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Philosophical Self-Inquiry Discussion Group

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More you than you? | Row, row, row your boat...? | Will the Circle be Unbroken? | What is Self-Inquiry? What Can it Do for You? | Where's Your Life Going? (How's Your Life Going?) | Richard Rose | Contest for Human Energy | What Do We Really See? | Felt Dimly in the Soul | Zen & Common Sense | Zen is... | Let him who seeks... | Formula for change? | What's your calling? | Can self-inquiry provide clarity in your life? | Can you Know the Truth? | Silence: Friend or Foe? | What to Do? | Got Game? | Look for Yourself | Will consciousness disappear? | Classic Taoism? | From one empty vessel to another | Search for Wholeness | Can you be alone with yourself? | Sleepwalking thru life? | Who's Cool? | Coincidence? | Poetry Reading | Karma Yoga | Destiny | Is self-realization so important? | Where does truth begin? | Compromise | Developing intuition | Is this living? | Group challenge | Room for the heart to breathe | Venezuela | Unhappy with your life? | Attitude adjustment | What is your purpose? | Radical transformation | Now I live, now my life is done | Reaction mode living | Developing the Spiritual Quantum | Start of another year | Live life fully | Can't deceive an honest man | Overvalue the negative? | Awakening begins

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  More you than you?

"I used to teach comparative religion once, and I found that at the heart of all great religions, covered up, denied, but certainly somewhere lurking in the heart of all the great religions, was a staggering proposition – unbelievable in it blessing and happiness and, what shall I say, its daring.... It is that nearer to you than everything else, more you than you, what you are looking out of, what you are most possessed of, is not a product of the world, it is the Origin of the world. And it has these characteristics of being boundless, absolutely clear like space, awake to itself, and it is not a thing at all. It is awareness of itself as No-thing, but is where everything comes from.... And that is where, nearer than hands and feet says Tennyson, is the One we really really are, right here. This One has no contamination, no boundaries, no defects, no death, no stress, but is awake to itself as Capacity for the whole world. Empty of itself, full of the whole world. Nearer to you than all else is the Origin of the world. And this is what you are looking out of at this moment. You are looking at the world from the point of view of the Origin of the world and not from the point of view of a product of the world. These great religions say that only the Origin of the world can view the world at all, let alone truly.... And what we have to do and what we are going to do tonight is to turn our attention around 180 degrees and see whether these people, the founders of the great religions, knew what they were talking about.... So this is my first reason for looking to see what it's like here, nearer than breathing, closer than hands and feet, nearer says the Koran than my neck vein - nearer than one's jugular vein is Allah, the Origin of all things. Were they talking nonsense? Come on! You've happened! You've occurred! Are you going to let this opportunity go by of having a look at what has occurred? You know I'm sure none of us is so chicken-hearted as to let this opportunity pass. The thing we least value, I think, but is most precious, is that we can say, I AM. I've happened. I've occurred. Most of us live and die without daring to look at what has occurred, in our own experience." - Douglas Harding, from a 1991 workshop given in Australia

  Row, row, row your boat...?

Questioner: I cannot say this is all clear to me. Is the world that is seen, felt and sensed by us in so many ways something like a dream, an illusion?
Maharshi: There is no alternative for you but to accept the world as unreal, if you are seeking the Truth and the Truth alone.
Q: Why so?
M: For the simple reason that unless you give up the idea that the world is real your mind will always be after it. If you take the appearance to be real you will never know the Real itself, although it is the Real alone that exists. This point is illustrated by the analogy of the 'snake in the rope.' As long as you see the snake you cannot see the rope as such. The nonexistent snake becomes real to you, while the real rope seems wholly nonexistent as such.
Q: It is easy to accept tentatively that the world is not ultimately real, but it is hard to have the conviction that it is really unreal.
M: Even so is your dream-world real while you are dreaming. So long as the dream lasts everything you see, feel, etc., therein is real.
Q: Is then the world nothing better than a dream?
M: What is wrong with the sense of reality you have while you are dreaming? You may be dreaming of something quite impossible, for instance, of having a happy chat with a dead person. Just for a moment you may doubt in the dream saying to yourself, "Was he not dead?" but somehow your mind reconciles itself to the dream-vision, and the person is as good as alive for the purposes of the dream. In other words, the dream as a dream does not permit you to doubt its reality. Even so, you are unable to doubt the reality of the world of your wakeful experience. How can the mind which has itself created the world accept it as unreal? This is the significance of the comparison made between the world of wakeful experience and the dream-world. Both are but creations of the mind and so long as the mind is engrossed in either, it finds itself unable to deny the reality of the dream-world while dreaming and of the waking world while awake. If, on the contrary, you withdraw your mind completely from the world and turn it within and abide thus, that is, if you keep awake always to the Self, which is the Substratum of all experience, you will find the world, of which alone you are now aware, just as unreal as the world in which you lived in your dream.
(Ramana Maharshi dialogue, from Profound Writings, East & West)

  Will the Circle be Unbroken?

"I don't know what to think any more. And this scares me – I'm very afraid that my whole life has been a sort of living – believing a fairy tale."
Angelina Rossi (age 77), quoted in Studs Terkel's latest oral history, Will the Circle be Unbroken? Reflections on Death, Rebirth, and Hunger for a Faith

> Has your life been a sort of living / believing a fairy tale?

  What is Self-Inquiry? What Can it Do for You?

An orientation meeting for newcomers and a chance to compare notes on what self-inquiry means to us, what benefits we have seen personally, and the potential rewards that it offers.

  Where's Your Life Going? (How's Your Life Going?)

This meeting will give participants an opportunity to take a snapshot of where they stand in their search for whatever it is they hope to accomplish with their lives.

  Richard Rose: A spiritual giant whose life is having an increasingly great impact today. (Sunday, Apr. 28, 2002, presentation for the Theosophical Society in Pittsburgh.)

  • Learn about a man who was an unstoppable seeker from childhood on and whose search culminated in a cataclysmic experience at the age of 30 that answered all the questions of life and death for him.
  • Find out if there is something in his common-sense teaching or inspirational writings that can help you find the "unknown goal behind all yearning."

  Contest for Human Energy

"Man's so-called love, and the protestations of it, are really born out of a desire for love, not to love. Man paints himself as a harmless, poetic lover, masking his lust or acquisitive nature which might be offensive to other people. Man not only desires to be loved, he indicates that he would like to order it, showing exactly how he or she would like to be loved. Each individual, while marching proudly under the commonly accepted banner of love wrangles endlessly with everyone else under the banner about his own private understanding of love. And the only way he can define it honestly is in its relation or response to his desires. "A person rarely sees his desires. They become apparent when his desires have a fight among themselves. The desire to get drunk will be countered by the desire to be free from drunkenness, or to be free from the consequences. The fear of death will temper our desire for body-pleasures, and will promote a desire for life and immortality. "We watch this contest for human energy, and we begin to take steps to protect our life and the things which we desire. This step-taking is witnessed by us as a process which is going on within us all the time. We agree that we are taking the steps, we are the process. We have at this realization come upon our first awareness of an anterior self."
Richard Rose, Psychology of the Observer

  What Do We Really See?

"When I see a familiar thing without associations it looks strange. I see it in a new way. The point is that when momentarily the veil of associations is stripped away, something happens. What happens? Everything becomes alive. If you can by sufficient practice relax from the Personality, which is where the network of associations lies, and from, let me add, the wrong feeling of 'I', you find yourself in a different world. Actually the world is the same, but your reception of the impressions from it is different and so its meaning is different. When you are relaxed from Personality and Imaginary 'I' things are close to you. They speak to you. You are then truly taking in impressions. Impressions are falling on Essence. Now when you are blessed - that is, when you are relaxed from the Personality - you feel the intimacy of everything around you, as if things realized they could go on playing and you would not be angry. If you get angry you cannot relax from the Personality. Or it is as if you and everything around you felt quite suddenly at ease and something could creep out from each object and show itself alive to you. ~ And then suddenly life slams the Personality back into its place and everything is dead." - Maurice Nicoll

What do we really see? Do we observe, or merely react to memory? Join us for an exploration of the process of seeing, as we take a look at such common things as observation, projection, and mental associations, and how the simple act of listening with attention can open a door to the Inner Man.

  Felt Dimly in the Soul (discussion based on the following pair of poems by Franklin Merrell-Wolff, printed in "Pathways through to Space" and "Experience and Philosophy"):


Thou monster, spawned of Ignorance impregnated by human ideation;
Appearing glamorous, promising all,
Yet deceiving ever, rewarding fidelity with empty cups.
Like a beautiful lake thou appearest,
Offering rest and refreshment to the traveler weary;
But a mirage thou art, ever receding,
Leading on and on to desert barrenness.
Appearing again as multi-colored rainbow,
Promising the gold never to be found.
Intriguing with a seeming joy and victory,
Jeering at thy victims as they,
Compounding sorrow and defeat, die disillusioned.
Empty art thou, void of all value,
Ghost of that which might have been;
Beguiling all onward till, caught in thy web,
They struggle, helpless and forlorn;
Demanding full loyalty, rewarding with illusion's drug,
Dream-stuff, turning to ashes on the morrow of waking.
Binding in ceaseless travail thy victims,
Draining the substance of the soul,
Leaving ever poorer and poorer and poorer.
Thee, I challenge to mortal combat,
To a war that knows no quarter,
Thou vampire, draining the life of this Great Orphan.
In that battle may there be no truce,
No end, until the Day of Victory Absolute.
Thou reduced shalt be, to a dream utterly forgotten.
Then man, once more Free,
Shall journey to his Destiny.


FELT DIMLY in the soul, by world-man unconceived;
Unknown Goal of all yearning;
The Fullness that fills the inner void,
Completing the half-forms of outer life;
The Eternal Beloved, veiled in the objects of human desire;
Undying, Timeless, Everlasting;
Old as Infinity, yet ever new as upspringing youth;
Pearl beyond price, Peace all-enveloping;
Divinity spreading through all.
"Blown-out" in the grand conflagration of Eternity,
Death destroyed as a dream no longer remembered.
Life below but a living death,
Nirvana the ever-living Reality.
Divine Elixir, the Breath of all creatures;
The Bliss of full Satisfaction;
Uncreated, though ceaseless Creativeness;
Ecstasy of ecstasies, thrilling through and through,
Freed from the price of ignoble pleasure;
The Rest of immeasurable refreshment,
Sustaining the labors embodied;
The one Meaning giving worth to all effort;
Balancing the emptiness of living death,
With values beyond conceiving.
The Goal of all searching, little understood,
By few yet attained, though free to all.
Sought afar, but never found,
For closer IT lies than all possession;
Closer than home, country or race,
Closer than friend, companion, or Guide,
Closer than the body, feeling, or thought,
For closest of all IT lies,
Thine own true SELF.

  Zen & Common Sense

So the student approaches the teacher and tries to get that teacher to define the Truth. The teacher knows that the truth must be an experience, not a bit of wisdom gained by argument, but he also knows that he must communicate with the student in the student's language. And hope by a special type of answer to illustrate and convince the student that language can be an everlasting tangent.

So he says, "The truth is a white swan gliding upon blue waters."

And the student replies, "I do not understand. Does the swan always have to be white?"

And the teacher replies, "Make it any color that you wish."

Then the student comes back, "Then why did you say that the swan is white, if it can be any color?"

And the teacher again enigmatically replies, "My swan is white, but I cannot expect you to see it." And saying this he gets up and leaves, hoping that the student in the quiet that follows will understand that truth, like the swan, cannot be identified when it refers to the absolute nature of man; yet it is a fact that can be grasped somehow.

In the absolute sense the truth is a white swan, it is a lake, it is even an apple. It is also a black swan, or it is an ocean, or it is even a plum. You can make it any color you wish, for all objects, even though they are illusion or imaginings, may exist absolutely - but only as projections, illusions, or imaginings.

The thing to be aware of is the fact that the swan, the lake and the world may not exist at all as we see them. Even though, our short-lived body and limited senses must be able to touch the absolute and hence be related to it, because the teacher - in such a body and with such senses that are primarily and manifestly subject to error and individual coloration - while in that erroneous body, has found this truth.

And consequently he has survived, or transcends, the individual coloration that he goes through to find his absolute answer.

The swan is a swan, for all eternity. The swan at the same time may not exist at all except as a projection. The swan is as real as the mountains, and the mountains are as real as the planet, and the planet is as real as the visible constellations. But all of this may be a projection or an illusion.

But if man and the swan are projections, and they appear to our minds as real, then before we could ever demand of ourselves the acceptance of man and swan as not-being, it is evident that such a truth could only be observed with any degree of conviction by another mind. Since our mind believes that we are substance.

Zen would then be a system of looking at man with another mind.

Richard Rose, Zen and Common Sense. The entire transcript of the talk is printed in the TAT Forum. This particular excerpt is from the March 2002 issue.

What do you make of this? What do you suppose that "looking at man with another mind" would entail?

  Zen is...

  • Subtractive – finding reality through the shedding of egos and untruths.
  • Immanent – designed for immediate changing and becoming.
  • Knowing less and less; certainty dwindles.

    The four pillars of Zen (attributed to Bodhidharma):

    • A special transmission outside the scriptures.
    • No dependence upon words or letters.
    • Direct pointing at the soul of man.
    • Seeing into one's own nature and the attainment of Buddhahood.

  • Zen does not teach; it questions.
  • Zen is action.

What do you make of this? Does it appeal to you? Why (not)?

  Let him who seeks...

  • Let him who seeks not cease till he finds. And when he finds he will be astonished, and when he is astonished he will marvel, and will be king over all.
  • You examine the face of heaven and earth, but you don't know what's where you are. And you ignore the present moment.
  • The old man will not hesitate to ask the infant of seven days about the place of life, and he will live.
  • The heavens will fold and the earth before your eyes, but he who lives from the One will experience neither death nor fear.
  • Many stand before the door, but it is the Alone who enters the bridechamber.
  • I am the Light which is over everything. I am the All. From me the All has gone forth, and to me the All has returned. Split the wood and I am there. Lift the stone and you will find me.
  • He who knows everything except himself, lacks everything.
  • We come from the Light, from the place where the Light comes into existence through itself alone.
  • I stood in the middle of the world and I appeared to them in the flesh. I found them all drunk. I found none that were thirsty. And my soul was troubled for the children of men, for they are blind in their hearts, and they do not see that they came empty into the world.
  • There is a Light in the Light-man and it lights up the whole world.

Sayings from the Gospel of Thomas, selected by Douglas Harding in Look for Yourself.

  Formula for change?

"Find out why you are doing things. When you do, your life will change." Richard Rose, from the Mister Rose video.

  What's your calling?   See article by Bob Cergol.

  Can self-inquiry provide clarity in your life?

How does a person "let the light shine in" and dispel the darkness? This seems to happen gradually as we age, but is there a way to accelerate the process?

  Can you Know the Truth?

"The discovery of the truth is the discernment of the false. You can know what is not. What is – you can only be." - Nisargadatta, Seeds of Consciousness

  • Are your actions meaningful or meaningless?
  • How can you know?
  • Can you know the truth?
  • What motivates you?
  • Why are you in internal conflict?
  • Who (which category) is more truthful?
    • People who say they always face things head-on, or those who say they avoid facing the truth?
    • Males or females?
    • Old people or young people?
    • Pre-teens or post-teens?
    • Doubters or believers?
    • Thinkers or feelers?
    • People who admit to lying or those who profess to telling the truth?
    • Those who set out to change the world, or those who set out to change themselves?
    • Those who set out to change themselves, or those who set out to know themselves?

  Silence: Friend or Foe?

"Meister Eckhart said that there is nothing in the world that resembles God so much as silence. Silence is a great friend of the soul; it unveils the riches of solitude. It is very difficult to reach that quality of inner silence. You must make a space for it so that it may begin to work for you. If you have a trust in and an expectation of your own solitude, everything that you need to know will be revealed to you.

"In modern life there is an immense rush to express. Sometimes the quality of what is expressed is superficial and immensely repetitive. A greater tolerance of silence is desirable, that fecund silence which is the source of our most resonant language. The depth and substance of a friendship mirrors itself in the quality and shelter of the silence between two people. As you begin to befriend your inner silence, one of the first things you will notice is the superficial chatter on the surface level of your mind. Once you recognize this, the silence deepens. A distinction begins to emerge between the images that you have of your self and your own deeper nature." - From Anam Cara: Spiritual Wisdom from the Celtic World by John O'Donohue.

In our modern world, much value is placed on activity. Even in our leisure time, we feel a pressing need for distraction. The wonders of silence and stillness are often overlooked, even feared, as we rush to produce and consume. How can silence, both inner and outer, help us to find answers, peace, and wisdom? Join us in an exploration of the value of silence, the doorway to the inner man.

  What to Do?

From Svarupa Chaitanya's introduction to the 8th Century Tattva Bodha (knowledge of the Truth) by Shankara:

"By nature, a human being is incomplete or imperfect and he is aware of it, self-conscious of it. Therefore there is a natural urge to seek completeness and thus results the desire to be different or better than what one presently is....

"One can grow out of meaningless desire in the light of the knowledge that it is impossible to fulfill it. But this does not apply to... the desire to be complete or perfect.... One cannot grow out of it in spite of knowledge that it cannot be fulfilled by any actions. This natural desire to be better and complete induces one to perform actions, at the end of which the desire still remains unfulfilled. At the end of an action or acquisition, one is still discontented or unhappy.

"Why do all the struggles fail to fulfill this innate desire? The answer is that the desire to be complete can only be satisfied if one can achieve completeness. However, completeness or perfection can only be achieved by an infinite gain, and because every action, every gain, every acquisition, is finite, the sum of even a series of actions does not equal infinity....

"The truth is that the efforts to be complete or free from limitations are bound by the natural law of cause and effect. Every effort of an action is limited... and a limited effort can only produce a limited result. For being complete or perfect, an unlimited effort or action is required, but no action or series of finite actions is infinite, and therefore action cannot lead to perfection.

"Then what to do? If action does not fulfill the desire, should we stop acting? But that is against human nature...."

  Got Game?

"Meta-games and Object Games" table from The Master Game by biochemist Robert S. de Ropp:

Game   Life Aim
Master Game   awakening
Religion Game   salvation
Science Game   knowledge
Art Game   beauty
Householder Game   raise family
No game   no aim
Hog in Trough   wealth
Cock on Dunghill   fame
Moloch Game   glory or victory

Autobiographical comment on life-aims and games from Spinoza (De intellectus emendatione):

"After experience had taught me that all things which are generally considered to be the contents of life, are utterly futile; and when I saw that all things I feared and which feared me, were neither good nor evil in themselves, save in so far as the mind was affected by them – I determined at last to inquire whether ... something exists, the acquisition and possession of which might afford an enjoyment of a durable and highest happiness for all times to come.

"I say: 'I determined at last,' for at the moment it did not seem advisable to give up the certain for the uncertain. I saw the advantages which honor and riches yielded, and I realized that I might be debarred from acquiring these things, if I should seriously attempt to obtain something else and something new. And if, perchance, the latter should bring highest happiness, I had to realize that I should miss it. If on the other hand happiness should not be found there, and I should trouble myself for all that, then also I should be wanting in it.

"I then resolved in my mind the possibility of coming to this new way of life, or at least to certainty of its existence without changing the order and the common plan of my life. I have made many efforts in this direction, but in vain. Because, what constitutes for the larger part the contents of life, and what men, as may be gathered from their works, consider to be the greatest good, amounts to these three things: riches, honors, and sensual delight. These three things occupy the mind so completely, that it can scarcely think of any other good.

"As far as sensual delight is concerned, it engrosses the mind to such an extent that we are really convinced of having found a good to the effect of being kept from thinking of anything else. But sensual delight is always followed by sadness, which even in case it does not lame us entirely, anyway disturbs and dullens the soul.

"Not less is the soul occupied by the pursuit of honors and riches.... So, after I perceived that all this was so much opposed and so contrary to my decision of choosing a new way of life, that I had to forsake either the one or the other, I had to put myself the question, on what side is to be found my greatest profit; for, as I said, it looked as if I were to give up a certain good for what was uncertain. However, after I had occupied myself with this question for some time, I found out that, if I should give up the old and prepare myself for a new way of life, – that the uncertainty of the latter did not regard its nature, but only its attainableness....

"... The whole of happiness or unhappiness is dependent on the nature of the object or our love. No one will ever start a fight for a thing that no one loves; there will be no sadness, if it perishes; no envy if some one else possesses it; no fear, no hatred, to put it all briefly, no passion. But all this will come about, when we love perishable things, such as those things of which we have just spoken. In contradistinction to these, love toward a thing eternal and infinite rejoices our soul, and our joy will remain free from sadness. So it is highly desirable and worth striving after with all our might."

  Look for Yourself

Is it possible to find spiritual direction and answers by direct knowledge rather than relying on the opinions of others?

"The field of religion is huge and in places very wild, but it certainly isn't trackless. It contains all too many paths or ways, some more like trunk roads and others barely discernible tracks. Every sect, and indeed every spiritual innovator, hacks a new route through the jungle and sets up signposts and makes some attempt to draw a map of the route's twists and turns, its staging posts and rest houses, and to give some idea of its destination. So many paths there are, criss-crossing or running parallel, converging here and diverging there, and leading – where? That's the question....

"We are presented with a fast-growing and bewildering choice of paths, many if not most of which run through country in which psychology and psychotherapy and spirituality are inextricably entangled. Visit a store selling books on religion and allied subjects, and you will see what I mean. There the books are stacked floor to ceiling, thousands and thousands of them. The trouble is that, until you have actually traveled one of the many highways and byways that compete for your patronage, you cannot know where it leads; and when at last you do get to the end of it (after who knows how many years and decades or even lifetimes, if ever you do) you have left it rather late to try any of the others. In that case, how are you to discover which if them all is your path, the right one for you and leading to your heart's desire and the ultimate truth, the end of all your troubles?

"I'm afraid what actually happens has nothing to do with deliberate choosing, but is chancy to a degree. One just happens to pick up this wonderful book in a friend's house, or casually meets someone who adores that marvelous teacher, or gets through the post a leaflet about a meeting one really must attend. And so one starts off on a path by a kind of accident, you could say irresponsibly. One is more careful, more wary and exploring, before investing in some kitchen utensil, let alone a suit of clothes or a house.

"What can be done about this absurd state of affairs? Is it avoidable? Yes it is...."

Douglas Harding, "The Shortest Path" (from Look for Yourself)

  Will Consciousness Disappear?

"Consciousness is the reflection of the Awareness that is the Absolute. Consciousness will remain only as long as the body is there. Keep thinking on this point. While we are alive it is everything, and we must abide in it, but keep in mind that the consciousness is going to disappear.

"The food we eat will disappear as waste within twenty-four hours, but is the principle that is in us going to waste like the body? Do you really give a thought as to the purpose of your coming here? Are you the body? You must find out what you are. You must investigate and find out. You must ponder this very seriously.... Right here and now, while you have the body with you, find out what you are....

"You consume food and drink water, and you throw it out as fecal matter and urine. In the same way you have to discard the body. Remember also, the food is very delicious when you eat it, but later on it has a stench, it becomes fecal matter....

"Why are you putting in so much effort for this body which is just going to become waste?

"Whatever harmony or friendship you might enjoy with other people lasts only so long as the minds are in tune with each other. Once you disagree, the mind is in disturbance and you discard friendship. Remember, once the vital breath leaves the body, the body is going to be disposed of. How long are you going to pamper the body?"

Nisargadatta Maharaj, Seeds of Consciousness

  Classic Taoism?

To reach satisfaction in all
desire its possession in nothing.

To come to the knowledge of all
desire the knowledge of nothing.

To come to possess all
desire the possession of nothing.

To arrive at being all
desire to be nothing.

To come to the pleasure which you have not
you must go by a way in which you enjoy not.

To come to the knowledge which you have not
you must go by a way in which you know not.

To come to the possession you have not
you must go by a way in which you possess not.

To come to be what you are not
you must go by a way in which you are not.

When you turn toward something
you cease to cast yourself upon the all.

For to go from the all to the all
you must leave yourself in all.

And when you come to the possession of the all
you must possess it without wanting anything.

In this nakedness the spirit finds
its quietude and rest.

For in coveting nothing,
nothing raises it up
and nothing weighs it down,
because it is the center of its humility.

Nope – Juan Ypes, the 16th Century Spanish mystic known as St. John of the Cross, written after having spent many months imprisoned in a small cell in Toledo, in 1578. We'll discuss how these verses, from his drawing "The Ascent of Mount Carmel," may apply to our lives.

  Pouring from one empty vessel into another?

"In order to approach this system seriously, people must be disappointed, first of all in themselves, that is to say, in their powers, and secondly in all the old ways.... To be disappointed in philosophy means being convinced that ordinary philosophy is merely – as it is said in the Russian proverb – pouring from one empty vessel into another, and that people do not even know what philosophy means although true philosophy also can and should exist."
From a Gurdjieff citation in Ouspensky's In Search of the Miraculous

  The Search for Wholeness

"Another aspect of the emotional pain that is an intrinsic part of the egoic mind is a deep-seated sense of lack or incompleteness, of not being whole. In some people, this is conscious, in others unconsciousness. If it is conscious, it manifests as the unsettling and constant feeling of not being worthy or good enough. If it is unconscious, it will only be felt indirectly as an intense craving, wanting and needing.... Since the ego is a derived sense of self, it needs to identify with external things. It needs to be both defended and fed constantly. The most common ego identifications have to do with possessions, the work you do, social status and recognition, knowledge and education, physical appearance, special abilities, relationships, personal and family history, belief systems, and often also political, nationalistic, racial, religious, and other collective identifications. None of these is you.... All of these things you will have to relinquish sooner or later. Perhaps you find it as yet hard to believe, and I am certainly not asking you to believe that your identity cannot be found in any of those things. You will know the truth of it for yourself. You will know it at the latest when you feel death approaching. Death is a stripping away of all that is not you. The secret of life is to 'die before you die' – and find that there is no death."
Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now

  Can you be alone with yourself... and do you truly like the company you keep during empty moments?

  Sleepwalking thru life?

"Watching is meditation. What you watch is irrelevant. You can watch the trees, you can watch the river, you can watch the clouds, you can watch the children playing around. Watching is meditation. What you watch is not the point: the object is not the point.

"The quality of observation, the quality of being aware and alert - that's what meditation is.

"Remember one thing: meditation means awareness. Whatsoever you do with awareness is meditation. Action is not the question, but the quality that you bring to your action. Walking can be a meditation if you walk alert. Sitting can be a meditation if you sit alert. Listening to the birds can be a meditation if you listen with awareness. Just listening to the inner noise of your mind can be a meditation if you remain alert and watchful.

"The whole point is, one should not move in sleep. Then whatsoever you do is meditation."

From OSHO's Meditation: The first and last freedom

> What is meditation?

> Could meditation be the antidote to sleepwalking through life?

  Who's Cool, and Who's a Fool? Finding self-definition in the age of conformity.


Do the seemingly accidental conditions and events of our lives occur randomly or according to some plan or arrangement? How much do we actually control the conditions and events of our lives? Do our assumptions and beliefs affect our lives? What affect do changes of assumptions and beliefs have on our lives?

Discussion will center around our views on coincidence, with some background material from The Celestine Prophecy.

  Orientation Meeting & Poetry Reading

How can we get in touch with our inner yearning for wholeness ... acquisition without conflict ... returning home ... simplicity ... purpose ... meaning ...? One way is through poetry which causes these inner heart-strings to resonate.

We'll read inspirational poems from a wide variety of sources such as Blake, Eliot, Yeats ... Rumi, Lala, Kabir ... Rose, Maharshi, Davis ... Wordsworth, Whitman, Herrick ...

Bring your favorite poems if you have some. This is not a lit. class or an exercise in explication but a raising and sharing of inspiration as motivation for pursuing the search for answers to life's questions.

  Karma Yoga

Arjuna: Tell me one definite way of reaching the highest good.
Krishna: For the contemplative is the path of knowledge [jnana yoga]; for the active is the path of selfless action [karma yoga].... Nobody can ever rest from his activity for a moment.... Do your duty always, but without attachment. That is how a man reaches the ultimate Truth; by working without anxiety about results.... It is better to do your own duty, however imperfectly, than to assume the duties of another person, however successfully.
Bhagavad-Gita, III

> Arjuna was a warrior by caste, and his caste-duty was to fight. "To a warrior," Krishna told him, "there is nothing nobler than a righteous war.... It opens a door to heaven."
> Without the guidance of a caste system, how do we determine where our duty lies when inner conflicts arise?
> How can we act without attachment (really, not just kidding ourselves)? How can we work without anxiety about results?


"The fates of souls are all by God ordained
According to the deeds that they have done.
That end that's destined ne'er to be attained
Will never be achieved by anyone
However hard they try. All those things, too,
That it is destined must occur one day,
Will come to pass whatever you may do
To interfere and try their course to stay,
And this is certain. At length we come to see
That it is best that we should silent be."

Ramana Maharshi

> What is your view on destiny, and how does that view affect the way you live your life?

  Is self-realization so important?

Without it you will be consumed by desires and fears, repeating themselves meaninglessly in endless suffering. Most of the people do not know that there can be an end to pain. But once they have heard the good news, obviously going beyond all strife and struggle is the most urgent task that can be. You know that you can be free and now it is up to you. Either you remain forever hungry and thirsty, longing, searching, grabbing, holding, ever losing and sorrowing, or go out wholeheartedly in search of the state of timeless perfection to which nothing can be added, from which nothing – taken away.
I Am That: Talks with Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

  Where does truth begin?

I believe the Truth begins with truth in living, not with a tricky mathematical formulation of with very hypothetical thinking. You have to become the Truth and becoming the Truth means you can't afford to be a damn fool! We can't afford to be snowed. We can't afford to be snowed on any level, whether the government is doing it or the guy who is selling you automobiles is doing it and I'm sure he's doing it."
From "Lecture on Between-ness" by Richard Rose (The Direct-Mind Experience).


"Today's attitude of spirituality seems one of compromise. We look at our behavior and ego games and decide how to 'integrate' spirituality into them. We create spirituality in the workplace, spiritual sex, spiritual relationships, pet spirituality, spirituality of wealth, spiritual social work, and such. We want to look at our present lifestyle and make it spiritual rather than honestly appraise what we are doing in light of the apparent meaninglessness of all worldly action.

"Some of this has to do with spiritual movements more interested in making money than finding Reality. We find spiritual movements willing to justify any sort of behavior in a drive to increase their coffer.

"However, the root problem is with the individual who is not asking the basic questions – what motivates me, why am I in internal conflict, who chooses among my desires, what about me in unchanging, how can I discover if I have a soul or spirit? Most people see the value of the spiritual search, but refuse to gamble their worldly position for something apparently ethereal. They compromise and declare their actions spiritual, so they feel content. Our everyday life is like unbroken ground and the spiritual search is a plow. You can declare the unbroken field a farm, but will raise little but weeds, or you can plow it up, sow, and reap." - Shawn Nevins

  Developing your intuition as a shortcut to solving your problems.

A special 3-hour workshop held at Mandala Books and including a brief lecture followed by exercises, with a program for ongoing implementation that participants can take home with them.

  Is this Living?

"So the days pass, and I ask myself whether one is not hypnotized, as a child by a silver globe, by life, and whether this is living." - Does Virginia Woolf's comment resonate with anything in you?

  Spring Semester Group Challenge

  • Ready for a challenge?
  • Got something you'd like to change of accomplish?
  • See the advantage of not doing it on your own?

Serious fun: we'll challenge each other to set goals, then we'll monitor and encourage progress over the next two months.

  Weekend Retreat ~ Room for the Heart to Breathe

In his remarkable article, "It's What's Bugging Them," William C. McFadden reports a recent three-day conference on student stress in college experience: When the causes of stress had been exhaustively set down, one student could still remark: 'It's all those things - and none of those things. It's something else.' A second readily agreed: 'All I know is that something is bugging me.' A third demanded to know what this something was. It sounded like a void, or a nothing; but then how do you talk about it? Someone identified the missing factor as truth, and another, as beauty, but both suggestions were quickly rejected. The 'something' was much more vague and undefined. A fellow named Mike expressed it best at the end of a stirring speech: 'The heart needs more room to breathe!'

The writer's comments on this are no less striking: The restless heart has been with man a long time. The philosopher seeks some absolute; moral man yearns for immortality; temporal man seeks to be grounded in the eternal; finite man longs for the infinite. But precisely because this absolute is infinite, it must be vague and ill-defined, a 'something' that seems a void, a nothing. The infinite that is clearly defined ceases thereby to be infinite.

The writer was not thinking of Taoism and Zen. But he has brought up a vital point in the spiritual situation of the contemporary age, which makes me understand why Taoism and Zen exercise such an irresistible attraction upon the minds of the young generation in the West. It is in the Taoist paradoxes and enigmas of Zen that they hope to find that 'something' which is bugging them. Their spirit feels ill at ease with the neatly-defined concepts and dogmas of their traditional religion. The traditional theology appears too much to them like a book on geometry. It has laid too much emphasis on the communicable aspect of things spiritual, while neglecting, almost completely, that which is incommunicable. That is where Taoism and Zen come in. They do not try to communicate the incommunicable, but they have a way of evoking it, thereby broadening your mental horizons and creating more room for the heart to breathe.

John C.H. Wu, The Golden Age of Zen

  Orientation Meeting

Venezuela, under the instigation of a retired Economics professor, has created a nationwide music program for its children that has ignited the nation's spirit. Over 100,000 kids as young as four years old, many from the poorest barrios, orphanages and detention centers, have been given instruments and after-school instruction. Then as soon as the children learn some skills they begin teaching those just starting in, and so on up the ladder. When you see them playing in their orchestras, you see how the human spirit soars when individual egos subside in temporary cooperation. And when you hear them speak, you hear how the music and group effort have provided new values and purpose in their lives.

Are you looking for a was to ignite your spirit? The Philosophical Self-Inquiry Discussion Group provides a similar matrix of cooperative effort, with the opportunity for helping and being helped on a more abstract plane of character development leading to self-knowledge.

  Are you unhappy with your life?

When you are, what do you do about it?
> Curse the world (or God, if you're gutsy), including those people who aren't meeting your needs?
> Try to change the world, especially those people who aren't meeting your needs, or change your location in the world?
> Get angry at yourself?
> Feel sorry for yourself?
> Try to change yourself: get religion, develop new skills and graces, make yourself more desirable, talk yourself into a new attitude, etc.?

If you're looking for a different approach, one that goes to the root of the problem, the Philosophical Self-Inquiry Discussion Group offers a proven system for finding answers and practices a Socratic method of group interaction.

  Need an attitude adjustment?

"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, Carillon: Poems, Essays & Philosophy

Looking for insights into your interior world? The Philosophical Self-Inquiry Discussion Group offers a proven system for finding answers and practices a Socratic method of group interaction. This will be the last meeting of the semester. Meetings will resume on January 8.

   What is your purpose?

"... A man cannot remain without acting. The purpose of one's birth will be fulfilled whether you will it or not. Let that purpose fulfill itself...."
Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, No. 189

Looking for purpose, meaning, self-understanding? The Philosophical Self-Inquiry Discussion Group offers a system for finding answers and practices a Socratic method of group interaction.

  Radical Transformation

Questioner: I have come from England and I am on my way to Madras. There I shall meet my father and we shall go overland to London. I am to study psychology, but I do not yet know what I shall do when I get my degree. I may try industrial psychology, or psychotherapy. My father is a general physician. I may follow the same line.
     But this does not exhaust my interests. There are certain questions which do not change with time. I understand you have some answers to such questions and this made me come to see you.
Nisargadatta: I wonder whether I am the right man to answer your questions. I know little about things and people. I know only that I am, and that much you also know. We are equals.
Q: Of course I know that I am. But I do not know what it means.
N: What you take to be the "I" in "I am" is not you. To know that you are is natural, to know what you are is the result of much investigation. You will have to explore the entire field of consciousness and go beyond it. For this you must find the right teacher and create the conditions needed for discovery. Generally speaking, there are two ways: external and internal. Either you live with somebody who knows the Truth and submit yourself entirely to his guiding and molding influence, or you seek the inner guide and follow the inner light wherever it takes you. In both cases your personal desires and fears must be disregarded. You learn either by proximity or by investigation, the passive or the active way. You either let yourself be carried by the river of life and love represented by your Guru, or you make your own efforts, guided by your inner star. In both cases you must move on, you must be earnest. Rare are the people who are lucky enough to find somebody worthy of trust and love. Most of them must take the hard way, the way of intelligence and understanding, of discrimination and detachment. This is the way open to all.
Q: I am lucky to have come here; though I am leaving tomorrow, one talk with you may affect my entire life.
N: Yes, once you say "I want to find Truth," all your life will be deeply affected by it. All your mental and physical habits, feelings and emotions, desires and fears, plans and decisions will undergo a most radical transformation.
Q: Once I have made up my mind to find The Reality, what do I do next?
From I Am That, by Nisargadatta

•  Are you "moving"?
•  How earnest are you? How do you know this?
•  Have you made up your mind to find Truth?
•  Do you believe in the possibility of radical transformation?

  And now I live, and now my life is done

"These are supposed to be the best years of my life? That's scary. I read about a young English guy by the name of Chidiock Tichbourne who lived in the 1500s and who wrote a poem about his life that has these lines in it: 'The spring is past, and yet it hath not sprung / The fruit is dead, and yet the leaves are green / My youth is gone, and yet I am but young / I saw the world, and yet I was not seen / My thread is cut, and yet it is not spun / And now I live, and now my life is done.' I can't help think that this is or will be me, too." - B.J. (Pitt student)

  • Does life escape us while we're napping?

  Living in Reaction Mode.

"To tell the truth, I feel like I lost myself somewhere along the way. My life is all reaction. I don't know why I do the things I do other than it seems like a good idea at the time. Life plan? How the hell do I know what to do or where to look when I don't know what I want, what will lead to some satisfaction." - K.T. (CMU student)

  • What is the difference between action and reaction?
  • Is true action possible?

   Weekend Retreat ~ Developing the Spiritual Quantum:

There are chemicals, some produced by the pituitary gland, which affect the synaptic action in the brain. In the process of checking this synaptic action, the scientists found that there are opposing forces at work in the nervous system. Two of the chemicals which they have discovered are dopamine, the exhilarator, and serotonin, the depressant. The body is balanced in this \ way.

Now a synapse is the end of a nerve, which feathers out like fingers on a hand. Two nerves are matched with each other, some distance apart, and at the moment of a thought or perception there is a spark which jumps across from one to the other. This goes on through all the nerves in the brain. Perhaps the message from the eye or the sensory nerves in the fingers won't have a spark jump until it reaches the brain.

If you stop and think about this for a while you will see why this is necessary. Nothing can be piped directly into the mind or the memory banks, so this intermediary process is used. There is a strong supposition that man lives right here in the spark gap, the same as an automobile lives in the gap of a spark plug. To operate properly the spark must be just right - not to strong, nor too weak.

Now there is a chemical... that clears the path of every impulse that comes into the brain. This happens at almost the speed of light. Within a split second another message comes through, and its path must be prepared also. If you are studying, for example, and holding your body still in a chair at a desk, the mind continues to think - forcing this action. After a while the system rises to the occasion and starts to produce enough of these clearing chemicals. And when you run out of this force, the body goes to sleep.

Civilization, which depends upon human thought, is based on the development of the proper chemicals here. Perhaps with each generation there is a chance for the development of a greater sensitivity - and possibly a greater inclination for overburdening the brain with drugs and so forth.

From the neural quantum, and only from the neural quantum, is the spiritual quantum developed.... This quantum is developed at the cost of something else - of intense concentration in a direction.

In short then, if you stay at the first level you transmute food into flesh, you get fat, and you can become a hog - the energy follows... back down to the earth. At the second level you can transmute it into the glands. If that is as far as you go, you become a goat and the energy also returns to the earth. Civilization rests on the ability to transmute the energy someplace above the glands.

Richard Rose, "The Psychology of Miracles" talk (from The Direct-Mind Experience)

  The start of another year.  

"Before I know it, I'll be caught up in another school year, reacting to the pressures somebody else created and allowing them to run my life. Before long it will be career pressures and a family that will keep me tied up. I look around and see that my parents and other old people are still in the dark about their lives. That'll be me before long. Everybody's under pressure and going through the motions, but they don't really know why. I don't want 'a life of quiet desperation.' (Who was it that said that?) And I don't want somebody else's answers." - J.R. (Pitt student)

  • How can we find answers for ourselves rather than relying on "authority"?

  How can I live life fully? An orientation meeting to encourage new people to check out what the PSIDG can do for them:

  • Know who you really are...
  • Find your life's purpose...
  • Live with maximum awareness...

  You can't deceive an honest man. 

  • True or false?
  • How much deception involves self-deception?
  • In what ways do you lie to yourself?
  • Is there a connection between lying to ourselves and awareness of dying?
  • Is it possible to stop lying to ourselves?

  Do we overvalue the negative?

Connecting with others in our Western therapeutic culture is often based on a sharing of problems. When someone refuses to reveal what is most difficult in their lives, they are said to be 'withholding' or 'cut-off' or 'untrustworthy. When their problems are known, however, they are thought to be revealing the truth about themselves. This overvaluing of the negative is rampant in our culture. - Suzanne Segal, Collision with the Infinite

  "Awakening begins when a man realizes that he is going nowhere and does not know where to go." - P.D. Ouspensky, In Search of the Miraculous

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