A BRIEF HISTORY
what is Reality?
The mind grasps perfection,
but what is an Eternity?
Beyond the balance of life and death,
beyond the mind, bursting thought:
“Nothing to cling to or stay your fall.”
That sums up my taste of spiritual realization. My spiritual path began with the Self Knowledge Symposium, which was a bunch of college kids meeting once a week to hear August Turak challenge and inspire us to do something amazing with our lives. That led to Richard Rose, an enlightened teacher in rural West Virginia. Rose gave me two gifts: the undeniable depth of his presence and time on his farm to devote myself to the spiritual search. Suffice it to say I meditated for a long time, read a lot of books, experimented with celibacy, hypnosis, fasting, dream work and many other practices, until I hit a dead end. After four years, I left Rose’s farm and spent another three years delving into the intuition—particularly through writing poetry. Finally, Douglas Harding‘s suggestion to look at the space I was looking out from challenged everything I thought I knew. At last, one evening in what I can only describe as a moment of complete honesty, I experienced something beyond experience—a place which is no place, where there is no flip side to the coin. That moment answered the gnawing questions in my bones about my identity, my reality and my place in the universe.
A group we call Hollow Reed meets occasionally at our house for group self inquiry—San Francisco East Bay. Sometimes there is a prepared topic, sometimes there’s a burning question, sometimes the air itself is afire, and sometimes it is just good to see friends on the path. Whatever happens, each event reminds me of the gift of meeting others face to face and finding common ground. If you are interested in attending, send me an email: sanevins2 (at) yahoo.com
I have spoken many times over the years on the ways and means of the spiritual life. Generally, you will find me at TAT Foundation events, but I’ve also spoken at the Theosophical Society, and in the San Francisco Bay area. Recently, I gave what several people said was my best talk ever… could be a good or bad comment depending on how one interprets that. Download the mp3 file Living Truths and Dying Lies (19 MB, click to listen or right-click to download).
Poetry came to me as a result of listening, and translating the silence. Some of my early work appears at Poetry Chaikhana, which has an amazing collection of spiritual poetry from all over the world.
Images of Essence is a full-color, softbound book of my poetry matched with photographs by Bob Fergeson. “Let the stillness without reveal the stillness within,” it says in the foreword and the entire book drives towards that home. Many of my other poems, all with a spiritual bent, have been published in the TAT Forum — a free, online magazine to which any serious truth seeker should subscribe.
The true story of the rise and fall of John Davis fascinates me, and I think it fine film material. So much so, that I wrote a screenplay that is available on Amazon Kindle: The Resurrection of John Davis. John Davis III was a friend of the Kennedys and player in West Virginia’s scandal torn political landscape of the 1960s. After a horrific car accident, Davis struggled to keep his family and ambitions, while the system he once used turned against him. His spiritual resurrection is a testament to the power of grace and the human will.
Richard Rose, a deeply profound spiritual teacher, used to advise us young guys of the importance of celibacy for the spiritual path. There wasn’t much sharing of people’s experiences with it, though, so I set out to write a little book of interviews, a survey of sorts, of people who I knew experimented with celibacy. The Celibate Seeker is a fascinating, short read that just might inspire you to take a break from nature’s game and see what results.
It feels like a past life, but at one time I wrote Adventures in Caving: Kentucky and Indiana — A brief account of my adventures cave exploring in Kentucky and Indiana. While not an in-depth guide to the caves described, it does have useful notes and photographs about each destination and provides inspiration for your own caving adventures.
A few criticize the idea of rating spiritual teachers. Generally, they argue: I am in no position to judge “enlightened” people, that I cause irreparable harm to seekers who discover their teacher’s low ranking, or I can’t possibly have devoted sufficient time to studying their (low-ranking) teacher.
Addressing each point in turn: If I didn’t think I had a useful perspective, I wouldn’t write. I can’t tell anyone something they don’t want to hear. One person’s garbage is, truly, another person’s treasure.
I welcome correspondence regarding teachers with whom I am unfamiliar, and questions about the spiritual path. General comments are also appreciated. Please don’t waste your time trying to convince me of the error of my ways. Use your logic and intuition to discover and devote your time to following the path that is yours.
Finally, this verse from the Tao Te Ching captures the spirit of my perspective on the spiritual marketplace:
Extol the great illusion and the men of the world will gather.
Talk of success, security, happiness
and the multitudes will flock.
Offer music and tasty food,
and travelers will stop in.
Talk of Tao has no flavor.
Look for it — there is nothing to see.
Listen for it — there is nothing to hear.
Merge with it — there is no boundary or end.