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


TAT Forum

April 2020


TAT April 3-5, 2020 Spiritual Retreat Weekend Banner

Attend TAT's April Spiritual Retreat Weekend—New Beginnings

Homing Ground Update

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

Hurdle Mills new home for TAT

See the TAT Homing Ground Update section below for how you can help prepare our new home for the April TAT meeting. We need more action from Forum readers!


Contents


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Convictions & Concerns

TAT members share their personal convictions and/or concerns


Effort vs. No Effort


In looking back over my journals for the past couple of years (an illuminating exercise), I stumbled upon some notes from a talk given by Paul Hedderman. I had added my own concerns and doubts about effort versus non effort on the path. I think he has a reputation for being anti-effort—that if practices come from "what you're not" (the one who's hoping to get somewhere), then you're just solidifying the bondage of self. I had a direct quote from those notes, "If you look for what you are FROM what you're not—you strengthen it." Many of us hear this message and stop there—it's a great place to rest from all the effort, and we have an expert to back us up! This message is espoused by many others, too. Fortunately, my own inner doubt machinery starts to churn back up.

In reading further in my notes, however, I noticed that I had written some things down that I must have conveniently put aside in some mental storage box. He went on to say "If 'what you're not' tries to stop looking for what is—it doesn't go anywhere." As he sometimes refers to "what you are" as the Buddha, he also reminds us not to stop practices unless it's coming from the Buddha.

In going through those journals, I can see that I've hit this conundrum many times, and I can see it in my fellow seekers. Is all of this effort that of a big ego searching for Truth or are we obeying our programming, or the will of Source? When we come to the conclusion that the effort is fruitless or worse, even building up the spiritual ego, is this just a false passivity of that same spiritual ego? How do we know the difference between that and true detachment? I wonder how many of us settle for the former.

*

~ Thanks to TAT member Leesa W. for her reflections and questions concerning effort. We've transported some of those questions to the Readers Commentary questions for next month's TAT Forum (below).

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

2020 TAT Meeting Calendar

April 3-5, 2020
* June 12-14, 2020 *
August 14-16, 2020
November 6-8, 2020

The April TAT meeting was switched to an online virtual event due to the COVID-19 threat.
The next scheduled gathering is for the weekend of June 12th through 14th.
Future meeting details will be coming as the dates get closer.


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:
Recently our local inquiry group moved from in-person, to a virtual meeting format, using zoom. At our first virtual meeting on March 20, we had 7 participants. There were minor technical issues –for example the free version of zoom terminates at 45 minutes - however the meeting was productive. Participants were asked to share what has been coming up for them in recent days, specifically with respect to feeling of personal control; noticing moods, etc. We would like to encourage our fellow inquiry groups, to try a virtual meeting, to keep their group work going. ~ 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.
     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.

Irish clover A new self-inquiry group is forming in Dublin, Ireland:
We will meet in Dublin City, location to be confirmed. We already have two people so technically I guess we already have a group :-) but it would be great if we can get some more people involved. Meetings will take varying formats e.g. confrontation, reviewing TAT material and Rose teachings for discussion, etc. ~ Contact for more information.

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:
Our meetings at the Alachua County library on alternate Sundays have been suspended until April 30th. ~ 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:
I am meeting every Saturday morning with three of my former Greensburg SIG group participants who are into non-dualist paths, such as Adyashanti and Mooji. There is also another participant, a professional psychologist who is interested in eastern philosphy and who wasn't in my SIG group but makes a great addition to our proceedings. These fellows are sincere seekers. We spend our time discussing our respective paths and comparing notes. Our new venue is a place called the White Rabbit Cafe in Greensburg. I'm hoping that the lull here has ended and that we're ready to be more dynamic again. ~ 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.

"Ignoramuses Anonymous" blog
Ignoramuses Anonymous is for seekers to explore questions together…a fellowship of seekers for whom ignorance of the absolute truth had become a major problem. It started as a blog for Pittsburgh PSI meeting members back in 2009. Welcoming discussion on the path.
To get notices of new posts, you can subscribe by RSS feed or by email.
From the Nov. 17th post:
William Samuel recommends adding glimpses to your journal, and I've been doing that for about half a year when I review the day. If I haven't had a glimpse I write down something I appreciate…or can appreciate. But what is a glimpse?

Update from the Lynchburg, VA self-inquiry group:
We have been meeting on Thursday evenings from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the home of one of the group members. Our meeting format is generally 20 minutes of meditation followed by an hour of group self-inquiry.
     Our group held an on-line meeting via the Zoom website between several seekers and Norio Kushi and Paul Rezendes recently. Zoom platform is fairly user-friendly and inexpensive, and might be a useful avenue for future "virtual" meetings, especially for those folks who live far away from physical SI groups.
     As several of the group members will be traveling during the month of January, they will continue to meet with Norio and Paul via Zoom. Regular meetings will begin again on Monday, February 3, 2020. ~ Please contact or if you're interested.

Update from the New York City self-inquiry group:
Our goal is to investigate and confront our unexamined beliefs in a group dynamic within a safe environment. We aim to serve as mirrors for each other, to see ourselves more clearly. Topics range from the psychological ("What kind of people annoy you?") to the abstract ("What is the nature of perception?"). We have meetings every Monday at 180 Maiden Lane from 6-8 PM. We welcome any new members who are interested in self-inquiry. ~ If interested please reach out to or find out more through our Meetup link above.

The newly listed Online Self Inquiry Book Club:
This virtual Self Inquiry Book Club meets Sunday afternoons and is currently reading The Triune Self by Mike Snider. ~ For more information, see the meeting website (link above).

Update from the Pittsburgh, PA self-inquiry group:
Please note new schedule and location:
During the current national health crisis, we will continue to meet on the 1st & 3rd Wednesdays of April, 7-9 PM at a responsible, safe and uncontaminated location easily accessed within 1 mile of downtown Pittsburgh. If you are interested in participating, email us for details.
- Wed, Apr 1: A Course in Miracles ... a 365-lesson course designed to undo the illusion that you are separate in any way from God or your fellow humans and that the greatest "miracle" is the act of simply gaining a full "awareness of love's presence" (this is not a solicitation). Herb Clements will host.
- Wed, Apr 15: Ramana Maharshi: "The body does not say 'I am,' it is you who says 'I am the body.' Find out who this 'I' is. In seeking it's source it will vanish."
~ For further information, email .

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.

A new self-inquiry group is forming in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area:
With the opening of the new TAT center in Hurdle Mills, NC, and teacher-in-residence Bob Fergeson, the defunct Raleigh area group will have a new beginning. ~ Email for information about future meetings and events.

Update from the Richmond Self Inquiry Group:
There isn't a Richmond self inquiry group at the moment…it never really got off the ground. I'm considering a few different approaches for round three, but it'll be at least a few months away before that takes form. ~ Email for information about future meetings and events.

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.

Update from the Washington DC Area Self-Inquiry Discussion Group:
[This group was previously listed as the Rockville, MD self-inquiry group.] We've been meeting monthly at Rockville, MD Memorial Library. While the library is closed for public health reasons, we're participating more in a weekly online book club. Forum readers are welcome to participate. We're currently reading The Triune Self by Mike Snider. ~ For more information, please email or see the website http://firstknowthyself.org/virtual/.


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

throwing bricks at god

~ From Nihilist Memes on Facebook. Thanks to Bob Fergeson.





Badinage


I didn't say it was your fault, I just said I was blaming you.

cherries separator


The early bird might get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

cherries separator


A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. My desk is a work station.

cherries separator


A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.

cherries separator


If I agreed with you, we'd both be wrong.




~ From 98.9 KKZX The Classic Rock Station - Photos on Facebook. Thanks to Paul Constant.



We enjoy presenting humor here from TAT members and friends. 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

"On His Blindness"
By John Milton


John Milton


When I consider how my light is spent
     Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
     And that one talent, which is death to hide,
     Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
     My true account, lest he returning chide:
     "Doth God exact day-labor, light denied?"
     I fondly ask; but Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, "God doth not need
     Either man's work, or his own gifts. Who best
     Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is kingly; thousands at his bidding speed
     And post o'er land and ocean without rest.
     They also serve who only stand and wait."

*

Patience, personified, explains that God does not need special gifts or works from man, such as Milton's writings [before he went blind, in the employ of Oliver Cromwell], but loves best those who "Bear his mild yoke." This complicated phrase references a "yoke," or a wooden frame, that used to be placed around the neck and shoulders of plowing animals. This would allow the animals to be directed around the field. Essentially, those who give over their life to God and accept that he is in control of their fate are loved best. That is what God requires, not "gifts" or "work." ~ PoemAnalysis.com

Q: Do you feel that your life is controlled by a Higher Power? Does it make sense to you that those who accept such control would be serving that Higher Power best, even if they only stand and wait?

 


Getting Orientated


You aren't going to make it. No matter what you do, and no matter how hard you try your efforts will fail. You can meditate for ten thousand hours. You can do Ramana Maharshi inquiry attempting to trace the I-thought to the Source. You can try to rid yourself of all your suppressed emotional junk and self-sabotaging beliefs. You can pray until you are blue in the face. You can sign up for online seminars and participate in online confrontation groups until the cows come home. And you can go on retreat, after retreat, after retreat . . . for decades. All of it is dust in the wind. It won't work. No vector is coming to rescue you Sweetheart.

And there is a very good and very simple reason it won't work. The path of liberation is not about a seeker coming into the bliss and freedom of the Truth of their Being. It is not about success at all. The path of liberation is more like this: A man or woman is totally immersed in the world believing everything they see is real. By some act of grace a hole is punched in an invisible membrane of egoic consciousness. Some light comes in through that hole (or the "wound" as Rumi says). A fire is started inside the man or woman. That fire burns and while it burns the seeker naturally does everything in his or her power to put it out – to find relief. They look for the "water" all these other great sages and "awake" people have told them about. As they go along, the fire gets more intense and their desperation for water grows in response. Eventually the fire has burned long enough and hot enough that the seeking efforts begin to fade. There isn't as much gas in the tank as there once was. A teacher may come along and throw more gas on the fire just to help the burning process along. Either way, a point is reached when the seeker falls to their knees and stops all seeking. The fire may kill the seeker right then or there or a genuine form of inquiry may open up that dramatically changes the seeker's modus operandi (more on that below). The water is never reached.

The seeker/personal self doesn't like this kind of talk. The seeker is hopeful that if there intent is pure enough and the earnestness is there then eventually they will punch through and be delivered into the state that these other "awake" people have come to. And they have good reason to think this. They have invested enormous amounts of time and effort in that belief and listened to hundreds of talks about it. Likely, they have even become addicted to those kind of talks as there is no shortage of them in today's modern world. (The seeker always gets a little "hit" of energy listening to those talks.) Giving up the belief that the seeker can succeed with liberation is akin to freely giving up someone you are desperately in love with to another man or woman—in other words, it doesn't happen. That belief has to be taken from the seeker either by a stroke from the divine or the simple running out of seeking gas.

When that belief finally falls away, either spontaneously or as a result of a prolonged experience with the fire, some amazing things arise all by themselves. Maybe a sudden and cataclysmic surrender happens right then and there like it did for Zen master Bankei in the 15th Century. Maybe a genuine line of inquiry opens up and they spend a few years following a question or holding the "I Am" without thought of gain or reward, as happened for Nisargadatta or Norio Kushi. Maybe they really decide to not put an ounce of effort into effortless meditation like Mike Connors. Regardless of what arises, when the belief that a person can succeed with liberation finally falls away, the seeker is no longer a seeker. They are a finder and they are no longer living for a future or in a gaining/attaining state of consciousness.

It would be wonderful if a seeker could decide through a strong kind of intent to move out of gaining/attaining consciousness or to "stop living for a future." But they can't. That very strategy is more of an attempt to gain or attain. No, the seeker is truly, truly, boxed in. There is no escape and no way out. To put it most accurately, they are fucked. Using another poignant metaphor they are like a man or woman that has been diagnosed with cancer. The seeking is a desperate effort to cure themselves of that cancer and live a healthy life. And even though they may at times think they are making progress beating the cancer, and go into remission (e.g. spiritual highs), if they truly are on the path of liberation the cancer will always come back. They aren't actually making any progress at all. That cancer is going to kill them eventually. That cancer is the divine itself. It is the pearl beyond all price in disguise.

So, if you are reading this and wondering in a very understandably practical way, "well now what the hell, what should I do?" The answer is to do whatever you need to do to totally and absolutely convince yourself you aren't going to succeed in your heroic efforts to become liberated. Because it is only when that belief truly and deeply falls away from your state of consciousness that the magic then arises. A beautiful sincerity and sweetness moves right in to take its place.

And Sweetheart you are worthy of that magic. If you are worthy of anything, you are worthy of that.

*

~ Thanks to TAT friend Tyler T. In response to questions about his essay, Tyler explained that "Sweetheart is the name I use for what I am. That is what it feels like. A Sweetheart. Perfect. Spotless. Without flaw," and "if I don't climb down a few rungs on the ladder into the realm of experience (which is just concepts), a love that wants to issue forth doesn't have an outlet."

Q: Do you have a feeling for the view that Tyler is expressing?



Sadguru


"Are you into Hinduism at all? You've heard of the Sadguru, the Inner Teacher, He Who Won't Be Denied Ever? Your true inner self? You can keep being stupid, fucking up and so on, but the Sadguru is getting ready."

De Gier said he was more into Buddhism.

"Okay," Antonio said. "Same thing. Call it Buddha Nature. The Relentless Force that won't put up with Ego Bullshit. That'll make you move one day in the right direction."

"I think it's called Emptiness is Buddhism," de Gier said. "I like that. The Void. You could fall into it forever."

"The Void where all the Buddhas live." Antonio nodded. He spoke solemnly. "You can't grasp Nothing. But it grasps you all right if you keep messing up...."

*

~ Dialogue from The Hollow-Eyed Angel by Janwillem van de Wetering, author of non-fiction The Empty Mirror: Experiences in a Japanese Zen Monastery, A Glimpse of Nothingness: Experiences in an American Zen Community and Afterzen: Experiences of a Zen Student out on His Ear.

Q: Have you found an Inner Teacher, or, has an Inner Teacher found you?



*

~ Thanks to TAT member Brett S. See "Roll the Dice" poem by Bukowski. His gravestone also summarized his philosophy:


Charles Bukowski's gravestone


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 Reader Commentary composite question for the April Forum:

A question regarding the following quote from January's "Founder's Wisdom" item Developing the Intuition and Reason:

"The seeker gradually grows indifferent to the objects of his appetites, continues to move, even though those objects are the only motivation for other people." ~ The Albigen Papers

As a seeker, should I develop some other appetite instead, or must I replace "appetites" with something else? If not, why don't I need to fill the void that appetites once occupied?

Thanks to a reader who wishes to remain anonymous.


From Mike L:
For me, giving up appetites even for a short period of time has allowed me to look at motivating factors and understand my own mental machinery better. A lot of this search (they say) is to know yourself (small s). What better way than to change up your normal functioning / routine and see how your mind reacts to these changes. In my case, appetites seem to keep my attention focused outwardly away from thought patterns/reactions/etc. The business of knowing yourself (from my limited perspective) is to see how the somatic mind functions and understand its habitual patterns in hopes of leading to a clearer perspective. What has become clearer to me as I continue to do this, is how little incessant thinking (on any particular topic) is accomplishing for me, and how little control I have over the whole process. My mind will continuously bring up a particular "problem" and work on it without resolution, even after months. Seeing this over the past few months has led to a reliance on prayer much more than I ever had. Prayer for help in understanding myself, and prayer for the strength to continue looking.

From Brett S:
1) If you can develop other appetites to replace your current ones, that sounds promising. Which appetites would you assume would be better replacements? 2) I think it's useful to know the ways in which the appetites might be exerting an influence on me. How are they affecting my thoughts, feelings, and activities (particularly around Seeking)? One way to try and find that out is to experiment with deprivation: not indulging the appetites. Taking a break from habits around food, sex, distractions. I think it's worth the effort to look into this. 3) My understanding of Mr. Rose's phrase "milk from thorns" is to channel the energy generated by appetites into spiritually productive activities to the greatest extent possible. One example might be celibacy, using the energy not spent on sex and applying it to meditation. Another example might be using my extroverted nature (a preference for being around people) to organize a self-inquiry meeting. In what ways and to what extent can you harness or direct your appetites in ways that feel more aligned with your purpose? This might have something to do with your phrase, "filling the void that appetites once occupied."

From Isaac Hill:
When I first met Art, and then Rose through Art, I was in college and had habits like getting drunk multiple times a week, smoking lots of weed and tobacco, chasing girls, etc. What those appetites were seeking to fill was partly a desire for pleasure, partly a desire to prop up the identity of myself as a "man" or a "cool guy," to fit in. Over years those habits fell away. Part of it was will and strategy, but honestly a lot of it was just recognizing that those habits weren't actually satisfying me. By paying attention to my body and how I felt, I realized that drinking alcohol actually wasn't pleasurable for this organism ... sleeping with random girls felt gross, and weed made me feel anxious and stupid (well it made me feel really smart for a few minutes, and then stupid).

Also, I had gotten a taste for the Eternal through retreats, meditation and hanging around folks like Art in real life, and Rose in print. (As Franklin Merrell-Wolff says, "the illumined man is present in his writings.") Art told me once that "you can't break habits, you can only trade up." I have found this to be true. One must focus on the Higher, be willing to sacrifice the lower. My first isolation retreat was over my 21st birthday. This was a symbolic sacrifice of the part of myself that was "the drinker," even though it took a few more years for that to fall away.

Dion Fortune has this concept of "tracks in space" where all actions create tracks that make movement in that direction easier ... momentum is achieved, stereotyped into habit. I believe that it is important to cultivate healthy habits, like meditation, going on retreats, reading the books of illumined beings. It is also important to cultivate a habit of inquiring into the reasons behind one's behavior, which can directly lead to the dropping away of appetites that don't really serve the deeper desire. I think of my mind and heart as a garden. Pull out the weeds, plant what you want to grow. Mulch and prune and all the rest, and slow down to smell the beauty in the fragrance of a flower.

From Anima Pundeer:
Appetite to me means a craving that, if not taken care of, creates a certain dissonance within. It can be for food, sex, toys, or anything that we perceive is a remedy for this immediate itch. Appetite is basically hunger plus greed for a little more than what you would need to feel satisfied. It is this greed for more that appetite may turn into a disease. Addiction is a result of an appetite gone out of control in my opinion.

Apart from physical appetites, which are easy to see, there are emotional appetites. The need for love, approval, applause, power are some. Appetite can never get satisfied because, by its very nature, it is 'all of this plus a little more'.

How do appetites play out in the life of a seeker who is trying to find a Permanent Solution to his/her suffering? Only when you are done with blaming the world for your misery, your attention starts to turn inwards looking for a reason. Are 'you' the reason for being in the hell that you live in? You have arrived at the point of understanding that outside is only mirroring what is going on inside. Observing your efforts and investments into your indulgences, and still missing the mark of getting even short-lived satisfaction, the seeker wisens up eventually. Starting to think about your next meal right after you have finished eating is slavery to the appetite. Glass in hand does not mean much; it is the thought of how and when you'll get your next glass, that occupies your mind.

I found that the path of Self-Inquiry is such that whatever is dysfunctional, not in line with nature, will soon become evident to you. Though we do not want to see or accept any of our weaknesses, deep down, we are defined by them. Appetites and our addiction to them form an integral part of our identity.

The simple act of self-observation, driven by our need to know 'why' and then 'who', has the magic of breaking the hypnosis. Getting clarity about 'why' behind my action somehow frees me from slavery to that particular object. Sooner or later all the dark, dirty, negative stuff that you want to keep buried and don't want to look at, will get opened up. Most of the time you realize how it wasn't as big a deal as you had made it out in your head. Hidden monsters are scarier than the ones in sight.

As the old appetites lose their hold on you, does the habitual, addiction-prone mind start searching for another glittering object that promises pleasure/satisfaction? Have you learned your lesson about how the suffering gets fueled?

I am not sure if it due to the grace of Guru, divine intervention, karma or sheer exhaustion from working towards satisfying these appetites, that you are left with wanting an end of it all. Since it is not in the nature of the mind to have a void, space gets filled by an appetite of striving for Permanence.

From Patrick K:
This is something that is becoming more and more obvious to me in my experience. I feel I am caught here. I cannot face the void without some, would the word be "consumptiveness"? I struggle to be more stoic in my life and inevitably succumb to the gratification of mundane desires, aka distraction? I don't draw a straight enough line as I would like so far that might catapult me into a greater place in grace that I strive and long for.

I get the feeling I have to replace with something else. I believe in sublimation, my attention and energy has to go somewhere, be led somewhere. For me it has to be guided there and minded, and a ways and means developed to keep it there because it has a natural tendency to wander back to it's old conditioned ways of sleep and distraction. I say that but there is also a burning away of old conditioned ways. I feel like the machine needs to be nurtured out of its mechanical ways and a method applied to see what it is that is carrying out that nurturing.

And then I wonder am I doing anything at all. Is life just providing me with the evidence of the emptiness in all craving and illusory satiation of desires. Being asleep can be a wonderful cure all. Being awake can be agonising. I am flip-flopping between the two states trying to take the best from both worlds. Awareness and observation leaves me feeling emptiness in everything, so through I must go, to see what reveals itself therein. By saying "through" here I mean to back away fully from the pull of worldly pursuits. Not just to intellectualise in my mind how empty these things are but to follow through on the implications of what that means for my life. How do I abide and grow according to the implications of my awareness and observing so that my vector aligns with the truth of that observing?

Also what comes to mind are as follows that I have been thinking about lately in abiding in the void:
1) Selflessness and not to work for myself.
2) Is self-definition an appetite? I think so.
3) How can I position myself so as to be taken by this desire to find absolute definition, so that I am not just a part-time seeker and follow through to weather all storms abiding in this vector.

From Shawn Nevins:
Note that Rose said "gradually grows indifferent" and "continues to move." There's a very different feel to these words than those in the question that follows: "should I develop," "must I replace" and "need to fill." And the purpose of pointing to that is to get you to feel for the spirit behind or between the words, because that's where opportunity resides—the possibility of leaping to an intuitive understanding which step-by-step explanation cannot capture. I believe that if you sit with the words long enough, you will find the intuitive understanding to take those words and live them.

That's one response. Here's another.

What is an appetite? Does it have a source? Do we replace or eliminate an appetite or do we, as Rose says, grow indifferent to the object of the appetite? What is the object of each of our appetites? Does each appetite have a different source and different object, or are some linked? Is an appetite the same as a desire?

One more response.

Rose said, "When we employ curiosity and desire to search for our definition, we are on the path." I maintain that a core objective of a seeker is to connect and reconnect with their deepest desire, then find ways and means of exploring the fascinations (i.e. curiosity) that arise from that connection.

This brings us to the transmutation of energy. Rose spoke of curiosity and desire as "controlled atomic energy." Rather than eliminating appetites, we turn them towards a new object (here I equate the appetites with curiosity and desire). Thus, there is no void because the energy is redirected. All the time/energy I once spent staring in the mirror and coiffing my hair is now spent writing this response to Art's question.

Lastly, Rose wrote "the inhibition of the appetites, for a period of time, is conducive to the development of the intuition." This is a subtle point because it's possible to redirect the appetites into "spiritual" endeavors that are little more than ways of wasting time. The classic example being reading yet another book or watching yet another YouTube video of a spiritual teacher. The transmutation of energy is not just into activity. There is a quality of holding some of this newly gained energy (it's inhibition), that builds our capacity to look inward. There's a poetic line of Rose's where he speaks of the seeker drawing back a terrible bow and aiming it at the Universe, yet they don't let fly the arrow. Instead, they hold that energy, aimed in a direction, and wait.

I hope something useful was passed in these words. Feel free to if you have questions.

From Rob-in Leeds:
Recent conversations and dialogue with TAT friends around seeking and the search led me to articulate in writing the following on Monday 23 March:

Tonight after M. left A. and I continued to ramble about the search being part of Life and I now realise I missed the point of "Coming to Fruition"in Tess Hughes's article on "The Game" ... I know I don't understand the mystery, but I have glimpsed the light (awareness) beyond the light we see and within which light as form arises ... As A. and B. pointed at on Saturday I have been woken up ... the on-going work is to keep clearing the debris (illusions, delusions) from the screen and be present and notice ... not-I-C-ing ... "Aming" among the "Selfing" ... There have been some wonderful new posts, especially by Dr Jud and Micky Singer, that have added to this clarity ... While Tess as in her talks has spoken of moving from psychological development to spiritual development at step 4/7 (After Bernadette Roberts) ... For me now ... and I feel A. guided me to an insight that earlier during the call I said that the spiritual goal (home) had been revealed as ever present ... and the remaining task was psychological work ... A. got me to consider the role of my experience with Kindness and Anger and sense their complementarity, their dance ... it is NOW clear to me that the "work" is living, allowing, surrendering resting in Life instead of Wrestling with Life as if I weren't Life ... The judging, critiquing, striving can be all-owed, in the mode of being curious as to "what did I gain from that behaviour."

It seems synchronistic to me that the January 2020 Forum Founders Wisdom article on "Developing Intuition and Reason" contains the quote upon which the question references should also contain a definition of a seeker: "His uniqueness comes from the particular game that he plays. He allows himself to become addicted or to become a vector, -- once the idea of being a vector makes sense to him." This is synchronous to me because of the wonderful alignment this had for me with Tess Hughes's article in the March 2020 Forum "The Greater or the Lesser Game of Life – Which Choose You?" If I am not careful, I will quote all of Tess's article it seemed so relevant and pertinent to me. She asks "What can be more engrossing than the search for Self?"

See Rob's complete response.

From Eric C:
I spent some time with the question, re-phrasing it to myself as "What is moving me along now?"

At first I looked at the desires which seemed to propel me along at an earlier time in life—the desire to build a self which was strong, capable; or the desire for mates. Looking at the arc of my life, Rose's characterization of gradually growing indifferent to those desires rings true, and is probably a result of both introspection and ageing.

Another way of answering the question: when I first began conscious seeking, yes there was a re-ordering of priorities and attention in my life, according to Rose's guidance ("The Threefold Path"). Yet since that time, I have never felt the need to bring in or activate new desires or appetites, to move me along. The appetites are still there, doing their job, moving me along, although they are perhaps less compelling now (let's check in on that last statement, say in a few hours from now?).

Commitments and deadlines still work for me.

From Michael R:
From what I can see, replacing appetites with more appetites isn't going to lead to what's True. We have appetites, that's fine, and if we try to not have appetites that's probably just a subtle technique driven by another yet-to-be-seen appetite. Our attachment to the outcome of those appetites naturally decreases when we see they aren't going to be what fulfills us, and when we become primarily interested in who has the appetite and why—rather than focusing on the fulfillment of the appetite. This, to me, is a form of going within—when we find ourselves "behind" our desires, studying them like we would study an amoeba in a Petri dish. If we want to know the amoeba, we don't focus on filling its void; we focus on why it feels a void. We are not invested in the amoeba getting anything, and we don't judge anything about it, we just want to see what's true about this funny little organism.

From Dan G:
In the sense that, as Thoreau says, "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation," not pursuing the same objects that are the main or sole motivation for other people could work to get free from that miserable trap. People look for guidance, and if they can't hear their intuition, they succumb to their appetites or fears. But so far, their appetites have failed.

When the appetites quiet down a little, one can hear intuition sometimes, if they're lucky. Following my interpretation of an intuition seems like an act of faith. It's where everyone is going if they live long enough: after 500 years, people would finally lose hope and faith in their appetites, and would look for another source of guidance.

Thus, to the degree I don't do that is immaturity, I think. Appetites build up my current self-definition and have some focus on the future. But the desperation, the longing part of it, is really something else. The longing has to do with things being OK already, and always.

I've noticed an appetite for news and Amazon purchases in March. I'm moving through the stages of grief, according to one article, "That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief." Maybe these appetites are part of bargaining—if I learn a lot and own everything I think I'll need, then I'll feel safe; that things are under control. I'll feel I've done all I can to not die; or lower stress anyway.

These unusual appetites in an unusual time provide me a path. They're not virtueless per se. They probably will help lower the risk of stress and death in the near term. They do build up my current self-definition. But I'm definitely experiencing some quiet desperation of a kind, this month.

If these appetites for a feeling of control quiet down a little, there is sadness. The longing may be related to the sadness. It's just below the surface of my sadness now. I wish things were OK. That longing feeling says: "I don't like this place anymore. I want to go home. I want to wake up from this dream now." It seems related to the Truth Sensor; like I know this is a dream, and I know I can wake up.

From Mike G:
Human appetites include those urges that are necessary for survival and some that are not. And, those necessary for survival can become obsessions and habits. For example, one must eat for nutrition and health but, if eating to excess, then obesity and disease can follow.

Regardless, if you are freeing yourself from an appetite or habit that is negative to mental or physical health, there is no reason to look for another obsession. If you are diseased, do you seek another disease to "fill the void?"

Once free of an appetite that uses you, as a seeker use the energy and attention thus freed and apply it to the search.

From Anon:
It's virtually impossible in my experience to force myself to let go of an appetite I currently have and replace it with a higher appetite. Instead, repeatedly continuing to question why I'm interested in what I am (for example, a hobby) seems to have allowed me to understand the mind-machinery, and in many cases, has allowed the appetite to fall away, once it is realized that the object of a certain appetite doesn't hold promise.

The most interesting aspect is how Rose phrases it, as an observation rather than as imperative: "The seeker gradually grows indifferent...," and not "You should make yourself grow indifferent...."


Next Month

The Reader Commentary questions for the May TAT Forum:

  • Is all of this effort that of a big ego searching for Truth or are we obeying our programming, or the will of Source?
  • When we come to the conclusion that the effort is fruitless or worse, even building up the spiritual ego, is this just a false passivity of that same spiritual ego?
  • How do we know the difference between that and true detachment? I wonder how many of us settle for the former.

*

Thanks to Leesa W. for this month's "Convictions & Concern" essay including the above questions. Please your responses by the 25th of February and indicate your preferred identification (the default is your first name and the initial letter of your last name).


Other Reader Feedback

From Guy R., in response to the article by Tess Hughes, The Greater or the Lesser Game of Life – Which Choose You?, in last month's Forum.

Tess's article on Gaming made me think that there are different types, such as games of skill, games of chance, and even games of determination (think mountain climbing, Iditarod). But there is also a fourth game, which few recognize but may be played more than we could ever imagine. This is a game that may include the player, skill, chance and determination and yet some or all of these or none of these at the same time. It may involve taking a game to a whole different level, and then again it may be every game player's greatest unrecognized asset.



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?


Cliffs of Moher

The Cliffs of Moher, County Clare, Ireland. Thanks to Chris Ticknor for the recent photo.



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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.


Relative and Absolute


Part 2 of a talk given at Ohio State University in 1978 (continued from the March 2020 TAT Forum):


Q & A

Now this has been a skeletal talk and from here we can open it up for dialog. The last lecture I gave here was what I call the Psychology of the Observer – which is a method of finding your interior self, and we can go into that if you wish. It's a psychological system. It has nothing to do with mantras or prayers or incense. It's just a simple way of looking at your thoughts, and it will bring you to the final point if you can stay with it long enough. So I'd like to stop and have some of you ask questions, and we'll pick it up from there.


Self and no-self

Q. This "self" you talk about – as I understand it, Zen believes in no-self.

R. These are words. You see, half the people who get into Zen1 are running around trying to pretend to have a state of no-mind. This is nonsense. You can't simulate no-mind. You can't remove your mind. There is no exercise that you can do to remove your mind. The koan called life will remove it for you. Now everything is and is not. And when you describe anything related to what I consider the real, philosophic approach, this always has to be added, that the final experience brings you the knowledge of nothing and of everything. This is the best way to express it....


See the complete part 2 of "Relative and Absolute"

... To be continued.


Footnotes:

1. Applies as well to non-dualists with their no-self philosophy these days.


~ Thanks to Steve Harnish for the annotated transcription. for information on the transcription project.



Homing Ground Update

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


Hurdle Mills new home for TAT


And the beginnings of an expanded meeting room!:


the beginnings of an expanded meeting room


We're making steady progress, but need a boost from all you Forum readers! We are 23% of the way to raising $70,000.

The gravel parking area is ready!
The water system has been upgraded!
Beds and chairs are in place!
The meeting room expansion is in progress!

We still need to raise around $50,000, to:
Purchase yard equipment and tools to keep the property in shape
Finish the meeting room
Repay the short-term loan

Let's bring this to life! "The job is upon us," Richard Rose said, "and it is worthwhile." To contribute to the TAT Center, mail a check made out to the TAT Foundation to:

TAT Foundation
PO Box 873
Mechanicsburg, PA 17055

Big checks, little checks, all are welcome. Or use the PayPal link above (though we lose 2.2% of your donation to PayPal fees).

* See photos and more on the Homing Ground page. *

In friendship,
Shawn Nevins
on behalf of the TAT Trustees


TAT gathering


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