Existential suffering ends when we realize what we are at the core of our being.
Such a realization comes as a form of knowing which the mind is not familiar with. The familiar forms of knowing involve a split between an undefined or misidentified knower-self and the perceptions and conceptions which we experience. Self-realization could be described as becoming, but not becoming one with God (the unitive experience of contemplative Christianity) or becoming one with everything (the cosmic consciousness experience of Walt Whitman and others), which are still in the mind realm. Self-realization follows a progressive falling away of mistaken identifications until a final disruption carries us beyond the subject-object split to an absolute state of being.
There's no way of knowing if there is an absolute state of being unless you become it, and even then it is not something that can be tested or proved by the mind. We know it by identity, recognizing what we always have been and always will be.
The conviction of being something separate has to be dispelled in order to transcend it. That occurrence is sometimes labeled as ego death, or as dying while living.
What does it mean to go beyond the mind? How do we do it? We become a conscious watcher of the mind, which progressively loosens our identification with what we perceive. Close to the end of our search we become conscious of awareness (radically different from being conscious of consciousness), which in its own time removes the mind's resistance to fully opening to Truth.
How do I get there ... "there" being the place of completion?
I know it has to be within, that I have to somehow go, sink or dive within.
But what strategy makes the most sense?
Do I adopt a contemplative tradition, like one of the Catholic or Buddhist ways?
If so, as a full-scale monk or as a layman?
Or do I look for an enlightened teacher, and dedicate my life to his or her tutelage?
Or do I remain independent, picking techniques
Recommended by teachers who appeal to me
And practicing them as long as they seem to be producing results?
Or is there another way? Could I let the mind find the way, like the amazing true stories
Of dogs and cats and aborigine girls finding their ways home?
Is there an innate sensor that will find the path if it's my top priority?
Can I feel "the call" the voice of nostalgia, the call to come Home?
Since it must be coming from Home, could its music lead me there?
Do I need to have a map and complete directions
Before I start the rest of the journey from here to there?
Or do I merely need guidance for the next step?
Will the necessary guidance always be posted in plain sight
Where I can't miss it, or do I need to be vigilant?
If I don't hear or see or feel the guidance for the next step,
Can I receive it by asking where It is ...
Then listening as if for the echo from a sonar ping?
Does the mind have a homing device?
If so, can the mind be trained to pay attention to it?
If Home is the abode of our highest state of being, is prayer a progressive form
Of tuning in to the homing device until we've completed the return trip to our source?
Let us work and pray together and separately,
Let us ask and pay attention together and separately,
Until we recognize the Truth.
Until we and the Truth are One.
~ Art Ticknor has been a TAT member since 1978. He has contributed to the TAT Forum since its inception in 2000, and TAT Press has published two of his books, Solid Ground of Being: A Personal Story of the Impersonal and Beyond Relativity: Transcending the Split Between Knower and Known. He maintains a website, SelfDiscoveryPortal.com, and welcomes .
We held the final gathering for the year, at Penn's Scenic View, over the weekend of November 7th. The theme for the weekend was Deeper Within. Some impressions by newcomers:
The November gathering was indeed a rare group of people. Though I have spent many years on "the path" and have checked out (and learned much from each of many, in my case, mostly ashrams, in India and in the US), I have never had the experience of feeling so effortlessly, seamlessly, connected with everyone present. TAT seems unique in that, at least it is so in my experience and that of my spiritual comrades.
In gratitude to TAT for this precious genius,
I have been on a spiritual path for quite a few years now spending my last 11 years in 12 step programs and reading shelves of books on spiritual topics. I have found an honesty in the Al-Anon/AA rooms that I had not previously found outside of the 12 step rooms and what I call a "spiritual maturity" as well, but it was my opinion that this spiritual maturity was not a final destination for me. I have come to know that I would need to look beyond my past experiences if I was going to continue further spiritually.
I attended my first TAT Foundation meeting at Penn Scenic View in November 2014 and I found it to be a most rewarding experience. I showed up late to the Friday night activity feeling a little self conscious about it (I am a terrible navigator), sat down at a table with 2 TAT members whom I had never met before (Meg and Nathan), and immediately found myself feeling comfortable and right at home. I am not always the best with my words, but there was a warmth or a presence in the room that was very welcoming as well as intriguing.
I don't want this little blurb to be about me, but I have always been very skeptical about any spiritual organization of any kind because I have found that many spiritual groups and/or gatherings that I had previously looked at would play the usual guru promotion game or they would eventually demonstrate their rigidity/dogma, all of which have been real turn offs for me. Over the weekend, I had conversations with many of the members present for the meeting and found that ALL of them expressed that there was more than one way to walk towards one's spiritual goals, which really resonated with me. The meeting also featured several different teachers which also emphasized TAT's commitment to different paths.
One of my favorite portions of the weekend gathering was Saturday morning's featured speaker/teacher, Tess Hughes. Tess did an amazing job sharing her experiences on her own road to realization/enlightenment, especially since her presentation was geared in an outline form to the newer folk in the room. Art Ticknor was also an excellent speaker, and at one point he really got my attention when he said something along the lines about how significant change can not occur without a significant challenge. The challenge that Art spoke of had been what I was all along looking for.
The setting for the TAT meeting at Penn Scenic View could not have been better and there was plenty of space for the classes, areas that were comfortable for each activity, and it certainly was nice to be up in such a beautiful area. I also have to say that it is very clear that the TAT folks were not there for financial reasons as the cost of the weekend was extremely affordable.
I will be returning to future TAT Foundation meetings as I believe that I have finally found a group of folks that "get me" for lack of better words and I don't ever say such things lightly. I look forward to future gatherings and working/learning with these most wonderful folk.
- Mark Cole
Walking through the door to attend my first TAT gathering, I was feeling a lot of apprehension about spending the weekend with a group of strangers. The warm welcome that greeted me was immediate and unexpected. This warmth permeated the entire weekend as friendships developed easily with both teachers and attendees.
Many of the retreat workshops challenged my long held beliefs. While sometimes feeling overly vulnerable, I also left with a deep sense of gratitude.
- Janet M.
I was immediately impressed by the openness of the retreat. Everyone involved really made it quite special. I have been looking for a spiritual group for a few years now and have had trouble finding people and teachings that seemed to align with my experience and understanding. I first heard about TAT through watching an interview of Tess Hughes online. Tess' pragmatic and authentic approach to spirituality deeply moved me and I went on to read the teachings of Richard Rose. I had been on a solitary path for a while and his communication of the importance of group work made a strong impact on me. It was a breath of fresh air to meet and learn from truly authentic seekers and inspired teachers at this retreat. The down-to-earth and warm nature of all the attendees was very moving, there was a genuine atmosphere of mutual support and care. The schedule flowed very naturally and felt it allowed for adequate break and socialization time. The lodging was accommodating and the catered meals were great. This retreat felt for me like a homecoming in a way, having the opportunity to be with others who are on similar paths, sharing the passion for discovery in an open and supportive environment. I am looking forward to the next one!
- Evan Hoffman
What a wonderful group of fellow travelers. I really enjoyed each of the different presenters as their journeys & points of view were varied & seemed to complement one another. I particularly liked the interactive nature of many of the presentations; they required attendees to be more than just passive receptacles & actually consider ideas/thoughts/feelings/others on a deeper level.
The setting was top notch, beautiful surroundings & very comfortable/clean accommodations. The food was fabulous, possibly too much & too good, I think I may have gained a few pounds.
I have a sense that there is so much more for me to explore, techniques & points of view that I'd never encountered before which will no doubt help me along the journey. My only complaint is that TAT is based on the East coast, so not sure how often I can afford to attend in the future. Thankfully I've made several amazing & wonderful new friends which is obviously priceless :)
- Heather B. from Gasquet
Thanksgiving Day is celebrated in the U.S. on the fourth Thursday of November. Here's a prayer of thanksgiving submitted by one of the TAT members, which he read to his family:
I give thanks that deep inside,
There is the point where all reside,
As Nothing; only Love presides.
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Visits always give pleasure,
if not the arrival, the departure.
~ Portuguese Proverb
The church is near, but the way is icy,
the tavern is far, but I will walk carefully.
~ Ukrainian Proverb
We're hoping to present humor created by TAT members and friends here. Please your written or graphic creations. Exact sources are necessary for other submissions, since we need to make sure they're either in the public domain or that we have permission to use them.
4 Quotes from "On The Shortness of Life"
Lucius Seneca (4 BC to AD 65)
Look back in memory and consider when you ever had a fixed plan, how few days have passed as you had intended, when you were ever at your own disposal, when your face ever wore its natural expression, when your mind was ever unperturbed, what work you have achieved in so long a life, how many have robbed you of life when you were not aware of what you were losing, how much was taken up in useless sorrow, in foolish joy, in greedy desire, in the allurements of society, how little of yourself was left to you; you will perceive that you are dying before your season!
Finally, everybody agrees that no one pursuit can be successfully followed by a man who is preoccupied with many thingseloquence cannot, nor the liberal studiessince the mind, when distracted, takes in nothing very deeply, but rejects everything that is, as it were, crammed into it. There is nothing the busy man is less busied with than living: there is nothing that is harder to learn. Of the other arts there are many teachers everywhere; some of them we have seen that mere boys have mastered so thoroughly that they could even play the master. It takes the whole of life to learn how to live, andwhat will perhaps make you wonder moreit takes the whole of life to learn how to die.
Can anything be sillier than the point of view of certain peopleI mean those who boast of their foresight? They keep themselves very busily engaged in order that they may be able to live better; they spend life in making ready to live! They form their purposes with a view to the distant future; yet postponement is the greatest waste of life; it deprives them of each day as it comes, it snatches from them the present by promising something hereafter. The greatest hindrance to living is expectancy, which depends upon the morrow and wastes to-day.
Think you that it is just the same whether you are concerned in having corn from oversea poured into the granaries, unhurt either by the dishonesty or the neglect of those who transport it, in seeing that it does not become heated and spoiled by collecting moisture and tallies in weight and measure, or whether you enter upon these sacred and lofty studies with the purpose of discovering what substance, what pleasure, what mode of life, what shape God has; what fate awaits your soul; where Nature lays us to rest when we are freed from the body; what the principle is that upholds all the heaviest matter in the centre of this world, suspends the light on high, carries fire to the topmost part, summons the stars to their proper changesand ether matters, in turn, full of mighty wonders? You really must leave the ground and turn your mind's eye upon these things! Now while the blood is hot, we must enter with brisk step upon the better course. In this kind of life there awaits much that is good to knowthe love and practice of the virtues, forgetfulness of the passions, knowledge of living and dying, and a life of deep repose.
~ Shawn Nevins has been an active TAT member since the early 1990s and has been a contributor to the TAT Forum since its 2000 inception. See poetryinmotionalfilms.com or Facebook: Poetry in Motion Films for his growing body of "small films about big ideas." Shawn welcomes .
Richard Rose described a spiritual path as living one's live aimed at finding the meaning of that life.
Did you find anything relevant to your life or search in this month's Forum issue?
Lake Erie across from the
Listening Point retreat, Erie, PA;
photo by Heather Saunders
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"Absolute Truth is not absolutely inaccessible to us, and relative truth is definitely accessible. We must desire the Truth, and have a capacity for it else we could not receive it even if it came to us by accident....
"We cannot lie to ourselves in little things, or what we consider little things, and still be competent to receive knowledge of that which we admit to be more vital or important.
"The divergences of beliefs among men, whether these beliefs be religious, philosophic, or political, are not an indication of the infallibility of the masses nor of justification for the idea that every everyone is correct to a degree. We like to think that the divergent observer is just looking at Truth from another or oblique angle. And rather than solve the problem, the divergent parties democratically vote everyone to be correct.
"These procedures make for compatibility and social harmony, but they put the mind to sleep. We are either right or wrong. And if we are honest with ourselves and true to ourselves we do not wish to wait for twenty years to outgrow a religion. It is our sacred right to doubt and to question. It must remain our valued trust,that we trust no authority. We must listen and sit down with an occasional book, but any acceptance should be tentative until we have a complete picture.
"When I say we are either right or wrong, I am speaking of relative truth-seeking. In the absolute state, things may well be neither right or wrong, or both. And while we aspire to an absolute state, and to absolute Truth, it remains doubtful if we will ever attain the absolute Truth if we compromise relative truth, or shut our eyes to reality.
"Let us not pretend to be seekers while we remain addicted to vanity or enslaved to conventions. Likewise we are living a lie when we dedicate years or decades to the pursuit of pleasure or ambition, when in the honest analysis, we can find no valid gain for our search. And when we are guided by fear of emotion to accept a creed, we have neither a chance for truth nor an honest self-identification.
"Many people have found reality for the first time in the depths of alcoholism, or drug addiction, or rather, have found reality after passing through the depths. They managed to become alcoholics because alcohol alone, or drugs along, made it possible for them to live with massive rationalizations in the form of religion or social mores, from which their inner intuition rebelled.
"We live in a cloud of illusions. We cling to them, legislate them in our councils, create and deify them in our religious dogma, breed them into our children, and rarely realize that we are spinning this web of fiction for all the hours and days of our lives unless we are fortunate enough to die slowly. I was shocked the first time I heard a priest at a funeral pray that all those present might be granted a slow death. For a moment I thought him a barbarian carrying to the extreme his cult of masochism. But perhaps that slow death may be the only moments of reality for the total life of many earthlings. Because a dying man is forced to face the fact that he is about to become zero, and the pseudo-comforts that promised glorious lights, trumpets and escorting angels, now have no meaning. All that the dying man knows is that he is about to begin to rot. Nothingness has more meaning to him, and embodies his world of reality more than all of the religions and clichés of a human-animal philosophy eternally cursed and confounded by language and its deceptions."
~ From "Defining the Truth," in Carillon: Poems, Essays and the Philosophy of Richard Rose
For over 35 years, the TAT Foundation met on Richard Rose's farm, where he and the members created "a spot on earth upon which to meet. A homing ground...." TAT meetings, group retreats, and solitary retreats were a regular part of life at the ashram. Rose's desire to help others and to bring people together in a meditative surrounding, influenced two generations of spiritual seekers. Rose's farm was a sanctuary for many years, and a crucible. He once said it was like the desertwhere you go to meet God.
In 2011, Rose's heir decided to use the property for another purpose, and TAT's lease was not renewed. We have since rented facilities for our four quarterly meetings. Yet, the desire to provide a greater service has been a frequent topic. Our dream is to create once again a space that encourages honesty, provides a crucible for spiritual development, and produces the next generation of spiritual seekers and finders.
To that end, TAT is raising $250,000 to find a new home, and, as of November 28, 2014, we are almost 58% of the way to the goal. We envision a semi-rural facility, close to a university town, with a meeting hall seating up to 70 participants, kitchen and bath facilities, and a room for a live-in caretaker. Additionally, the facility would have one cabin for solitary retreats. Ideally, the property would border public lands to provide a buffer of quiet and solitude, and have enough acreage to allow for additional cabins, sleeping quarters, and facilities over time. A resident teacher, week-long retreats and intensives, public events and other activities are planned.
If you support open and honest spiritual inquiry, then please invest in the TAT "Homing Ground" project. To date, nearly 50 TAT members and friends have joined this endeavor. TAT itself has funds reserved for yearly maintenance, taxes, insurance and other expenses, further ensuring the project's success. To help, please use the PayPal button below, or avoid PayPal fees and simply mail a check. TAT is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit educational organization and qualifies to receive tax-deductible contributions.
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