The Silent Questions

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The Silent Questions

Postby Doug Marman on Mon Aug 18, 2008 10:27 pm

Who am I? Why am I here? What is the meaning of life? A true story of the quest to know.

This book is not about answers. It is about the power hidden behind questions that have haunted people since the beginning of time.

The Silent Questions begins with a life-altering dream experience, followed by a series of unexplainable events that propel the author into a quest for truth.

“Originally, I thought I needed answers. I was lost without them. I felt compelled to search for some kind of map that would explain everything. However, changes entered my life like new ocean currents that took me far from where I expected to go… I soon learned I was not chasing something fixed and easy to nail down. I was hunting something alive: A reality that unfolded its depth the further I pursued it.”

Drawn on by the need to know, Doug sets out on an adventure that carries him into personal experiences with death, out-of-body travels into other dimensions of consciousness and meetings with spiritual masters. He looks behind the masks of God and sees a reality subtler than he ever imagined. Over and over, just when he is ready to declare victory with his discoveries, along come new realizations that shake the foundation of everything he knows.

This personal, first-hand account spans more than forty years, showing how every aspect of life is changed for those who cannot resist the call of the silent questions.
Doug Marman
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Re: The Silent Questions

Postby Peter on Tue Sep 09, 2008 12:11 pm

Hi Doug, and thanks for _another_ really splendid book. I've skimmed through much of it and am now reading it closely. In chapter one, I found your discussion of the subconscious and your experiments with self-hypnosis to be really fascinating. I guess I've had an intellectual knowledge of some of these issues but haven't really sat down and tried to explore the constructs I've accepted and which shape my world. The thought that I might have some limiting beliefs that impact my successful practice of the spiritual exercises ... really got me thinking. Do I really believe I can meet spiritual Masters in contemplation, or have I assumed that I'm not one of 'those special people?' I've started to wonder about how long I might have been on autopilot. Thanks for this.

Recently an acquaintance of mine asked me a question: Why is it that while she is aware of some of her negative habits and shortcomings, this awareness alone does not lead to constructive changes? We spoke about the difference between intellectual knowledge and realization ... and both concluded that we were much more accustomed to, and comfortable with, the former. (A sobering realization!)

I guess the silent question that's trying to bubble up through this post is: how can we keep our practices fresh so that we can cut through our unconscious resistance to Truth?

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Re: The Silent Questions

Postby Doug Marman on Sat Sep 13, 2008 10:25 pm


Thanks for writing and for your thoughtful comments.

I think you've raised a couple excellent questions, and I would like to turn those over to others to hear how they would answer these, or if they have been thinking about them as well:

How can we keep our practices fresh so that we can cut through our unconscious resistance to Truth?

Why is it that while we are aware of some of our negative habits and shortcomings, this awareness alone does not lead to constructive changes?

I agree, it is so easy to think we understand spiritual concepts and that should be enough to change us, but sometimes these concepts actually hide what we don't know. That's the same idea as I mentioned in the Introduction to The Silent Questions: that sometimes answers keep us from asking. The questions are much more important, and we often feel so uncomfortable not knowing that we find something to believe in, but this can stop us from continuing to ask before the Silent Questions have fully changed us.

I agree that it shows these lessons go far deeper into the subconscious.

I would be interested to hear if others have wondered about this as well, or what they have discovered along these lines.


Doug Marman
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Re: The Silent Questions

Postby Jerry on Sun Sep 28, 2008 9:01 am

Hi Doug and Others:

A long time ago I read a book by Leonard Bernstein called “The Unanswered Question”. His material dealt with the concept that in a musical composition, the audience is presented with an abstract gigantic question and by the end of the piece, there is the gigantic grand finale which almost always is expressed with the movement from the five chord to the One chord and this an called cadence.

His point however was that no matter how grand the final (musical) conclusion, there was always an unanswered lingering stub of sound that the audience takes home with them and that the abstract essence of question as expressed in music could never be fully resolved or answered.

Well my mind raced of course and immediately I considered the “Unquestioned Answer”. I wanted to know how these two opposites fit together and merged.

In the posts in this thread, there is mention of the issue that answers may indeed block us from seeing the horizon where lay new answers and new questions. And there is the question of how to keep it all fresh.

I think the key is realization, in particular self and god realization. The process of realization is placing ones self at the edge of the boundary between what is known and what is not yet known. Knowledge is like an object becoming manifest at that edge and moving past you and behind you where they become a memory. The memory of a realization is not the realization itself. The mind and its need to associate words to meanings is an after effect of the process. The manifestation of meaning and substance, before we label it and name it, is where we find fresh realization. Once we give it a name, then it already is memory. That is somehow connected to the notion of Sat Nam which means “True Name”.

The dance between questions and answers is like a musical interaction between rhythms and chords. The music drives the words. If the words are driving the music, then it is thinking. If the music is driving the words, then it is poetry. Paul T mentioned something like this in “The Flute of God”.

Anyway I am glad to be a part of this site. I am apologetic up front as I know that I am “Way out there”. But hey! That’s me! Or is it?? (A sohang reference)

Jerry C
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Re: The Silent Questions

Postby Peter on Wed Oct 01, 2008 10:10 pm

Hi Jerry,

I really enjoy your contributions, they make me think (we can discuss later whether or not that's a good thing :D ).

You make an interesting distinction between realization on the one hand, and thinking _about_ a realization, which you rightly point out has to do with memory. Yet I wonder if there isn't another way of understanding "realization" which doesn't separate things in this way. Such as if we see efforts to express a realization--in words, in music, in actions, whatever--as the way we "real-ize" or "make it real" to the human consciousness.

Such forms of expression involve the lower bodies. They involve thought, trained reflexes, imagination, etc, in a process of bringing formless realization into form. As limited and partial as such forms inevitably may be compared to perception on the level of Soul ... without them, I wonder what realization can really mean to us in our lives here, or if it would even be possible.

It's like the whole idea of outflow/service/dialogue. Such movements help us unfold and deepen our realizations.

But of course this is very different from simply intellectualizing the process. I think you nailed this distinction nicely with your comment
'If the words are driving the music, then it is thinking. If the music is driving the words, then it is poetry."
I really like that. I guess the trick is checking within to recognize the difference.

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Re: The Silent Questions

Postby xaaska on Thu Jan 22, 2009 8:51 pm

Thanks all of you for your constructive answers. This is my first contribution into this forum and I'm sure, as it is always, that we will mutually benefit from our discussions.

Doug asked if others have wondered about two questions namely 1)How can we keep our practices fresh so that we can cut through our unconscious resistance to Truth? 2)Why is it that while we are aware of some of our negative habits and shortcomings, this awareness alone does not lead to constructive changes?

Yes I in fact did !

For the first question it is my understanding that we can keep our practice fresh by attending to it with motivation.We have to try to find always new ways which encourage us to stay with our practice. Eventually the whole process becomes habitual. We have to keep in mind though that it is natural that our spiritual practice in general follows a pattern which is specific for each person. After intensive activity of any kind a time for rest follows before action commences again. This is the principle of ying-yang in operation. One has to accept that there are times ones practice is in ebb. In time, depending on ones spiritual unfoldment, a mighty tide will gather and give one impetus to move forward. Freshness then is a re-occurring phenomenon. Can the ebb be shortened? It depends on the person’s individuality and aptitude.

As to the unconscious resistance to Truth there is an assertion mentioned in many sacred scriptures that says all Truth, in its infinite manifested states is relative; it also asserts that Truth as a matter of fact is like the horizon that is ever receding and therefore the Source can never be reached. It is a Path, for example one which is called The Straight Path to Truth, that one can find. Therefore what one resists is a “truth”. It is when one is in a transition between truths that ones resistance is strongest; then as one settles into his preferred truth he feels satisfied- or not. After relative time the preferred path has a nature to feel boring to the person and he begins to look outward to find another Path to Truth; when he finds one the circle begins again: fresh practice of the new Path, cutting through the old one and a natural unconscious resistance to change.

Persistence is the key here.

An answer to the second question is that awareness alone will not lead to constructive changes because ones negative habits and shortcomings are made of energies and attitudes. These energies and attitudes have to be replaced by more positive ones. It is a function of awareness to bring into focus what is desired to be changed. Action has to follow. Otherwise without personal effort the person can not achieve anything by himself.

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Re: The Silent Questions

Postby Vidyanet on Sat Feb 21, 2009 1:12 pm

I was searching the topic of birds today. Looking for truth.

My search reflected on the words: Alal, Anal, anaka, Angha, Simorgh, Hamsa, Hansa, Huma, Phoenix & Bennu.

Another bird that could be added to this list, perhaps, is the Dove.

Some quotes:

[N.B. In Hindu Scriptures there is a mention of a bird named 'alal' which is said to live pretty high above in the sky. This bird never comes down to the earth. The eggs laid by the 'alal' begin to fall down towards the earth. However, these eggs are laid at such great heights that before these can reach the earth's surface, their hatching period is over and the young kids come out of them and fly back towards their homes high above in the sky. Using the allegory of the 'alal' Sant Tulsi Sahab advises our individual souls to climb back, through meditation, to the great heights, our own true Native Abode i.e. the Realm of God.] ... e=&tag=mat

It was in China, late one moonless night,
The Simorgh first appeared to human sight -
He let a feather float down through the air,
And rumours of its fame spread everywhere;

Its most famous section is:

Come you lost Atoms to your Centre draw,
And be the Eternal Mirror that you saw:
Rays that have wander'd into Darkness wide
Return and back into your Sun subside

Regardless the pages where these quotes reside, I didn't necessarily read everything they contained. Neither did I necessarily subscribe to everything else appearing along with the "bird" topic. My focus was on the "bird" legends / myths. How these might relate to "Soul" and its relationship with "Spirit" & "God".

Although my search began with the story of the "Alal" bird, I latter learned there were other stories. Like the "Anal" bird, for example. The "anaka" and Angha birds, etc.

I wonder if these stories have a common origin in some deeply-held universal truth. My hunch is that these stories somehow relate to the topic here.

What do you think?

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Re: The Silent Questions

Postby Doug Marman on Sun Mar 22, 2009 11:53 am


Apparently some posts got jammed in the system for months and finally made it through. I hadn't seen your post until now, but I love the topic you raised here.

Almost all of the birds you name are mythical and yes I think they almost all originated as spiritual metaphors or symbols of Soul's ability to escape the limitation of space and time. Flying is an experience that captures this sense of freedom. They live beyond the earthbound world.

The Simorgh, is a good example, since it came out of a Sufi book written in the 12th century by Farid Ud-din Attar, called The Conference of the Birds. The whole tale is about birds searching for the meaning of life, and searching for the mystical Simorgh. They all believe that finding the Simorgh will mean finding the one who can answer all of their questions. The book is filled with Sufi anecdotes and teaching stories, taking the reader through the levels of initiation, deeper and deeper into the spiritual path.

What is interesting is that it ends when out of all the birds that started, only thirty arrive. Many left the path out of doubt or lack of self-confidence, or the many other things that cause people to give up the search for truth. However, the conclusion of the book plays on a pun: Si, means thirty, and morgh, means birds. So, the thirty birds meet the Simorgh, which means they meet themselves, as this is the final discovery of their search, finding themselves, and that the answer has always been within.

It is not just flight that has made birds such a common spiritual symbol. The language of the birds has also long been a spiritual metaphor for the silent communication that exists between those who are spiritual aware and understand without words, and the way the spiritual teachings are transmitted inwardly. It is just as if we could understand the language of the birds.

Thanks for the great topic.

Doug Marman
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Seven Love Cities

Postby Another Birth on Tue Mar 24, 2009 4:13 pm

Hi ,

The Simorgh was the symblos of both Sasanian Kingdoms Sculptures and Spiritual Epic Stories around 800 years before. It was first introduced in Avesta (Zoroasterian Holy Book ) in a Hen shape with Wide wings standing on a Healer tree named Vispo bish that contained all plants oosperm and also lived there .That Tree was in Veru Kasha Sea. Nevertheless ,Simorgh's Equivalant word in Avesta was " Morgho Sein ". first part "morgh" is the same with second part in "Simorgh". second part "Seien " is not the same meaning as "Si" in Simorgh. it means Eagle known as Holy Adjective.

The Simorgh's main role was in Shah Name ,One of famous Persian Epic Poem in 10th Century.Simorgh was Allocated to many chapters of Stories among Mythical Human being characters. I don't think everyone ever can underestand the true meanings behind metaphor words and characters. it still remains one of unaccustomed writings with marvelous tales and names for me.The only thing i guess is that all Shah Name 's innovative Characters were occured in inner insight as an Indiviual Experience. I found out Shah Name hadn't written for Ones in a particular manner or hadn't preached for any king .Finally He presented his entire works to the Governor.

Simorgh Also was used as Metaphor in one of Attar's Spiritual Poem named "Mantegho teir ". The Story that Doug mentioned is the same i read it before. One Special point about "Seven Love Cities" inside the Poem describes ways of searching and being one with God.

" 7" is a sacred number which Advents in Human races and planets. Human beieng is consisted of heptad Principle. I remember the Quote of Paulji in Letter to Gail(1) about "The Seven Fold of veil ". He clarifed this Symble as a Curtains between human and God . he mentoned veils have deep connection with Seven colors. All connect with Desires. I compared "Seven Love Cities " with "Seven Fold of Veil " , both have some similarities in levels of Abondoning Desires and Physical Toughts. But paul didn't mention how first and second parts occur whenever someone intends to entering Spiritual Path .Other parts are clear.

The Persian Terms in English for Seven Love Cities are the Followings:
1. " Search " 2. "Love " 3. " Knowledge " 4. "Independence " 5. " Unification " 6." Amazement " 7. "Annihilation "

But I didn't find any title for two vague parts of "Seven Fold of veil " which may accompanies with first and second parts of "Seven Love Cities ". :? ??

Help me to know more about Yours.

In Spirit,
Another Birth :P
Another Birth
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Re: The Silent Questions

Postby Doug Marman on Tue Mar 24, 2009 9:16 pm

Another Birth,

Thanks for sharing where Simorgh came from in the Avesta. It is interesting how these mythical tales evolved through the years.

A myth told would often change from generation to generation, and take on completely new meanings.

I've read Attar's story of the Seven Valleys of Love, or sometimes called the Seven Cities of Love.

These stages, as you said, are symbolic of the stages of spiritual unfoldment. They can only be properly understood by those initiated who are going through these stages, or who have gone through them.

If you look up on the Internet, you will find that the Zen Buddhists have what they call the Ten Oxhearding pictures. They date back to about the same time as Attar. They describe the spiritual path in 10 stages. At first they were painted as 7 stages, I believe, but this was later expanded to 10. For example, here is one version:

Click on each picture to read the story.

Finding, taming and riding the ox is the finding and learning the ways of the path. But then you must go beyond the path.

There are some remarkable similarities with Attar's Seven Valleys of Love, but also some differences.

I have found that it is important not to get caught up in the descriptions. I try not to see these as hardened names or forms, because they are describing something poetic that must be experienced.

When I compare from one teaching to another, I realize that the titles don't matter. It is the spiritual unfoldment that matters. Then I can understand these, because I see what they mean from my own experience.

This is exactly why Paul Twitchell described the inner planes differently every time he wrote about them.

We can often relate to the general idea of what is being described, when we read Attar or study the Ten Oxherding pictures, but we may not really understand them until later, when we have gone through the stages and crossed the valley or entered the new city, or however you want to picture it.

What matters is that through these stages we are changed in a way that we can never go back to seeing life the way we did before. This doesn't come from reading or thinking about the Path. It only comes from becoming initiated into and walking a living path. It changes our center from which we see all of Life.

But everyone will describe the experiences differently. And I find it very interesting to hear each person's story told in their own way.


Doug Marman
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Joined: Sun Aug 24, 2008 12:53 pm


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