What Will That Avail You, Ozymandias?
I write this as I sit watching the Presidential election returns. What concerns could I have? As numerous as the sands of the Ganges. By the time this is actually published, a new set of concerns will have washed away the old. The sun rises and falls—my mind always searching for some sign of trouble. And Richard Rose said "But the sky was there through all ."
I love the process of poetry—a blank space in my mind fills with words, conveys a feeling that at its best is a reaction to "conscious contact," as Paul Hedderman likes to phrase it. That implies there is also "unconscious contact," which is why one may claim we are all already enlightened and there is nothing to be done. We just don't know it. I will attest conscious contact is highly preferable to the dimly comforting armchair theory of unconscious contact.
But back to the story of the poetry which is the story of the word and the story of self. If you get interested in deconstructing the workings of the mind you can watch this happening. First, the mind has to come under some control, as Richard Rose said. Find a path of interest that leads you to study your internal landscape rather than being totally focused on the external. That interest will inevitably lead to noticing the rising and falling of experience from and into nothingness. The word came into manifestation, like a sound on the wind, like light in a darkened room. A poem was born from nothing, and then it was claimed by me. "I did that." What nonsense.
At best, with all of my determination, desire, will and intention, I manage to stand a few moments at the window of consciousness and see the light of the moon.
When was the last time you walked on a full-moon night, and noticed the filmy, ethereal nature of what seemed most real during the day? How moon-light is closer to nothingness? How a word springs forward, and is caught by a self that leaps into existence as well. A cascading of stories, passed from one self to the next, one form to the next, until the original meaning was lost. The direct experience was forgotten, and all we had were stories.
Notice the space from which and on which words and all experience occurs. Does the noticer of the space reside in some other space? Or do noticing and noticer reside in the same space?
Even if you discount all of this and claim the Universe as yours, what will that avail you, Ozymandias? Look for yourself. Where did you come from? Where are you headed? From where does a word arise and where does it disappear?
We are so blessed, to be here now, in this moment, with this opportunity. Election be damned. Such is the conviction, born of a word cascading forward, turning back upon itself saying "I have had enough of my adventure, into endless possibilities of my self ."
~ Thanks to Shawn Nevins, who has been an active TAT member since the early 1990s and was the second of Richard Rose's students to reach sahaja nirvikalpa samadhi (a recognition of our true nature, which continues with the resumption of daily activities). See his websites SpiritualTeachers.org, with its new podcast interviews, and Poetry in Motion Films.
Ozymandias was a Greek name for the Egyptian pharaoh Ramesses II. Percy Bysse Shelley, one of the major English Romantic poets, wrote a sonnet of that title, which Shawn alludes to in the above essay. See Shelley's Ozymandias in the Inspiration & Irritation section below.
March 31-April 2, 2017 (Claymont Mansion)
Downloadable/rental versions of the Mister Rose video and of April TAT talks Remembering Your True Desire (details).
Local Group News
Update from the Central Ohio Nonduality group:
We continue to meet as two or three people at Panera across from The Ohio State University, and have had some luck in attracting more attendance than at our previous church venue. It seems that the Meet-Up site advertising the Central Ohio Nonduality Group attracts more "joiners" than active seekers. So, the next strategy is to begin to push content out to those who are simply readers and joiners, to see if we can prompt some action. ~ For further information, contact or . We're also on Facebook.
Update from the weekly email self-inquiry groups:
Both the women's and the men's email groups are active, and we welcome serious participants. Contact or .
Update from the Gainesville, FL self-inquiry group:
We continue to meet at the main Alachua County library on alternate Mondays and Sundays. We're looking into the possibility of a January weekend retreat at Horseshoe Lake Park in rural Ft. McCoy, FL. ~ Email or for more information.
Update from the Galway, Ireland self-inquiry group:
In addition to meetings in Galway city, satellite groups are now meeting in Cork and in Dublin. Tess Hughes, along with guest Art Ticknor, will be leading a retreat in Tallaght, Co. Dublin, on May 26-29. And in October (27th-29th), Tess and Bob Fergeson will be leading Awakening Together's fall retreat in Colorado Springs, CO. See the Events page on Tess's website for details.
Update from the Greensburg, PA self-inquiry group:
We continue to meet every other week at our usual location with our several regulars. Topics in November included "A call to think " where each participant was asked whether they examined their convictions thoroughly, and "Free Will or Destiny?", where participants were asked whether destiny could be altered through an action of the will. This latter topic inspired a spirited discussion between some of the participants over whether there was such a thing as destiny, and whether miracles were possible as an outside agent. ~
Update from the Lynchburg, VA self-inquiry group:
26 people participated in the Sunday-Friday retreat at the Eagle Eyrie Conference Center here on 11/13-11/18, and 20 of us continued to the Nov. 18-20 TAT meeting in Charles Town, WV. ~ E-mail or for information on meetings.
Update from the Pittsburgh, PA self-inquiry group:
We hold public meetings on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of each month at the Pittsburgh Friends Meeting House in Oakland. We're distributing two different posters each month for the next four months as part of a push to contact people on campus (U. of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon U.) who are already thinking about these things. Also, there is an ad that's running in the Carnegie Mellon "Spartan" news (printed and online). We're also using Meetup.com to send our version of a "weekly reader" to the members and browsers. ~ For further information, contact or .
Update from the Portland, OR self-inquiry group:
Our recent meetings have been especially focused and productive. We have a core group of regulars, and they seem to appreciate the purpose and format of the meetings. Because most of us have gotten to know each other pretty well and there is a basis of friendship, confrontation has become more direct. In a few weeks, we are holding a one-day retreat. ~ Email or for more information.
Update from the Raleigh, NC Triangle Inquiry Group:
The Triangle Inquiry Group (TIG) meets on Wednesday evenings near NCSU. ~ Email or for information on local meetings.
Update from the San Francisco Bay area self-inquiry group:
The Hollow Reed group is planning a weekend retreat in Middletown, CA on March 3-5 with special guests Paul Hedderman and Michael Taft. ~ Email for details.
Update from the Tallahassee, FL self-inquiry group:
We continue to meet every other Tuesday at the downtown public library. ~ Contact , or find the group on Meetup.com.
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, and Bob Harwood's presentation from the June 2016 TAT Gathering was added recently.
us if you have questions. (Look into TAT membership.)
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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.
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A sonnet by Percy Bysshe Shelley
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
'My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
Nostalgia As Refined Feeling
Submitted by Dan McLaughlin.
Do Not Reach for Enlightenment
We're talking about Enlightenment, but at the same moment I warn you: Do not reach for Enlightenment. Do not reach for it. Because you're postulating something. The only thing you can see is erroneous thinking; this is the only path that you can follow. You can witness erroneous thinking that may get you into trouble or give you trauma. You retreat from that, and the path automatically takes you toward that which is correct – by avoiding the massive amount of that which is ridiculous. And that becomes a way of life.
You have to inhibit some of your energy outflow in order to accomplish anything. And you have to inhibit it quite a bit if you want to accomplish something on the maximum effort; and that maximum effort is self-attainment, or self-realization.
That'll give you more potential in whatever field you want. Whether it's making money or whatever. Spiritual laws are the same as financial laws: Results are proportional to energy applied.
Excerpts from part 4 of Richard Rose's "Intro to the Albigen System" talk (see the Founder's Wisdom section below).
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 does love mean to you? Is it helpful or a hindrance on the spiritual path? Or is it irrelevant?" submitted by Paul C. in his reply to the July 2016 TAT Forum inquiry. Responses follow:
From Pgh member:
For me, love has always been something hard to describe or explain (that's the logical part of me speaking). I also think that it is something that is experienced through being honest and revealing if I become a more-feeling and less-thinking person.
From Vince L:
I've often been asked about what love is and have maintained that it is first and foremost something that is selfless, or a "selfless giving" if you will. Now whether this idea of love is actually being "selfless" I am not sure of because there might be an element of self-interestedness in it. Ego is still there, I suspect. But in any case this notion of selfless giving is what love has come to mean for me. And I would also maintain that this idea of love as selfless giving is helpful as well as relevant, and not a hindrance to my spiritual path. This is because my intuition is telling me that whatever the "Unmanifest" is, it is without a self, and this is what true "Love" is. So that while I can't say I know for certain what love is in my relative state of mind, yet, in my attempts at selfless giving, as I understand it, I am trying to "manifest" the "Unmanifested" in my everyday actions with all whom I interact with. I guess you can say I'm trying to reflect Unmanifested Love with my manifest being.
From Elsa L:
LOVE (the selfless, unconditional) is what we are; our true nature. The spiritual path is our journey to realize IT.
From Seth B:
It seems to me that rather than being helpful, a hindrance, or irrelevant – that love is the path, love is the way. Jesus said "God is love." Not "God is loving," or "God is like love."
I feel as though if I could really be broken open to love and live it in my daily experience then this is all that is needed. I have experienced glimpses and tastes of this ocean of love. Yet, I forget it, and forget that I forget it. There is a deep longing for that, and I am working on contacting and living in tune with the deepest love I know. There is fear there fear of annihilation and fear of being alive in the world as a totally vulnerable heart.
From Mike Mits:
I've heard so many people say love hurts. Love never hurts. Maybe the aftermath of romantic love can leave one wanting or feeling that something is missing, and maybe it is. But love does not ever hurt.
Love is a multi-faceted emotion, not only is it the sense of romantic love, but also in the sense that it involves being so completely in tune with what is present right here and now and being totally grateful for it. Love means Trust, in such a no-effort kind of way, that there is absolutely no thought having to be behind it. It's total awareness, and being in love and connected with everything that is NOW. Whether I am loving a person, a walk in the woods, my dog, working on a table saw, or even meditation, I am 100% devoted and connected to whoever or whatever has my attention.
It's very helpful and necessary in the spiritual path as I believe attention and loving what is, is exactly what I was looking to do. And while I am not always in that mind, I do become aware that it is always there.
From Saima Y:
Love, with a capital "L", to me, means to have a burning heart, to know, to be the Truth, by living it, no matter what. This is helpful and a great guiding light, but also very difficult on the spiritual path, a double edged sword made to kill me. In spiritual circles, one is told, and intellectually, can understand, that there really isn't an "I" that needs to be enlightened, or awakened. But when it comes to practice, and someone does something, or something happens that doesn't suit "my" agenda, then that is when the test is taken. Do "I" get emotionally vested? Do I identify as the storyteller? Or does Love reveal reality for that split second? By Grace or Love, (who knows?) one sees the "I" grasping to stay alive. This "seeing" allows me to "let go" or surrender "myself", even in times that are extremely difficult. After surrender, there is a recognition that there is no "me" to be making decisions, and that makes everything feel much lighter, peaceful. This is the process which, although heart wrenching, can be described as unconditional Love, in my humble opinion and experience. It is a Love that liberates the Lover. And it definitely doesn't seem irrelevant. :)
I keep practicing this process Stepping back when I notice, and asking "Who is afraid/anxious/mad, etc?" I keep studying "Saima" and her reactions. I gotta say, it is tough! Very emotional stuff. Hopefully, "I" won't survive this. Ha :)
From Chad N (www.nueverest.com):
Love is the one voice echoing in the eternal ocean of bliss. Unshaken though its trembles reverberate in the hearts of those that hear. Erotic whispers calling for the inner masculine and feminine to remain infinitely united. This is Divinity. This is Love. You are this.
Love is not essential; it is essence. Divinity touches humanity unleashing the quickening that is this moment. Space and time collapses to here and now so that the adept may hear and know. These are just words, sigils, and pointers. Stop looking for Love. Dissolve into the Love which permeates the very mechanism bamboozled into seeking it. Love is seeking Love. Observe the ouroboric pattern manifested as the artificial self. De-mesmerize yourself. The dragon's tail seduces the dragon into a seemingly infinite chase. The tail seems so far away, separate, and foreign. Yet is the tail not part of this Love Dragon. Leave the tail alone. Take wing. "Lift your vision higher," as Robert Adams says.
The prodigal son and the father are one. The bride and groom are one. The seeker and the sought are one. The lover and the loved are Love.
From Isaac H:
Here is my response to the inquiry while it is still fresh in my mind after a session of discursive meditation: "Love," of course, means many things. In one sense, Love is the whole reason for the spiritual search – both the goal (true divine union love) and the motivation (the paradoxically full and empty feeling in my chest that you might also call longing). In terms of brotherly love, it is what ties friends together and gives them the compassion to work through the many issues that arise when deconstructing the psyche. In terms of love of an idea, falling in love with "Truth" or even just the idea of having some measure of control over your life, the idea that you can build your will and go after what you truly want, is essential. In terms of Eros, while falling in love with another human may be a bit of a distraction, ok, it may destroy your life, it's because it puts you in contact with that primal transformative power that seems to me to be behind all life. Being so close with another human shows you parts of yourself you didn't know, and possibilities you might not have thought of, while also being one of the greatest feelings in the world. Irrelevant? Lol.
From Corina B:
I don't think love is irrelevant. People often have a preconceived notion of love, but love as a whole defies stagnant, preconceived notions. It is also, as I've come to discover, impersonal. In the best of ways.
I think as we grow, from children into teens, then adults, our ego develops, and we want so much to believe that love is that 'magical, mine and mine alone' flutter of energy that makes us so special, and will draw, in its time, another special 'soul' or 'souls' to us. At least, that's what my experience has been. Into adulthood, that notion is challenged. At every turn. Not only are we starting to suspect we're not that special, but the magical quality of 'love' as we have conceived it, fails so many tests. Especially in relationships. It fails the test of glamour and attunement, or having another person think as one with us in all things. It fails the test of time, as we see it fluctuate up and down, decrease and increase, according to our moods, and to the moods of the person/people we love. It fails the test of 'specialness' as we see that overtime we're no longer as attractive or interesting to those we love, simply due to the fact that we become familiar. It fails the test of self-anger, and self-hatred, for when those powerful emotions come to the surface, love scurries away like a wet rat looking for a dry place to warm its tail.
Love, if you look at it in this light, is the greatest betrayer of your life. The magic that you thought was with you all along, will fail you, without doubt. But, is that really love?
After much introspection and self-doubt, I have come to see that it is but ONE face of love, the one that we, as fallible human beings, want to believe the most. It is the love the ego built, the love that helps you stay special, and what wouldn't we give, to feel and stay special, against all odds, against all the battering that life has given us? Why, we'd give everything.
But what of the love that, as the Bible tells us in Corinthians 13:7, "bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be restrained" and on and on (disclaimer: I'm not a Christian; I just like books). That seems indeed to be a side of love that has, well, quite eluded me most of my life, and by the looks of it eludes so many people. The love described in those verses is quite impressive. It is also, as I've come to believe, not human. Not in a bad way, not inhuman. Just impersonal. Unattached, say, to a specific person's mood swings, or preferences, or anger and self-hatred. It is, quite simply, extraordinary. How could I, a mere person, possess such a power that will bear all things, and endure all things? Well, I couldn't. Not as a human being. I'd have to become something else, in order to see if it's truly that powerful. But that requires me to give up my idea of myself as being a special, an oh so very special, human being, so to see if true love exists. Love demands a great sacrifice of us. Our 'specialness' must be laid bare on the altar to love, and we must burn it willingly, in hope that something better awaits us ahead. It's a great risk.
In all its actions, and all its aspects, true love will hinder us, in the best of ways. It will hinder us and harass us, as a dog that's always chasing us, the Hound of God, God's love for us, to surrender to something greater than ourselves. The fear of not knowing what that something is, only increases the sacrifice we must make. And yet, it must be our choice, we must be willing. I have stood many times, cornered and trapped in a dark room in my mind, with the hound of God at my throat, blind and desperate in my helplessness, and still I would not give in. The 'rebel' in me could not give in, to what the mind knows not. "I will not give you an inch," I cried, the fool's rebellious cry in the deepest of miseries and despair. And never was I forced. You won't be either. What awaits you, or me, on the other side of surrender, I cannot say, for I am not there yet. But I hope it's true love. The kind unmoved by time, by my moods and emotions, by my mind, by other people, by life's battering. I hope it's the love that I have hoped against hope to find, my entire life.
From Mark S:
When I think about moments of intimacy in my life – romantic love, my month-old daughter sleeping on my chest, feelings of deep connection after a Zen retreat, rapport with TAT friends – the common element seems to have something to do with wholeness, with making or becoming whole. In my experience, love for something unknown is the heart of longing and in this sense the heart of the spiritual path.
From Mike G:
For me, Love is much deeper than the corrupted use in reference to sex. It appears in differing degrees in my relationships with family members, and I found it strongest in connection with my parents and children. For much of my adult life, I also loved a false self-image. So, on the one hand, the deep feelings kindled as a child have been positive in developing a sensitivity and rapport which have helped me as a seeker. On the other hand, self-love was a disgusting revelation and was in the way of more genuine relationships for decades.
The deepest Love I have experienced, however, was in rapport with others, and is far more than a temporal feeling prompted by projection of one upon another. This deep Love connects at what seems to me an essential level – without emotion, physical attraction, or projection – just Love. In one particular case, it was felt by both parties, and the impact on me lasted 6 months. Afterwards, the experience returned as a feeling, simply by recalling the other party's eyes.
So, Love in the context of genuine friendships and rapport is very positive for a seeker, but can be easily confused in male-female relationships. At a deep level, it is clear to me that Love can be a path to Truth. When present, it had the character of a long-forgotten state of Being.
From Mike W:
Love, for the most part, remains a mystery to me. There are times when, unsought, peace and joy are discovered under all of the stuff that swirls around within. And that bright, clear, warm radiation can be expressed in relationship with others. But, is that love? The love of the poets, or the philosophers and the mystics? I don't know.
Whatever that is, it's too powerful to be irrelevant. But it remains to be seen whether love will reveal itself to be helpful or a hindrance for me on the spiritual path.
A few years ago, before my heart caught fire, I couldn't even imagine the role of love on the spiritual path. Later, while basking in love's glory, I knew it wouldn't last with that intensity for the rest of my life. Alas, love of this nature comes and goes. But thereafter, the experience opened me to love, always .
But there's an even deeper love, one that isn't personal or transient, a love that unites all mortals. Such love is eternally and unconditionally wide open and pours through the core of our being. It doesn't help or hinder the spiritual path—it is the spiritual path. In a moment of total surrender—a surrender that isn't ours—we can return home to our True Lover, who waits patiently while we're hypnotized by the games in life.
From Jeroen van R:
Love, to me, is not what all the pop songs sing about. All that talk about "I love you, please love me too and be faithful to me" seems like mere possessiveness to me. Doing something kind for someone else without (consciously) expecting something in return seems closer to love, like a parent who gets up in the middle of the night to comfort his or her baby. It is not as emotionally charged as an infatuated love affair, but maybe love is not so emotional anyway. Yet beyond all this there seems to be a capital L Love that encompasses everything including the person doing loving or unloving acts. Sometimes I feel so much larger than the body/mind person from that place where love, wisdom, power and many other "spiritual qualities" seem to well up without even trying. Melting in Love, that seems to be a wonderful spiritual goal.
What is thought? Is it an asset or a hindrance on the spiritual path?
Submitted also by Paul C. in his response for the July 2016 TAT Forum. Please your responses for next month's Reader Commentary.
Other Reader Feedback
From Bill K:
I printed-out Paul Constant's "Shifting Our Attention" from the November 2016 TAT Forum and find it very useful as a daily read to begin my morning meditations. I did not attend the October intensive [in Raleigh, NC] at which Paul delivered this presentation, but I found it the perfect guide for the November Lynchburg intensive in which he also participated. He describes the 1% of my efforts on my path as opposed to the rest of my work of my spiritual ego preservation assured by reading, browsing web sites and idle thoughts about the work. His article has definitely helped push me from the one up to a two-percenter and hopefully more. The seven headings of Observations and Tips would be a perfect agenda for a meditative intensive that he might lead in the future.
I thought that the November Lynchburg intensive could have benefited from more quiet time and rapport sittings. All the right elements were there: the right people, the right intentions, the venue, and the teachers, but I feel there was too much chit-chat – and I chit-chatted more than most (my apologies to my victims!). Probably because of enthusiasm of being with so many serious participants willing to reveal their personal journeys, exciting discussions were to be had with anyone willing to converse. This is the third TAT-related intensive I've attended in the last year and must add that each has allowed me in some unexpected way to "turn a corner" that may not have been otherwise possible. I believe that I have also learned that it is imperative to have that quiet time and, necessarily, that day or weekend alone to allow the quiet time to happen.
From Liam F:
Is my heart empty, full or half-full? What fills my heart? What empties my heart? These questions seduce me. They speak to a curiosity I have about the content of my heart and what is my experience of my heart right now. What are the qualities of a full heart? Is it a sensory organ which is a feeling centre of being human? What prevents me from knowing a full heart?
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?
"Cloud Cover," water reflection photo by Phaedra Greenwood (See Phaedra's blog.) "I find them mesmerizing, as if they point to the dimly-felt Reality behind the noise of the mind. They quiet the mind and draw the attention past the illusory motion and into a backdrop of stillness." ~ Shawn Nevins
We like hearing from you! Please your comments, suggestions, inquiries, and submissions.
Introduction to the Albigen System
The following transcription features rare material from an early lecture of philosopher, poet and author Richard Rose. The talk, based on the speaker's own experience, describes a way of life aimed at understanding that life a self-directed retreat from untruth a common-sense, non-dogmatic approach to spiritual realization.
[Ending paragraph from Part 3: For instance, if you were to die tomorrow and you had accomplished a million dollars in the bank, it might make you miserable trying to get back to spend it. What good would the million dollars do you? What good would the Presidency of the United States do you? If you disappeared off the horizon that quickly – as you always do.]
Q. Well that's the hard thing for me to grasp, though. There seems to be an implicit statement that this lifetime becomes kind of meaningless in comparison.
R. Yes, yes. Well, you're not old enough to see it yet. But it will come to you regardless of whether you're enlightened or not. When you get so old you'll see it; you'll see it as sure as
In other words, a person that is hungry and able to experience is very difficult to convince. But the irony is that once you become sated to a point where you say, "Hey, what was that, a bubble?" – then it's too late to go back and look. Because your arteries have hardened. You can't go through the persistent disciplines and strains that are necessary, unless you go through a death experience or something of that sort.
History shows that the majority of people who have reached the maximum have done it before forty. Or at death. You can reach it at death at almost any age.
But regardless, the conclusion I came to when I was young was that I didn't know who was living. When I spoke I didn't know who was speaking; I didn't know which of my egos was speaking.
Commissions earned from Amazon purchases stand at $1,182. The biggest shopping month of the year is here, so let's make this our biggest month of the year for commissions! (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.)
Funds raised and pledged are now at $204,757, making us $45,243 short of the goal. The property near Raleigh mentioned last month is still in play. Additionally, during November we had a promising meeting regarding leasing a parcel of property in West Virginia. Hopefully, I will have more to report on this in the next issue of the Forum.
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