I enjoyed Mark's description of Paul Brunton's teachings. I originally misunderstood the terms "long path" and "short path," assuming that, being paths, they both arrived at the same destination. After reading excerpts from his notes in the July Forum, the distinction became clearer to me. My own sense of the difference is that between having a question and being a question. If one has a question, the one who has the question frames the nature of the question. For me, since I identified myself with my thoughts, the nature of my question was one that I thought about, that is, the question I had was a question within thought. I tried to obtain an answer by thinking about it, but my mind never produced anything definitive. However, I never reached the conclusion that I couldn't find the answer, because this conclusion is a negative, and it is impossible to exhaust all possible wrong answers as they are infinite. Therefore, my long path was the path of exhaustion. It took me 30 years of not finding to realize that the nature of my question was different than I had assumed. Still, this was not a conclusion of the mind, the result of reasoned argument, it was a conclusion made real to me as an act of grace. I don't think that is presuming too much in describing how a profound and previously unattainable understanding occurs. My question is beyond thought, so the answer is beyond thought as well.
"Daffodils in Douglas Harding" drawing © Jane Adams. See Jane Adams Art: An illustrated journal of eastern and western wisdom, for her August 1, 2014 Douglas Harding posting.
Obviously, this is not easy to talk about, so let me use an illustration, a Douglas Harding-like experiment, to demonstrate another example of the same kind of meta-perspective. Sit and concentrate on the frame of your experience. Notice that there is a distinction between what is perceived, that which is in the field of attention, and the attention itself. When you try to look back at the attention, there is a void out of which the attention seems to originate. If you frame this as seeing out from the back of your head, you have what is in front (the view) and what is behind (the void). When you have this framing of your attention firmly fixed, reach up and touch the back of your head. Is what you touched in front or behind? Obviously it is in front since it is in the view, yet spatially, it is behind. What this demonstrates is that your attention is not a part of the 3-dimensional space that frames your experience, it is outside of space. Space is in the view. In the same way, my question is outside the "view" of thought, and I will not know what my question is until I become the question and know myself. According to Mark's description of Brunton's teaching this is done as "you learn to trust more and more in the Higher Power." This sounds like surrender to me. But, this is another problem of the same kind, that your identity on one level can't surrender itself, it must be surrendered.
In all of these examples, failure to realize the higher perspective keeps one on the long path whereas looking to the higher perspective enables the short path. It is at this point I am extrapolating, not speaking from experience, since I am not yet my question. I am on a different path than before, but I'm not sure the path is short at all. I don't know if this is consistent with Brunton's teaching or not, but it is one way I was able to attempt a reconciling of the distinction between the "long path" and the "short path" with my own experience.
~ Thanks to Dean Nelson, who has been an active TAT member since 2010. Dean added this humorous analogy to how we back away from untruth to find what we're looking for:
When I was in the Navy, there was a joke often told to the new guys. One day a sailor began walking around, picking up and looking at pieces of paper that he would look at and say, "That's not it." He did this all day long, "That's not it," "That's not it," "That's not it," until he was finally confined to his quarters while his commander arranged for a medical discharge. When led into the commander's office one day and handed his discharge, he took it, looked at it and said "That's it."
Comments? Please the Forum.
TAT Press's release of Tess Hughes's first book, This Above All: A Journey of Self-Discovery, is now available in Kindle e-book format as well as paperback.
"I learned that enlightenment isn't just for an exotic person from by-gone eras. This potential is in everyone, and this is what all seekers are seeking." ~ from the back cover
Willing to share your impressions of This Above All with other readers? Please add your review to the Amazon listing and/or it to the TAT Forum.
See this month's Reader Commentary below for Forum reader reviews.
April 15-17, 2016 (Claymont)
Jan Frazier, author of When Fear Falls Away: The Story of a Sudden Awakening and The Freedom of Being: At Ease with What Is, will be a guest speaker at the TAT fall gathering during the weekend of September 2-4.
Her essay "What I Wish for You" provides a taste of her view:
Register for the TAT fall gathering, Who Am I?, which takes place Friday-Sunday, September 2-4, 2016.
Downloadable/rental versions of the Mister Rose video and of April TAT talks Remembering Your True Desire (details).
An Amazon Challenge: Funds raised for our Homing Ground project through Amazon purchases were at $914 by the end of last month. The challenge was to bring it up to $1000 by the this Forum issue. It is amazing to think we will have raised $1000 by doing nothing more than making purchases on Amazon! Every time you want to buy something on Amazon, follow this, or any other Amazon link on TAT's site, and a percentage of your purchase price is credited to TAT. It's easy and costs you nothing: Amazon Purchases.
To keep the link handy, bookmark the Homing Ground page in your browser or add a shortcut on your desktop. Just click the Amazon link on that page and order away.
See the TAT Homing Ground section below for an update on the challenge results.
Local Group News
Update from the weekly email self-inquiry groups:
Both the women's and the men's email groups are active and welcome serious participants. ~ For further information, contact or .
Update from the Galway, Ireland self-inquiry group:
The July 8-11 self-inquiry retreat in Co. Sligo went well, and most of the participants signed up for the next retreat, which will be held on the last weekend in October and led by Tess and guest Bob Fergeson. Check the website "Events" tab for more information.
Update from the Lynchburg, VA self-inquiry group:
We've made a reservation at the Eagle Eyrie Conference Center near Lynchburg for a Sun. Nov. 13 - Fri. Nov. 18 retreat prior to the TAT meeting on Nov. 18-20. There are currently 23 participants committed to coming, including leaders Anima Pundeer, Paul Constant, Shawn Nevins, and Art Ticknor. ~ E-mail or for information on meetings.
Update from the Portland, OR self-inquiry group:
We have a number of regulars now, maybe 6 or 7, and have gotten to know each other well enough to see some patterns and ongoing issues. This has changed the tenor of the meetings, in a good way. One of the biggest challenges now is how we can bridge the gap between a philosophy meetup that has an unusual format to working on the Albigen System. ~ Email for more information.
Update from the Raleigh, NC Triangle Inquiry Group:
The Triangle Inquiry Group (TIG) is planning a retreat for October 1st and 2nd in conjunction with the Center for Mindfulness and Nonduality. Confirmed presenters for the October 2016 retreat include Paul Hedderman, Jenny Clarke, Gary Weber, Doug White, Bob Cergol, Paul Constant, and Anita Avent. See The Nature of Identity/Beyond Self for details and registration. ~ Email or .
A password-protected section of the website is available for TAT members. The area contains information on product discounts for members as well as a substantial amount of helpful and historical information, including audio recordings, Newsletter archives, Retrospect archives, policies, conference proceedings, business meeting notes, photographs, and suggestions for ways to help.
The audio recordings of presentations at the April 2016 TAT Gathering by Bob Cergol, Paul Constant, Bart Marshall, Shawn Nevins, and Saima Yousuf are now available in the members-only web area.
us if you have questions. (Look into TAT membership.)
Amazon and eBay
Let your Amazon purchases raise money for TAT!
An easy way to contribute to TAT is to click one of our Amazon links. Next time you want to make any purchase on Amazon, simply visit the TAT Press webpage and click any of the Amazon links. It doesn't matter what you purchase, TAT will receive from 4 to 6% of the purchase price of the item. It costs you nothing extra, and helps TAT. Try it now.
Beyond Mind, Beyond Death is the latest of TAT's books to be converted to the Kindle ebook format. All of the TAT Press books are now available on Amazon in a digital format.
TAT has registered with the eBay Giving Works program. You can list an item there and select TAT to receive a portion of your sale. Check out our Giving Works page on eBay. Click on the "For sellers" link on the left side of that page for details.
There's more background information in the TAT Homing Ground section below.
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.
From the Bali Buda store in the Sanur area of Denpasar, Bali. Photo by Ike Harijanto.
We're hoping to present more 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.
More on Transcendence
My reading of that Pulyan excerpt on Ego 1 / Ego 2 earlier this evening has been bouncing around my thoughts while watching the [July 4th] fireworks on TV tonight.
Let's define Ego 2 as the personality and Ego 1 as the sense of "I am alive as me" behind that personality.
I think it's become an increasingly common "New Age" experience to see that personality as "non-existent" – and that is a relatively easy experience to come by.
But it is not the transcendent experience of "no-self" Bernadette Roberts writes of, or on the same level as Rose's writing in "The Three Books of The Absolute":
The resting in the peace resulting from the acceptance of, and [imagined] freedom from, personality is just as removed from the Absolute realization Richard Rose pointed to and Zen masters point to, as the Salvation Experience of someone declaring "Jesus, take the wheel ." It is not the discovery of one's Final Essence – that which was never born and which never dies.
I think the proliferating spiritual experiences we hear more and more of today are manufactured by Ego 1, and the reason is that the wide-spread, conventional teaching of today's "New Age" movement, known mostly today as "Non-dualism" and Advaita starts with a premise – a conclusion – and prescribes techniques declared in advance as leading to that conclusion.
It seems defining God in man's image is as alive and well today as in every other bygone era.
Rose asked everyone: "What do you know for sure?" and warned as soon as you postulated an answer before discovering it – you were done, finished, before you even properly started and not in the sense we hear often in seeker's accounts today to denote the success of their quest.
So this mass of evolving human consciousness that only the "gifted" ones seem able to clearly recognize appears to me to be quite the opposite – and the standard devaluation of any currency that becomes the currency of the masses.
It is only possible to arrive at a sense that "God is within" because we abide only within God, and that which sees, alone, can see what it is .
How is that giant ego that keeps God himself captured within going to arrive at that Truth by a process of addition – the addition of experiences that confirm the pre-ordained definition of the answer?!
I equate Ego 1 with self-consciousness, the pure "I-Am me" (no personality required!) which is born from the body-mind apparatus, and realizing the nature of the self in this mundane world (ego 2 or personality) is not self-transcendence or Self-Realization. Ego 1 is the self I write about in my poem The Other Side, repeatedly pointing to it with questions like: What sound was it that you first heard that made those ears your ears to hear? .
Nisargadatta writes in I Am That:
I think this realization of That which is behind Consciousness itself is the realization Nisargadatta and Richard Rose spoke of – and my conviction is that it is not the same thing that so many very popular – and very well paid I might add – leaders of today's version of "New Age" spirituality speak of as Enlightenment.
It might explain why "Enlightenment" has become so seemingly common-place, and why even those who are not enlightened seem to know so much about it
but so little about That which remains when nothing of them does.
To steal a page out of Richard Rose's book [i.e., Psychology of the Observer - Ed.], Pulyan's Ego 1 / Ego 2 description seems akin to the Process Observer. It is the mind in its maximum capabilities, the mind bending on itself. It can be quite shocking for a person to make a sudden leap inward by realizing they aren't their thoughts and feelings. However, it's usually just a grand doorway to something deeper. If a person is fully self-honest, it will become evident over time that there's more to the story .
The second type of experience is becoming nothing, emptiness, one awareness. It is often experienced as a temporary death of the mind. If small "s" self is entirely stripped away – even for a moment – then essentially the fear of death is removed, and there's a large degree of freedom from thought-suffering and emotional suffering. It's possible that some may confuse this boundless nothingness with someone else's description of "everythingness." The aftermath is often related to the introspective groundwork beforehand, which helps prepare the seeker for the shocking realization they don't exist in the way they perceived themselves.
The third type of experience is becoming everything. It is the other side of the coin of the Absolute because it contains the relative. It contains all things. In a way, it is a rebirth that essentially removes the fear of love and life because it opens us wide to what is. Our inner and outer Being merge. And there's a large degree of freedom to think and feel authentically instead of resisting our personal flaws.
I can't affirm that these three experiences occur in any particular order, or how many people experience each. I have a hunch that Rose experienced the latter two simultaneously at age 30. Additionally, each person is wired differently and raised in a different environment, which leads to varying degrees of conditioning and suffering and hence enormously different descriptions of the experiences and their subsequent impacts. But until a person experientially understands the simultaneous experience of nothing and everything, Reality remaining aware of Itself – the person hasn't yet realized his or her full potential.
I feel that spiritual constructs and beliefs still remain even with someone who is deeply realized. But these become much easier to see through. There's an increasing comfort with paradoxes. And a dynamic equilibrium between body, mind, and Essence takes root, which is a magical balance that unfolds in everyday life.
So, with the caveat that the older I get the less I know :-), I see these as
the three main transcendent experiences among modern-day finders. This might add to Bob's explanation of why Enlightenment – an overused word that is now on par with the word God – seems so commonplace.
Please your thoughts on the above items.
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?
Last month the Forum staff asked the question: "What's your (very own) haiku?" (See some characteristics of haiku in the July 2016 Reader Commentary section.) Responses follow.
In 100 words or less, what are your ways and means?
Submitted by Brent P. in his response for the July 2016 TAT Forum. [Richard Rose used the term "ways and means" in contexts such as this end paper of The Direct-Mind Experience: The Path to Truth, or Reality or Essence - Ed.]
Please your responses for next month's Reader Commentary.
Reader reviews of This Above All: A Journey of Self-Discovery by Tess Hughes
From Louise F:
I was touched by the generosity of Tess sharing her search for Truth. There was no preaching, no shoulds, just raw love in all her facets. I have already read it twice and know it will be a book I return to, many times.
From Eric C:
Many spiritual autobiographies leave the reader feeling that one is not graced with some needed gift – superhuman passion for meditation, or an all-consuming absorption in the quest which one has not yet experienced. In Tess Hughes's new book This Above All, inspiration abounds for us ordinary seekers of Being. I found similarities in the psychological nature of the author's journey to the path of many seekers: From her early question "What is character?" to dream work, to self-observation experiments that she designed herself, to self-inquiry, and to a devastating encounter with the shadow near the end of the journey. And, as all Finders share with us, psychological work and our identification with mind comes to a permanent end as the identity shifts to "what we really are, Awareness."
Read her exciting, unique offering and you will find much inspiration and honest writing to help propel you on your journey Home.
From Leesa W:
There's a great story, here – but more importantly, there are clues to both the pitfalls on the path to Self-discovery and some gems about what might be the key – mainly self-inquiry. Tess is open about her experiences and her self-doubt along the way. You can palpably feel the trust that begins to develop as her intuition guides her all the way Home. She shares what she felt were the best practices, the ways and means, of getting there but is very clear that she had to go the last few steps alone. She is quite clear and direct but with a down-home charm that's very endearing.
From Colm H:
I read Tess Hughes's book This Above All recently and I got a lot out of it. I really liked how it was written and structured using the Ox Herding pictures. I thought having a chapter related to each picture with Tess explaining her journey on the Path in relation to the picture was very beneficial and informative, giving a real life perspective. Each chapter also opens with a quote from John Koller and then closes with a quote from Bernadette Roberts about the Ox Herding Pictures. Again, I thought this was done very poignantly. Overall, I think Tess has really brought classic teachings alive in a very clear and accessible way. I'll refer back to This Above All often I feel.
From Diana P:
I finished reading Tess's beautiful, generous book last night and am utterly speechless – which is, I guess, the appropriate response to such a manifesto. There are three impressions which struck me immediately upon reading the first chapter and which remained with me for the duration. First, is the aforementioned generosity throughout. This is a very personal book and at the same time almost clinical. Secondly, the way she organized the chapters of her own growth and development around the ox-herd illustrations and commentary was brilliant. And lastly, the writing was clear and faithful to the truth of her experience. (And this is no small feat, given the nature of some of her experiences.) I see this book as becoming a classic guidepost for those endeavoring to understand their own journeys of spiritual growth.
From Mark S:
This Above All is about Tess Hughes's life; it's about her spiritual journey; and it's about seeing through that distinction. She recounts her journey in such a way – whether it's the correspondence with the ox-herding pictures or her complete openness and directness – that makes clear the "inescapable relevance of our daily lives" to the spiritual path. What I valued most about This Above All is the inspiration to look at my life, the whole of it, to see what's really going on.
From Paul S:
Tess Hughes's long awaited spiritual memoir, This Above All, is a book of many rare qualities. The author, having preferred relative anonymity for several years, is increasingly becoming well known and influential in spiritual circles for her singular teachings. And this book will seal that reputation. This Above All is an antidote of sorts for the current age in that it does not take the easy road of diluting the message for mass appeal. Although that is what it deserves.
The most apt title comes from the famous verse in Shakespeare's Hamlet - "This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not be false to any man." And to delineate her journey to its conclusion, she has made brilliant use of the zen parable behind the Ten Ox-Herding Pictures, adapting it to the stages which at the time she unknowingly passed through, and then through hindsight a personal and universal progression was revealed. She ends each chapter with an interpretation of the parable by Bernadette Roberts, the modern day Carmelite mystic, who in some regards could be considered as Hughes's Soul Sister. Coincidentally, I was reminded of Roberts's classic book The Experience of No-Self in reading this one.
Hughes articulates lucidly her permanent discovery of what the title alludes to. Of what the American mystic Richard Rose referred to as a golden find beyond the mind. Though this memoir will no doubt appeal, and should appeal, to women seeking inspiration from an awakened woman's perspective, it is meant for all serious lookers. It would be a great loss for men to not take this book as seriously as some of the spiritual classics written by men. The writer is one of those rare individuals who is mentally ambidextrous: formidable in her ability to think with incision and progression, and feel with subtle and intuitive discernment. This capacity served her well in her quest to become free of human suffering....
Read the rest of Paul's review along with other reviews on the Amazon listing of This Above All.
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 TAT Forum?
Glacier and hiker. Photo by Smith, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Wikimedia Commons.
We like hearing from you! Please your comments, suggestions, inquiries, and submissions.
On the Reaction to Problems, and the Problem of Self-Identification
There is much to be said of attitude. Attitude is a sort of reaction pattern. There is eternal duality in reaction, as well as in all things in nature. There is also the eternal paradox.
There is hardly such a thing as indifference. It may be an ideal but it is almost impossible to realize. Nature abhors a vacuum. The weed that does not fight for the sunlight dies. Of course it dies eventually, and this inevitability tempts one to throw up his hands. But one never does, completely.
So that we have two courses, to act, or not to act. The path of Action is more compatible with our mechanism. Complete non-action is physical death. And often too intense action toward a single objective brings frustration, limited knowledge, and failure even to achieve the one objective.
However throughout the trivial thoughts and also the more meticulously prepared philosophies of man, we find an endless wavering between the urge to take action, and the lassitude of non-action prompted by futility. There are those who say, "Fight for salvation." There are also those who preach predestination, and of throwing oneself limply into the hands of the Almighty. Then there are such peculiar combinations as those who actively fight for salvation, but who become rutted into one channel of action and are indifferent to their progress. And there are those who believe in predestination yet live in fear (then this fear must be token of the insufficiency of their convictions). There are professed fatalists who worry, who build up fortunes and fight.
To take action, is to answer the challenge of life, and is good. To remain indifferent to our own mortality, to possible ultimate failure in the quest of the spirit is good. But this should not deter our quest, even though we stand upon the threshold. Thus singleness of objective is good, but not to be so aloof from humanity as to lose valuable teaching, or to be so intent upon one path that the comparative study of others is lost, or the constant reckoning of our efforts by observing parallel seekers.
Thus we find that through all things is woven the eternal paradox. That which seems to be the rule has often many exceptions, and interpretations.
We had a challenge last month to break $1000 earned from Amazon purchases, but we fell short of the mark by $45. Someone missed the perfect excuse to update their television set.....
(To keep the link handy for Amazon purchases, bookmark the Homing Ground page in your browser or add a shortcut on your desktop. Just click the Amazon link on that page and order away.)
It was a quiet month as well on the donation front, with funds raised and pledged now at $202,979, making us $47,021 short of the goal. In the meantime, however, Bob Harwood has been hard at work discussing building plans with the TAT officers. His experience in constructing highly efficient and cost-effective structures is a godsend. His building estimates will drive the budget for the land search, and we currently estimate about $70,000 will be available for land. Hopefully, by this time next month we will have building sketches to share and a finalized land budget.
To invest in the Homing Ground project, mail a check made out to the TAT Foundation (for instructions on mailing a check, please the TAT treasurer).
Or you can use PayPal (though we lose 2.2% of your donation to PayPal fees) by choosing 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.
I thank each of you who have donated and pledged and look forward to the day we set foot on our new home site.
on behalf of the TAT Trustees
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Beyond Mind, Beyond Death is available at Amazon.com.