual philosopher. He decided that we were too happy. (Laughter.) So we are not going to think until we have misery. But this is true ... if you are content, you do not function. Philosophy only comes out of adversity. And a lot of these yogis that sat, they didn't have anything to worry about, they were fairly peaceful, but they had to tie themselves up in the lotus position so that they would get cramps in their legs so that it would keep them awake. That is the only thing that I can see for the lotus position. But you have to keep irritating yourself in order to think, that part is true. And pleasure isn't conducive ... it isn't even conducive to peace of mind. Pleasure seeks more pleasure, and more pleasure causes the opposite of peace of mind....

"This is the reason we are doing just what we are doing here today.... I think that in the long run ... the only way that you can actually get a person to produce themselves is by challenging the mind. You have to challenge it continually. And I know that is the reason why we try to do a certain amount here in August, on this meeting. But I think that you can do this yourself. I always say that you can start up little groups in any town, and they don't have to be highly spiritual people. All they have to be is people who want to know the answers. And be tolerant of a little bit of confrontation. That's all, and get together and irritate each other a bit with the questions. That's all. You have to shake your heads up because you are like the cows with their noses in the grass. You get to ruminating, that's all, just eating and ruminating. Life goes by. Unless you take a certain amount of time each week to shake your head up and start asking yourself how or why this is happening."
Richard Rose, from "August Chautauqua" (in The Direct-Mind Experience)

  Psychological Fear

"The psychological condition of fear is divorced from any concrete and true immediate danger. It comes in many forms: unease, worry, anxiety, nervousness, tension, dread, phobia, and so on. This kind of psychological fear is always of something that might happen, not of something that is happening now. You are in the here and now, while your mind is in the future. This creates an anxiety gap. And if you are identified with your mind and have lost touch with the power and simplicity of the Now, that anxiety gap will be your constant companion. You can always cope with the present moment, but you cannot cope with something that is only a mind projection – you cannot cope with the future.

"Moreover, as long as you are identified with your mind, the ego runs your life.... Because of its phantom nature, and despite elaborate defense mechanisms, the ego is very vulnerable and insecure, and it sees itself as constantly under threat. This, by the way, is the case even if the ego is outwardly very confident. Now remember that an emotion is the body's reaction to your mind. What message is the body receiving continuously from the ego, the false, mind-made self? Danger, I am under threat. And what is the emotion generated by this continuous message? Fear, of course.

"Fear seems to have many causes. Fear of loss, fear of failure, fear of being hurt, and so on, but ultimately all fear is the ego's fear of death, of annihilation. To the ego, death is always just around the corner. In this mind-identified state, fear of death affects every aspect of your life. For example, even such a seemingly trivial and "normal" thing as the compulsive need to be right in an argument and make the other person wrong – defending the mental position with which you have identified – is due to the fear of death. If you identify with a mental position, then if you are wrong, your mind-based sense of self is seriously threatened with annihilation. So you as the ego cannot afford to be wrong. To be wrong is to die. Wars have been fought over this, and countless relationships have broken down."
Eckhart Tolle, The Power of NOW

  Passion for an Answer

"We need a tremendous amount of energy to understand the confusion in which we live, and the feeling, "I must understand," brings about the vitality to find out. But finding out, searching, implies time, and, as we have seen, gradually to uncondition the mind is not the way. Time is not the way. Whether we are old or young it is now that the whole process of life can be brought into a different dimension. Seeking the opposite of what we are is not the way either, nor is the artificial discipline imposed by a system, a teacher, a philosopher or priest – all that is so very childish. When we realize this, we ask ourselves is it possible to break through this heavy conditioning of centuries immediately and not enter into another conditioning – to be free, so that the mind can be altogether new, sensitive, alive, aware, intense, capable? That is our problem. There is no other problem because when the mind is made new it can tackle any problem. That is the only question we have to ask ourselves.

"But we do not ask. We want to be told. One of the most curious things in the structure of our psyche is that we all want to be told because we are the result of propaganda of ten thousand years. We want to have our thinking confirmed and corroborated by another, whereas to ask a question is to ask it of yourself. What I say has very little value. You will forget it the moment you shut this book, or you will remember and repeat certain phrases, or you will compare what you have read here with some other book – but you will not face your own life. And that is all the matters – your life, yourself, your pettiness, your shallowness, your brutality, your violence, your greed, your ambition, your daily agony and endless sorrow – that is what you have to understand and nobody on earth or in heaven is going to save you from it but yourself.

"Seeing everything that goes on in your daily life, your daily activities – when you pick up a pen, when you talk, when you go out for a drive or when you are walking alone in the woods – can you with one breath, with one look, know yourself very simply as your are? When you know yourself as you are, then you understand the whole structure of man's endeavor, his deceptions, his hypocrisies, his search. To do this you must be tremendously honest with yourself throughout your being. When you act according to your principles you are being dishonest because when you act according to what you think you ought to be you are not what you are. It is a brutal thing to have ideals. If you have any ideals, beliefs or principles you cannot possibly look at yourself directly. So can you be completely negative, completely quiet, neither thinking nor afraid, and yet be extraordinarily, passionately alive?

"Haven't you ever asked yourself why it is that human beings lack this thing? They beget children, they have sex, tenderness, a quality of sharing something together in companionship, in friendship, in fellowship, but this thing – why is it they haven't got it? Haven't you ever wondered lazily on occasion when you are walking by yourself in a filthy street or sitting in a bus or are on holiday by the seaside or walking in a wood with a lot of birds, trees, streams and wild animals – hasn't it ever come upon you to ask why it is that man, who has lived for millions and millions of years, has not got this thing, this extraordinary unfading flower? Why is it that you, as a human being, who are so capable, so clever, so cunning, so competitive, who have such marvelous technology, who go to the skies and under the earth and beneath the sea, and invent extraordinary electronic brains – why is it that you haven't got this one thing which matters? I don't know whether you have ever seriously faced this issue of why your heart is empty.

"What would your answer be if you put the question to yourself – your direct answer without any equivocation or cunningness? Your answer would be in accordance with your intensity in asking the question and the urgency of it. But you are neither intense nor urgent, and that is because you haven't got energy, energy being passion – and you cannot find any truth without passion – passion with a fury behind it, passion in which there is no hidden want. Passion is a rather frightening thing because if you have passion you don't know where it will take you.

"So is fear perhaps the reason why you have not got the energy of that passion to find out for yourself why this quality of love is missing in you, why there is not this flame in your heart? If you have examined your own mind and heart very closely, you will know why you haven't got it. If you are passionate in your discovery to find why you haven't got it, you will know it is there. Through complete negation alone, which is the highest form of passion, that thing which is love comes into being. Like humility you cannot cultivate love. Humility comes into being when there is a total ending of conceit – then you will never know what it is to be humble. A man who knows what it is to have humility is a vain man. In the same way when you give your mind and your heart, your nerves, your eyes, your whole being to find out the way of life, to see what actually is and go beyond it, and deny completely, totally, the life you live now – in that very denial of the ugly, the brutal, the other comes into being. And you will never know it either. A man does not know what love is or what silence is."
J. Krishnamurti, Freedom from the Known

  Is Completeness Possible?

  • By attachment to something outside ourselves?
  • By integrating internal fragments?
  • By adding something internally?
  • Some other way?

"The cause of your misery is not in the life without; it is in you as the ego. You impose limitations on yourself and then make a vain struggle to transcend them. All unhappiness is due to the ego; with it comes all your trouble. What does it avail you to attribute to the happenings in life the cause of misery which is really within you? What happiness can you get from things extraneous to yourself? When you get it, how long will it last?" - Ramana Maharshi

  Whence Happiness?

"When your wise men in the West leave off trying to make engines run faster than those which they already have and begin to look into their own selves, your race may then find more real happiness. Can you say that your people become more contented each time they discover something that enables them to travel more quickly." - Yogi Ramiah, 1934, from Paul Brunton's Search in Secret India


"He who seeks Liberation must examine his mind by his own efforts, and once the mind is purified by such introspection Liberation is obtained and appears obvious and natural."
Shankara's Crest Jewel of Discrimination

> How does introspection purify the mind?


"Were it not for the intuitive ability of man, I doubt if we would ever be aware of this pervasive fooling of the inner self, and the spontaneous acceptance of a limited sensory message, which the outer self in turn modifies to some degree and projects back into the external world-view as being real.

"This is a hopeless trap for the inner mind, and for inner knowing, until the process is observed. And once it is observed, then the outer mind becomes a mechanical, somatic process, and the projection is reinterpreted as a creation, extrusion, or projection of a crude, somatic mind ... and is no longer an observer at all. The observer now is the master of the whole new scene.

"We can say the last sentence in another way ... we have just taken the first major step inside of ourselves."
Richard Rose, Psychology of the Observer

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