philosophic inquiry into life and meaning

...if truth were not for man the desire for truth would not be as a burning unrest in his heart...

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Douglas Harding style self-portrait

11 Strategies for Waking Up and Other Notes from the Self Inquiry Group Oct 2009 "Enlightenment and Grace:
Removing Resistance to Destiny" Spiritual Intensive


Oct 9th-Oct 11th 2009 in Durant Nature Park - Raleigh, North Carolina




Bart Marshall - Removing Resistance to Self-Realization


3 Habits: Self Inquiry, Prayer, and Betweenness


Self Inquiry


Small 's' self inquiry is a rigorous examination of intention and beliefs of the personal identity. It is self honesty and observation of others.


Big 'S' Self inquiry is asking 'Who am I?' What was I before birth? After death? What is really going on? Asking these big questions is alot like prayer.




Prayer is any communication to a higher power. Prayer can be angry prayer (cursing God is still an open line of communication to God).


Keep that line of communication open constantly. Admit we need help. That weakens the ego.


This begins with focused desire -- What do you really want?


The baseline prayer is to know Truth at all costs. Enlightenment costs everything.


Grace strikes when resistance is weak.




Betweenness is holding your head between caring and not caring.


11 Strategies


1. Focused intent - desire to work for what you really want. First step is to find out. Question the desire. We have too many things we want and they're in conflict with each other.


2. Absorb teachings - do research of ancient masters and contemporary teachers. Don't believe a word of it. Let it rattle around in there.


3. Find your fellows - come together with a common purpose and intent. Rose's law of the ladder. Work on 3 rungs: those above you pulling you up, those below you you're their teachers, and those on the rung you're on, associate with them and compare notes.


4. Stop thinking you know -- keeps the whole truth from coming through. We're convinced we're a separate person in the universe. Wipe the slate clean. Rose: "What do you know for sure?" Assume you know nothing. What can I verify with my first person experience? Be nit-picky about this.


5. Investigate Awareness - right here, right now, awareness is present. 'I am aware' is error.


6. Stalk no-thought - no-thought is an ally. Can't do this intentionally. It depends on practices and circumstances. Meditation may help. When it happens, welcome the occurrence of it. Yoga Sutras, The Sayings of Patanjali: "Unity obtains when activities of the mind cease."


7. Reverse vision - we project outwards so 180˚ reverse the projections. Douglas Harding style pointing at things, then point at what's pointing (in the direction of your face).


8. Assume authority - we seek teachers for direction but at some point we need to break and assume authority. Trust intuition and have faith.


9. Favor simplicity - complexity is not conductive to clear thinking.


10. Choose silence - can't hear if you're not listening. Bob Fergeson calls this the listening attention. Turn off the TV, radio, stare into space, ask yourself what you really want...and listen.


11. Befriend death - death is the great unknown. Self-realization may feel like death.



David Scoma - Q&A with David Scoma


Note: this talk is available in audio form on David's website: Click here to go there and listen.


David talked about his website: and how it is his means of sharing his experience. Also discussed were some of the darker potentialities one may encounter on the path.


His advice: Check out your motivation and intent constantly. Am I doing this for a loved one, someone else or for my self?


He talked about John of the Cross "dark night of the soul" and Teresa of Avala "interior castle." His experience lasted one week (or two years or longer, he's a long time practitioner) and afterwards "there was no David left." He had a catholic background (and survived catholic school). His practice was devotional with daily mass + roasary.


He took the practices personally (stations of the cross meditations/prayers).


Dark night of the soul - you feel like you're you, but you're being burned away. Your only recourse is to surrender to that.


Practice is unsatisfying at the end. Why were you doing this in the first place?


Your dissatisfaction is your greatest grace.


The 2nd greatest grace is the ending of the dissatisfaction.


Be grateful for the first grace.


Prayer is expand you don't contract. Usually it's 'who's gonna give me what I want' only pray 'let me not get in the way, let it unfold perfectly' (thy will be done, not mine). It's getting yourself out of the way. Even the small needs, the body needs etc. You're surprised they get answered perfectly. "I would define prayer as coming into alignment." "Whatever is in the way, let it get out of the way." You are getting in the way.


David would drum and that drumming practice would be useful for him. He talks about that in the porch mp3 on


Simplify - you're mind will try the same stuff even if it's a mansion or only a backpack. [No matter how full or simple your mind is it will still try deciding what to take when going away on a trip]. It's the same pattern. The real problem is the mind continually generating these things.


Get comfortable with the uncomfortable. You'll get used to it then it won't be so uncomfortable anymore.


"The connection I felt in the end is surrender."


Q. about desperate mind and trauma. what do you do to stop pushing? A. You stop going to the bully to stop getting beaten up. That's the whole problem you're not getting your way and you want your way. Solution: surrender, get into alignment.


Nautilus - is a term David Scoma uses. It is ignoring what you are. So Ignore what you are not until it kills you. Process of negation. Consciously ignoring everything you believe is true and real.


"The end is always going through your final fear, fear of death."


"Death is what makes life precious."


"When I say the senses are sensing themselves I'm being literal."


Best [general] advice to seekers: "Do your own homework." You're in this on your own -- not really but that doesn't mean you don't look for help. Others will help guide you and point and look for this but it's all on you.


If it's something you think you've conquered something [some aspect of yourself] you need to revisit it and be ruthlessly honest, don't fool yourself.


"Bored is underrated." "When something is apparent to do it gets done."




Bruce Rubin - Spirituality in life and film


The reason we're here, here in the world, is we want to know what's on the next page. We're compelled by stories.


Transcendence of our own stories through other peoples stories. Movies.




Nathan Spoon - Essence of Advaita


North Carolina state motto: Esse Quam Videri, Be, Rather Than Seem.


Sadhana: practice.


A yogi always has a clean place.


Coffee inhibits the flow of kundalini.


Raphael - Italian Advaita-vedanta teacher. Website.




Other Notes


The reason I'm doing all of these practices is because I somehow believe I will survive Enlightenment...and death. That's the whole point of doing practices which will strengthen me or add to me or make me a better person, because I think they will let me survive death.


Douglas Harding workshops - Headlessness see here.


Mike Conners presented his practice of Effortless Meditation.


Mike Casari read a couple poems to us including Three Books of the Absolute by Richard Rose.




More on Enlightenment and Grace Grace: Removing Resistance to Destiny Retreat

(links from other sources will be added here)


Audio of David Scoma's Talk. Enlightenment and Grace.


Notes from Bob Cergol. "Dear Soul Seeker" PDF.


Original Retreat page and speaker bios:


Discussion Forum at (log in there first then go to this link):