Great Teachers – Ongoing Work


ONGOING WORK


Franklin Merrell-Wolff Foundation

Franklin Merrell-Wolff's teaching is carried on by the The Franklin Merrell-Wolff Fellowship, a non-profit organization whose mission is to educate the public concerning the writings, teachings, and life of Merrell-Wolff. Activities include publishing and distributing his works, as well as promoting such events as lectures, seminars, workshops, and retreats to study and discuss his philosophy of Introceptualism.

The fellowship holds an annual conference at the Great Space Center in Lone Pine, California (Franklin Merrell-Wolff's former home).
 

Douglas Harding / Headless Way

In a postscript to On Having No Head: Zen and the Rediscovery of the Obvious, Harding wrote about ongoing "headless" work:

Let's assume that you would like to continue along this Way. In that case, you may be asking such questions as: Where do I go from here? To whom do I look for further guidance and encouragement? What supporting group could I join?

For a spiritual movement that's as alive and as distinctive as most others, the Headless Way is remarkably lacking in organization. It resembles the people who take it up in that it, too, is without a head – in the sense that it has no presiding authority, no governing council or headquarters, and no staff looking after a duly card-indexed and paid-up membership who meet regularly and try to follow certain guidelines.

The reason for this absence of structure doesn't lie in any lukewarmness, or reluctance to disseminate the experience this book is about. Rather the reverse. It arises from the nature of that experience itself – as the ultimate in Self-reliance. Or, in more detail, from the fourfold realization that the way really to live is to look in and see Who is doing so, that only you are in a position to see this "Who," that this in-seeing establishes You as the authority on what matters supremely, and that accordingly your path will not conform to some set pattern laid down from above, by this or any other book or person or system....

All the same – and descending now to the level where others do exist – the difficulty of keeping up this seeing by oneself, of going it alone, can scarcely be exaggerated. For the majority of us caught up in this most daring and exacting of adventures, the company of fellow-adventurers is indispensable. Accordingly it would be unrealistic – worse: irresponsible and uncaring – if we were to encourage people to take the message of this book to heart, yet fail to follow it up with all the continued support that the nature of the enterprise allows. And, in fact, we do have much to offer readers who are committed to going on:

First and foremost, there are loving friends, a network – loose, scattered, altogether informal – of seers who use every available means of keeping in touch....

See The Headless Way web site for information on workshops held in various locations by Harding students and for an annual summer gathering held at Sarum College in Salisbury, England. Also see the TAT Foundation Worldwide Spiritual Gatherings listing for ongoing meetings as well as one-time events sponsored by Harding students.
 

Richard Rose / TAT Foundation

Richard Rose created the TAT Foundation in the early 1970s to encourage people who were looking for answers to the big questions of life to work together. His ideal for such an organization was a circle of friends with no head, no bureaucracy.

He saw the Foundation as an umbrella group to bring together people with a wide variety of interests and at various rungs on the ladder, as a matrix to accelerate their progress up the ladder and to provide the base for the small number of seekers who were getting close to self-realization.

Up to the time when Alzheimer's disease disrupted Rose's ability to function in the mid-1990s, none of his students had made the final breakthrough to self-realization. But that changed in 1999, when it was too late for Rose to appreciate the results of his work. Late in that year two of his students had profound self-realizations, followed by another in the winter of 2000. And since then there have been a few more. Vignettes of their breakthroughs are included in the download section of SearchWithin.org, and you can read their essays and poetry in the monthly issues of the TAT Forum. These "finders" are friends whom I've known for many years, and I'd like to try to convey my impressions of the first three mentioned above:

 

Ongoing Work of Richard Rose's Students

 
Bob I've known Bob Cergol since the late 1970s. He was the student of Rose's whom I thought had the best chance of making a breakthrough, so it was no great shock to me when that occurred in October of 1999. We'd been participating with about a dozen other folks in an online confrontation (questioning) group, and a line from a letter that Alfred Pulyan had written to Richard Rose in the 1950s was the catalyst that triggered Bob's awakening.

To give you a feeling for Bob's personality, here is the progression of points he put together for his session ("Elevating the Doubt Sensation") of the September 2006 TAT workshop:

  1. What fills your attention: right now? other times?
  2. Whatever it is, it's avoidance of facing oneself directly. There's something else there, always present other than what you focus on.
  3. Stop this nutty assumption that you know anything about spiritual work.
  4. Face yourself as if you had no teacher, no group, no book-knowledge, no possibility of acquiring some imagined quality that will relieve you of your problems and bestow happiness on you.

A few days before the meeting, Bob realized he wasn't going to be able to make it. In his e-mail, he conveyed this message: "I'll be there in Silence, and whoever in silence can completely ignore the experience of self that fills the attention will be in rapport with me."

I met Shawn Nevins in the early 1990s when he became a student of Rose. His awakening in December 1999 came as more of a shock to me, not because he hadn't been wholeheartedly dedicating his life to the search for truth but because he had a mentality I felt was more like mine – more intellectual than intuitional – and Rose had always stressed the necessity of perfecting the intuition.

Shawn hadn't heard about Bob's breakthrough. He was reading the transcript of an attempt by Franklin Merrell-Wolff to bring a group of students in Phoenix, Arizona to the doorway of nirvana (The Induction) when: "Somewhere in the ninth or tenth page, tears started to pour down my face. A pain gripped my head, like an intense headache. It felt like someone was trying to ram something into my head that wouldn't fit. I felt on the verge of something, on the verge of Truth and it was agonizing. The pain was so intense that I fell to the floor. I felt I was dying."

His mind struggled to contain the end of polarity – a losing battle – and he was catapulted beyond the mind to a realization of his essence, which he described as: "Nothing, but yet Everything ... Everything undifferentiated."

Shawn is typically a man of few words, which may explain why the prose and poetry he writes is succinct. The power of it, though, can only be explained by the depth of his perspective. An essay titled "Your Current State," may give you a feeling for it:

Take a moment to be aware of your current state. Now, imagine that yesterday you died. You are exactly where you are right now, only you are dead. Nothing has changed, except that you are dead. Everything that you do from here on out is the action of a dead person – it means nothing. Try as you might, your actions have no effect. Your touch is that of a ghost, your mightiest efforts like a soft breeze.

Your friends call your name, but as you reach out to them, you see that they too are ghosts. All that you hold dear, is like a storybook – it existed, but was made to be set aside.

In all the universe, there is only you. Utterly powerless to even cast a shadow upon a wall.

You are dead, yet you feel alive. A Light shines through your form, animating your thought. Listen for your ceasing to be, it is calling. Let the ghost cry for the loss of it's self – tears of Truth to set it free.

You died the day you were born. How long will you wait to go Home?

See Shawn's Poetry in Motion Films website for his work as a filmmaker and for contact information.

Bob Bob Fergeson attended his first TAT gathering in the early 1990s, although he'd seen a photo of Rose in a Rocky Mountain News article in the early 1980s and had corresponded with him a few times.

Bob was one of the participants in the online confrontation group that triggered Bob Cergol's breakthrough and that was instrumental in his own realization a few months later:

A period of despair had thankfully passed, in which I had mostly given up hope of ever finding anything more than a little peace of mind, and perhaps something to do to pass the years. The online group helped provide the tension needed to push my spiritual interest back to the forefront.

I had been getting glimpses of how the mind works in dividing the personality into opposites, such as the parent/child, ego1/ego2, and God/Charlie Brown, and was determined to somehow transcend this trap. One of the members of the group artfully confronted me, suggesting that something I should look at was how I was in love with my self, the very thing I was trying to separate from. Realizing I was being fooled again, trapped in yet another duality, I came to a dead end. I can't remember the details of the exchange, but it dropped like a depth charge into my mind. Acting as a catalyst, it soon caused a change. This change was something I could not have foreseen, for it was a total change in being, rather than in thought....

In hindsight, I cannot say I know how all this happened, except to say that I had a bit of luck, a few good friends, and could not rest until I knew what I was and had some real understanding of what was going on in terms of life and death. I had a mantra that expressed the inner angst I felt at not being defined: "I don't know what's going on, but I'm going to find out." I also cannot express the gratitude I feel to several persons who were part of this. Nothing in the search is more valuable than those whose honest concern for your long-term peace takes precedence over the pettiness of your ego. As the years go by, I still find that my home is in the Place of No Concern, as is yours....

See Bob's YouTube channel for more of
his photography with musical backgrounds.

Bob wrote a periodic newsletter for several years, The Mystic Missal, which included a column titled "Tricks and Traps." Here's an example:

Trap: Split Personality. Keeping our spiritual and personal life separate, we fall into a trap. We think that spiritual work is not related to our day-to-day actions and keep the two sides of ourselves, the actual personality and the spiritual ego, separate and unconscious of each other. We are thus capable of being a negative self-serving robot while believing and projecting we are a sincere seeker of Truth.

Tricks: Here are three tricks to bridge the gap between our ego/idea of ourselves and our fact status:
1. Practice a technique for seeing the personality indirectly. In the beginning, we may not be able to see ourselves directly, so the use of techniques such as dream study or journaling can help get us started on the path of self-discovery. Reading back through a journal can be a shock, we may think we are an earnest, positive and altruistic seeker, when the journal notes may show us to be a negative whiner who thinks only of himself.
2. Group Work. Nothing can help with seeing ourselves quite as much as the mirror of a group. To take advantage of the group setting though, one may need to learn to listen. Even in the work place, we may be getting all the information about ourselves we need, but refuse to hear it.
3. Watch your emotions. Take the time to sit quietly twice a day, first thing in the morning and before you fall asleep, and see what your heart is telling you. Not to the endless justifications or judgments in the mind, but to the knots or tensions in the background. Can you feel these? What are they related to? Can you bring up words to describe these knots? Do you have mixed feelings about the days events? Where are the contradictions?

Check out Bob's Nostalgia West website for his work as a photographer and for contact information.

The TAT Foundation web site has information about the four TAT gatherings each year as well as information on local groups meetings in various areas, on the Current Events page.

                     
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