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

TAT Forum
March 2001

Essays, poems, opinions and humor on seeking
and finding answers to your deepest life-questions

This month's contents:

WKSU Interview of Richard Rose (part 5 of 6) | Love Poem (anonymous) | Thoughts on the Limitations of the Finite Mind by Bob Fergeson | Poems by Shawn Nevins | How Can You Live Life Fully? by Shawn Nevins | Affliction to the Individuality Sense by Bob Cergol | Q & A with Bob Cergol | Meditation: It's Not What You Think (part II) by Michael Conners | Humor | Reader Commentary

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WKSU Interview of Richard Rose (part 5 of 6)

(~ Continued from the February 2001 TAT Forum)

But these are people who cannot even hear you if you're a step above them—until they get hungry for it. They get tired. Their computer more or less gets overwhelmed by its own sluggishness and decides to kick out a whole gob of material and reevaluate the thing. That's my estimation of the method or procedure that goes on inside them. But it's very difficult for a person from the outside to come in to them, unless you're getting there at just the time that, for instance, the instinctive person is ready to break loose from his instinctive stage and join an emotional stage.

I believe that the only thing that anybody does, anyone who has a genuine spiritual message for any segment of mankind—the only thing that he can do—is to be there when someone is ready. I think that one of the most foolish things to do is to proselyte too much. I think that it's all right to put a little article or an ad in the paper or something like this to say, "I'm here, and I'm talking." But when you feel that you have to go out and convert people—I think that this is an ego in itself.

Question: That's when you start forcing something on people or forcing them to make a decision.

Rose: Yes, trying to force by virtue of intense emotion, by a charismatic appeal, or by a pretensive logic—that is nothing more than sophistry. Trying to get people to go along with you. And it becomes an ego trip for the preacher.

But I do believe at the same time that you are obligated, if you have something. Now this is paradoxical. If you have something to offer which you think could help somebody transcend one of these levels, then you have to make yourself known. Because of the simple fact that this man is blind to this level he is entering and he can't find you. But if he bumps into you at the right moment you can help him out of it.

And I believe that there is an esoteric law involved in this. That we have to help someone. That it's not just, let's say, a game or a profession. But I believe that the whole spiritual evolution of man depends upon people going out of their way to be available. To help somebody through a difficult problem or analyzation, or to reassure them that they are not the only fellow to come to a certain conviction.

Question: This communication is interesting to me because—I can see how there are different levels of communication—I can say a word or a phrase to you which would trigger a response, whereas somebody else possibly wouldn't even catch what I said.

Rose: Absolutely.

Question: And this then is what you're saying about people bypassing or just not picking up what the other person is saying because they haven't developed themselves, or haven't attuned their attention to that type of thought level.

Rose: Yes. You may have the same vocabulary but not the same meanings for the words.

Question: Very interesting. Now another thing—with this dissatisfaction with contemporary religion, young people are turning to other sources such as transcendental meditation, or anything like this where you get a temporary sort of therapeutic relief. How does this differ from the techniques used by your group?

Rose: Well, we state quite bluntly that we are not desirous of bringing anyone peace of mind. We want to bring you trouble. We want to stir you, to shake you. Because protoplasm tends to inertia. You have to keep irritating it, to keep it alive so to speak. It has to be continually stimulated. So complacency for a person who wants to progress in his mental capacities, is negative.

Now again, let me give you the other side of the paradox. There are people for whom reaching this (complacency by way of soothing chants or visualizations) does a world of good. These are people who are burnt out, or wore out, or who have fought a tremendous battle, a psychic battle, and they are tired. They have to recoup—and this is ideal for them.

But the mistake that we make is in thinking that any one of these systems is in itself unique magic. For instance, TM is no different from say the chanting of the Krishna people, which will bring peace of mind and contentment. It is no different from the saying of certain prayers by the various Christian religions. Repeating certain prayers can bring peace of mind.

The thing is, I'd say, that we got disgusted with our Christian religion, so we're going to buy the same article with a foreign stamp, that's all. We're still going in for an emotional answer.

Now there is a big complaint that I have about this in regard to people who are deeply esoteric. If it's peace of mind that a person wants, I'd say that TM is as good a thing as any. I think it's a very efficient system; it does the job. But if you are interested in finding your self-definition then you want to abandon any system that quiets you down. You want to become turbulent. You want to continue to waken yourself, to arouse yourself mentally, to attack your systems of thinking. Because you want an answer.

In other words, invention is parented or fathered by adversity. If you don't have trouble, you're not going to think.

Of course, there are many religions and many approaches to religion that just give you an answer. This is what I call a concept structure. They say, "Look, this is the way it is. Heaven is such a category. And this is what happens to you when you die. But of course, it depends on how faithful you were to the church or how many sins you committed. Naturally, all are not going to go to the same place exactly. In heaven there are different pigeonholes, limbos or purgatories or whatnot, for different categories of people."

And this is all a concept structure without any basis in proof. We have no data—and people never stop to think about this—we have no knowledge of anyone returning from purgatory with his wing feathers burnt. We have no data on any of this, but it's all accepted as faith. And some people are content with this. Others are content with the religion if it is a utilitarian thing, as I said before.

Now there are a few movements today that are more or less encounter groups, and some people will join these movements just to get a better understanding of what I call the small 's' self. These are a lot of people realizing that as society becomes more complex the individual human becomes more mad, especially if he starts off by kidding himself.

So we are entering an era of truth, there's no doubt about it. These numerous encounter groups that you have over the country are aimed in this direction. The people are going to go in there and sit down and say, "Let's re-examine our values. Our definitions."

Now I go a step further than this. If it's possible to tell something about our group, I'd say that we talk about capital 'S' Self-definition. We realize that you have to start with small 's' self-definition, that is, just the mundane self. But then after you look awhile—follow a process of looking directly within yourself—you then begin to understand that there is a more total self, a more real self. And this we have to define.

And when you define this you are answering the old directive that has come down through the ages, which very few people paid any attention to. That is, "First know thyself," And that's what they meant—not just to know your shoes or your hands or your ears—but to know actually your essence. But this is all brought about by starting with the mundane self.

~ Continued in the April 2001 TAT Forum

This 1974 Kent State University WKSU radio interview is printed in The Direct-Mind Experience. © 1985 by Richard Rose. All Rights Reserved.

anonymous love poem

i love
shirkers & slackers
rationalizers & procrastinators
liars & thieves
lovers who love their lovers
parents who love their children
children who love their parents
siblings who love their siblings
teachers who love their students
students who love their teachers
friends who love their friends
bums & beggars
the naive and trusting
hiders & seekers
silent sufferers & loud complainers
the confused & conflicted

Thoughts on the Limitations of the Finite Mind
by Bob Fergeson

I have often marveled at my ability to repeat the same mistake, often repeating a pattern of mistakes steadily down through the years. This observation runs contrary to a feeling that I'm actually getting smarter, or better, as the years run by. One also hears this from one's peers, that we used to be pretty stupid way back when, but now, thank God, we're better. As we look at the younger generation, we see them repeating the patterns of folly we suffered through, and realize we can do little to help them with our experience. A little self-observation, and honesty, will also show us that we ourselves are only getting better relative to our own mistakes. The man we were 5 years ago was not as smart as the man we were yesterday, but much better than the one of 10 years ago.

This apparent progression from the ignorance of our past to the sureness of our present state can be seen to be only a relative shift. Though the mistakes I made in the past month may not be near to the seriousness or frequency of the time of my adolescence, I still made them. I will most assuredly make more in the future. If we look at this seeming progression from relative ignorance to relative wisdom, we see that it is still not a real change. We are still functioning with a limited finite mind, even though it seems to be becoming more efficient. This seeming movement is merely a statistical one if we look at it a little closer.

There is an old illustration we might find useful in better understanding this. If a ball is dropped, it appears to travel through space until it finally hits the ground. If we look at this in another light, we can see that this apparent movement, leading to a contact between ball and ground, is not as it seems.

If we take X as being the distance between the ball and the ground, and then look at the ball when it has traveled one-half X, and then repeat this several times, we find that the ball, according to this system, will never hit the ground. It will always be only halfway there, regardless of what numbers we assign to X.

No matter what numbers we give to the distance between the ball and the ground, if it only travels half of these numbers at a time, it will still not be in a different position relative to the ground. To finally make contact with the ground, a total change of being will have to occur. The ball and the ground will have to enter into a common relationship, or they will have to become one unit. Let us look at our three objects, the ball, ground and seeming distance between them, in another light.

If we take the ground to be another ball, but of infinite mass and circumference, from the perspective of the smaller one we would see a plane stretching in all directions, from horizon to horizon. The finite mind, or smaller ball, could not conceive of this in any real way, it would be unaware of the ground, or infinite mind, having nothing to gauge it against. It's only relation would be one of attraction, a gravitational pull leading from multiplicity and ignorance back to the state of contact and oneness.

If we equate the state of wellness with that of Enlightenment, and the state of sickness with that of ignorance, we can get a better look at the illusion of getting better. When we read of the experience of men who have made the change to the Absolute state as described in works such as Cosmic Consciousness, by Richard Bucke, we find they describe it as sudden. There is no "better" state, but a sudden, complete change. The ball hits the ground and is a separate thing no more. We are also told by men who have made the trip to Reality that there is no learning about it, you become it. The ground is always halfway away until you merge into it. The ball cannot learn about the ground, it cannot get better, it can only get well, or become. This sudden Wellness, or Becoming, is spoken of by the Zen teachers of old as Satori.

If we view the ball as having freedom of choice between directions, either moving towards the ground or away into the void, we can see another fallacy. The ground, or infinite ball, would appear to the smaller sphere to be so uniform, motionless and never changing as to be practically invisible. A projectile cannot be fired at an invisible unknown object, it has to have a direction to its movement. The best way the ball would have to facilitate movement towards the Infinite would be to retreat from that which it knows, this knowledge being finite. Since the ball has been existing in the realm of the finite, it need simply move away from what it thinks, or knows not to be the Infinite, and in this manner back into the ground by a retreat from error.

The gravitational field of the ground would also attract the ball, if the ball would allow control of its actions to be governed by it. This could be compared to the surrender of our will to a Higher Power, or the allowing of something greater than ourselves to run the show. This would necessitate the perfection of not only the reason, but also the intuition, to screen out other attractions of a less desirable nature. Much time and effort could be wasted on tangential directions perhaps prompted by less than infinite objects.

Let's look at this from another angle, one of the ball, or finite mind, being ego. The ego is best described as the relationship between the sentient and insentient. From this point of view, the ego's efforts to become less finite, or more clever, are still seen to be a hopeless struggle. We can look at the man who comes to that point in his life where he realizes how much he is like his father. Perhaps not liking this state of affairs, he may devise new schemes to escape. He becomes more clever. Still, if he is honest with himself, he will see that not only has he learned the ego-tricks of his father, he has added new ones of his own. He has mired himself more completely into error, and still is only half-way home, heading more and more deeply into multiplicity.

The men who have made the leap into the Infinite speak not only of having made a relentless inquiry into their own nature, but also of a surrender. The ball may find that the Ground of All Being will come to it, when all is said and done.

Poems by Shawn Nevins

The words will come,
Everything will come,
The door, the path, the end—
If you see.
Everything rushes in to fill your death.


Huang Po was right on
And John Davis, too.
Richard Rose became the All,
Merrell-Wolff left many a clue.
Harding sees through his head and to the other side.
Bernadette turns within and naught does she find.
Maharshi speaks, but would much rather not,
Silence is closer than talk.
All have been to the place you have not,
Where you leave your self behind.
Get there by hunger, get there by pain,
Strive your whole life through.
Look at the looker, then he might crack,
To reveal the God that is True.


It is scary, but in the End,
When the last blow has fallen,
The last dark secret revealed,
And the last pain has come,
You will find you were a dream.

How Can You Live Life Fully?
by Shawn Nevins

How can you live life fully? Perhaps you know of adventurers who watch sunsets in the Himalayas. Perhaps you know of monks who tend tiny gardens with meaningful strokes of the hoe. How is your life in comparison? Are you grinding out the 8 to 5 in front of a computer, or immersed in the pointless noise of campus life? You want something called fullness of life—where you actions carry meaning; where you are aware of your actions and fully conscious of life. Vague stuff when you try to convey it to someone else, but you know it is more than a dream.

A few people decide that experiencing more is equivalent to living a fuller life. In other words, more Pepsi in the glass will make the Pepsi taste better. An entire life is spent moving through increasingly exotic experiences, never realizing it is the experiencer which is the source of the problem. It is you that suck life dry. The telescope distorts the view of the moon—the moon is as it should be.

Life is as it should be, but you do not know this for certain. The solution is more than just accepting the bad with the good—animals do that quite well. To see life as it is, you must first examine the perception mechanism—you must first question your definition of your self. The possibility exists that you are more than a perception/reaction machine. You may find you are that from which life emanates. From that superior perspective, your present-day struggles to fully experience life will seem unimportant. Your very existence will be unimportant and the question of living life fully will vanish. To illustrate this point, here is a poem playing on the Zen story of the man chased by a tiger:

Sages say a man was chased by a tiger,
Finally clinging to a root above a canyon.
As mice chewed his handhold, he ate a luscious berry.
Let go of that root,
No need to wait for mice,
The berry is as empty as air.

To live life fully you must study the self that lives. Obviously, you recognize it as the source of your problems and not the external world. We can see the beauty in the grime of battle or make a sunset into a bore. To study the self, you must first gain some control over it. You must be able to focus upon a difficult subject. You must redirect your energy from its outward direction. You must conserve, focus, and use your mental and physical energy to discover the false aspects of your self—to continually refine your self-definition. For practical steps to take in studying the self, I suggest you read Richard Rose's paper "The Three-Fold Path," the Meditation Papers, and papers six through eight of The Albigen Papers.

Affliction to the Individuality Sense
by Bob Cergol

When we look at an affliction to the individuality sense—assuming we don't get sucked right back into the original conflict—the viewing breaks the identification with the individuality which suffered the affliction. And in the process—perhaps by momentum—we become aware of watching, and then we realize that it's NOT JUST THE SNAPSHOT which is OUT THERE—ALL OF IT is out there, there's NOTHING in here except awareness.

The 'affliction event' is an affliction because it puts the ego in jeopardy. It DENIES ego. Attempting to view it helps us get to a point of being able to view it without emotion or reaction. At that point, I think awareness is identified with the ego one notch less. The realization that this process is occurring, i.e. one observes it happening, is the other pole of the 'triangulation leading to awareness of awareness.' (God, this thought is hard to get out right. I have been obsessed with this point. I see it so clearly in my mind but each verbalization I attempt in my mind comes out not saying what I see.)

It is simply a very potent form of the "Who am I?" question. Repeating that phrase was not Maharshi's technique. As soon as it becomes a mechanical repetition it becomes worthless. Self observation inspires analysis, which is very beneficial for personality adjustment, peace of mind, human understanding, empathy, etc. AND which I believe strengthens identification with ego. It is the act of observation alone which is a direct execution of the question "Who am I?" And in the act, unpolluted by analysis, or by any desire and any attraction or repulsion, you can simply wake up.

It is NOT about gaining insight. It is the sleepwalker who has the insight. The sleepwalker is not the real viewer.

Q&A with Bob Cergol

Q: Are you [i.e., people in general] ever right when you have an opinion about anything?

I'm always right! Of course all my concepts and verbalizations are the by-product of the totality of my experiences run through the mental apparatus. Even when it comes to transcendental realization I think each individuality has a uniquely individual reaction to it. Hence the wide diversity in writing about it, e.g. Bernadette Roberts versus Ramana Maharshi. That there is a discernible germ of commonality in the divergence of such writings is testimony to the universal nature of that which is behind it all.

Q: Is the Way a path for you, or an obstacle?

Rose always talked about there being an order to the progression of dropping egos. Everything ego-centric is an obstacle, but that which is working to manifest in us, which is also the vector that put us here, is manifesting through the individuality, so of course there is a convoluted and circuitous unfolding. It seems there is a secondary vector, that of individuality striving to define and affirm itself. This vector is but an echo of that impersonal primary vector, "that which is" and from which all is manifested. The path is a struggle to change the "balance of power" between them, regarding what will be manifested in us or given expression as us. Will the echo bounce all the way back to the source? Or will it get diffused and muffled on the return journey?

Q: If you did not seek anything, where would that leave you?

It would leave you just where you aren't.

MEDITATION: It's Not What You Think...
Part II
by Michael Conners

(~ Continued from the February 2001 TAT Forum)

An Example of Effortful Meditation

Let's try to distinguish between substance and appearance.

The mind and senses discriminate the appearance of objects of experience from each other using patterns of sensory conditions: size, color, sound, feel, smell, weight, boundaries, warmth, etc. And we assume that the characteristics of each object are the object and that our senses are merely receiving external data about it. That these objects do not exist except to the mind of the experiencer is not and cannot be discovered by using the senses which tell us that the objects do exist.

An example is the "wave" created at the stadium by people standing and sitting in turn. We see a wave, moving, but this wave only exists to our sense of sight; its only substance is people, standing and sitting. The wave is merely an appearance.

The people too are only the appearance caused by the body's cells, and their version of "standing and sitting."

The cells also are only the appearance caused by molecules "standing and sitting."

...the molecules by atoms,

...the atoms by subatomic particles,

...the subatomic "particles" are not really particles at all!

...they are waves in what appears to be nothing, to the mind,

...this apparent nothing is in fact the only real substance!

But it is not within the ability of the senses to comprehend this Real Substance which is at the heart of all objects of experience because it has no characteristics that can be perceived: no size, no limits or boundaries, no color, no texture, no odor, no motion (which are attributes of the senses themselves).

Knowing that to be true is the real Knowledge. Recognition of this situation can free us from the illusion of the world as real and present the possibility of our knowing the real nature of all existence to be a transcendental essence.

This liberation from the world of illusion and knowledge of the reality is enlightenment. Liberation then is not an experience. Real, doubtless knowledge alone is the essence of it. This is why liberation is always referred to as Knowledge, Jnana, Vidya, Self knowledge—and the sage as the knower of reality.

This is the supreme knowledge, the perfect knowledge.

Self realization comes when we Identify with the Eternal Omnipresent Existent, and recognize that as our innermost essence, our Soul, our Self.

To see the Real as our true Self is to become the universe.

~ Continued in the April 2001 TAT Forum with an example of "effortless" meditation ("letting go").


stockbroker visits guru on mountain top

~ Courtesy of Willem van de Weerd

Reader Commentary:

"If anyone wants the formula, it's in what Shawn Nevins wrote about persistence and self-honesty [in the February Forum]...." ~ David Weimer

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