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

September 2005

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

This month's contents:

Stone Bridge, by Pissarro Stone Bridge, by Pissarro

Rustric Retreat interview of Richard Rose | Dear Aging Becomer by Bob Cergol | Why Don't We Get It? by Bob Fergeson | What Is God? by Bart Marshall | Poems by Shawn Nevins | Patterns by Shawn Nevins | This Pure Mind by Huang Po | Crossing over the Bridge by Art Ticknor | Hearing by Art Ticknor | Humor | Reader Commentary

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Rustic Retreat
A Native Son Shares His Truth in the Hills of West Virginia
From the August 1, 1982 Akron Beacon Journal,
by Charlene Nevada

Richard Rose, 1982 Richard Rose, 1982

A few years ago, a highway patrol trooper pulled up to the Richard Rose farm outside Wheeling, W. Va., and demanded to know what was going on. Why all the out-of-state cars parked on the grass? What were those little signs posted on trees leading to the farm that said "TAT"? What did it all mean?

Rose replied that it would take too long to explain.

"Arrest me if you think I'm breaking the law," he said.

The cop backed off—a bit.

"What are you, Klansmen? he asked.

"I wish to Christ we were," Rose replied. "Then you wouldn't bother me."

"If you're a radical, they leave you alone," Rose sniffed in recalling the story.

It's easy to understand, though, why the passing cop would wonder at the happenings at the Richard Rose farm. Here—in the most unlikely of places—people gather from all over the country to contemplate age-old questions like: What is man? What is his relationship to the universe? What is his ultimate destiny?

Not only is the farm just outside Wheeling—a city more often associated with country and western music jamborees than with intellectual activity—but it is also smack in the middle of a major Hare Krishna settlement.

"The Krishnas are our only neighbors for miles," says Rose, who is partly responsible for the West Virginia Krishna settlement. He leased the Krishnas the first piece of land in 1968—a decision he now regrets. They subsequently bought up several other properties around him and he found himself almost surrounded.

To get to Rose's 160-acre farm, one must follow miles of winding road and cross five bridges, including some one-lane, wood-slat spans. In some places the road has been washed out by the creek along which it runs. Instead of repairing it, signs have been posted: "One lane road." In other words, visitors proceed at their own risk. In the hills of West Virginia, there are no flagmen to assist drivers.

At the end of the paved road, there is another mile and a half of hilly, unpaved, winding road. When it rains—as it did much of June—the ruts in the road are several inches deep. But the road and the drive don't deter people from journeying to Rose's farm.

On a weekend late in June, they came: There was the aerospace engineer from Los Angeles, the stockbroker from Columbus, the chemist from Denver, the physician from Portage County, the art teacher from Pittsburgh, the college financial aid officer from Charlotte, N.C., the financial planner from Maryland, as well as several people from the Akron area.

About 50 in all, they gathered in the rustic setting, ate ham sandwiches and peach pie, drank coffee, listened to hours of lectures, traded thoughts.

They came to talk about healing at a distance, thought transference, prophecy, clairvoyance, after-death visions, deja vu. The participants didn't share any one belief. They shared the desire to share ideas, to reach for another dimension.

"It's both a spiritual and an intellectual experience," said Akronite Janet Chamberlain, a nursing instructor at the University of Akron, as she sat in the farm's front yard and ate lunch between lectures.

Two retreats are usually held each summer. Another is scheduled for next weekend, August 7 and 8.

The cost for the weekend is $30—plus wear and tear on one's car getting there. Camping is free. Food is inexpensive. (Fifty cents for a big wedge of homemade peach pie.)

Officially, the name of the sponsoring group for these retreats is the TAT Foundation. The initials—posted on trees when there is a retreat going on—stand for Truth and Transmission.

Rose, one of the founders of TAT, has devoted his life to searching for truth and transmitting, or conveying, it to others.

At 65, he is a paunchy man who looks perhaps a bit like Confucius. He's a seminary dropout, a retired contractor, an individual who has devoted his life to searching for the meaning of life. And death. He's traveled hundreds of miles seeking out what he calls "legitimate mediums" so he can attend seances and grill the "returnees" on where they've been.

Rose is soft-spoken but out-spoken, a teacher who wants to share his wisdom, but not with a cop who has only a few minutes to spare.

Rose was born in Benwood, outside Wheeling, in 1917. His parents moved to the farm when he was very young.

At age 12, he left to join a seminary. He was seeking the Truth—with a capital T. At 17, he left the seminary, disillusioned.

He went to college for a couple of years and studied Chemistry. After that, he moved around a lot and held a number of jobs. He worked briefly for Goodyear, checking the work of subcontractors before it was shipped to Akron. He worked for Babcock & Wilcox, doing research for the atomic energy powered submarine.

But he never stopped searching for the meaning of life. He embraced different religions along the way—including Yoga and Zen.

After a while, he concluded that most of them were "rackets. It's a tremendous business," he says.

When Rose was 32 [30, actually -Ed.] and living in Seattle, he had an experience that profoundly changed his life. He's cautious when he talks about it. It's difficult for most people to understand.

By his own definition, he was separated from his body and brought to a sort of mountaintop.

"I left my body and I knew it," he says. "I thought I was dead."

From this perspective, Rose found what he describes as "a oneness with God or the Absolute. I use the word Absolute because I think God is a misused term."

The feeling, he said, was like "being one with this force."

From the different perspective, Rose saw the universe—as most of us know it—as an illusion. Humans seemed to be like robots—sort of wandering around playing roles, as in a picture show.

Rose was not drinking, not taking any drugs. The experience just happened. And for a few hours, he feels he was fortunate enough to have transcended into another dimension.

"Under certain psychic conditions, you can enter a different dimension," he says. "This is the whole thing behind mysticism. It's seeking a higher state of consciousness."

Experiencing that higher state of consciousness left Rose stunned.

After several months, he sat down and attempted to put his experience on paper. Rose calls the description of the experience, written in free-style poetry, "Three Books of the Absolute" [included in The Albigen Papers and in Profound Writings, East & West both available from Rose Publications -Ed.]

Rose didn't talk much about the experience, though. Rather, he concentrated on living. He married, had three children. He bought a farm near his homestead. Then, after his mother died in 1960, he moved back into the family farm. He worked as a contractor in the Wheeling area.

"I kept my mouth shut a good bit," he says. "When you're running a business and raising a family, it isn't wise to talk of things that would make people think you're weird," he added.

But Rose did find a few friends with whom he could share his experience.

Finally, after a period of years, he decided he would try to share his grand experience, to try to communicate it to the people he views as robots.

"Occasionally and accidentally, a robot puts to his own computer a question and comes up with an answer about himself, which tells him that he's a robot," he says. "And thus, he becomes less of a robot. And so now, I'm trying to contact other robots."

In 1973, Rose finished writing a book about his philosophy, titling it "The Albigen Papers." The Albigenses were members of a French sect suppressed as heretics in the 13th century.

The book, which contains the description of his other-dimensional experience, also traces many religions.

Publishers didn't exactly line up to print "The Albigen Papers."

So Rose had it typed and mimeographed copies for distribution. Eventually, as the demand for the copies increased, he had a printer set it and published it himself. The 240-page book sells for $5.

Soon after that, he was asked to speak at the University of Pittsburgh. The word spread, and he got invitations from more and more universities. From Kent State. From Ohio State. From Case-Western Reserve. From Akron U.

When Rose left a campus, he left an impression. He found a following.

Dan Niebauer first heard Rose speak nine years ago at the University of Pittsburgh student union. Niebauer saw a sign and went to a meeting—not knowing quite what to expect.

"Walking into that room was a bolt of lightning. It was electric. I listened to him and said, 'He's got something,'" Niebauer said of Rose.

Niebauer, now an aerospace engineer in Los Angeles, traveled back for the June retreat—as he's done many times before—"because I get a good feeling about these people. I have yet to meet a group of people I feel more at home with."

Another TAT member is Bill Weimer of Akron.

Weimer was studying philosophy at Muskingum college in the early 1970's when a professor recommended "The Albigen Papers."

Weimer picked up the book and was fascinated.

"I'd always been into Emerson and Thoreau and this seemed like the next step," he says.

He contacted Rose and became active in the organization. Weimer, a salesman with the Eureka Co., helped organize lecture sessions in the Akron area.

For Weimer, the association with TAT provides a vehicle to explore the questions of "who I am, why am I here? Where am I going to be when I die? Where am I going to be when the body is no longer useful?"

He and others volunteered their time to build a 500-seat shelter on Rose's farm for the sessions.

The summer sessions were started six years ago.

Rose will share his Truth with those who want to listen, but he doesn't preach. At the June session, in fact, he kept a very low profile, choosing instead to bring in knowledgeable speakers on a variety of subjects.

"We're open to ideas," Rose says. "But we don't do anything that smacks of chicanery."

In June, Mark Jaqua, a Kent State graduate now in contracting in Bellaire, lectured on some recent discoveries in biochemistry and human anatomy.

Dr. Lewis Frederick Bissell, a Kent internist who is involved in psychosomatic medicine and holistic health, lectured on "A Course in Miracles," an intensive study in celebrating the joy of life.

Although Bissell came as a speaker, he stayed to participate in the sessions.

He says, "All of us search for the meaning of life."

A reviewer of Rose's book wrote, "If ten percent of the world were required to read Richard Rose's papers, we would have a spiritual evolution/revolution brought about by the one percent that did think on and understand his writings."

Dear Aging Becomer
by Bob Cergol

A letter written by Bob to friends, many of whom have been "on the path" for 25 or more years, and read by him at the April 2005 TAT Spring Gathering:

pants too short You consider yourself more esoterically informed than most—way, way ahead of the common masses and "Joe-six-pack." You think because you have known a teacher, digested a lot of books, engaged in ascetic practices, performed good works, held meetings, meditated, or prayed—that you have become a more spiritual person through these actions. You think that you are earning your reward and that you have become something more than you were before. (Bit by bit, a little better each and every day, step by step, better and better in every way.) You also feel, that your failure to "do" as much as you should have, and could have, explains why you haven't quite finished becoming—whatever it is that you are supposed to become, in order to cross that critical threshold—whereupon.... How long will it take you to become?

When did you start this becoming project? Did you start becoming only after you met your teacher? What did you do that was fundamentally different than before you met your teacher?

Your teacher told you, "You are what you do." Are you? Are you defined by what you do? When you eat too much and move too little, you become fat. When you eat less and move more, you become thin—and hungry.... This is your paradigm: Doing is becoming. When you can no longer do—what will you be? What were you before you could "do"? It seems that you simply appeared one day and started doing, started on your way to becoming you, and then, way, way down the road, decided that you would "do" differently in order to become more than you. Differently how?—a new diet of different thoughts and different experiences....

Can you remember, consciously, the day that you arrived and started becoming?

Well, shortly thereafter.... You interacted with your world and others and you became CONNECTED. You learned and practiced things and you became CAPABLE. You were stroked and affirmed and you became LOVING—and self-centered. You were offended and you became ANGRY. You were hurt and you became FEARFUL. Your body grew and your experiences accumulated and you MATURED. According to the ebb and flow of your circumstances, you became CONFIDENT and HAPPY or DIFFIDENT and DEPRESSED. You didn't see this happening, just as you don't see a plant growing. You were always on the "resulting" side looking back.

The ebb and flow in your moods left you feeling alone and vulnerable. You became aware that the process of becoming you was not unimpeded. You witnessed your relative weakness and found it unacceptable. Your awareness of your vulnerability called into question the very purpose of your becoming you—since you would apparently stop being you at some point. Your knowledge of this was reinforced 1,000 different ways as you died 1,000 petty deaths. So you became attracted to philosophies that promised a final solution to how you would overcome the impediments to your becoming you—forever. You were tantalized by the possibility of acquiring this final answer.

How long ago was that? What percentage of becoming have you completed? You're losing steam now, running out of breath. Is it because you're almost finished becoming you? Did you only THINK that you wanted "THE ANSWER"? Was it just some temporary need of a transitional you that you are no longer? Have your thoughts, emotions and actions simply been tracking that aging, withering body as though you yourself were nothing more than a side-effect?

Your teacher TOLD YOU! "You cannot learn [the Answer], you can only become [the Answer]." This would have to mean that at THE END of that becoming, you ARE the answer. Now that sure sounds like the best form of acquisition and possession you can imagine—one that cannot be taken away from you, no matter what. Not even death could steal a possession that was added to your very being.

In Rose's writings, and perhaps epitomized in his "Jacob's Ladder" diagram, he conveys his perspective that "The View is not the Viewer." He writes of a "somatic or body awareness" and of a "process-observer" or mental awareness, both of which are objects within "Absolute" or non-individualized Awareness.

If you can "BE THE TRUTH" then how could you-the-false generate the Truth?! How can you the Shadow-Man, the view, possibly have created or generated the Viewer?! Here are the simple facts:

"That which is born dies. That which is never born cannot die." —Nisargadatta
"Body and mind perish and are dissipated. Nothing of you shall remain." —Pulyan

Is it possible that you have confused something you imagine as "change of being" with a mere change in your circumstances!?

How can you possibly believe that you can become that which is your source, or that lead can become gold—unless it were already of one and the same substance? How can you possibly become that which you already are? Was your teacher wrong? Or did you misunderstand him?

The answer to the paradox lies in defining the "YOU" of which I speak—and that you experience—and in remembering that Rose never defined the Truth that he said you could become. He ONLY defined becoming as becoming a VECTOR, and a REVERSE VECTOR at that.

You thought you knew what that meant, but you haven't followed your teacher's advice. You haven't become anything of your own volition, least of all a reverse vector. You've continued along the same robotic path as when you met your teacher. Unwaveringly, you have spent your whole life worrying about and trying to become something—something that affirms and confirms your life and your individuality, before the external world—not to mention Death!—puts an abrupt end to the whole endeavor and proves you wrong. You failed to notice that this experience you call living is in reality your reaction to the process of dying!—and that what you conceive and imagine as the process of dying and what you fear as death is in reality the process of discovering the only thing about you, or connected with you, that is alive!

You associate "doing" and "thinking" with living.

What is doing? Whatever it might be, whatever its source, it is something that you experience.

What is thinking? Whatever it is, whatever its source, it is something that you experience.

What is your life if you remove all doing and thinking? What's left?

Are you left with only "watching"?

Does that mean that life is basically "watching"?—that life is essentially an experience?

What is the vantage point of this "watching"? Where are you?!

When you are watching, are you not also aware of being you—and watching? Isn't this awareness of being you, itself an experience being watched?

Imagine you are paralyzed and the outside world perceives you as a vegetable because you cannot communicate in any way whatsoever and your body is powerless to maintain itself. What then are you watching? What of life would be left if you yourself were removed as an object to watch?

Your own death will be an event you watch—but for how long. You are already watching it daily. Your daily reaction is to look away, and the experience of looking away is your life of doing and thinking. Your body will die and be dissipated. Your mind, which is at all times one with that body will likewise be dissipated. Nothing of you will remain—as an object to be witnessed. "Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, from dust were you made, and to dust shall you return."

If that which you take as yourself, is itself a thought, an experience, and witnessed as such—what could possibly be left of you!?

That which you mis-take as your being, the "you," is itself merely an experience—tracking the body after the fact, as a reaction, as the experience of being the experience-er. Your attention is glued to, or fixated on, this outer experience—and the "you" I am referring to is definitely on the "outside," in the view, and does not have an "attention." Rather, you appear IN the attention and ARE that very power of Attention.

NICO looks at self in mirror

In the last 30 years, haven't you figured out yet—how to become a reverse vector? Is it by more and more "doing" and "thinking"—by running faster and faster, in ever decreasing concentric circles—until ... you become like the "Do-Do Bird" Rose described. Is it through bodily action, or mental activity? Which of these follows which, and which is more substantial than Omar Khayam's "... snow upon the Desert's dusty Face, Lighting a little Hour or two—[and] gone"?

If death equates to the absence of doing, thinking and experiencing,—i.e. nothing, then aren't you on your way to becoming nothing—with no effort required? Isn't that the direction of your life?

Can you actually become something, fundamentally different, than what you are right now? Who or what is becoming? You used to be convinced that you could become, now you only hope that you can, that this leaden "YOU" that you know and love so well—and hate—can become a golden you, that will deserve your love forever—and live forever—PROVING ONCE AND FOR ALL WHAT IN YOUR HEART YOU DO NOT REALLY BELIEVE—AND MOST FEAR.

You the body-mind fantasize a vision of becoming something PERMANENT, and superior to yourself—and that somehow YOU will remain anterior to everything—intact as "you"—containing God himself—the timeless.


I think it is your distorted seeing and hearing of the essential desire that comes to you from your true Self—your Essence—for even God does not have the power to split himself, and everything He touches was never separate from Him. (It is the INVISIBLE CURRENT from Rose's Jacob's Ladder diagram. This is pure metaphor, attempting to explain the mechanics of a creation that does not exist.)

You the Shadow-Man cannot fail to act in accordance with your essence, your true source and fundamental nature. However, your actions are refracted according to the fixation of your attention on experience, refracted according to the resulting need for self-definition and personal survival, and refracted according to the resulting fears and desires generated by the experience.

In other words, you the shadow man do not become or evolve or will your attention away from the false. You the shadow-man are watching two movies: one is the movie of your destruction, one is the movie of your denial and acceptance of this destruction. The theme of denial is depicted by the vision of becoming through acquisition. The theme of acceptance is depicted by one's own deconstruction through simple looking—with acceptance. Are you looking—or acquiring?

It is by virtue of your essence that your attention cannot be 100% glued to that which is separate. The desire and attempt to define your self, and to survive, is simply what manifests in the shadow of experience cast by the "Light of the body," that Christ said was "the eye." You, the Shadow-Man, are what manifests when Awareness reflects upon itself and finds no object to reflect upon.

Your attempt to become is doomed to failure. This is beautifully stated in these thematic and climactic phrases from the poem The Hound of Heaven:

All things betray thee, who betrayest Me.
Naught shelters thee, who wilt not shelter Me.
Naught contents thee, who content'st not Me.
All things fly thee, for thou fliest Me!
Thou dravest love From thee, who dravest Me.

If your attempt to become transcendentally different is doomed to failure, what can and will you do about it?

Can your actions lead to a change in anything other than your circumstances? You believe that it can because you mistake the after-the-fact reactive experience as you-the-doer. It is a wish of you-the-somatic-mind.

Have you noticed that your actions have an effect upon your attention? What motivates your actions? The action of looking will further affect the focus of your attention.

Becoming a reverse-vector is the opposite of external, worldly becoming. It is un-becoming. It is your un-doing! It is the breaking of your fixation on all experience—including the experience of identity—until the attention collapses in upon itself and all experience either stops or is recognized as non-existent.

Spiritual becoming is worldly and personal un-becoming through the reverse vector of the attention—"that power of noticing" which is not your possession. The potential value in your activity aimed at becoming lies in the effect that it will have upon the direction of your attention—not in becoming something other than what you already are or are not.

Your desire to become was wisely exploited by your teacher, who coined the phrase: "milk from thorns." He also liked to recall the Radha Soami guru who answered his question about what can be done: "All that man can do is desire." Rose knew full-well the ultimate Source of this desire, and how this desire manifested in the "mind realm" and in the "body realm."

Your experience generates experience. Experience is to the identity as food is to the body.

Your identity weaves itself in a self-perpetuating chain-reaction—so long as the attention is glued to experience—and so long as the body fuels the reactor.

The "fabric" of identity unravels as the attention is turned to watching—first experience itself, as an outside observer rather than a participant, and then when the attention is turned to watching the experience-er.

Experience is binding.
Observing the process of experiencing is liberating.

Good hunting, and may your life experience be decidedly disconcerting.

As your faithful friend, I remain....


~ These notes are from Bob's presentation at the April 2005 TAT conference: "Beyond Mind, Beyond Death." Visit TAT's video page for more information.

Why Don't We Get It?
by Bob Fergeson

What I suspect we need is not any kind of path or discipline, but a collection of tricks or devices for catching the Dark at the corner of the eye, as it were, and learning how to spot its just-waiting-to-be-seen presence, combined with strategies for stopping the hyperactive survival-programmes from immediately explaining the perception away. D.E. Harding's exercises for discovering one's own essential "headlessness" are the best ideas I've yet come across for the first half of this process, but, by his own admission, most people "get it but simply don't believe it." —John Wren-Lewis

The above quote by John Wren-Lewis points out a common conundrum seen often nowadays in seekers of the Truth. Many of us can recall times when we were strangely indifferent to our usual pattern, and the world seemed new and alive, with the noise of the mind blessedly absent. Then, the thought-pattern of personality took back the reins and the world became once more known and dimmingly familiar. Even the startling effects of Douglas Harding's exercises can become relegated to memory, for in our everyday world the miracle of "seeing" is soon lost, replaced by the usual fog of "knowing." Why is this? Why doesn't something so startling as seeing without one's own head last? Why is the ego's hold on us so complete that its survival is the paramount fact of our very life, robbing us of seeing without warning?

Canyon Lands cottonwoods. Photo by the author. Canyon Lands cottonwoods. Photo by the author.

We may think that the problem lies in emotion. That if we were just a bit more enthused about it all, we could retain the clarity through thick and thin. We come away from a seminar pumped up, making inner promises to never forget what we've seen, and to try harder at every turn. Here, we may be misled once more. The act of seeing is not one of emotion, anymore than it is of thought. The memory of seeing is not the act, any more than the memory of the emotional reaction is. I can remember once listening to an intense emotional sermon by a sincere preacher. Everyone in the church came under the same spell, convinced that they would go forth from that moment on and be a better person, worthy of the glory of eternal life. Then, an even stranger thing happened. While in the parking lot after the service, I realized I could not remember anything the preacher had said, not a word. I couldn't even remember what I had been so enthused about. By the time I got home, the mood was completely gone; the thoughts and business of the day had totally replaced it.

Now, there is nothing wrong with becoming inspired. It's a necessary part of the path. But, it is not the goal. Seeing is not a state of being in perpetual bliss about our seeing. This is again the trap of living in the reaction, not the state. This trap of reaction is a clue to why no matter how intense or startling a state is, we soon lose it. We are trying to get back to seeing by looking at the reaction. We forget to see, by trying to remember to see. We look at our previous emotional or mental reaction to seeing, while our seeing, always there in the moment, every second, is overlooked.

Let's back up a bit, and go back to the start of the problem. When we were first brought into the world, we were taught by people, well meaning but asleep, that we are a thing, an object, living in a world of things. We were taught that some of these things, our thoughts, were more real than our very being, meaning our seeing was secondary to our thinking about our seeing. This trick was played on us until we could do it ourselves. Once we were well trained in fooling ourselves, we became "thinking." The world of thought became our new home. We lost our innocence, as we slowly lost sight of our seeing. We traded it for knowing, the unquestioned belief that our thoughts were more real than our seeing of our thoughts. Soon enough, we could no longer see our very seeing, and began to believe we were our thoughts.

Here then, lies the problem. We have become a collection of thoughts, an entity which treats every new moment as if it were already a memory, basing each new moment on only the past and the reaction this past has to each moment. We are so wrapped up in this thought-collection, this "knowing," that we even treat a moment of seeing as if it were another memory, reacting to it as if we already know all about it. A reaction can never be in the moment, for only seeing happens now. This trap of living one step behind ourselves cannot be explained away with conceptual thinking or fought with reactionary emotional thrills. It cannot be gotten rid of by changing our behavior, such as going left instead of right. What then can be done?

Franz Hartmann gives us a clue when he says, " There is nothing more difficult to find than one's own self." There is also nothing more valuable. It is our own "self" that is the problem. Any plan of escape from the trap of thought-reaction is simply this self trying to survive, even if the plan is one of perpetual seeing. The self will see seeing as yet another tool to perpetuate its own continuity. This self is a collection of thoughts, an inventory of all reactions, which seeks only its own continuity as a thought-pattern. The only way to deal with such a thing, is to see it. To observe it.

Simple observation, unbiased and without reaction or judgment, i.e. seeing, will take us farther than any clever plan or emotional outburst. A return to innocence, the initial stage of not-knowing, will give us an edge, open a crack in the ego's armor, and return the value of our very existence to that of seeing, rather than to the reaction to seeing. By beginning to watch what we do, we start a pattern of return to the state of a free attention. Once we are able to watch our "selves" as we go about our daily tasks, we may soon see that we can watch our thoughts as well. We all have moments where seeing is spontaneous and personal. If we come to value these moments, we begin to switch our meaning from the world of thought back to that of awareness. We can take the tricks we learned at meetings and seminars and put them to use in every moment: while driving, working at our desk, and even while watching TV.

We may soon notice a strange thing happening in our head, while we watch our watching. We may see that as soon as a moment of seeing fades, a familiar mood or state has returned, which is in fact the reason for the cessation of the seeing itself. This vaguely familiar pattern is our own state of mind. The collection of thoughts we feel to be "us" has slipped back. The old pride in "knowing" as reactive thought, our personal dogma, will slide in like a fog bank, and then we are our old self again, and the seeing is now incorporated into this "self's" inventory. "It" has survived, and we are back asleep.

Only through the simple process of self-observation can this thing called the "self" be seen. We may need years of looking at it, seeing why it does what it does, thinks what it thinks, until we know it well enough to cease to believe in it. All of our energy, for all of our life, has been poured into this thing: our personality, the little self, the ego. A few moments of seeing, while of monumental importance, will not cause its complete demise. This demise is what we fear most; for it is seen by the thought-pattern we call "us" as death. At some point, the initial joy of seeing will turn to the pain of ego-death, as the Truth becomes known. It will not be pleasant. In fact, the pain and horror felt by the ego as it faces its own death, will be felt as yours. Hartmann's words again ring true: "Conquer the pains resulting therefrom." While all this may be just words to you for now, know that after you have gone beyond this realm of thought, beyond this self-surviving collection of reactions seeking nothing but its own continuity, "seeing" will still be there. You will then have no more need of thought or reaction to give you meaning and value, as the simple act of seeing will once again be enough. The world of thought will no longer be your home, having become a movie, a dream, as much a comedy as a drama, wherein the bit character you used to call your "self" is merely another player. Your interest will be only in a pure amazement at your own unknowable Being … and perhaps the need to help another find freedom from the trap of reaction, the world of "self."

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

What Is God?
by Bart Marshall

fist with finger pointing back at you Whenever someone speaks about having a spiritual realization the question naturally arises about the depth of that realization, and how it stacks up against the great realizations of the past. This is an issue especially, I think, among those of us who set the epic drama of Rose's realization as the gold standard, and believed that his many powerful qualities came automatically with the package.

As inspiring and compelling as the great teachers are for us, paradoxically, they can become our greatest block. A boy cannot become a man in his father's house. When Rose said, "People need to leave me if they want to have any hope of having a spiritual experience," he wasn't talking about moving off the farm. He was, like every Zen master worth his salt, saying, "I am a phantom finger pointing at the moon. Do not mistake the phantom for the moon."

I ask myself: Was this realization the highest, most final possible? Has this occurrence given me all the Absolute Truth a body can stand? Have I seen as deeply as Rose, Maharshi, Buddha, Bernadette…? I don't know. I suspect it's not possible to know. All I can say is that it was conclusive. It has silenced my incessant questioning and demand for certainty. What was given was far greater than anything I could have imagined. To seek more would be ungracious.

I moved freely back and forth between God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit and never changed. There is and forever only One. It is a realization too simple to be superseded, it seems, but time will tell.

I use the word God a lot when talking about this, so I should say what I mean by God. It's important to rescue the word from religious mythology. We are not talking in any way about a separate being that watches over us and hears our prayers and plays favorites.

Synonyms: God, Void, One, Absolute, Tao, Being, Consciousness, Awareness, That, Is-ness, Such-ness, No-thing, Supreme...

So what is God? Can we describe it? What are the attributes of the Absolute? The One has no attributes whatever. The indescribable cannot be described, but the great teachers have done their best, and if you poke around the literature of enlightenment you'll find six or eight attributes consistently being assigned to God, to the One. According to those claiming to know first hand, God is:

Again, the mind finds questions in the answers, like: "Where is Here?" "Here is wherever I am," we say. "I am here, in this chair." Closer, though, where is the center of my experience of Here? Where is ground zero, the innermost Here. What do I find at zero inches? Is anyone home?

As many of you know, Douglas Harding has a series of experiments aimed at triggering a startling experience of "Here" he calls Headlessness. The most widely known of these is the pointing experiment.

Point at anything. Everywhere you point out you point at things. You can only point at things, things with names and shapes and apparent substance. Now point directly into your point of view-right between the eyes. What does the finger point to now? Is there a thing there? Or does it point to no-thing?

Stop imagining a face. Can you see your face right now? For just a moment don't explain to yourself why there really is a face there but you can't see it because of anatomical anomalies or whatever. Use only your immediate experience, only the huge single-eye view you have right now-not a memory of your face in the mirror, or imaginings based on what you see on other people's shoulders. Using only this view now, describe what your finger points in to.

If you're at a loss for words, you can refer to the list of God's attributes. Are you not pointing to emptiness? An aware emptiness of unknown size that encompasses all? Are you not this that we have described? Are you not This?

~ Excerpted from Bart's presentation at the April 2005 TAT conference: "Beyond Mind, Beyond Death." Visit TAT's video page for more information.

Poems by Shawn Nevins

I know who he was.
Wizened old men whisper the memory of their lives,
chanting dreams
—a feeling that lingers
like the life in a child's toy
long after he left it for other loves.

That word, Was, rises
like the familiar scent of a forgotten room,
the sssh of wind slipping among the pines.

You know who you were—
today's memory, yesterday's reality;
today's reality, tomorrow's memory.


Every word gets wrapped
in this feeling of falling
short of the meaning
of being
lingering whispers
of words
calling us home,
calling us home.


All words arise in mid feeling
and circle round This Place
like smoke.


The wind rises from the valley
wrapping me in the warmth of being.
Elm seeds cling to their mother,
rattling like rain on a tin roof,
forming words from their bodies and a breeze
—from nothing.
Listening half to these words
and half to what is beneath them,
turn towards the valley
deep inside.


"January 13th"

The rooster fears the dawn.
Every way you knew is wrong.
It all turns out.
It all turns out.
How many times has this day come and gone?
Not for long.
Not for long.

by Shawn Nevins

Self-discovery will necessarily involve the discovery of patterns. The brain easily recognizes patterns in the external environment. Just look at the stars. All cultures give names to the images our minds conjure in the night sky. Our ancestors survived by learning the patterns of animal behavior—where they congregated, the paths they followed—and used that knowledge to hunt them. We learned the patterns of biology, chemistry and math to gain control of our environment. Yet, the patterns in our internal environment draw little attention. Recognition of our internal patterns is important for self-discovery, and to raise our lives above that of animal reaction.

Rock wall - Franklin, TN Rock wall - Franklin, TN

Here is an example of an interior pattern: Faced with a difficult task, my first reaction is to throw up my hands in despair. I want to quit, and waste time imagining how I will explain my failure to the boss. I get depressed at the thought of quitting and equally depressed at the thought of trying and failing. After wallowing in futility, a glimmer of hope appears. Perhaps I could …? The glimmer of hope becomes a tentative course of action that allows, if not stunning success, at least effort. By observing the pattern, I recognize what is happening, and the power of the depression is lessened. Less energy is spent. The pattern speeds up—the time between despair and effort decreases—and eventually comes close to vanishing.

Another example: I fall in love (or lust) with women with whom I spend a lot of time—happens every time. By not recognizing this, I am in for a world of hurt. In identifying the pattern, I gain power over my future—the possibility to predict and avert the normal outcome. The thoughts associated with that pattern become somewhat transparent and I recognize information normally buried under pattern thinking. I may detect other feelings (intuitions) that tell me this woman is not for me.

One more example: I find a book, say a Douglas Harding text, which inspires new thoughts and intense action. I drop everything else, feeling it is the only book I'll ever need and I will surely find the answers by following its examples. However, I will come to the end of that particular train of thought and will flounder for weeks or months until I find something new. By seeing the pattern, I become an observer rather than a reaction, and temper my fall from inspiration.

There is a parallel between patterns and the danger of words. Many people point out the danger of labeling. We walk through the woods and say, "That is a wildflower. That's an oak tree," and never pause to look deeper. We see a person and say, "That is John. That is the pizza delivery guy," and that labeling determines our reaction. A pattern is like a word. It is a set reaction, a description of what will happen, and that determines our destiny. In this case though, by naming the pattern, by seeing it, we gain freedom. We use two negatives to cancel one another.

To aid your study of patterns, keep a journal. Study how you react to trauma and stress. Study the patterns in your friends (easier to see the mote in another's eye...) and realize you are no different.

Keep looking for patterns. When you see one, know you are not in control. Patterns are not the truth, so look beyond them and discover if there is something else within you.

Huang Po

This Pure Mind
by Huang Po

This pure Mind,
the source of everything,
shines forever and on all
with the brilliance
of its own perfection.

Crossing over the Bridge
by Art Ticknor

There's a riddle about a 180-pound man who has three packages, each weighing 10 pounds: How does he get across a bridge that has a load-carrying capacity of 200 pounds in one trip with all his packages?

Suwo province, Kintai bridge The answer is that he juggles them. One of the packages will always be in the air. And the riddle is used as a metaphor, with the bridge representing his life and the packages containing his burdens. Everyone is crossing the bridge with more weight than they can bear.

The problem arises because we're attached to our burdens. We don't feel we can survive without them, or we'd jettison them over the side of the bridge.

The burdens are our faulty self-definition, the unfounded beliefs we have about what we are. This starts off with the belief that we're a person with thoughts and feelings and a body. When we realize that we're never that which is observed or observable (objects), we eventually realize that we've backed ourselves into the corner of being an observer (subject) trying to observe itself—while anything that can be observed is not the self.

Even if we get a glimpse of what we really are, we're still stuck with the belief that we're observing it and are thus convinced it can't really be us.

What's the solution? Getting to the other side—death—loaded down with our self-beliefs doesn't solve the problem. Jumping off the bridge—suicide—doesn't solve the problem. We need to "sacrifice" the self-beliefs by realizing their falseness until we get down to the core belief: the conviction of individuality. Then we run into paradox. Getting rid of the final false belief would be like jumping off the bridge while remaining on it.

There's a passage in the Old Testament (Proverbs 8:17) that points to the way: "I love those who love me. Those who seek me diligently will find me." Something larger than what we think we are accomplishes the final step, casting off the final burden. When that occurs, we realize our true identity. And we find that our identity is beyond the little person struggling across the bridge.

by Art Ticknor

O incomprehensible not-twoness,
Whose music is the silent hum upon which the ears and the sound waves of the universe ride,
Where within thee is hearing, where the phantom hearer?


evolution to computer-man

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