About the Author

About the author of
Self-Discovery Portal

                     
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      Then (1997)      


More recently :-)
Art Ticknor.... "Trained as a computer scientist and educated as a mathematician, Art's experience with Zen comes first hand as a result of 20 years in intensive research into psychological and philosophical systems, and living the life of a modern day mystic and spiritual seeker."

From an advertising blurb written by a friend, Todd Whittington, for an "!Awaken" workshop session, "Zen and the Art of Capturing Answers by Surprise" (1997).


How my friends see me (2001)
A personal update (2004) * 2005 * 2007 * 2008
2010 (Solid Ground of Being published)
April 2011 NeverNotHere.com interview video * October 2011 talk video
Galway weekend intensive April 2012 Conscious.tv interview videos
November 2013 * March 2014 (Beyond Relativity published) * February 2016


I was born in 1944, toward the end of World War II, in a small town in upstate New York, USA, about half way between New York City and Montreal. I grew up in that town and lived there until I was eighteen, when I married my high school sweetheart from a nearby city. We moved to Toledo, Ohio, where I completed an undergraduate degree in Mathematics. By the time I was a senior in college, I realized I had no great talent for math, so my vague plan of continuing on in academia became untenable to me. It dawned on me that "I'm going to have to get a real job and go to work for the rest of my life!" The prospect was one of bleak imprisonment in the workaday world, and it was my first wakeup call from the dreamworld I was living in.

That was in 1967, when large corporations were beginning to invest in computers and were hiring math majors to develop business applications. So I found myself developing software and moving up the career ladder until, by age 29, I was managing a fairly sophisticated computer center for a company in Columbus, Ohio that developed microcomputer-based systems for controlling manufacturing processes and machinery. The computer center consisted of two mainframe computers and the operations staff, a systems and programming department, and a technical support group. But by the time I was 33, this was all becoming "old hat."

I had all the things that should have made me happy – a wife and children I adored, a good job, nice house – but I would go through phases that I described to myself as identity crises, where I became acutely aware that there was some missing purpose or meaning. I had done graduate work in Computer Science, but that wasn't it. In fact, I could see that everything I envisioned was a dead end. I scanned the horizon for years, as these identity crises visited me over the decade or so after college graduation, without finding any hint of what I was looking for.

I'd been an avid reader since childhood, and my reading at age 33 had included some "perennial philosophy," to use the Aldous Huxley term, and popularized Zen. One rainy Sunday afternoon, when we had taken our children to the library, my wife spotted a poster that she told me I'd probably be interested in. It was advertising a Zen group meeting at Ohio State University, and I decided to check it out.

It was an entire year before I attended the first meeting, after a long series of obstacles and coincidences that are hard to explain as mere randomness, and what I found was a group of people sitting in a circle, talking. Talking! "These people don't have the faintest idea what Zen is all about," was my initial reaction, expectant as I was of seeing people sitting crosslegged on the floor, in black robes, watching candles burning. But then it dawned on me that they were talking about things I was interested in and had never heard anyone talk about before.

I became a regular participant in that group, which had been started by some students after a talk given by a man from West Virginia named Richard Rose. Rose, then in his early 60s, had purportedly had a profound realization at age 30 that answered all his questions about life and death. I read the book he'd written, The Albigen Papers, and I didn't find anything I disagreed with, but my reaction was "This guy thinks he knows everything, and nobody knows everything." I had an absolute conviction that nobody can know anything for sure – which is an amazing contradiction.

I had no interest in meeting Rose, who lived only 120 miles away. I was just happy to interact with a new set of friends. Then Rose showed up unexpectedly at one of the OSU meetings. When I walked in and saw him, I guessed who it was and introduced myself. Then I said, "I know why I'm doing this" – meaning participating in the meetings, the stated purpose of which was to find self-definition – "and it's selfish. Why do you do it?" I'd heard that he gave talks around the country and invited people to visit him, even to stay at his farm, and that he didn't charge any money for it. So I figured there must be some ulterior motive. He looked at me, and his Irish-blue eyes took on an added sparkle. "First of all, what you're doing isn't selfish. And I do what I'm doing because it's an obsession – I can't help myself." This self-deprecating humor vaporized the chip on my shoulder. "This guy's okay," I realized.

Rose talked casually to the group that evening, as I would often see him doing around his kitchen table in subsequent years. And after he talked for a while a bell went off inside me – like the big, brass gongs hanging in Buddhist monasteries – a bell whose existence I had never suspected, and the words that formed in my mind were: "This man's telling the Truth; I've never heard it before, but something in me recognizes it." And when I left the meeting that evening, I knew that the expression "walking on air" was not a loose metaphor, but an actual sensation that other people must have experienced also.

What you see on this web site is the result of where my life has taken me since then, and I'll let it speak for itself without further apology or explanation.

I hope you find this site helpful, and I would be happy to hear from you.

How my friends see me (2001) ....

Art Ticknor's a man to salute,
for he's questing to slay all untruth.
But it's others he pokes
with his questions and jokes
it's himself he's afraid to uproot.
- A.R.

Many times when I have felt stuck, low, uninspired, I have turned to him.... I feel I can tell him, ask him anything without feeling judged and still I know he will not just say 'good-things' to make me feel good. The words that come to my mind when I want to describe Art are wise, creative, inspired, honest, disciplined, direct and extremely compassionate. - A.P.

Art Ticknor is a man struggling to balance his characteristically cool, dispassionate, highly analytical mind with emotional warmth. His personality exudes this struggle, yet the effects are somehow pleasant and persuasive, managing to convey both sincerity and profundity. - Vince Lepidi

Non-confrontational, persistent, with a sense of humor. - S.H.

His candor and insight have provided me with a view of self that no other mirror could have adequately reflected.... His dedication to finding the Truth allows no room for flattery, but his understanding of human nature has not depleted his sense of compassion. - B.R.

Art's kind of like an Escher print, at first glance you see a solid and composed person, but if you keep looking you'll see a wink. Look again, and there's a boy laughing at sacred cows and conventional wisdom. (But one thing that doesn't change is a pattern of sincerity and sensitivity.) - Paul Schmidt

His profound ability to not see the forest for the trees is very refreshing, for it is the very source of the humbleness by which he misses the fact that he has made a difference. He has an uncanny ability to remain in the foreground by remaining in the background. - KJM

"Steadfast resilience" - G.H.

I have known Art for some years now and am amazed and impressed at his commitment and disciplined approach towards self-realization. Here is an extremely analytical and compassionate person who I feel has made a commitment to himself and is steadfastly fulfilling that commitment. His presence and speech are tremendously inspiring to me. - S.B.

"Always ready to help" - L.H.

Art Ticknor's knowledge of matters in Zen and psychology may be astute, and his commitment to his fellow seekers sincere, but for God's sake, never let him work on your car. - R.F.

A personal update (2004) ....

The twenty-six years of efforts toward self-definition paid off in May of this year.

I spent the week through May 10th in a hermitage cabin at a Benedictine monastery outside Erie, PA. Their property runs to the shore of Lake Erie and includes quite a bit of acreage, much of which is woods. Reading the Prologue of Douglas Harding's Little Book of Life and Death a month or two earlier triggered a yearning to get serious, which carried into this retreat. I began the stay with a couple days of fasting, having found over the years that the shock it produces on the body inevitably shocks my mind out of whatever rut it's in, then stayed on liquids for the rest of the time. By the fourth day my organism had recovered its vitality, and I started going through the "tests for immortality" in that book. Douglas's doing his tube experiment with me last October had set the stage, since I saw then that I was the featureless space upon which all objects occur. Going through the tests carefully over the fourth through sixth days increasingly removed the mental doubts about what I was seeing when I looked within. On the night of the sixth day, when I wasn't expecting it, the final nail was driven into the coffin of the ego in an intense (but effortless) period lasting a little over an hour. Strangely enough, my grief was not for Art T. but for the nice old nun who is in charge of hospitality at the monastery and the poignancy of her belief that she is alive and separate.

Some blank verse that popped out the following day:

I am always right behind you
But turn around and you won't see me
I am never not with you
Why aren't you always with me?
I am at the center
while you stay at the periphery
I am there, too,
but you won't find me there.
When you turn round
the center stays behind you
Stand still while turning your gaze around
and look at what you're looking out of.

*

Are you looking for love?
Love on the periphery is partial and fleeting
When you are with me
We are not two – and I am Love Absolute.

Are you afraid of dying?
I created you to think you are living
Return to Me here, at the center
and find your undying Self.

Are you pursuing understanding?
It's a path to Truth
But conceptual understanding is of the periphery
To return to the center is a subtractive process,
leaving behind the pride of knowing.

*

Looking for love?
Keep looking and it will find you
It may not be what you expect
but it will be satisfying beyond your imagining.

*

Forget what you're looking for?
That may be a good sign.
Keep looking.

August 2005 ....

There was roughly a year of adjustment after last May's breakthrough. Coming back into the mind (a crude attempt at verbalization, which also leaves me open to "rescue by straitjacket"), I saw that I had no proof for my new perspective. A friend questioned me recently about my conviction, and I realized that the issue had been settled for me: conviction is within the mind-dimension and thus subject to question, but what I know myself to be – by identity, not be conceptual knowing – is not within the mind. Another item which I felt I had no clarity on was the subject of meditation – i.e., how to describe to someone what meditation is. Then as I was falling asleep one night in June, the conceptual understanding of that came to me (see the Meditation article). And a third settling-in was the realization that there was no longer a feeling of neediness (a great change in my mentality).

I recently came across these words attributed to Gautama Buddha and saw that they nailed the exact change – the end of craving: "Through countless births I wandered [in samsara], seeking, but not finding, the builder of the house. I have been taking birth in misery again and again. O builder of the house, Thou art now seen! Thou shalt build no house again. All thy rafters are broken. Thy ridge-pole is shattered. My mind has attained the unconditioned [nirvana]. Achieved is the end of craving."

See the download section of SearchWithin.org for a more detailed description of my self-realization transition and for those of some friends.

April 2007 ....

 

Hiking in Lost Canyon, Canyonlands National Park, Utah

May 2008 ....

Here's an update of my August 2005 comment (above) on meditation. I've recently begun a three-month experiment with a handful of friends to try helping them establish a solid, common-sense meditation discipline that will eventually carry them all the way to the door to nirvana. Each participant has set a goal for the three months and, through a weekly email group collaboration, reports on his activity and provides and receives feedback.

As a starting point for the experiment, I organized some more detailed thoughts in an article on Common-Sense Meditation. I'd be happy to hear from you if you have any comments or questions on it.

July 2008 ....

The three-month common-sense meditation experiment is over, and I've updated the Meditation Experiment page with a synopsis of the results.

February 2010 ....

I've published a book, Solid Ground of Being: A Personal Story of the Impersonal, with great help from friends who created the cover, did the desktop publishing, supplied photos, helped with the editing, and provided criticism and encouragement. It's produced by Lightning Source, the print-on-demand unit of Ingram Book Company, which is connected to "over 30,000 wholesalers, retailers and booksellers in over 100 countries" according to their description.

Solid Ground of Being
more description
You can use the search-inside feature on Amazon.com to preview the contents. Also available: a Kindle version. Other online bookseller links I've discovered or friends have told me about include:

If you find additional online booksellers carrying it, I'd appreciate hearing about them. And of course I'm interested in your feedback. The first friend who edited it last July said: "It definitely plucks the heart strings." Another friend, who reviewed it for content last August, wrote:

It is a joy. You have a natural storytellers voice and conversational style that draws the reader in and pulls us gently along. You also get right to the point in each piece with no wasted words, which is excellent, and unfortunately not the case with most writers. I also like how you've mixed up the visual style with bullets, lists, etc., and how you've integrated your poems into the flow of the book. In a way it reminds me of Gödel, Escher, Bach in this regard – lots of different elements….

And a friend who did a final editing review of the test printing in December told me: "The book was very confrontational, and I could see getting a lot out of reading it, or sections of it, several times."

April 2011 ....

Richard Miller of NeverNotHere.com filmed the TAT Foundation's April weekend gathering, "The Heart of the Matter," for his website, and he interviewed several of the TAT folks as well. You can watch my interview on his site at NeverNotHere.com/art-ticknor or see it on YouTube.

You can find videos of the other interviews and weekend sessions on Richard's site and on his NNHTV YouTube channel. (NNH is a public access TV show in the Chicago area currently shown weekly in 3 broadcast areas.)

October 2011 ....

The Raleigh Self Inquiry Discussion Group (SIG) www.selfinquiry.org held its annual intensive retreat weekend October 7-9 with the theme "The Paradox of Spiritual Effort." I gave a presentation organized around three things I wanted to talk about: the absurdity of the "no self" idea; looking for that of you which is eternal; and going on the offensive. [See A Part of Thee for an outline of the presentation material.]

You can watch my session and the other weekend sessions on the Raleigh SIG site or at www.vimeo.com. I especially enjoyed the Q&A with a lively and interactive audience after my talk.

April 2012 ....

Tess Hughes invited Bob Fergeson and me to help her put on a weekend intensive in Galway City, Ireland – modeled on the TAT Foundation weekend gatherings in the U.S. – on March 31-April 1.

See Tess's, Bob's, and my presentations at the Essential Transformation playlist on youtube.com.

While in Europe, Bob and I sat for interviews by Renate and Iain McNay of Conscious.TV in London. Renate and Iain both did in-depth background research and conducted excellent interviews … Renate with Bob and Iain with me. We thoroughly enjoyed working, and then relaxing over lunch, with them and Eleonora Gilbert, who coordinated our visit. See Bob's interview on BrightCove.com or on YouTube.com. See my interview on BrightCove.com or on YouTube.com.

February 2013 update: The interviews are now available in mp3 form as audio files at conscious.tv/audio/audio.php.
March 2017 update: A of my interview is now available.

November 2013 ....

After spending (investing :-) 22 years living in West Virginia, I moved to Ocala, Florida in May this year. I had moved to WV from Miami, Florida, but I didn't go that far south this time. Ocala is in north central Florida, an hour and a half from the Atlantic Ocean at Ormond Beach / Daytona Beach, and an hour and a half from the Gulf of Mexico at Cedar Key. This is an area of spring-fed rivers and lakes, and I've been getting to know the terrain by taking kayaking outings and going on day hikes. I find the people here very friendly and the pace of living nice and slow.

I attended the Raleigh Self Inquiry Group (SIG) www.selfinquiry.org annual intensive retreat weekend in October, as I had done two years earlier. My presentation this time had the theme: How Do We Know What We Know? It was a challenge not just to what we know or believe ourselves to be but to the very types of knowing that we are familiar with. As in 2011, I enjoyed the lively interaction with the folks there. I expect that the videos of the weekend sessions will be available on the Raleigh SIG site in the near future. [Nov. 2014 note: The videos haven't been edited yet, but in the meantime some audio recordings are available.]

A young friend, Nathan, is working with me to put together a self-inquiry group in Gainesville, Florida, which is about 45 minutes north of here and is the home of the U. of Florida. He holds meetings every week, and I've been going up every other week. Nathan, and a Cambodian Canadian woman, Soanna, drove up to WV with me for a 5-day intensive retreat earlier this month – 15 participants guided by Anima Pundeer, Shawn Nevins and myself – and for the November TAT Foundation meeting that followed. Drew, also in Gainesville, drove up to Raleigh with me for the SIG weekend. We have a weekend intensive at Horseshoe Lake Park between here and Gainesville planned for mid-January 2014. There are eight of us currently signed up for it including Peter, who's coming over from Ireland, where he's active in Tess Hughes's Galway group.

March 2014 ....

A second book, Beyond Relativity: Transcending the Split Between Knower & Known, is fresh off the press – again with great help from friends who created the cover, did the desktop publishing, supplied photos, helped with the editing, and provided criticism and encouragement. It's also produced by Lightning Source, as is Solid Ground of Being.

Beyond Relativity

more description
You can use the search-inside feature on Amazon.com to preview the contents. Also available: a Kindle version. Other online bookseller links I've discovered or friends have told me about include:

A friend wrote this very moving blurb for the Amazon.com listing:

"An intentional pursuit of self-knowing, or defining the self, is the real meaning of a religious or spiritual path," so says Arthur Ticknor in this, his second book on the spiritual path. Ticknor's work is a beautiful story of despair and hope: a family man with a fine life and a gnawing emptiness of meaning, who finds himself on a wild ride of a spiritual path. Ticknor shares his lessons and discoveries – from human failings to transcendent revelations with an insider's view of what it means to be a modern spiritual seeker. It is a book that will give you chills – because a part of you will recognize the truth being spoken.

February 2016 ....

Time flies ("but you can't do it because they pass at too irregular intervals" if I remember the quip correctly :-).

2015 was a year of weddings for me. After not having attended a wedding since the early 1990s, I attended three last year: my granddaughter Kelly's wedding in Columbus, OH on May 2nd; my friend Shawn's wedding in Oakland, CA on May 9th (with the honor of filling the best-man role), and my friend Vas's wedding in Pune, India on October 22nd and reception on October 23rd. That was my first trip to India, made especially memorable since it was a shared experience with friend Tess from Galway, Ireland and friends from Pittsburgh group yesteryears Jeff from D.C. and Jon from Boston. I then returned to Galway with Tess, who had arranged for me to lead a 5-day retreat with men from her self-inquiry group and a final day with women from her group.

Anima, Paul, Shawn, Tess and I hosted a 5-day retreat in WV the week before the November TAT meeting. Then Nathan, Dan and Brent from the Gainesville group, along with Soanna from Ormond Beach, FL (in the winters), Tyler from St. Petersburg, FL and Jim from McLean, VA participated with me in a weekend FL retreat in December. I have many fond memories from 2015.

We just finished another weekend FL retreat in mid-February. Nathan, Soanna, Brent, and Jim (now in Philadelphia) participated along with Jon from Boston, Bill from Pittsburgh, Zhen from Gainesville, and Rajesh from San Diego.

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