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


TAT Forum

November 2019


Closing Doors

November spiritual gathering details
 

Contents


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Convictions & Concerns

TAT members share their personal convictions and/or concerns


Notes from a Dialectic of Enlightenment
One-day intensive with Adyashanti at the Spirit Rock meditation center - Sept. 2019


Description: The spiritual life involves a dialectical interaction between our relative selves and our true nature. The embodied human ego seeks its home ground and its liberating release, while our true nature seeks its conscious embodiment in the world of time and space. These two spiritual instincts are the enlightenment impulse experienced from the relative and absolute dimensions of our being, which move in cyclic relationship to one another within the human psyche. In this day together, we will explore the nature of the enlightenment impulse, which seeks to consciously embody both the transcendent and immanent impulses of our true nature.


[Began with 25-minute meditation, 10 minutes guided.]

Focus on belly breathing, then feeling the spaciousness around. Don't try to exclude thoughts. Find the balance point between following the thoughts and fighting them off. [Noticed the energy in the room is peripherality.]

Plunge the attention inside to get to the ground of being.

When you touch the ground of being you get transformed. "You don't just go 'meh.'"

It's human to want to live the insight.

The meditation bell rings and you come back to the external world.

Ultimately there is no inner/outer but it's a useful concept for now.

"Did you ever wonder who your mind is talking to?"

"If the only goal is to go within then the world is a problem."

"Form is emptiness and emptiness is form—that's the dialectic of enlightenment."

Look at a single thought deeply—that's a wonderful way to get your mind to quiet. Don't look at 1,000 thoughts slightly.

Any form of therapy is to get us to stop running away from our experiences.

"The key is to be experiencing what we're experiencing."

"You have to dance with, be with psychological healing in a certain way."

"This is the you who has no difficulty" [pointing to seated Buddha behind him]. "This is a physical representation of that":

Nepalese seated Buddha
Seated Buddha from Nepal.

See the complete set of notes from the intensive.

*

~ Thanks to Shawn Nevins, a former student of Richard Rose and long-time active TAT member. He described the above as:

Some notes from an Adyashanti day-long event I attended…. Perhaps interesting to others in the spirit of Rose's "looking under every rock." The quoted matter is at best a rough quote since I did not have a recording device, while the non-quoted matter is paraphrased. Material in brackets are my comments. Like any teaching, the words may sooth or disturb depending on how open one is to being honest. Perhaps my favorite line: "Self-inquiry 'Who am I?' Stop looking for answers and you stop entertaining the superficial level of consciousness. Be honest: do I know or not? I don't. This honesty plunges you into the unknown."

Shawn is the author of the recently published Subtraction: The Simple Math of Enlightenment. He also produces the SpiritualTeachers.org website featuring his podcasts of interviews with teachers.

quill icon

Would you like to share your impressions or questions with other TAT Forum readers? Please email your comments to the .


 

TAT Foundation News

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


cover of Falling for Truth: A Spiritual Death and Awakening, by Howdie Mickoski TAT Press's latest publication….

Falling for Truth: A Spiritual Death and Awakening by Howdie Mickoski is now available in paperback and in Kindle e-book format.

Explore Chapter 1.

Please add your review of Falling for Truth to the Amazon listing. It makes a difference!

2020 TAT Meeting Calendar

* April 3-5, 2020 (Claymont Mansion) *
June 19-21, 2020 (Claymont Mansion)
August 14-16, 2020 (Claymont Mansion)
November 6-8, 2020 (Claymont Mansion)

April TAT meeting details will be coming well before April


The following video recordings of presentations from a previous April TAT meeting are available on YouTube:

Richard Rose spent his life searching for the Truth, finding it, and teaching others to find their Way. Although not well known to the public, he touched the lives of thousands of spiritual seekers through his books and lectures and through personal contacts with local study groups that continue to work with his teachings today. Meet Richard Rose is a 34-minute audio recording of an audiovisual presentation by Michael Whitely at the August 2017 TAT meeting that explores the arc of Richard Rose's life as seeker, finder, family man, and teacher.


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 New Jersey Group:
The Central Jersey Self Inquiry Group has been meeting 2 times per month since our first meeting in early January this year. We have been averaging 5 participants at each meeting. Current outreach is our meetup.com page (above link) and word of mouth. Our most recent meeting topic was: "What is your biggest obstacle?" ~ Email for more details.

Update from the Central Ohio Non-Duality Group:
The Columbus group operated under the name OSU Self-Inquiry Group and met for many years in a church next to The Ohio State University. After attendance dropped off, the venue was changed to a local Panera restaurant, and the name changed to Central Ohio Non-Duality Group. The group has exposure to seekers through Meetup, but has only occasional visitors outside a core group of 4 people.
     Due to schedules, we have met infrequently the past semester, and in deference to an effort to try to do other things, like rapport sittings, in private meetings.
     Meeting format is a discussion format on topics of interest to seekers, and often bridges from the concerns, questions and interests of the core members in attendance into the topic which we intend to discuss. See the rest of the update.
     We continue to meet on Monday evenings at Panera across from The Ohio State University. ~ For further information, contact or . We're also on Facebook.

Update from the email self-inquiry groups:
An update on the women's self-inquiry group from Anima:
     The Women's Online Confrontation (WOC) group consists of weekly reports where participants can include:
     > What is on your mind?
     > Any projects that you want to be held accountable for?
     > Responses to a selected excerpt (in the previous report).
     > Comments/responses/questions for other participants.
     A philosophical/spiritual excerpt with two or three questions is included in each report. Based on what we share, participants ask questions to help get clarity about our thinking. The intention is to help each other see our underlying beliefs about who we are.
     One rule we try to adhere to is not to give advice or solve problems. The number of participants, to make it work efficiently, is between 4 and 7 including the leader.

Both the women's and the men's weekly email groups are active and welcome serious participants. ~ Contact or for more information.

Update from the Gainesville, FL self-inquiry group:
We continue to meet at the Alachua County library on alternate Sundays. ~ Email or for more information.

Update from Galway, Ireland:
Tess Hughes is currently working with seekers one-to-one and holding occasional group self-inquiry retreats. Anyone who's interested in self-inquiry activity in Ireland is welcome to contact .

   TAT Press publishes Tess's easy to read, profound This Above All, the story of her journey of Self-Discovery.

This is a new listing for the self-inquiry group in Goldsboro, NC:
The Goldsboro Inquiry Group (GIG) meets on the first and third Monday evenings of the month. We begin the meeting with a short reading, then sit in silence for 20 minutes before opening it up to what I like to call group assisted self inquiry. ~ For details on when and where, contact .

Update from the Greensburg, PA self-inquiry group:
The Greensburg Self-Inquiry Group is still in hiatus. I do plan to start it up again at some point as I see it as a lifeline to my own spiritual path. Things got stale with my group's participants, but I will e-mail them at some point to schedule another SIG meeting. In the meantime, I participate in a local "Socrates Cafe" group at the coffee house/art gallery where I have had my meetings. This group is not into esoteric philosophy as such, but they're supposed to be into "Socratic Inquiry," and I figure it's better than not engaging in any discussions with people. At least we sometimes touch upon spiritual matters, and this makes attending their meetings worthwhile. ~ Contact if interested in local self-inquiry meetings.

A new self-inquiry group is forming in Hartland, VT:
Located in central Vermont, along I-91, the group will be using TAT videos from past conferences as a primer for discussion. ~ Contact for more information.

Update from the Lynchburg, VA self-inquiry group:
We're currently using Alfred Pulyan's correspondence with Richard Rose as inspiration for our weekly gathering. We're perusing the letters during the week and then coming together to see what got our attention. This activity was inspired by several online groups who have used them in past years with good results. The women's group, run by Anima Pundeer, also inspired us as we already have some questions posed by Anima to go with each letter. It's always good to share additional questions among groups!
     We continue to meet at The Drowsy Poet cafe at Little Dickens Bookstore, from 6:30-8:00 every Thursday evening. ~ Email or for information on the meetings.

Update from the New York City self-inquiry group:
We meet every Monday in New York City's Financial District, where all great spiritual realizations take place ;) Our goal is to investigate and examine our beliefs (definition of examine: from Old French examiner "interrogate, question, torture"). We aim to serve as mirrors for each other, to see ourselves more clearly, in a group dynamic, within a safe environment. Recent topics include critiques of pema chodron, what it would be like to be god, and the consciousness of trees. If you believe something and are interested in doubting it, we are here for you :)
~ We have open meetings for first-timers; so if interested please reach out to or find out more through our Meetup link above.

Update from the Pittsburgh, PA self-inquiry group:
NOTE: Change in Location for 2nd & 4th Wednesday Meetings. We are no longer meeting at the Panera on Center Ave in Shadyside. Instead we will meet for coffee to get to know each other better on the 2nd & 4th Wednesday of each month at Panera Restaurant in Oakland, 3401 Blvd Of The Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, 7-9 PM. Look for the table with a green raincoat on back of a chair in order to find us!
We meet on the 1st & 3rd Wednesdays of each month, 7-9 PM, at the Friends Meeting House in Oakland (4836 Ellsworth Ave, PGH 15213). Last month's topics were:
- Wed, Oct. 2: "If I know I'm asleep, then why can't I wake-up?" Sleep is a common theme in self-inquiry, but what is the difference between asleep and awake? "Man is immersed in dreams… He lives in sleep… He is a machine. He cannot stop the flow of his thoughts, he cannot control his imagination… He does not see the real world. The real world is hidden from him by the wall of imagination." - G.I. Gurdjieff
- Wed, Oct. 16: The Difference between Closing and Opening Doors in one's seeking.
~ For further information, contact or .

Update from the Portland, OR self-inquiry group:
A small group of us meet most Sundays at a coffee shop. The format for our meetings is to give each person 20 minutes or so to talk about whatever is coming up for them in their practice and to answer questions from the others. ~ Email for more information.

Update from the Raleigh, NC Triangle Inquiry Group:
The Triangle Inquiry Group (TIG) meets on Wednesday evenings near NCSU. The inquiry process that we practice is essentially subtractive in nature, identifying 'what I am not', while exposing our false certainties and limiting beliefs; thus we are revealing the underlying truth of Who We Really Are. By asking honest, open, respectful questions that invite reflection, insight and the deepening of one's inner knowing, and by simply being present with our attention and sincerity, we create a space for direct seeing into true nature. ~ See the website for more information.

Update from the Richmond Self Inquiry Group:
The Richmond Self Inquiry Group has been off to a slow start, and is still seeking consistent participants. Once a small steady group is formed, this often attracts more interest and things evolve from there. The Meetup group is private, which aims to foster the creation of a committed gathering of individuals. Clearly there is a potential downside to this as it limits visibility and exposure to potentially interested persons.
     For those reading about the group here through the TAT Forum, please know that you can certainly attend without being a member of the Meetup group, just shoot me an email any time if you're in the area and we can communicate about future meetups.~ Email for information about upcoming meetings and events.

Update from the Rockville, MD self-inquiry group:
We've switched to meeting weekly, Wednesday evenings, whether or not a "quorum" of three can make it. The Rockville, MD public library rooms can be reserved exactly 6 days and 12 hours before a meeting's end time, so it's been a challenge to get a consistent room among the five available, but it's a consistent group and the walls are glass, so so far figuring out the room hasn't been an issue. ~ Contact for more information.

Update from the San Francisco Bay area self-inquiry group:
See the Shawn Nevins interview by Iain McNay of Conscious.tv, kicking off the publication of Shawn's book Subtraction: The Simple Math of Enlightenment. ~ Email for information about upcoming meetings and events.


Members-Only Area

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.

TAT's August 2019 Workshop was titled Beyond Mindfulness: Meditation and the Path Within and included three guest speakers who each led separate workshops. The following audio recordings are now available in the members-only website area:

TAT's June 2019 Spiritual Retreat Weekend was titled Between You and the Infinite. The following audio recordings are now available in the members-only website area:

TAT's April 2019 Spiritual Retreat Weekend was titled Once in a Lifetime is Now. The following audio recordings are now available in the members-only website area:

TAT's August 2018 Workshop was titled Beyond Imagination and included three guest speakers who each led separate workshops. The following audio recordings are now available in the members-only website area:

Please us if you have questions. (Look here for info on TAT membership.)


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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.

 

Humor

"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


ZEN KOAN


Zen koan





Let Us Pray


Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize winner from Cape Town, South Africa, tells the following: "There is a story, fairly well known, about when the missionaries came to Africa. They had the Bible and we, the natives, had the land. They said 'Let us pray,' and we dutifully shut our eyes. When we opened them, why, they now had the land and we had the Bible."

As long as there are tests, there will be prayer in public schools.

I've taken a vow of poverty. To test me, please send money.

Ever stop to think, and forget to start again?

I don't have a problem with willpower. It's won't power I have a problem with.

My life has a superb cast, but I can't figure out the plot.

Life is sexually transmitted.

My reality check just bounced.


~ Thanks to Enlightened-Spirituality.org.




the ego in our heads is the real burden we carry

~ Thanks to TAT member Bob Fergeson. Spotted on the Thinking Art Facebook page.



We're hoping to present more humor from 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

Naked Through the Gate


Recently I read Joel Morwood's spiritual autobiography Naked Through the Gate, and I believe it can be a valuable read for most seekers. He begins with his experiences from youth, his intuitions about something higher, and his fears about death during his childhood.

Later, during his college days, his focus in life turned mainly towards the world. First he tells us how he joined a political group that was trying to create a Marxist material utopia until he became fully disillusioned with that pursuit. Then, as a young adult, he decided to make money and become a successful businessman in the movie films industry. He achieved that goal, but eventually he became dissatisfied with his material prosperity.

Subsequently, he narrates how he become interested in symbolism and Jungian psychology as a way to understand himself. That allowed him to go deeper in his search, but eventually he also became disillusioned with the psychological focus and detailed intellectual analysis of symbols. As he has a vivid imagination, he shares many dreams and visions he had, which I believe allow the readers to get an idea of his state of mind from a perspective that complements the narrations of the conflicts he was facing at different points in time. Eventually he learned about the teachings of the mystics, and he became wholeheartedly committed to the spiritual search even though he still had some attachments, which he lost in a final disillusionment period that lasted some months and led him to his awakening.

I enjoyed reading about his feelings, thoughts and keen insights about the processes of becoming dissatisfied with things he once considered valuable. It allows the reader to get in his shoes and understand to some degree his changes in attitudes and goals at the different stages of his search. He kept a journal with his experiences since he was young, so he was able to retell with detail what happened in the various periods he writes about.

I believe it's a good story of a progressive retreat from untruth. He is a talented writer, and his story reads as an entertaining novel, but nonetheless it narrates a real psychological transformation.

*

~ Thanks to TAT friend Sergio F.


 


Louis L'Amour quote

~ Thanks to Bob Fergeson, who spotted it on the Latigo Ranch blog.



To Do or Not to Do?


From Shawn Nevins's interview with Jan Frasier an interesting question occurred to me: "If this activity had no 'spiritual' value, would I do it anyway?" The "spiritually conventional" answer might be "no." The "non-spiritual" things I do "should" be limited to 1) things that are necessary to survive, 2) the things I have committed to in exchange for being part of society, and 3) the things I lack the self control or will power to avoid.

But how do "I" "know" what things have "value" to the search? I don't. So my answer to the question ("if this activity had no 'spiritual' value, would I do it anyway?") is counterintuitive: the things I would do anyway are most important.

This answer has two benefits. The first is that it acknowledges to myself that I don't know what's useful to waking up and what isn't. The second is that it helps me let go of an accomplishment-oriented approach to seeking. To elaborate: when I sit down to meditate, I may do it because I believe that it will help me reach my "goal," whatever that may be (e.g., Realization). So I pay attention to whether and how it is helping me reach that goal. At the expense of just doing it. In other words, it leads me to subtly always ask, "Is this working? Is this the right approach? Should I try a different style? Give it up entirely?" These questions only matter if I think of what I'm doing in terms of being spiritually "productive." But if I admit that I don't know what progress is or how to recognize it, then I can meditate with less attachment to the "outcome." A good or bad meditation doesn't exist then; those concepts only exist in the context of a goal (good or bad for…what?; like how soup may be good for a cold; but if there is no cold, you can just enjoy the soup).

So now I look at the things I would do even if I KNEW it wasn't helping me move along on the path. I would still meditate, because it makes me feel different than I normally do; I find it makes my mind more pliable; meditating is also interesting because I can learn about my own mind by watching it in an intentional way which I don't usually do during the day at work. The things I would still do are also the things that speak to me, my heart. Spending time with people. Playing basketball. Listening to a podcast on spiritual discovery.

A quote from Anima Pundeer: "Not for any personal gain, enhancements, happiness, love, bliss, blah-blah but because you want to know love for the sake of love."

~ From TAT member Brett S.




"NOW"


I look at "NOW" in the past tense.

And it breaks my heart --

Because from the perspective of the immediate present, Presence,

"The Now" straddles two viewpoints:

One looks at the dream and its poignant beauty,

The other looks at Reality, the Source of Awareness --

And the realization that all manifestations of individuality and the relationships among individuals is an illusion --

That can barely reveal the Love that defines Reality and Awareness.  

~ Thanks to Bob Cergol, who commented: "I found this, titled 'Christmas 2011 Musings,' when browsing file archives for rapport readings at the upcoming TAT meetings. It's poorly articulated … the point here is that the perspective of the 'other side' overlaid on the perspective from 'this side' results in the 'now' being always past—and it generates an experience of 'joyous pain' for the personality living on 'this side.'"




Please your thoughts on the above 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?


The composite question we asked readers for this month's Reader Commentary:

Do you consider yourself to have a spiritual teacher? Without referencing a name, describe your relationship with this teacher, and how have you benefited? Any advice for someone seeking a teacher?

Thanks to a TAT member who wishes to remain anonymous for these questions. Responses follow.


From Robert W:
I have a teacher, and the relationship is one of friendship but also a sense of extreme respect for the confidence he has in his knowledge and the skillfulness and generosity in sharing this.

This description also describes what has impressed me so far in my brief experience with TAT and my first retreat in August.

From Brett S:
I consider myself as having lots of spiritual teachers. I think there are people I really enjoy talking with, people I enjoy listening to, people whose advice I ask for, and random people who say things that get me thinking. The definition of a teacher is "someone that teaches." There are people I go back to over and over, and talking or simply being around them inspires me to reflect, feel, or take action. I think it's very important that you have at least one person you can talk to about anything you'd want to share. For someone who is seeking a teacher, I'd ask why. Is it because you don't know what to do? Is it because you want someone to tell you what to do? Is it because you don't trust yourself or doubt your inner compass? What do you want from yourself as a student? For example, are you ready to follow their advice no matter what? If so, why? If you're willing to "do anything," why not listen to your own inner guidance?

From kas:
It is difficult to express, to westerners in general, and the non-dual crowd in particular, my attitude towards the primary teacher in my life.

In 1972 at 18 years old, I was initiated by a swami into a popular yogic tradition. I don't say I considered him to be enlightened, but he came to us at our level and gave us some very practical tools to start our journey: a meditation technique, diet and lifestyle tips to clean up our lives, and perhaps most importantly, a belief in the possibility that one could awaken in this life.

Through that first teacher I learned of an Indian guru who taught a spiritual path with similar techniques and disciplines, but which also had more of a Bhakti (devotional) element. I received initiation by this teacher in 1975 and considered him my teacher until his death in 1990, traveling to India to spend time with him in 1983. I had no doubt that he was fully awakened.

After his death, I never had the same connection with his successor, and gradually began to explore other spiritual paths. But the inner, spiritual connection I have with my teacher has never left me. It is the inner nature of this relationship (both now and when he was alive) that most westerners have difficulty understanding. There is a presence within that represents a kind of touchstone that focuses or funnels my efforts to their highest effectiveness and always (as long as I am paying attention) reflects the clarity I need to take the next step.

Whatever else I do in my search, it's like I always have a big brother who's got my back.

We tend to think of a human teacher in a personal sense, but the real teacher is an inner, non-personal (experience?). This "inner" teacher is not a human being, but more of an aperture into the void, a gateway from the dual into the non-dual (as paradoxical as that sounds). But then all contradictions disappear when that final step is taken, whatever path got you to that point.

People argue over whether a human teacher is necessary, but I can't imagine walking this road without that connection. It would just be the blind leading the blind.

Advice: Do your research. Then, trust your intuition.

p.s.—As a last minute thought it occurred to me that this poem, written as I was loosening my rigid grip on the guru's teachings and exploring other approaches, might shed some light on how my relationship evolved. Use it, or not, as you see fit.

                  Untethered?

Tethered tightly to my Teacher
      I have trod this trail
            Of tears and terror,
                  Tranquil in His Truth.

But now, somehow, I've slipped the knot
      And must, I find, somehow design
            A tether of a different kind

To move about within this world
      Unlike a fetus, tightly curled,
            Within a womb of hope:

Outstretched, newborn, unbound
      And yet…

To say untethered is not so
      For tethered by His Love I go
            A'wandering in this world.

                                    kas - 2000

From MT:
At the moment, I don't have a teacher who is a person I can see physically, but I can ring several people associated with TAT if I feel the need for advice/etc. When I have done this, the energy connection helps me stay motivated and lifted. I also find reading books by a few enlightened writers enormously helpful. Prayer and contemplation are a big part of my focus these days, and although it is somewhat hard to explain—through intuition and listening—the voice deep within of the Divine guides me…although this guidance can sometimes be absent, sometimes dim, at other times strong…depending on how permeable I am to this Light.

From Author still unknown:
I have a living teacher, and I also feel I am blessed with guidance. The teacher is part of a combination of influences I consider as guidance, his role in my case being primarily the deconstruction of identities and prompting access to the heart. Nisargadatta describes perhaps an ideal relationship with the teacher as one of love and trust. I interpret that as surrender, for what two words could better describe this path of abandoning everything I have ever known, believed or with which I identify not only through, but also in exchange for, guidance. The greatest handicap to my relationship with this teacher is my identity of a separate being or ego that fears surrendering to another separate being, rather than (simply) abandoning "separateness." It seems a contradiction, despite the role the teacher plays, but I believe that all guidance comes from within, and like grace is a gift not earned by or bestowed upon an individual. Rose also teaches that we eventually become a direction with intensity rather than an individual seeking. And, as Nisargadatta states, one's efforts when sincere and intense will receive the guidance necessary—it is to be expected and simply makes itself available.

From Patrick K:
I believe I have a spiritual teacher, a really good one. I read his books and do an online written self-inquiry group with him. My relationship with him through that platform works out as one of intrigue and real gratitude for his guidance. His questioning, having read through my reactions to the questions posed in the group inquiry sessions, have led to real direct implications as to how I view my experience, helping me on my path of Self-definition. He has inspired me that there is an ultimate answer. I think that the most important thing is that deep down I trust him.

Advice: Try to work focusing on defining what the problem is. I am only starting to begin to see the ultimate problem as being the existential dilemma (why am I here?, and who am I?) and a corresponding desire for spiritual enlightenment. A teacher should draw out those elements within you that will supplement your own search within, rather than imposing their ideas and bias. After a while searching, I get the feeling there are a lot of people claiming to be enlightened that are not, so “caveat emptor” applies.

From Leesa:
I've had two people I've called "teacher" on this path. I met them about the same time and felt secure in seeing and learning from both, often on back to back retreats in any given year. On the surface they were quite different—in demeanor, practices they suggested, and backgrounds. They even knew of each other and found the other to be…lacking in some ways ;-) This became increasingly funny due to the fact that the more time I spent with each, the more I heard the same voice speaking through them—I'd never be able to convince them, though. One thing they both spoke of, continually, was Love. I use the annoying capital letter because I want to differentiate it from what most of us know of love. As of yet, I've only felt a reflection or shadow of this. I find being in the presence of either—confrontational. Maybe that comes from the fact that I can't use them in ways I use others—projection and subtle manipulation. Maybe they just don't tolerate the BS and something here knows it. That, to me, would be a sign that you've found a good teacher—you're both drawn to and repelled by the them at the same time. It often feels like there's a lot going on beneath the surface, a resonance or an attempt at ‘tuning in' that's not always comfortable or consciously recognized.

The teacher I no longer have contact with (due to distance) is the one who spoke of "love for the teacher," an impersonal love, one that has nothing to do with the bag of flesh standing before you. She felt this was the sign of having found your teacher. Funny, I finally get what she was talking about, but for the other one, the only teacher who has ever reached out TO ME to see how I was doing. The explanation was…that's just what Love does.

Lastly, I'd say that a teacher is one you call "friend"…and that could just as easily come from a fellow seeker.

From Sunil V:
No, there is no one teacher who has become a model for me. Not one, but many. And I am grateful to all of them.

I look at teachings rather than teachers. Transmission of wisdom can be not only through words but gestures or asanas and physical contact as well.

I categorise these teachings into two broad categories; theism and atheism. Theistic teachings like the Gita, Bible, Vivek Churamani directly or indirectly point to God, Shiva or unified consciousness. In some, they appear as living god or divinity and in others they are passive observers. I find advaita a veiled theistic path where god has taken the form of Self, Consciousness, Awareness, Presence, Rigpa, the Divine.

Buddhism is the most well known of atheistic teachings. The emptiness teaching is at the heart of what Buddhists find as the ultimate cure for human suffering. There is no divine, there is nothing.

Personally I can only find nothing but like the idea of physically experiencing this emptiness which can be subtle to drastic.

Ultimately a complicated conditioned story called you must find out that this is a story. No teacher can make that happen, they can only show you what you would look like when you do find out, either over decades or in a flash of time. Find a guru if that's what you feel, but in the end you have to come back and see you. You are the ultimate teacher.

A composite Reader Commentary question, from TAT member Daniel O, for the December Forum:

I'm always wondering how people balance a spiritual search with their career. Or rather, in my case, how they try and fuse the two, and the conflict of interest that arises from making a living at it.

Please your responses by the 25th of November and indicate your preferred identification (the default is your first name and the initial letter of your last name).



Q: What are your thoughts on this month's reader commentary? 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 TAT Forum?


Niagara River below the falls

Niagara River below the falls. Photo by TAT friend Kelly V.



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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.


Going Within


~ Thanks to TAT friend Gábor Hényel


Homing Ground Update

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

We are still very much in brainstorming mode for bridging the gap between our original design and the funds we've raised. If you have ideas or suggestions, feel free to Shawn.


Driveway entrance from Thomas Green Road.

In the meantime,

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Alternatively, you can mail a check made out to the TAT Foundation (for instructions on mailing a check, please the TAT treasurer).

For additional background, see the Homing Ground page.

In friendship,

Shawn Nevins
on behalf of the TAT Trustees


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