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

TAT Forum
November 2001

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

This month's contents:

Tweeny Town by Richard Rose | Grand Work of the TAT Society (part 2 of 2) by Richard Rose | Form and Emptiness by Gary Harmon | Finding Balance by Shawn Nevins | Poems by Shawn Nevins | You Can't Lie to Yourself by Bob Cergol | Acrostic by Art Ticknor | Interpreting Experience by Bob Fergeson | Humor | Reader Commentary

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Tweeny Town
by Richard Rose

"A verse that brings about unusual results, considered magical sometimes," by Richard Rose. Poem and commentary written for and read at a winter intensive:


In Tweeny Town, in Tweeny Town
there lived a boy and maid.
And they went up and they went down,
but all their children stayed.

In Tweeny Town, in Tweeny Town
the two were free of sorrow.
For they delayed the ups and downs,
and looked for them tomorrow.

In Tweeny Town, in Tweeny Town
there were no rich or tragic,
Nor age or youth nor chain nor crown,
For between-ness was their magic.

There was a god of wisdom in consternation. His name was Paradox. Fear him not and know yourself. That which seems to be may not be. Up is down and east is west. Good is to some evil, and evil to some is good. In time there seems to be space, and in space we find duration. And in space-time we find that time and space no longer exist. Know that knowing—real knowing—is not knowing. Know that all laws cannot enter the knowing of the mundane mind until they have been given to us by Lord Paradox.

© Richard Rose. All Rights Reserved.

The Grand Work of the TAT Society (part 2)
by Richard Rose

(~ Continued from the October 2001 TAT Forum)

Katherine B., Tower of Babel from Bedford Hours a lady who experienced Cosmic Consciousness, approached me twenty years ago, inquiring as to that which she could do with her Realization. We have another case of genuine Realization, but accompanied by no direction or method. She was overwhelmed with the urge to now become a healer. She knew that no one would listen to her advice unless she met them on some sort of sensational basis, and exuded some sort of dynamic purpose and compelling language. She argued that she would attract attention with her healing, as Christ did, and then give out her advice in the form of a devotional message. I could not find myself in that type of picture and our correspondence ended. She was a living, walking example of a person who has experienced all of life and death, and who is now walking amongst us. But this person cannot make herself properly understood. Nor can she work with people on the Becomers level. She too is back in the Believers section, because she is talking of healing through faith.

We can see where the highest of levels can become once more entangled with lower levels and lose their importance. There are also many individuals who have reached the highest experience but who despaired all their lives about communication, and did not ever communicate. I was one of these people until I accidentally met some energetic young people who pledged themselves to work at the grand task.

We can add more confusion to the problem when we realize that enlightenment is not the property of any particular level alone. Some Believers, like St. Theresa, and John of the Cross, penetrated their level and transcended it. The Kabbalists are investigators whose literature gives evidence that some of them may have reached an ultimate formula. And on the other hand, many of those who join a cult aimed at Becoming often get sidetracked in preconceptions of what they think becoming should be for them rather than allowing themselves to change in response to the inevitable refinements of Truthfulness, and the parallel labor of constantly retreating from untruth.

And so we, as a group, set ourselves a task. We realized that we must make available, if possible, more advantage than that which brought us forth from ignorance and uncertainty. The task lies in attempting to find better and better ways to reach into all levels or groups for the purpose of bringing fellows together. The aim is not gregariousness, but the sharing of many experiences that took many lives in the gathering. The aim is also the making available of the function of transmission for those who might recognize the usefulness of such.

The TAT Society undertook this in 1973, to bring together, in a sort of Chautauqua, people from all levels and experiences, so that people could meet other people of like and also of different interests. The Albigen System has seemed to many to be a monolithic and inflexible system. However this appraisal came about as a result of not completely understanding the system, or not reading the book [The Albigen Papers] comprehensively. We speak of a Spiritual Ladder, and a Law regarding it. How can there be a ladder without rungs? While we know that we cannot function expeditiously on all rungs, and also know we can function at best on three (the one we are on, the one above to which we look for advice and teaching, and the one below where we can help others without too much risk), we can still help someone on the rung below who in turn needs to work on still a more basic rung to help still more people. To provide people for all these opportunities needed to fulfill the Law of the Ladder we must be prepared to bring together people of all those many levels.

Of course you cannot go out into the crossroads and drag in, or allow in, everyone who wants to mingle. There must be some fundamental purpose in each besides being involved socially. And each must abide by certain simple rules. No one should make a pest of himself, and no one should bring alcohol or narcotics to the meetings, in their body or on their body.

We must distinguish between the function of the TAT Society and the Pyramid Zen Society [i.e. those working with the Albigen System]. The TAT Society is the parent, and the PZS is a function of it. While the PZS group should not be assailed or irritated by non-agreeing other members of TAT, no one should deny the opportunity for the formation of a unique group within the TAT Society, provided the TAT Society gives it permission.

If this above information is explained to new people coming into the weekly group meetings, they may find a comfortable place to work, even if they do not agree with the Albigen System. I feel that the TAT Society is strong enough at this point to withstand any attempts by newcomers to undermine or take over our work.

I know that many people who know of this effort of ours will minimize its importance, saying that things like this should be left to chance or gravity, or indicating that we can easily contact fellows of like interest through the media whenever we wish.

It is true that we can advertise and get large responses. But it is another thing when we try to communicate with hundreds of people for the purpose of sorting out two or three that we can work with. I have been honestly trying to bring these various esoteric factions together for forty years, and in the first thirty-four years was able to meet only about a dozen people who appeared to be in agreement with the idea of cooperation.

In the last six years I have been fortunate in meeting at least a hundred people who are in agreement. Part of this success has occurred because of a miraculous decade that began around 1965 and is now ending. The pendulum is swinging back into another long era marked by dormant, established religions, pressing against anything that appears less than that which is currently defined as being conventional. Esotericism has already been assailed as being the pastime of sinners, atheists and degenerates. And many of the cults that herded together under the banner of transcendentalism and Esotericism have rightly earned for themselves, and for the whole field of esoteric investigation, the criticism and disdain of the public.

We are returning to the dark days of forty years ago. The alchemist, Kabbalist and mystic must once more become inconspicuous. And this is going to make it harder for mystic to find mystic, or for sage to find students of worth.

The job is upon us, and it is worthwhile. The job is to encourage membership in the TAT Society, and to prepare at the farm a better place for them to meet.

Form and Emptiness
by Gary Harmon

Form is emptiness,
Emptiness is form.
I am emptiness,
Emptiness is me.
Because I am a mere configuration,

There is freedom to form
myself in incalculable ways.

All the world is a stage, and each one of
us is an exclusive form memo.

Finding Balance
by Shawn Nevins

photo of an elephant balancing on a ball People talk in reverential tones of finding balance on the spiritual path. It sounds so reasonable and wise to proclaim, "I am a spirit and a body." That thought is often followed by this type, "Pleasure exists, so I must partake in it. Please pass the beer." Not that there is anything detrimental to drinking alcohol. What is detrimental is that such proclamations prevent us from discovering what we really are.

Only a fool proclaims he is a spirit and a body. What you are is a body attempting to discover if it has a spirit. Our body, as it currently exists, focuses on the outward world and survival in the jungle of life. We must change our focus to the inner world and to ultimate survival. Those who protest about finding balance are letting the body hide the potential spirit.

In your current state, you cannot presume to know what a balanced life is. Society enables you to sit at a desk all day, sit in front of a tv all night, and still meet your basic physical needs. Such a lifestyle is not healthy for the body, much less conducive to undertaking a spiritual quest. Any balanced or middle way should not be modeled on the average lifestyle. Merely adding meditation (a contemporary alternative to Sunday church attendance) to mundane life will give you a meditative mundane life.

You must be willing to change to become a truth-seeker. You must discover the lies you live, and that will require much purposeful unbalancing. Such disciplines as fasting, dietary modifications, meditation, celibacy, and challenging fears may elicit howls of protest from the body and mind. For example, a beer-drinker might abstain from drinking for a year (perhaps seriously distorting his lifestyle), and discover he doesn't need or want it. Thus, he refines his self-definition and discovers a new position of balance, grace, and strength. Such seeming distortions of normal life may lead to further interesting experiments that challenge your deepest assumptions about your needs, likes, and identity.

Do not worry about finding balance. Rather, identify what prevents you from focusing and thinking about a single goal—the discovery and answering of your deepest life question. You must discover through experimentation the lifestyle your particular body and mind combination needs in order to unravel the mystery of its existence. Balance will naturally flow from meeting this need. As truths about your self are discovered, balance will be discovered. This is a unique and dynamic process, changing as we change and clarify our question. A question we live, breathe, and become.

Poems by Shawn Nevins

"The world is an illusion."
So saying, the Zen master rises from his seat—
Swats a mosquito on his forehead.


Face of God

Nothingness looks out
And Nothingness looks in.
My eyes are hollow;
Space pervades all.
A wind blows quietly through empty halls.


How can I say it?
In me, in you—This.


On a backdrop of Nothingness
I paint perfect colors
Which magically move with each mind,
Whose viewing brings forth
New colors to view.
Painters paint and buyers buy
Because everyone else is buying.
No point in berating the master of colors,
Only leave the shopping to others.


The Truth is not hazy.
It is a rock surrounded by mist.
And we are creatures of the mist,
Whose memory is all that gives them form.


I've read to you for a thousand years,
By a candle which never grows cold,
These words spun from our Soul.

Carried by candlelight,
Faint, yet always there, like stars.

To read, I borrow your voice—
Your voice, your soul, your words.
Seems that you never left home
And I never existed.


What is this screeching I hear?
This call to remember I am
of this make-believe place.
Without it,
I drift like a newborn's eyes
beholding majestic stillness,
upon which inconsequential bubblings appear
like voices in the drumbeat of rain.

You Can't Lie to Yourself
by Bob Cergol

photo of dark ocean and sky The following thoughts were written in response to a quote from Osho (Raj Neesh), which was used for a discussion topic:

"Remember one thing: meditation means awareness. Whatsoever you do with awareness is meditation. Action is not the question, but the quality that you bring to your action. Walking can be a meditation if you walk alert. Sitting can be a meditation if you sit alert. Listening to the birds can be a meditation if you listen with awareness. Just listening to the inner noise of your mind can be a meditation if you remain alert and watchful. The whole point is, one should not move in sleep. Then whatsoever you do is meditation."

This is very profound. The catch to this is abandoning the egocentric point of reference while watching. This would be effortless meditation, but, of course you can't make an effort at effortless meditation. I think the "Who am I?" question, which I see as the same as Zen's seeing the "Essence of Mind," leads to this state of awareness. But again—not from the egocentric viewpoint—so through the process of perseverance, always looking inward, trying to see the self, see the "Essence of Mind," the looking eventually leads to the accident whereby the egocentric position is dropped and suddenly seen as "out there" with everything else. I think life continuously presents this very question before our mind but we don't want to look at it, as that would mean letting go of this ego-self. In fact, I've concluded that it is impossible for a person to lie to themselves about anything. The only thing they can do is to look away—look at something else—other than what is staring them in the face—that which is the "hound of heaven."

by Art Ticknor

The most persistent of seekers
Always in a hurry
But never changing their pace
Searching for obstruction
To verify their own existence?

Interpreting Experience
by Bob Fergeson

Bob Fergeson, far right, climbing in Colorado Several times over the years I've had what I call the 'universal experience' (cosmic consciousness). This was usually an overwhelming thing, very emotional, and destructive to whatever egos were dominant at the time. It was not until I came to see myself as 'That which experiences' rather than 'the experiencer,' however, that the experience was seen clearly. The experience and the experiencer were now both part of the objective view, a play unfolding in awareness. In other words, when the ego or 'I' claimed the experience, it became 'mine,' and the experience was valued and desired, 'mine.'

Much of this has to do with how one defines the experiencer, or observer. I find that there's much confusion over this, that the observer in the mind is taken for the Observer of the mind or mind dimension.


land of the wise cartoon

Our thanks to Chris Madden.

Reader Commentary:

I've been following the TAT Forum and I've noticed something very pertinent about Sharad and Anima's comments [in the October issue]. It's been very difficult to pursue a spiritual path in India because there is too much pre-definition, fatalism, and too many intersections between an individual and society. ~ From a friend who's back in India after doing graduate work in the U.S.

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