Philosophical Self-Inquiry Discussion Group

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    The Philosophical Self-Inquiry Discussion Group meets in Eugene on alternate Tuesdays at Cafe Roma (825 E 13th Ave) and Corvallis on alternate Wednesdays at Corvallis Public Library. Meetings begin at 6:00 pm and run until 8.

    Those curious to learn more about themselves are invited to air their views and hear what others have to say on the discussion topic in an atmosphere of friendly investigation. Meeting guidelines.


    Tuesday, November 20 and Wednesday November 21 2012:
    Stretching the Mind

    Yoga Pretzel
    From the book Stuff White People Like:

    "#15 Yoga: Though its roots are in India, the global tree of Yoga has most of its branches in rich white neighborhoods. Yoga has been so thoroughly embraced by white people because it requires large amounts of money and time, two things that white people have a lot of.

    "Yoga is essentially stretching with guidance. Advanced Yoga is just regular Yoga done in a very hot room.

    "You might think that since Yoga is such a minimalist activity, it can be done almost anywhere. But you would be wrong. Yoga must take place on hardwood floors at a studio. Exposed beams are generally believed to enhance Yoga experiences by 40 percent.

    "Being non-competitive, you might think that Yoga can just be done in any type of clothes that allow for a full range of motion; again you would be wrong. Yoga is much more than just an activity, it is a chance to showcase $80 pants that are tailor-made for the rigors of Yoga.

    "And last, but not least, Yoga feels exotic and foreign. It has become sort of like a religion that prizes flexibility and expensive clothes. Also, deep down, white people feel that their participation makes up for years of colonial rule in India."

    Can you seek answers to your deepest questions without paying $80 for attire?

    Tuesday, December 4 and Wednesday, December 5 2012:
    Finding Peace

    Unending fear, lust,
    toil and devouring.
    Hell is not elsewhere.

    ~ Bart Marshall



    2011 Annual Fall Intensive Retreat
    "Casting off Illusion"
    Sunday-Friday, Nov. 13-18

    Objective: Find complete & permanent X (Truth, Love, Security, Satisfaction, Reality, Being, etc.)
    Direction: Within
    Objection: Yes, but ... how do I go, sink or dive within?

    tiger jumps off boat

          The tiger's in a cage...
          An opportunity arises, and he jumps
          Headlong into freedom,
          Only to find himself trapped again
          By limitation.

          The tiger or the mouse
          Discovers there's always been a means of egress
          Behind him, back through the projection
          Off self and other, into
          True Freedom.

    for more information.


    2011 Annual Summer Men's Intensive Retreat
    "The Next Step"
    Sunday-Friday, Jun. 19-24

    the next step "Group Retreat"

    Like a bus ride …
    Waiting for the bus, it finally appears
    We're carried along faster & farther than our own energy would carry us
    It offers certain comforts, maybe also some interpersonal frictions
    But the ride ends, becomes a memory
    It may be the last bus ride …
    All experience disappoints, leaves us unfulfilled.

    • How did life's bus ride get you to where you find yourself?
    • What is your life-objective?
    • How would you evaluate your progress-to-date?
    • What is your next step?
    Individual presentations, group discussions, and workshops … combined with plenty of time for silent contemplation and nature walks....

    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....
    ~ From Franklin Merrell-Wolff's "Nirvana"

    for more information.

    Tied Up In Knots?

    Once an earnest beginner in the pursuit of Tao came to visit Lao Tzu. As soon as Lao Tzu saw him, he asked, "Who are all those people whom you have brought with you?" The disciple whirled around to look. Nothing there. Panic! Lao Tzu said, "Don't you understand?" This only added confusion to his panic. Lao Tzu then pressed him to tell him what was ailing him. The disciple said (to use the version of Thomas Merton):

    "When I don't know, people treat me like a fool. When I do know, the knowledge gets me into trouble. When I fail to do good, I hurt others. When I do good, I hurt myself. If I avoid my duty, I am remiss, but if I do it I am ruined. How can I get out of these contradictions? That is what I came to ask you."

    Lao Tzu replied: "A moment ago I looked into your eyes. I saw you were hemmed in by contradictions. Your words confirm this. You are scared to death, like a child who has lost father and mother. You are trying to sound the middle of the ocean with a six-foot pole. You have got lost, and are trying to find your way back to your own true self. You find nothing but illegible signposts pointing in all directions. I pity you."

    The disciple asked for admittance, took a cell, and there meditated, trying to cultivate qualities he thought desirable and get rid of others which he disliked. Ten days of that! Despair!

    "Miserable!" said Lao. "All blocked up! Tied in knots! Try to get untied! If your obstructions are on the outside, do not attempt to grasp them one by one and thrust them away. Impossible! Learn to ignore them. If they are within yourself, you cannot destroy them piecemeal, but you can refuse to let them take effect. If they are both inside and outside, do not try to hold on to Tao – just hope that Tao will keep hold of you!"

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

    Meeting Guidelines

    The meetings serve as forums for discussing issues related to self-inquiry and self-definition. This is a tricky proposition – using the mind to understand the mind. To expedite the process, a facilitator directs the discussion.

    Typical meeting formats are round-robin style, where participants have an equal amount of time to air their views. The object of this airing is to help each person clarify contradictions, tracing them back to prides and fears that cloud our mental processes. One of the ways of doing this is a friendly mode of challenging, or confrontation, not of the person but of his or her assumptions, beliefs, values and ethics. The facilitator is not to be confronted, as this disrupts the flow of the meeting.

    A successful interchange relies on the cooperation of all participants and their willingness to "play the game." No one should preach or be subject to preaching. As much as is humanly possible we should try to:

    • Listen actively, without interrupting, maintaining a felt connection with the speaker.
    • Keep the focus on each participant in turn, avoiding the temptation to shift the attention to ourselves – either out of a desire to rescue the person from tension or a desire to be the center of attention ourselves. When such a shift occurs, the facilitator or other participant should point it out.
    • Try to understand the speaker's point of view and challenge him to question his own thinking, not argue with him or try to sell our views.