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

TAT Forum
July 2003

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


This month's contents:

Lecture of Questions (part 4 and conclusion) by Richard Rose | Poems by Shawn Nevins | What I Don't Know by Shawn Nevins | Seek Me First by Franklin Merrell-Wolff | Does He Leave You any Moment? by Bob Cergol | Working for Inspiration by Bob Fergeson | Rowing over to Long Island by Susan O'Toole | Doing Nothing, All Things are Done by Michael Conners | Humor |

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Lecture of Questions (Part IV)
Final Section
by Richard Rose

(~ Continued from the June 2003 TAT Forum)

Why is talk (different perspectives) necessary?

What causes different perspectives?

What liabilities are incurred with unavoidable states of mind?

What is a state of mind?

Are perspectives rooted in valid bases and definitions or in undefinable feelings—which may be as valid or meaningful as definitions?

Does a given color cause the same reaction in all people?

Why do some perfumes enchant one person and cause nausea in another?

What is beauty?

Philosopher Meditating, by Rembrandt

How do perspectives which are influenced by feelings affect science? Do they help or hinder? Can a scientist totally rule feelings out of judgments? (Did the scientists of Columbus' time feel that the earth was flat or know that the earth was flat?)

What is wisdom?

Is it foolishness or wasted effort unless it is restricted to objective or materialistic values?

Is all wisdom unbiased?

Is a wise man just "one who gets along" with his fellow-man?

Is wisdom just adaptation, symbiosis, or a blending with others to a point of losing personal identity?

Is silence a trademark of wisdom—even if silence is caused by cowardice?

Who or what is the "authority" in regard to human essence or nature?

Does a man love, or is he incapable of loving?

Does a man not desire to be loved while pretending to love others?

Does a tick love the host or the blood of the host?

Is love of every kind programmed and projected into us?

Is there only one dimension?

Does not the possibility of multiple dimensions weaken our significance and our pretended potential for controlling our environment?

What is God?

What are his dimensions?

What is a soul? Are these just aberrated ideas?

Why do people use words like "God" or "soul" without going to some effort to define them?

What is an idea?

Is there a thinking self or only an awareness that witnesses reactions—and may possibly witness a pseudo-self or ego?

Can a man have spiritual- or essence-clarity and be psychologically confused?

Are we an individual or a conglomerate of several "selves"?

If there is such a conglomerate, how is the Real Self isolated?

Have we just now isolated the Real Self (by taking the position of external questioner)?

Is thought a possession or an obsession? What is the relationship between thoughts and glands?

What is sanity or insanity?

Is sanity only somatic healthiness?

Are unpopular people insane? (Or outside the normal curve?)

Could sanity ever mean that state of mind with perfect understanding of all problems, a state of mind from which the altering lens of ego has been removed from mental vision or perception?

Would such a version of sanity imply the need of perfected logic or perfected intuition?

What is intuition?

How does one arrive at it?

Is thought a synaptic reaction to an electrical stimulus?

If we cannot willfully think, do we ever really make decisions?

Or is it possible that only the people who realize that they cannot enforce decisions are the ones that eventually may find ways or means to make things happen?

If we think about thought, is thought then objective and separate from the thinking self? Is thought an entity, or an emanation of sorts?

Can sanity be gauged by logic?

Is behavior considered normal by virtue of percentages of incidence? (Example of normal curve.)

Is all such "normal" behavior always logically excusable?

Is sanity a way of measuring the skill of survival?

Or is sanity also involved in the skill of checking factors such as motivation, correct reasons for living, quality-control of morality, and the control, or evaluation of, environmental factors?

Would our behavior be the same if we discovered—by logical or even commonsense means—that our environment was greater or less than we previously believed it to be? (More mind dimension. The sanest bird cannot outwit the rifle, much less higher technology by poisoning.)

In other words, would we behave the same way if we discovered beyond speculation that there was no life-after-death?

Or that our environment included other, perhaps endless, dimensions?

How would we react to the incontrovertible discovery of an inescapable immortality?

Are we not caught somewhere between, and is not this materialism a bit of fence-riding that says on one hand that we can accept only that which we see, while refusing to look at, or see, new factors not immediately accessible to our senses, or new truths which would give new definitions to life and new meaning to existence?

Psychiatry contains opinions rather than pure scientific findings. Is psychology becoming a cult?

Does psychology or psychotherapy rule by edict rather than reason? Is there any science in the modus operandi of these current mental-therapies?

Is it safe to allow psychologists to monitor our lives—if they are only cognizant of body-survival and would program us only for that?

Are psychologists who work in advertising and promotion a boon to mankind—or are they manipulators without proper respect for the victims of selfish or spurious interests?

Can the psychiatrist produce sanity in a person if he has not adequately defined sanity?

If he defines sanity, should he (the psychiatrist) not be required to bring sanity to every patient who is in any degree insane?

What does behaviorism prove?

Apatosaurus tracks in volcanic rock What do the tracks made by an animal prove? Do they tell you about the essence or purpose of that animal?

If fifty-one percent of the people become killers, will that make killing normal?

Can we study the mind by ignoring brain chemistry and behavioristic testing? (Introspection vs. structuralists.)

Is it more important to know what a man is thinking, or capable of doing, than it is to know who it is that is thinking or doing, and what is thought?

Are the conclusions reached by introspective thinking corroborated by sciences such as brain chemistry and the statistics of behaviorism?

Note: Does not introspection take in behavior? Should the behaviorists not take into consideration or at least not ignore the nature of mental behavior and the multiple unseen causes of behavior, such as the meaning of life (which is the origin of thought) and the purpose for the existence of individuals? Unless the thoughts of first causes and the purpose of mankind are understood, fatalism would make behavioristic control efforts absurd.

Is the photon an intelligent messenger of God?

Is the photon a distraction-being that dazzles the human eye so that he cannot see the realities found in introspection?

Will you ever be free and at the same time be aware?

© 1988 Richard Rose. All Rights Reserved. "The Lecture of Questions" is published in Profound Writings, East and West.

Poems by Shawn Nevins

The thin spider's web of life and time,
this hand of mine,
my friends who are a part of me,
lit by darkness of grace
that freezes all
reminding me what never was.


Truth descends like a scythe
clearing away distractions.
Only the sound of the scythe is silence
leaving a view beyond any eye to see.
Another part of us sees—is wide open.


My hand is stopped—
I am so free.
So free of the painful belief in motion.
Never more will my mind make
dreams to dance.
Dead to life and alive to death,
I've a new heart—so free,
not of my making,
not of anything,
seen by darkness,
felt by boundlessness,
known by unknowing.
Will you flow onto this empty plain
with Me—so free,
or stand alone, longing?


I walk with the finality of death;
with endless being.
What does this mean to me?
What can I see?
What can I be—this little man?

Peering down the throat of the Whole,
still holding to life,
words cancel each other's meaning.

Beyond life and blackness,
exchanging memory for infinite presence,
all is preserved,
but I do not care.


Wind, remind me of my leaf-nature.
Underneath the sound
you draw forth from me,
is a view without horizons.


From a distance,
our proud motions
become patterns of beauty—
like fish breaching the water—
ripples expanding into stillness.


The pause:
before touching,
at the end of a thought,
upon a new morning,
or the brink of night's fall.
Moments threatening to collapse
into opening.

What I Don't Know
by Shawn Nevins

People do not understand the knowledge that a realization of essence brings to the individual. I know little of the "whys" and "therefores" of this place. I do know what I am—essentially. When all has fallen to dust, what was discovered will BE. Till then, I am walking a road:

"Where are you going?" you ask.

"I am going home."

"Where is that?"

"It is this way."

"Why are you walking this road?"

"Because it takes me home, and my feet are moving."

"If I follow your footsteps, will I go home?"

"No. You must follow/make your own road."

"What will happen if I do not walk my road."

"I do not know, but I do know that all other roads lead to longing. Only one is complete."

"Why is this road here?"

"I don't know. All I know is it takes me home."

"Why are we here?"

"Again, I do not know."

"Don't you want to answer these questions?"

"They do not matter. The light of home is in sight, and all else is forgotten/faded. If you desire a resolution to one of these questions, you can find it on your road."

"How can you be satisfied with not knowing?"

"With home in sight, everything is perfect."

"How long will it take me to get home?"

"The distance of your road is unknown. It must be walked, yet crossing the threshold takes but a moment that becomes timeless."

"When will you arrive home?"

"I'm already there, dreaming of this road; dreaming of dreaming."

Seek Me First
by Franklin Merrell-Wolff

      The joy is not the end-in-itself to be sought.
      Seek Me first, and then My Knowledge and My Joy will also be thine.
      Seek Me for My own sake and not for any ulterior motive.
      I and I alone am the worthy end of all endeavor.
      So lay down all for Me, and My Wealth will be thy wealth, My Power thy power, My Joy thy joy, My Wisdom thy wisdom.
      This universe is but a part of My Treasure, and it, with vastly greater Riches, shall be the portion of the Inheritance of all those who come to Me.
      Long have ye lingered in the desert of Ignorance.
      I desire not thy continued suffering.
      Come unto Me. The Way is not so hard.

~ Reprinted by permission from "Experience and Philosophy" by Franklin Merrell-Wolff. See the Franklin Merrell-Wolff Fellowship site for more information on Merrell-Wolff's teaching.

Does He Leave You any Moment?
by Bob Cergol

~ From Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, No. 306 (December 26, 1936).

There is no death—because there is nothing to die. But we don't accept this because we want this identity to live, to be real. Accepting that there is nothing to die is acknowledging that the "we" we take as us is not—and the reality of that, we perceive as death!

I had taken my daughters out for trick-or-treat last Halloween. At one house a woman sat there quietly, wearing a hideous, ugly witch's mask. She handed out candy and didn't say anything. It happened so quickly, I was thinking—too late—maybe we should skip that house. The girls got their candy, quietly said "Thank you," and walked away.

That night my younger daughter awoke with a sad, sad crying. While my wife comforted her, I lay awake in bed, contemplating from her eyes the image of the frightful scene. Then I closed my eyes thinking, "Why?—this whole crazy bardo...." simultaneously moving my attention to my sacred place of Silence. And suddenly I recalled how, as a child, I had nights of disquiet and fright. I recalled how, then, I would close my eyes and move my attention to that SAME place of Silence and pray to God—because I was taught that God was a thing apart. I felt a lump in my throat as I realized that I HAD the answer as a child and got lost. That the Silence I know now is something I KNEW BEFORE and had LOST.

Richard Rose once said to me out of the blue, without much in the way of preliminary conversation, that I was running away from myself and that he always had to bring me back home to myself.

I do not remember THINKING ABOUT God as a child, so much as FEELING a Presence that I just took for granted—simply accepting it without question—and even praying not to let me change and get lost, because I looked around me and saw and knew that it was an inevitable consequence of growing up.

What I didn't appreciate then was the false perception of separation, as if that Presence was something apart. How could I know that it was what I really was?

Working for Inspiration
by Bob Fergeson

To begin and end a life of spiritual seeking, there is much to be done. While at the end of our search we may realize that there was nothing being done and all is as it should be, while we are struggling in the morass of ego and illusion, we would do well to have a strategy. This plan should be based on the experience of those who have gone before us, as well as the hints from our own intuition, tempered by clear reasoning.

As Colin Wilson points out, there are things we can do to encourage our personal evolution, and things which hinder it. While the goal may be to become All, there are hidden assets in the many we can call into manifestation to improve our chances for becoming that All. There are also forces inside us that wish to maintain the status quo of ego and illusion, and will defend their daily portion of our valuable energy.

Let's take a look at how we can improve our odds at taking a step within, into the world of our mind and beyond. The journey within can be broken down into three steps, which are simultaneous and interdependent: intention, or aim; clearing the field; and the saving and transmutation of energy.

Intention: We must have the proper desire: an unrelenting, conscious intention to know the truth. We cannot create or fake this, but can only discover it within us, and then help it to grow. Our main intentions may be ones we refuse to accept. This must be seen before any spiritual aspirations can be successful. A few months of regular group work in an ashram setting will show one which intentions are dominant. If the desire for self-definition is found, this aim will guide us in all we do, reminding us of what we truly want, and how to get it. An honest commitment to oneself must then be made, clearly and openly. Then we forget it, concentrating on the endeavors of the moment. The inner self will then be called to help, without undo interference from the ego.

Clearing the Field: We can have only one main aim. Whatever is draining our energy without result must be cleared away. We need to know ourselves, to be watchful and wary. Many unconscious motivations, ambitions, fears and desires may be sidetracking our energy and time. These must be seen and admitted, so as to bring them into our awareness. The pitfalls of projection, transference, circumstance, heredity, and environment must be fully recognized and brought up into full consciousness, also. The machine must be cleaned, operating smoothly under our conscious control. As Wilson pointed out, when the robot is in charge, life loses its wonder and magic, and the inner resources are lost. We develop the intuition through the higher energy we save (as seen below), thus enabling us to discern what voices or habits are useful in our search, and which are against our best interests.

The saving and transmuting of energy: In any project or large endeavor, much time and energy are needed. Given that our resources as individuals are limited, perhaps fixed, we must use this energy quantum to the best advantage. We can't have too many irons in the fire, too many ambitions or habits that require constant funding. The precious energy we have must be saved and redirected to the prime intention, of knowing our truth. The cleaning of the machine and our life's patterns will give us this funding. Now that some of our energy is being freed from worldly pursuits, we can learn to direct it upward, through our aim. We hold our intention clearly in our mind, which is to learn to observe our self, and allow the attention to turn inward, and listen. This newly released energy will also help to develop the intuition, as we are forced to rely on it more and more, thus drawing the saved energy to its development. Then, we act on what insight we receive, thus becoming a vector. If we do not act on, and therefore acknowledge, our inspiration, it may not return. It is not there for mere intellectual pleasure, or to pump up some vain ego. The intuition must be transferred into action, even if that action is only to incorporate it into our thinking, to bring it into full consciousness. If we use it for profit or selfish motives, it may also vanish. It wishes to act through us, rather than for us. Allow it to manifest, and it will grow.

This may sound like a lot of work, and it is. To find the truth about oneself and the universe is not a small thing, though it's as close as the hair on your head. If you find you cannot live without knowing who is living, then get to work.

~ See Bob's web sites, The Mystic Missal, NostalgiaWest, and The Listening Attention.

Rowing over to Long Island
by Susan O'Toole

Rowing over to Long Island
      Two slow oars
      Gently stroke the silvery Sea,
      In the expiring glow of evening sun
      Through soft waves of freshness
Stirring in the heart,
      Clearing miasmas, dross,
      Before soothing out to wash up
Against the rising rocks
      And shadows of colour and form
      Settling gracefully, hung on
      The vanishing day.
Images ebb and flow, dancing
      Shimmering flecks along the spine
      Of light, the world, and me.

      I sing old tunes
Lightly swaying on a wind
      Drifting lazily under the arch
      Of bird wing and bellies of
Polished pearls.

Sudden screeching cries
      Unlock dammed up memories
      Long forgotten,
      Glistening without name
Mirroring themselves to rest below
      In the deep mysterious ocean
      Where the chorus of life
      Breaks with sound and fish
      Leaping, flowing out towards
History       Curling back their heads
      To eat light,
      Each moment is complete
      And so full,
      Beautiful in itself, it is what is—
Space      offered, opened up
      Always there
            Here Now

~ See Susan's South Reen Farm web site.

Doing Nothing, All Things are Done
by Michael Conners

If someone told you the real, true secret to a blissful, contented and stress-free life (life in the state of Self realization)—could you hear it? There is a line in the Tao Te Ching, "Abiding in non-doing, nothing remains undone." It sounds good, but it seems to contradict our personal experience and disagrees with almost everything we've heard: "We must do something in order to get things done." "The path to Self realization, and Enlightenment especially, is long and very difficult." "Few succeed; perhaps one in a million will begin the path, and of those perhaps one in a million will reach the end!" "To reach enlightenment you must renounce every thing, even the desire for enlightenment!" We may pay attention to such lines about non-doing, renouncing, and such, which seem paradoxical and very confusing.

Most do not succeed in reaching the goal simply because the goal is a state of Effortlessness. It is abiding in non-doing and doing can not lead to non-doing! Effortlessness can not be had through effort, but we can reach the goal easily and quickly through a daily practice of Effortlessness, and nothing will remain undone.

To realize the truth of this statement, we need to have the experience of effortlessness in our daily life. Some find it in sports, some in the arts, and some in desperation. For our purpose, the easiest and most dependable way is thru a practice of Effortlessness in silent meditation. A twice-a-day practice of Effortless meditation gives us the very relaxing, pleasant experience of the automatic nature of thinking and feeling. Soon we become aware of our not being the doer of it. Normally, we say, "I think" and "I feel" or "I am the thinker, the feeler, and the doer" or even "I am my thoughts, my feelings, my memories, and my actions." But, with all this illusion of our being the doer, and our identification with thoughts and feelings, comes all our suffering! The practice of Effortless meditation quickly and easily ends this illusion, the identification, and the suffering it brings, by giving us the direct experience of the effortless nature of thinking. This disidentification comes very easily, and quickly, with regular, Effortless practice. It is extremely rare without it. To this end, the most important thought I want to leave with you is this: Along with any other practices you have chosen as your path to Enlightenment,


There are many benefits that come automatically from a regular practice:

Effortlessness works with all silent meditation techniques: T.M., Zazen, Mindfulness, Prayer of Recollection. Whichever technique we've chosen should be interesting to the mind, and naturally attract our attention.

effortless meditation cycle To meditate effortlessly, we begin by sitting comfortably, with our eyes closed, for half a minute or so. We will naturally begin to feel some relaxation.

Any thoughts, feeling, or sensations we experience will come automatically, effortlessly, and spontaneously. We may become lost in thought for a time ... equally effortlessly....

We will automatically and effortlessly remember that we are sitting there to do our technique. That remembering will be a spontaneous, "Oh! ... I'm sitting to...." or something like that. As effortlessly as we remember the name of a friend, we will remember our technique. At this point it is important that we not try to DO our meditation technique! A faint remembering of it is enough. It all happens naturally. It is just the way the mind works. We continue to sit, comfortably, just letting it come ... and letting it go.

At some point we will automatically begin to think or feel something else, or we may again find we've been lost in thoughts. We'll again remember, "Oh! ... I'm...." thus effortlessly and spontaneously remembering our technique again. We continue to sit, not trying to meditate, but being aware of whatever is happening. There may be many of these "Oh!...." cycles, or not many. Whatever comes effortlessly is correct Effortless meditation.


  • No concentration
  • No expectations
  • No control of thoughts or feelings
  • No resistance or clinging to anything
  • No effort! It's a natural, automatic process


Some definitions:
EFFORT - "The conscious application of mental or physical power" (Webster's Third International Dictionary).
EFFORTLESS - Requiring no effort. Automatic, spontaneous, occurring naturally.
EFFORTLESS MEDITATION - Practice of non-doing; experience of the automatic nature of mind.
EGO - The "I"; the imaginary doer of thinking, feeling, and acting.
NIRVANA - Extinguishing this false "I," bringing us to true Self Inquiry and to Self Realization.

~ Mike would be happy to hear from you if you have questions on effortless meditation. You can reach him by phone at (513) 281-3294. Best times to call are between 7 and 10 PM, US Eastern time zone.


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