The TAT Forum: a spiritual magazine of essays, poems and humor.

TAT Forum

October 2015

November meeting details

The TAT Foundation has received a $5,600 DONATION MATCHING CHALLENGE dependent on TAT raising an equivalent amount by the November 20-22, 2015 gathering. Meeting that challenge would bring TAT's new home project to 75% of the goal, and a search team will start looking in earnest for a property. See the New Home for TAT section below for more information. Donations are tax-deductible.



Convictions & Concerns

TAT members share their personal convictions and/or concerns

(and the meaning of ego)

Following a recent presentation at a TAT Foundation event, in which I used the word "ego," someone asked for a clearer description of the role of ego in my own life. Afterward, the question inspired me to reflect a bit more on the definition....

While the word ego is often bandied about in spiritual teachings, it has numerous meanings and seems to describe a wide swath of human experience. Analogues might include small "s" self, mind, I, conditioning, and other combinations of human vagaries.

"Merging with the signal." Acadia
National Park, Maine. Photo by author.

We would all be better served by using common terms when describing the stuff that reinforces our sense of separation from Reality (what is). For example, the collection of thoughts, feelings, beliefs, moods, etc. that arise and disappear in our field of observation would equate to "background noise." This noise may not truly separate us from Reality, but it consists of an inner world that is so captivating it deafens us to what is here now.

"Signal-to-noise ratio" (SNR) is often used in scientific circles to compare the level of a desired signal to the level of background noise. In this analogy, Reality would be likened to a signal that is always broadcasting at maximum strength, and by its nature is always within and around us. In his book Gates of the Mind, Joseph Sadony called it the "Great Broadcaster of Life." It's always here—silent, impersonal, wide open, and accessible. But our background noise drastically interferes with the signal.

A very high noise level would characterize someone who is deeply asleep spiritually. That is, although the signal's strength remains constant, the inner noise level is so substantial that he or she seemingly remains disconnected from what is. With varying degrees of success, spiritual seekers have employed innumerable strategies over the centuries to lower their background noise: meditation, prayer, self-inquiry, ad infinitum. Unfortunately, these strategies can devolve into their own form of noise.

So, what's the good news? The background noise often becomes less captivating as we grow to see it as distinctly separate from something in us that observes noise. This observation process doesn't necessarily lead to immunity from noise. In fact, at first, it may feel as though the noise level has ratcheted up as we delve more deeply into an inquiry of who we are. We simply begin to observe more noise during the process of understanding what is observable. For those who are tenacious—or have a touch of good fortune—the noise eventually lightens up.

Becoming more attuned to the signal can allow it to work its magic in bringing about an alignment with Reality. At some point, it may be clear that all desires for perfection—and all lamentations about imperfection—require a healthy counter-dose of humility. In a strange twist, with less pushing away and less resistance to the noise, increasing clarity may ultimately lead to fully merging with the signal....


~ Thanks to Paul Constant, a TAT member since 1985. For more perspectives, read his essays or check out the review of Gates of the Mind at Comments? Please the Forum.


TAT Foundation News

It's all about "ladder work" – helping and being helped

TAT Meeting News

Register for the TAT November Gathering, Discernment, which takes place Friday-Sunday, November 20-22, 2015.

Local Group News

Update from the Denver, CO self-inquiry group:
We were fortunate to be able to gather with fellow members of our Denver Self Inquiry Group recently for a weekend retreat. We camped in the high country, up above 9,000 feet, at Twin Lakes outside of Leadville, CO. We decided on a potluck style meal plan, and everyone contributed to the meals we shared together. Here are impressions from three of the participants:

The first impression of the weekend was the silence that struck immediately upon getting out of the car at the campsite. I made an effort to engage with the group, not hiding from myself or others, which had the effect of creating tension. Though uncomfortable, being engaged exposed cracks in the ego's armor of uniqueness, and made an impact that went on for a day after returning home. Doing what I could to contain the shock, and bearing what I saw about myself over the weekend, after it subsided a deep peace came to visit that allowed me to experience my surroundings without my typical identification. ~ Jason

I have not known all of these guys very long, some more than others but I have a reference for each of them regardless, simply because they are all sincerely on a spiritual path.
    The weekend felt unstructured, which can throw me for a loop and honestly, I found myself at times slightly drifting or removing myself from the group...Holding back, watching, assessing.
    At some point during the weekend however, something inside of me realized that we all had a lot of things to share with each other, not only a plethora of food but a vast background of various spiritual seeking and experiences, from which, each of us could benefit. In that I can trust.
    At some point in the weekend it became clear to me that I was better off staying close to the group, rather than drifting off by myself. Staying face to face with peers and mentors and divulging my inner workings to the best of my ability, has been and continues to be a central part of my own search for clarity and truth. ~ Wayne

The Twin Lakes area is a majestic lake and mountain setting. It was an ideal place and space for stepping outside of our daily routines and self preoccupations. The camaraderie was natural and easy, as well as our conversations while hiking, lounging in the sun, and around the campfire, ranging from the hilarious to some serious probing of essential problems and questions. Some of the subjects covered were discernment, and coming into contact with a higher power when the mind is seen as incapable of ever changing one's being. I would recommend for any group a weekend retreat out in nature, in how it can free up boundaries and strengthen friendships. ~ Paul S.

Our group met in Denver last Tuesday with the subject of Bob Fergeson's Mystic Missal Blog post "Success through Failure" as our chosen subject for the evening: trauma and catastrophe as an involuntary means of spiritual growth or movement. It was pointed out this was almost a Law of Physics or perhaps akin to a physician breaking your arm to then fix it; it could not be avoided and was best to go along quietly or you'll be dragged. The group also discussed seeing the intellect as the hand maiden to emotions and the effort to see this within oneself were valued as a valid means of self understanding. A discussion of preparing for trauma, leaning into it and welcoming loss were discussed as personal strategies members of our group had employed during their darker times. Pure exhaustion and a capacity to see what wasn't working led to a decrease in the turmoil of external life.
    Do we see our fixations, motives, patterns and paradoxes? Are we rebuilding the house at each moment and are we fooling ourselves? These questions were brought up as topics that could be discussed next time. ~ Tim H.; contact or

Update from the weekly email self-inquiry groups:
Both groups are active, including some new participants. ~ For further information, contact or

Update from the Gainesville, FL self-inquiry group:
We're continuing to hold meetings on alternate Monday evenings and Sunday afternoons. One of the active members is coordinating a weekend retreat for early December to take place at Horseshoe Lake Park. ~ Email or

"The Sanctuary" cottage
Near Corofin, County Clare.

Update from the Galway, Ireland self-inquiry group:
The Galway group is coordinating a men's retreat following a successful women's retreat and has invited Art Ticknor to lead it. The retreat will be held on Oct. 25th through the 30th in County Clare. ~ Tess

Update from the Greensburg, PA self-inquiry group:
I sent out an e-mail to several of my regulars telling them I planned to be at our usual meeting place to discuss the topic of Grace, with a quote from Adyashanti. The poster for this meeting is attached, so you can see what the quote was. My questions to them were: Have you been touched by Grace in your life? And, how can we become receptive to Grace?
     We haven't had a SIG meeting in three weeks and, as you might know if you read the latest September TAT Forum, there's been a lull in attendance at our meetings. So it was with some trepidation that I sent out the e-mail, fearing that possibly no one would attend. Much to my surprise, we had seven attendees including myself at our meeting this morning. Two of those included my former regulars who are now into Anadi, a teacher they found on the Buddha at the Gas Pump website. These two fellows provided some good confrontation regarding what Grace was for them.
     The attendees drew from both Christian and Eastern perspectives on Grace. We went to a restaurant afterwards and I was told it was a good topic. We'll meet again in two weeks. I'll perhaps use more Adyashanti quotes and see if some of my old regulars keep coming back. ~

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Your Contributions to TAT News

TAT founder Richard Rose believed that working with others accelerates our retreat from untruth. He also felt that such efforts were most effective when applied with discernment, meaning working with others on the rungs of the ladder closest to our own. The TAT News section is for TAT members to communicate about work they've been doing with or for other members and friends. Please your "ladder work" news.



"One thing you must be able to do in the midst of any
experience is laugh. And experience should show you that it
isn't real, that it's a movie. Life doesn't take you seriously,
so why take it seriously." ~ Richard Rose, Carillon


Harry Edsel Smith of Albany, New York:

Born 1903 – Died 1942.
Looked up the elevator shaft to see if the
car was on the way down. It was.

In a Thurmont, Maryland cemetery:

Here lies an Atheist, all dressed up
and no place to go.

On the grave of Ezekial Aikle in
East Dalhousie Cemetery, Nova Scotia:

Here lies Ezekial Aikle, Age 102.
Only the good die young.

In a London, England cemetery:

Here lies Ann Mann, who lived an old maid
but died an old Mann. Dec. 8, 1767

In a Ribbesford, England cemetery:

Anna Wallace
The children of Israel wanted bread,
And the Lord sent them manna.
Clark Wallace wanted a wife,
And the Devil sent him Anna.

We had chosen the gravestone wit above for this month's Forum well before learning of Yogi Berra's Sept. 22nd death. In addition to being a Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher, he was the source of frequent malapropisms affectionately known as yogisms. TAT member Larry I. sent this one in as being particularly appropriate to the population of self-inquirers: "You can observe a lot by watching."

We're also 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.


Inspiration & Irritation

Irritation moves us; inspiration provides a direction

National Public Radio's recent retrospective tribute to Oliver Sacks
(optional audio file; transcript with several photos of Sacks across the years)


I recall picking up a copy of The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat in a Raleigh used books store over twenty years ago. On the back cover is a photo of a smiling Oliver Sacks with an enormous bushy beard. I never thought much about the author and missed his later work about his own neurological challenges: The Mind's Eye. His writings were never overtly spiritual, yet for a period of my search they were "troubling" in a good way. Through his gloriously detailed descriptions of bizarre neurological conditions, and his incessant questioning of what they said about the nature of "being human," I in turn questioned the nature of my personal view of reality. Take, for example, his description of a patient with severe memory loss:

"He remembered nothing for more than a few seconds. He was continually disoriented. Abysses of amnesia continually opened beneath him, but he would bridge them, nimbly, by fluent confabulations of fictions of all kinds. For him they were not fictions, but how he suddenly saw, or interpreted, the world. It's radical flux and incoherence could not be tolerated, acknowledged, for an instant – there was instead, the strange, delirious, quasi-coherence, as Mr. Thompson, with his ceaseless, unconscious, quick-fire inventions, continually improvised the world around him – an Arabian Nights world, a phantasmagoria, a dream, of ever-changing people, figures, situations – continual, kaleidoscopic mutations and transformations. For Mr. Thompson, however, it was not a tissue of ever-changing, evanescent fancies and illusion, but a whole normal, stable and factual world. So far as he was concerned, there was nothing the matter."

For these stories and many others I say "Thank you, Dr. Sacks." ~ Shawn Nevins


He prods the faces of a room once familiar,
but now haunted in misty corners
by the unexplained.
His cane darts at forms that fade into walls,
Maybe, he says, it is those
once here, but now crossing the intersection of this moment.

His eyes, a blue-gray fog
need no thick lenses, such as his son bought,
to see what matters.
He sees and hears and knows well enough
for the business at hand,
for the pursuit of truth at the tip of a cane.

"Touch me," we say.
"I am real."

Imagine a reel of film
or bits of data with electric charge,
vibrating, stretching the bounds of their containers,
threatening to spill order into gibberish.
This chaos holds together
only by the thought of existence.

His nights fill with wails of white light,
sharp noises that stop short,
and voices that mutter uncertainly.
Whatever order there was is breaking.

This is a story of dissolution.
Of a clockwork inside us
spinning another minute,
wearing another tooth, shaft or spline
in time failing.
In time, all is failing.
The spinning center of the thought of existence
teeters to a stop,
gloriously revealing what remains.


Shawn Nevins:; on Facebook Poetry in Motion Films.

Please your thoughts on these items.


Reader Commentary

Encouraging interactive readership among TAT members and friends

A reader wrote that what would make the Forum more interesting would be:

Hearing from people who are searching – and have questions instead of those providing endless advice and "answers." What challenges they are facing. What their doubts and questions are. How they perceive their path is going. What they are doing in their lives. Where they think they will end up. Etc. etc.

Can you help make the Forum more interesting?

Beyond Relativity: Transcending the
Split Between Knower and Known

The Forum staff solicited feedback on TAT Press's eighth book, Beyond Relativity: Transcending the Split Between Knower and Known published in 2014.

From Ike H:
It is rare to find a spiritual book where the author speaks so openly and at length about his life before the finish line. I really appreciate getting a picture of the person before, since that allows me to compare my life and struggles to Ticknor's. It shows me I have hardly any excuses. Ticknor is honest about his life without trying to paint himself as a glorious being who was born to be great. This alone should give a clue about the worth of this book to anyone who is thinking of picking out one among the abundance of spiritual literature nowadays.

From Chuck M:
Interspersed among his answers to inquiries in this book is Art's story of his personal search. This is a real story written by a real man on a long meandering path, full of stumbles, false starts, loss, and depression. But every fall is followed by a regroup and increased determination. His perseverance along the path is incredible.

As a rookie to these sorts of things, this book initially had me feeling pretty scared. What have I stumbled into? This self realization stuff doesn't look like a happily ever after kind of fairy tale. But further on is the beautiful, yet specific and articulate description of his realization experience. And a little further yet is something that spoke volumes to me – a photo of the author with the most genuine, honest smile I have ever seen. I think I can understand why the journey is worthwhile.

From Leesa W:
What spiritual seeker doesn't like a good awakening story? This one spans twenty-seven years and is filled with pitfalls, twists and turns, but ultimately demonstrates the characteristic that is most necessary in any search – perseverance. His personal journal entries mirror that of any desperate seeker and leave the reader hopeful that if this guy made the journey, so can I. Interspersed with his personal story, however, are little time-bombs of wisdom in the guise of innocent questions posed by seekers looking for his help. I found myself in many of these questions and his answers are provocative, sometimes maddeningly so, but only for the ego! This book is a gem for those on a path of self-inquiry or involved in group work. It's also a map of sorts – away from the unreal – that ultimately leads to Love.

From Ricky C:
Beyond Relativity had a beneficial effect on me, the same as when reading other critical philosophers, in that it seemed to raise my mind and heart to a greater capacity to think and feel, especially to the longing and inspiration to head towards that.

There's a poem at the end of the book by one of the author's students about the author and in that poem is a line: "You have spoken to me through many nights and dreams And called out to my soul to look thru all that seems." I find this is a great bit of poetry and I really like this line and especially the word 'seems.' It mirrors the author's words to keep looking until you see.

There are lots of great questions and ponderables for the serious seeker (and also the not so serious but want to be more serious seekers). If you need some inspiration or material for self-inquiry this book is an excellent choice.

Please send us your brief reviews or feedback on something that stood out for you in the TAT Press book Images of Essence: The Standing Now for next month's Reader Commentary.

Other Reader Feedback

A column in the September 2015 TAT Forum asks "What do you know for sure [about the brain and conscious experience]?"

I know nothing for sure about the totality of the relationship between the brain and conscious experience. Nobody does.

However, I do know for sure from direct experience that ingesting certain substances will reliably change my conscious experience and that other people report the same reliable changes. While neuroscience does not have a complete, full model of the relation between the brain and conscious experience, this discipline can explain how certain physical substances in food, drink, drugs, toxins, etc. affect brain activity at a physical level, which presumably causes changes in conscious experience. True, we don't know how the changes in physical brain events cause changes in conscious experience, but it is undeniable that ingested physical substances cause changes in physical brain states that reliably lead to changes in conscious experience.

Neuroscience can also describe the physical changes in the brain associated with the changes in conscious experiences we all have each night in both dreamless and dream-filled sleep.

For me, this is enough to accept that physical events in the brain cause conscious experience. Because everybody has experienced changes in conscious experience from ingesting substances and sleeping, this is far more evidence than the few cases of people who report hovering over their bodies and observing events in an operating room while their brains showed no electrical activity.

John A. Johnson, Professor Emeritus of Psychology, Pennsylvania State University


Your thoughts on this? Please your feedback.

Richard Rose described a spiritual path as living one's life aimed at finding the meaning of that life. Did you find anything relevant to your life or search in this month's Forum issue?


"Moonlit" photo by Bob Fergeson
See more of Bob's photography on his Nostalgia West Facebook page.


We like hearing from you! Please your comments, suggestions, inquiries, and submissions.

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Founder's Wisdom

Richard Rose (1917-2005) established the TAT Foundation
in 1973 to encourage people to work together on what
he considered to be the "grand project" of spiritual work.

Zen & Death

Part 1 of a talk given by Richard Rose in Washington, DC in September 1977:

First let me say something about the word Pyramid in the name. [When this talk was given, self-inquiry groups that had formed on some college campuses mainly in the northeastern US, had adopted the name "Pyramid Zen." - Ed.] I never intended for the group to have a name. It was basically individuals trying to find their self-definition, the highest spiritual value. And Zen is one of the more direct ways to go about it. But when we went into a university they wanted an organization. I was pretty much opposed to forming an organization because as soon as you do, you get all of the ills that come with them. But if you want a room at a university you have to have a name. So in Pittsburgh we gave ourselves the name Zen Study Group. When we went over to Kent the boys took the name Pyramid Zen. The reason was that when I wrote The Albigen Papers I put a triangle on the front of the book; it wasn't a pyramid so much as a triangle, which represented the Law of Three. But it does have a significance as a pyramid in that all human effort is pyramidal in form.

The spiritual evolvement of people requires a large base of those who are not evolved. So that for every person who reaches the maximum spiritual experience, there are probably a million people in what we call the instinctive stages yet. Whenever human effort is involved there's a pyramid, a triangular effect. For every millionaire there are a million people who never make it; they're down in the working class so to speak. And this was to point it out, rather than to kid people and tell them that everybody was going to make it. That all they had to do was to listen to me and the world is going to be better, and we were going to make a little shiny spot on it.

We picked up the name Pyramid Zen from the Kent group, and for the sake of printing materials we unified the name, to make it the same for all the universities. Then along came the pyramids,1 the people who were sharpening razor blades and preserving bits of meat. And people came to lectures probably thinking that we had a new form of Zen whereby you meditated and got satori under a pyramid. I don't know what they expected but there were a lot of disappointed people.

I'm thinking of advising all of the groups to drop the name, and just call it an Esoteric Study Group. Because Zen is not the only door to realization. Every man has his own door if he can find it. Sometime he can be stimulated by a philosophy or an esoteric religion, but every man can find his God within him if he wants to really dig hard enough. If Zen helps, or if your parental religion helps, that's alright. Generally it's in the parental religion as well. Of course I have reasons for following the Zen line, because I think it's more direct and it pushes aside a lot of dogma.

Death and After-Death Experiences

The talk tonight is on Zen and its relation to death and the after-death experiences. Of course we should start with the idea of what is Zen. I think there's a lot of misunderstanding about what Zen really was. When you get to digging into the writings of some of the old masters, the books that they left behind, you'll find an entirely different picture from what you get today with the assembly-line productions in some of our American Zen centers.

I don't think it was ever intended to be something with a formula that you could get out of a book, and that all you had to do was ring little bells or practice koans. I think there's a lot of emphasis put on setting something up that is easy and yet impossible. Anybody can get a koan and play with it for years, and in that respect it's impossible to find a solution to it – unless the solution is saying, "Well, I'm through with it. It's just nonsense." And then the master says, "You're right. Now you've got it." Or as one book says, the student punched the master in the nose and the master says, "You're right." He didn't want to get punched a second time. So you can get enlightenment that way.

But I want to step over into this business of death, which is part of the topic tonight. I wonder if we understand death. I wonder if we all have the same conception of what death is. Some people believe that there's nothing but a cellular death. This is the materialistic medical viewpoint and the materialistic psychological definition: that when the cells die you're dead, that's all. Three flat readings on the EEG.

But is there an existence beyond this? This is the question that every entity, human or animal, wants to know. Even the animals are afraid of dying; they seem to show by their actions that what's happening to them that could kill them is not good, so they must be a little apprehensive about it. And yet we have a lot of either folklore or literature that signifies that something does happen to us after death.

Now what are the systems of finding this? When you read the literature of Zen you'll find very little mention of the word death. In fact, I don't think there's too much mention of it in my own book except in the evaluations of religious movements: that most religious movements and esoteric sects are aimed at taking you someplace after you die.

I was initiated into a yogic group one time,2 the Radha Soami sect,3 from the Punjab area of India, the Kashmir section. Some of you have heard of Kirpal Singh;4 this was the group from which Kirpal Singh was a schismatic. Also Eckankar5 was a schismatic from the same group. Basically the belief of these people was – they called it Darshan – you concentrated in the middle of your forehead on the picture of your guru. It was a kriya yoga practice. Kriya yoga was concentration upon the third eye, so to speak, but darshan was now putting the guru in the third eye. They had another thing which they called Shabd. You listen to the sound current in the right ear. The right ear was where the right music came, and if it came from the left ear you had to be careful.

What was it all aimed at? It was aimed at immortality – that by the darshan with the guru you established something like a silver cord, and when the guru died he went ahead and prepared a place for you. You kept in touch with him with this sound current and this cord, which I call the guru-chain. The sects in India don't really come out and say this, but they're tied together by a guru-chain the same way a person in some instances is tied to a love of their relatives. They look for their relatives after death, and a lot of people, no matter how old they are, when they're dying will call out to their relatives. I've seen some call for their mother and I know one case where they saw both their parents.

Now Zen doesn't start with the business of death, whereas many other movements do. The guru-chain was one method of immortality, as though after death there was a tremendous sea of oblivion out there. You had to take drastic measures to build some astral cord or some sound by which you'd be identified, so you could find each other in this vast ocean. The accent was put on what I consider the basic fear, whereas Zen doesn't take the fear into account. True Zen thinking discounts fear. It does away with fear because that's a thought-deterrent; you have to rid yourself of it before you can find any real truth. So whenever you're engaged in a religious movement in which the fear of death is the cause of your search, you have to give that up because it's going to color your thinking.

In Zen, when you read most of the conversations with Zen masters the subject of death isn't discovered. So how do we bring about a rationalization that Zen does something for the after-death experience? It does so in the regard that if you find out the answer, then the after-death experience is part of the answer.

Zen is basically self-definition. And with the knowledge of the self you also will understand the origin and the limits of the self, the destiny of the self. Now you ask, "How do you know?" Well, the testimony of anyone who has reached this point in Zen indicates that they know the score, and their worries are over as far as what is going to happen to them. Their manner of talking about it might be a little confusing, because of the simple fact that they're talking about an absolute dimension.

We generally look at heaven as a relative dimension. And when people talk about life after death they conceive of a relative heaven – although they know that the relative experience they're embodied in is going to perish, and all relative modes of communication are going to fail.

We don't get any communication from the millions and millions of people who have passed on. In fact, there's been so little communication that's considered valid, the scientific world just discounts it all and says there is none. That it's all wishful thinking created by desire.

* * *

So what are the different ways that people go about finding the answer? I think everybody wants to know the truth. Whether a man goes to church, or whether he's a gangster or works in a steel mill or he's a farmer, he's motivated by a desire to know the truth. And regardless of where you meet him, in a beer joint or a battlefield, you'll hear him asking the other fellows questions:

"What do you think happens after you die?" Maybe that's the only comment they make and they go back to drinking their beer. But everybody wants to know what's going to happen.

The majority of people don't believe that it's possible to know. And they're encouraged in this. It's part of our cultural tradition to hand to the children the idea, "It's not for you to know." So this becomes an easy rationale when the struggling to know becomes arduous. They just say, "Well, we're not supposed to know." One of the outstanding pillars in Christian theology was Thomas Aquinas, who said, "The finite mind will never perceive the infinite." And when you think that over you get the idea, well, maybe he's right. We're very limited, we're very microscopic in relation to the planet and in relation to the galaxies, and out there someplace behind all this is a God. We're very finite, and what hope do we have, what ego do we have, that would inspire us to claim immortality? That the creator, engineer, or whoever made this whole scene would consider us important enough to bestow upon us some eternal form of life.

We go back to the ability of these systems to find for us. And I'm more or less running through my own life experiences for you. Because everyone goes to church, and sooner or later most people get disillusioned. It becomes a social institution, they accept it at that, and the theological part of most of the religions and isms somehow does not answer. So most of us just give up.


Now I've got a little system, and you may be interested in taking a note of it, in the province of religion or religious philosophy, on how you can check the different movements for their ability to successfully answer the questions of man. Meaning, that if they can answer the questions, they must have done some successful research; they must have known something before they started preaching.

The reason I'm doing this is not to rap somebody else. Because everything is in its proper place. Every religion is necessary or it wouldn't be there; I'm not rapping that. I just presume there's a percentage of people who are always interested in maybe one other step. For the people on certain steps I hold all respect; that step is necessary and it's there. But let's evaluate a little bit: What do the different religions do for us? What do we want? Well, in this business of answering questions we want to know: 6

1. Who we are. I call it the nature of man.

2. Some sort of definition of life before birth.

Everyone's talking about life after death, but what about life before we were born? The engineering in our bodies is very complex and it seems like a tremendous lot of intricate purpose there – and it just started? Sixty or fifty or forty years ago it just started out of nothing? And the mentality was just created out of nothing? Two chemicals came together, a sperm and an ovum, and created a unique sentient being? We overlook this. Why? It's easy – we're here, why worry about it? But in the process of looking at our definition we're going to have to take that into account. We're going to have to be concerned with that end of the string. What were we before? Nothing starts from nothing.

3. Life after death.

4. The relation of man to nature and the visible universe.

This permeates all religions: What is our relation to each other? What is the relation to the planet, the soil, the animal kingdom? Why are we stuck in this aquarium, so to speak?

5. The relation of man to the Absolute.

This is where the theologian comes along and says. "You're here to please God," or, "God's here to please you.” The universe was created to make you happy. Whether you want to call it God or the Absolute, it's this relation.

Basically the whole problem of theology boils down to three major points: Who are you? Where did you come from? Where are you going? Now check them out. Go back through your religions and your isms, any esoteric movement that pretends to do something. This is what I do in the book, incidentally. I went through some of them rather carefully.

For instance, people subscribe to a certain cult,7 and I've talked to them after they were in it forty years. I said, "What was this supposed to do for you?" One lady said, "I was supposed to meet my astral Master while living in this body." Now that's a long shot. Because she presumed that when she met him he'd tell her the score. Forty years to get to talk to a ghost is a long shot, because you're going to lose the best years of your life for research and you're not concentrating on the problem at hand. The problem at hand is not to meet a spirit, it's to find out who you are. Now presuming the spirit knows everything, perhaps he will tell you who you are. I've known two people who were into this – I'm not going to name it because I'm not here to tear things apart – but the lady said finally this fellow appeared at the foot of her bed. She asked him a question and he shook his head "No" and left. That was the end of it.

This is a very powerful movement today, the one I just spoke about; they have a tremendous membership. When you run down through the list, do they give us anything on the Nature of Man? They have a concept structure: he's an aura or he's got this or that chakra. It's a concept, but prove it. We want proof, not just what somebody dreams up, or what somebody says somebody else said that somebody else said. On the item of Life After Death: it depends entirely on whether you're able to make contact with this astral Master before you die. Otherwise back to the drawing board. On Life Before Birth: of course the concept generally is that you were reincarnated. No proof, just everybody in the movement believes. Relation of Man to Nature: there's no mention of it, or very little mention of it. Relation of Man to the Absolute: there's no mention of the word Absolute.


There's another method of finding out who you are, outside of esoteric religion or philosophy, and that's psychology. The purpose of psychology is to find out about our thinking processes. This is hitting pretty close to who you are: when you know who is thinking, you know what the mind is. I'm not saying that modern psychology will teach that which the mind is. Nevertheless, that's supposed to be their direction. The Nature of Man consequently becomes the province of psychology. Because it's not biology, not the body. Call it behavior patterns if you wish, but it's his nature, which is the same thing that religion is after. Also the nature of mental attributes: he has certain peculiarities, anger, affection, emotion, hate, ESP, and there's an attempt to get into those.

Now any of these movements mentioned, or any that you know of, will say they've got definitions. One time I was starting to give a lecture and I said, "People do not know who they are." And a guy said, "Nonsense. I know who I am." I said, "Okay, who are you?" He said, "I'm the guy who's sitting in front of you." Of course that was a little bit of sophistry, a joke. But that doesn't mean that that man knew his definition. He had never bothered to think. He had just accepted the common human projection of what people are. In himself, he did not know who he was.

We find out that we don't know who we are when we get surprises. You think you're one thing and your wife will prove to you that you're something else. You'll get married or something like that, or have a traumatic experience and you'll say, "Geez, am I like that? Is that who I am?" We have a certain fixed idea of ourselves until somebody or society changes us, proves to us that we're casting a projection that people just don't accept. Then we realize we must be somebody else.

After you examine a tremendous lot of these definitions you might say, "No one knows who God is." And somebody will say, "Oh, yes, I know him. I'm on friendly terms with him." I've had people tell me that. But there's a difference between a definition and an explanation, and there's a difference between what you know and what you'd like to believe. We're getting down now to facts, and I maintain that Zen is a factual thing. That's the reason not too much is said. There's a lot of seeming nonsense in the writings about Zen. But you'll not hear a logical build-up: this is that and therefore something else can be added to it, and pretty soon you come out with a proof. In Zen, the proof is an experience.

If we examine the attempts both in psychology and religion, we find that a tremendous lot are what I call concept structures. This is like the old phlogiston theory in chemistry before they knew about oxidation. They said, "We know something is going on and we found this element called phlogiston, and that's what is causing all the trouble." And for maybe fifty years or longer all the chemists in Europe accepted the concept structure about phlogiston, which was later proved to be oxidation.

This is what we get into, in a tremendous lot of the deeper lines of thinking, especially in abstract lines of thinking like philosophy. Instead of going in and finding out for ourselves, we build a concept structure. We build a rock candy mountain for ourselves, a paradise to suit our wishes. We do not look for that which is. If we run into something that says, "After death it might be oblivion", the reaction is, "I don't want to hear that." Many of the systems imply that man is a robot, and I've heard people say, "I don't want to hear that. I am no robot." How do you know you're not a robot? Do you control your actions?

To be continued....



2. Early 1950s. See “Yoga: Hatha, Shabd & Raja”.




6. From Chapter 4 of The Albigen Papers, "On Gurus and Unique Systems.”

7. Identified as the Rosicrucians in 1978-0226-The-Truth-University-of-Pittsburgh.

~ Transcript of a talk given by Richard Rose in Washington, DC in September 1977. Transcription by Steve Harnish. You can listen to audio files of the talk. For information on the transcription project .

Do you have a favorite quote from Richard Rose? Please it along with how you'd prefer to be identified.


A New Home for TAT

... A spot on earth where people can do retreats and hold
meetings; where the emphasis is on friendship and the search.

UPDATE ON THE CHALLENGE: In mid-September we sent a notice that an anonymous member pledged a $5600 donation if we raise a matching $5600 by the November TAT meeting. Thanks to all of you who have quickly risen to the challenge and helped raise $4900 in a few days. Here is where we stand:

Matching Challenge results as of September 2015

Now is the time to stop wondering if you should help out. Just do it. In many ways, we are all beneficiaries of the efforts of spiritual seekers and teachers of the past. Contributions to TAT's new home is one of the ways to 'pass it on' to the next generation of seekers....

Funds Raised as of September 2015

Over sixty-five people have now invested in this project. Thank you! Others have taken their time to buy products using our Amazon link, or donated a portion of eBay sales.

LET'S MAKE THIS HAPPEN: We have till November 21st to meet the challenge. To invest in the "Homing Ground" project, mail a check made out to the TAT Foundation (for instructions on mailing a check, please ).

Or you can use PayPal (though we lose 2.2% of your donation to PayPal fees) by choosing the the "Make a Donation" button below or the Make a Donation button on our Homing Ground page. TAT is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit educational organization and qualifies to receive tax-deductible contributions.

Thanks to each of you who have donated and pledged and look forward to the day we set foot on our new home site.

What is TAT?

The TAT Foundation is a nonprofit, tax-exempt, 100% volunteer organization founded in 1973 with the express purpose of providing a forum and meeting place for inquirers into the mystery of life and ourselves. TAT brings together people from all levels and experiences and welcomes those in search of truth, adventurers of the mind, seekers of knowledge, the self, and the unknown to meet others of like interest.

TAT is non-sectarian and non-denominational; there are no secret oaths, dogmas, or rituals at TAT. Its membership, open to all of serious intent, from all walks of life, is united in the friendship of dialogue and fellowship of human spirit. All are on equal ground at TAT.

TAT believes that you can expedite and intensify your investigation of life's mysteries by working with others who are exploring, perhaps down a different road, so that you may share your discoveries and "compare notes" in order to come to a better understanding of yourself and others.

TAT is not tied to a single teacher. Its model remains in line with that of TAT founder Richard Rose, whose vision included an "umbrella" organization through which many people would exchange ideas. His vision also included "a spot on earth upon which to meet. A homing ground...."


The Purpose:

The Vision:

What's This All About?

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 desert—where 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. 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.



TAT gathering


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