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

TAT Forum

February 2015

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Convictions & Concerns

TAT members share their personal convictions and/or concerns

A Double Helix of Conviction and Concern

In recent times, I've noticed two seemingly contradictory convictions/concerns operating like a chorus of strophe and antistrophe. Though on looking closer it may not be a contradiction, only a disparity between two levels. One set is from a lower/outer self and the other from a seemingly higher/inner self.

The somatic self of security and survival has the conviction that no good thing will go unpunished. This materializes in paranoia that some matter-of-course problem, any thing out of order, will collapse my world's tenuous cohesion. And if it's resolved, I expect the respite to last a sufficient time, because there will always be another bully appearing and kicking over my carefully rebuilt toy set. Paranoia becomes obsession, sometimes insanely exaggerated, when I go from brimming over with life force to a blob of pulp. "God is All" ... but my truck needs a repair which will cost thousands of dollars! Yet over the last several months going through a major upheaval in lifestyle, I can recall several distinct worst-case scenario obsessions which never came to fruition. The air 'whooshed' out of each super inflated balloon, much to my astonishment and chagrin for being so weak and apocalyptic. And after each imagined crisis is rendered moot, I ask myself – Will the next petty calamity so easily dismantle my standard of well-being, or will I be able to trust that things happen, that something Greater is running the show, and it all comes out in the wash? How many second chances can I possibly be allowed with such a poor track record of trust, despite the prayer in solemn moments for a greater capacity to trust?

This lower helix of conviction and concern is twined to a higher helix of conviction and concern which involves an inexplicable (child like?) trust, and prior evidence that prayer, faith, nonchalance, and merely plowing forward pays off in remarkable ways. This higher-self conviction tells me that when I ask from my heart I will be heard. And this has been confirmed over the last year through a series of synchronicities, signs and events. Spontaneous cues or ideas will simply occur to me, and when followed quickly they do not involve any straining, energy loss, or second-guessing confliction. It's like a voice says – Try this ... Go this way. And against a lifetime current of doubt and hedging bets, I submit with a – Why not? or – Of course. The concern that comes with this uncharacteristic conviction is whether I'll have the stamina to remain open and confident enough to continue asking, and the attention/ discrimination to hear which way to turn next.

I recall something Tess Hughes recently expressed, that the voice of silence is shy. While the noise of the impetuous mind is loud and hypnotically overpowering. Yet when the shy whisper is followed, acknowledged and thanked, the quality of its results has a wholesome quality of 'rightness' and natural ease, making the usual struggle of fixing things feel like untangling a jumble of knotted cord or string.

~ From a TAT member who wishes to remain anonymous.


TAT Foundation News

It's all about "ladderwork" – helping and being helped


Rescheduling of the November 2015 TAT Meeting

TAT has enjoyed meeting in April and November at the Penn Scenic View property for the past several years. That property is up for sale, and while the April 2015, meeting is set at Penn Scenic View, no reservations are being taken for later in 2015.

A near term acquisition of Penn Scenic View by a third party seems unlikely, so the November TAT meeting has been rescheduled to November 20-22, 2015, at the Claymont Society in Charles Town, WV where TAT has been holding its June and September meetings.


We've registered TAT with the eBay Giving Works program. You can list an item there and select TAT to receive a portion of your sale. Check out our Giving Works page on eBay. Click on the "For sellers" link on the left side of that page for details.

There's more background information in the TAT Homing Ground section below.


The Gainesville, FL self-inquiry discussion group held a retreat at Horseshoe Lake Park in Orange Springs, FL over the weekend of January 23-25. Participants from Oregon and Colorado joined 5 Florida residents in the quest for Reaching the Source of Mind.


As an Amazon Associate TAT earns from qualifying purchases made through links on our website.

Beyond Mind, Beyond Death is the latest of TAT's books to be converted to the Kindle ebook format. All of the TAT Press books are now available on Amazon in a digital format.


Membership Dues.

2015 TAT membership dues are now due. For those who have renewed their membership or are new members of TAT, thank you – your continuing support helps TAT remain a place where serious seekers can meet in a spirit of cooperation and friendship in the search for self-definition. The membership of $40 per calendar year includes discounted attendance and lodging fees during TAT meetings. A $20 associate membership is available for those who are unable to attend quarterly meetings but would still like to take advantage of our benefits and make an invaluable contribution. A lifetime membership of $500 is also available. The dues help cover TAT's operating costs, including the TAT web site and TAT Forum, insurance fees, supplies, etc. Most importantly, you will be helping the TAT Foundation to continue offering opportunities for a circle of friends to give and receive help in the spiritual quest.


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.



"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

I have tried to know absolutely nothing about a great many things, and I have succeeded fairly well.

Behind every argument is someone's ignorance.

Drawing on my fine command of the English language, I said nothing.

Drinking makes such fools of people, and people are such fools to begin with that it's compounding a felony.

I do most of my work sitting down; that's where I shine.

~ Robert Benchley (1889-1945)

We're hoping to present humor created by TAT members and friends here. Please your written or graphic creations. Exact sources are necessary for other submissions, since we need to make sure they're either in the public domain or that we have permission to use them.


Inspiration & Irritation

Irritation moves us; inspiration provides a direction

Zen, basically, is finding answers, as all philosophical or religious work is; finding the answer, self-definition: Who am I? Where am I going? Where did I come from? And people – blissfully or stupidly – lead their lives and never give it a thought, until they're ready to die. And then they hurry up and pay their dues, thinking that will do it.

I'm not going to try to explain Zen to you, because Zen is action, not words. But I'm going to read something to you – I'm going to read some questions to you. I'm going to ask you some questions. And I'd like for you to try to pick out the five – five of them perhaps – that you have an answer for, and we'll get at them when I get through reading this [list of questions].

Those two paragraphs are the opening of a talk given by Richard Rose in 1989 titled "Zen Is Action." The first installment appears in this month's "Founder's Wisdom" below.

Some wonderment for the mind – CYMATICS: Science vs. Music
(YouTube link if the embedded video doesn't appear)

"The hypocrite looks for faults, the believer looks for excuses."

"Could one not imagine oneself in a state which compares to being awake, just as wakefulness compares to being asleep? Being awake would be like the dreams of that state, which in turn would show that the illusion (of the certainty) of rational knowledge is nothing but vain imagination."

"The happiness of the drop is to die in the river."
~ Al-Ghazali (1058-1111)


Reader Commentary

Encouraging interactive readership among TAT members and friends

"What Makes You You?"

~ Lou Francis & Kylie Dexter (sisters-in-law and seekers-in-common) sent this link to a provocative post on WaitButWhy.com that runs through the bulleted list above, coming to a view cited by philosopher Derek Parfit (originator of the teletransporter thought experiment): "The early Buddhist view is that much or most of the misery of human life resulted from the false view of self," and ending with a list of sources for further investigation and a related 5-minute animated video What Is Life? Is Death Real? on the Kurzgesagt YouTube channel.

Richard Rose described a spiritual path as living one's live aimed at finding the meaning of that life.

Did you find anything relevant to your life or search in this month's Forum issue?


Connemara National Park – by Bob Fergeson

Connemara National Park, Ireland; photo by Bob Fergeson
See more of Bob's photography on his Nostalgia West Facebook page.


We like hearing from you! Please your comments, suggestions, inquiries, and submissions.

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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

Zen Is Action (Part 1 of 6)

Zen, basically, is finding answers, as all philosophical or religious work is; finding the answer to self-definition: Who am I? Where am I going? Where did I come from? And people – blissfully or stupidly – lead their lives and never give it a thought, until they're ready to die. And then they hurry up and pay their dues, thinking that will do it.

I'm not going to try to explain Zen to you, because Zen is action, not words. But I'm going to read something to you – I'm going to read some questions to you. I'm going to ask you some questions. And I'd like for you to try to pick out five of them perhaps that you have an answer for, and we'll get at them when I get through reading this [list of questions].[1]

What do you know for sure?

Anybody ever ask you that?

Does a man own a house, or does the house own him?
Does a man have power, or is he overpowered?
Is man a predator, or a victim?

Behind some of these words is a whole philosophy, pro and con.

Does a man enjoy, or is he consumed? (By that which he thinks he enjoys.)
Can a man learn that which he really wishes to, by himself alone?
Why build anthills before knowing what an ant is? (Meaning of course houses.)
Why do we build conceptual towers of Babel about human thinking before we know what thought is?
How can we dare to define thought before knowing the source and cause of all thought, or the essence of thought?
When we describe bouncing, do we describe the striking object or that which is struck?

According to physics, the wall hits the ball as hard as the ball hits the wall.

Is thought the process of bouncing, or the object struck?

Everything strikes back with an opposite, reactive force.

Can you start thinking?
Can you stop thinking?

Try to stop thinking, first. Because you're always thinking. Try to stop it. Then, make up your mind before you go to bed what you're going to start thinking about when you wake up. See if it will work.

Is thought a sort of somatic emanation?

Behavioristic psychology says it's just a little steam, coming off of the body.

Do we think, or are we caused to think?

Meaning, can you stop thinking?

Is negative thinking, as commonly discussed, negative to man, or negative to nature?

In other words, you hear somebody saying a person's got a negative attitude.[2] Sometimes the people who accuse him have a negative attitude.

Does the brain generate thought like a radio generates a message coming from its speaker?
Is thought limited to the brain?
When a tree bends over, does it create wind by waving its branches?

What are you doing for certain, versus what is done to you?

What is telepathy?
Does thought travel beyond the head?
Does only the head think?
What is the vehicle for thought travel?

What's it riding on, out across the space, when you have a telepathic communication?

Does the body manufacture thoughts, or does the body only serve as a conduit?
Where in the body are thoughts received during telepathy?
Where are they sent?

We don't seem to be interested. We carry out telepathic experiments but we never bother to go to the root.

Do chemicals such as serotonin and other neurotransmitters create thought?
Or do they merely facilitate the penetration into our consciousness, of strictly sensory data?
Where will the answer to this question lead us? (Multi-dimensional contacts.)
How many full hours do we spend analyzing our thought processes? Or do we spend any?
Is it important to observe our reactions?
Are we only a body?

This is the dictum of our present generation. It's much easier to pretend to cure the body than to cure a mind. So the psychiatrists are strictly body-curers.

In what part of that body is the seat of life?

We can cut off an arm or leg, or cut out and replace lungs, heart, kidneys and still live. I think that some of the ancient nationalities believed that our soul is in the liver; so if they cut it out, there went his soul. We can have our nervous system severed at the neck, with paralysis except in the head, and still live and think. We can remain unconscious for years while the body continues to live, noting that a person who is brain-dead according to medical instruments can continue to live, breathe, and at times recover and function consciously. Where were they then, during the interim?

Do we think, or imagine that we think?
Is our thinking automatic?
Do not our thoughts come before we have time to replace them?

Try. Try to replace one.

When we decide to search for the source of thought, why do we become mentally weary, or find our thoughts able to find objective or describable distractions – but unable to describe, name or systematize the progression, origins, or duration of thought processes?
Is man only a blob of protoplasm which is programmed to react according to a schedule, or is he a free agent? (Conditioned reflexes, they say.)
Are thoughts likewise only reflexes from programmed or calculated stimuli?

I remember reading a snatch from an old Sufi book,[3] the guy had supposed to have written it a thousand years ago, and he said that the greatest enemy that a spiritual person has, or anybody has, is conditioning. And of course that's the trend of our modern psychology.

Who programmed? Who stimulated?
Can we observe our thoughts?
If we observe our thoughts, who is looking?

That's serious – when you see your own thoughts, who is looking?

When we observe our thoughts, are we not thinking about thinking?
Is such a thinker someone who dreams of yesterday, thinking that he watches a dreamer?
Or is he a detached watcher of past and present thoughts, who is awake and aware of the mechanical man?
What are we, an animated body in a suppressed, stagnated soul?
Do we have a mind? Are we mind-stuff? Or are we a programmed body and mind?
Do we actually know that which we are doing?
If so, why do we repeatedly regret things that we do?
Does the metazoan, insect, animal or man know why it reproduces?

Everybody's so noble, but they run right out and pop little ones, and go through the necessary machinery or role to do so.

Do the trees create wind by waving their branches, or is it always moved by an external force?
Does a person seduce another, or are they both seduced?
What does man do besides fertilize?
Are you a hero or a victim?
Are you loved, or are you consumed?
Do you have possessions, or are you possessed by them?
Which is more evident and apparent to you: your divinity, or your animal appearance?
If we wish to plan our lives, do we not need to consider while planning that it may be all planned, and that we have no choice?
How do we plan around that possibility?
Must we not define our limitations?
When we define our limitations, do we automatically need to define ourself?
Do we discover more accurately the nature of our Self?

By Self I mean with a capital "s". When we talk about finding the Self or defining the Self, we're talking about capital-"s" Self. For the small-"s" self, I agree with B.F. Skinner, that that's the animal self.

How much of human action is fated, predestined?
Is the knowledge of factors of any value in the face of possible predestination?

If we're predestined, why act? Or why refuse to act?

What do we know for sure? Do you believe more than you really know?
Is all our reality merely a collective belief? A paradigm?

Of course, if you want a reference to that theme, it's Joseph Chilton Pearce. Chilton Pearce believed that we can create our own paradigm.[4] I think a lot of people are going about things that way. the big game in life today is to create by agreement, by whooping it up: "We're going to create a perfect world."

Is science a mental feat created by mankind, or is it only a human discovery of a mental set?

You've got a mathematical set, and we carry it on – we find out that we can build greater sets with the aid of the little sets, and the result is possibly a science. I'm just asking, "Is it?"

Or is scientific reality only a progression of events, planned and expedited by a mentality of cosmic or spiritual proportions, which utilizes the mentality, egos and energy of humans?
What is life?
What is death?
Are these items ever properly defined except in terms of each other?

Life is not death, death is not life, and we're satisfied.

Can theological facts be established by voting?
Is Mary the mother of God, or is humanity the mother of God? Or neither?
Is God determined by victorious armies?
Is virtue established by psychological edict? By ecclesiastical vote? Or by the requisites of our ultimate essence?
What is sin? An offense against yourself? An offense against your fellow man? An offense against God?
Is an offense against God recognized by divine outcry, earthquake or cosmic catastrophe?
Is it a sin to eat meat?
Are the animals our brothers? Are they possessed of intelligence and soul?
Do animals sin when they eat other animals?
Or are such sinning animals pardoned for keeping ecology in balance?

That's one of the great whoop-de-dos today, keeping ecology in balance. So we might absolve them from their sin.

Is it wrong to kill except for food?
If so, why do we do wrong by not eating the people we kill?
Who is knowledgeable about good?
Is good that which we desire, or that which is in itself good?
What is the condition of being "in-itself" good?
If a man drives a horse through a plate glass window, should the man be prosecuted, or the horse?
If a man steals to feed his children, should we prosecute the man or that which drove him, the children?
If a man rapes a girl should we prosecute a) the man, b) the girl who tempted him, c) his ancestors for his genetic inheritance or glandular inclination, or d) the force that designed mankind?
What is equality?
Was Samson equal to Delilah?
Is a baby equal to a dying man?
Are you only half of a plan by virtue of not possessing both sexes?
Is peace of mind more important than global peace or herd-peace?
Who or what are you?
Are you only a body?
Are you rather a complex organism, a cell colony, a nature-oriented bundle of conditioned reflexes?
Is the brain a monitoring station, designed for the organism's indefinite survival?
Or is our body programmed for death, following procreation, like the corn and the wheat?

I'm speaking of the death gene now. In other words, once you reproduce, you're no longer needed.

Is all religion and philosophy merely rationalization, emanating from the computer, to answer constant cellular awareness of death?

In other words, is religion an outgrowth of the fear of death?

Or is the universal belief in life after death an intuitive reading from that computer – a reading not completely translatable into computer symbols, which are limited?
Is there a soul? Did it exist before the body, or must it be developed, grown or evolved?

Nobody seems to care.

Prove the following: mind, other than somatic awareness; subconscious mind; ego, id, superego; chakra, kundalini; tisra-til;[5] astral, etheric, causal, desire bodies; aura, halo, ectoplasm; spiritual ear (there has been a lot of money spent on that one), spiritual nectar; conscience.

In other words, these things are being thrown about – that's the reason I listed them – and we somehow manage to put a lot of importance on them.

What is time?
Does time pass, or is only you who passes?
Is space-time a stable matrix, while we are only transient visitors?
How much of life is only a mirage? (Some people when they're dying might see it as that.)
Do we see this world infallibly, or obliquely?
Are the senses fallible, or infallible?
Can you see, hear, feel, smell or taste time?
Is time only a relative conceptualization? What is the reality of time?
Does the ant or amoeba interpret duration the same as a man, or does its time pass more swiftly?

In other words, does he lead a long life – or does the fruit fly live only a few minutes of our time? Maybe he lives a long life [to him].

What is duration? What does a lifetime feel like?

When you get to be my age, you'll know a little more each year how much it feels like.

Does it feel different to a child than to an old person?
What is the relation of memory to time?
Do we remember a duration, or measure it, if we have no clock at hand?
Do we remember how long a pain lasted, when it occurred a year ago?
Would women become pregnant as often if they remembered the duration and intensity of the pain of childbirth?

Did you ever talk to them [about it]? The ones I've talked to didn't think much of it, after a few days had gone by, or maybe a few weeks.

Do we have a real sense of time when we hear a clock ticking? Do we then know what a second is, or what stretch of consciousness exists for others in that second?
Do the wings of a hummingbird move rapidly or slowly, to the gauging of the hummingbird?
To the time sense of the fruit fly, is his life long or short?
Is the sense of duration, or passing time, proportional to the mass of the entity that experiences it?
Does time exist other than as a fascination which seems to be brief or longer in duration?
If the sun is our ultimate clock, of the earth's rotation as a measurement, what is our measurement of time after the death of our senses?
Is time an illusion that prevents us from experiencing a Self that has no motion?
Have you ever heard a clock ticking in a delirium?
If the mind can be distorted in a delirium, or in an LSD trip, does the mind ever understand the true feeling of a second?
What is nostalgia? Is it the soul's viewing of a previous feeling?
What is space? Is space interdependent with time?
Are they not measured by each other?

Such as with a light-year; time is determined by spatial phenomena, rotation.

Do space and time exist at all except in reference to us?
What is the understanding of insects, of the distance to the sun or moon?

If they could look up and see that, what would their appraisal be as far as time is concerned? Because they have no clocks.


To be continued....
~ Transcript of a talk given by Richard Rose at Ohio State University, February 1989. Thanks to Steve Harnish for his ongoing work of transcribing spotty recordings of Rose's talks.


[1] From "The Lecture of Questions" written by Richard Rose, published in Profound Writings, East and West.
[2] I.e., being critical of current social norms.
[3] About Al-Ghazali, discussed later in this talk.
[4] The Crack in the Cosmic Egg by Joseph Chilton Pearce.
[5] "Third eye," from Radha-Soami. See this article on Surat Shabd Yoga.

Do you have a favorite quote from Richard Rose? Please it along with how you'd prefer to be identified.


A New Home for TAT

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

retreat center For over 35 years, the TAT Foundation met on Richard Rose's farm, where he and the members created "a spot on earth upon which to meet. A homing ground...." TAT meetings, group retreats, and solitary retreats were a regular part of life at the ashram. Rose's desire to help others and to bring people together in a meditative surrounding, influenced two generations of spiritual seekers. Rose's farm was a sanctuary for many years, and a crucible. He once said it was like the desert—where you go to meet God.

In 2011, Rose's heir decided to use the property for another purpose, and TAT's lease was not renewed. We have since rented facilities for our four quarterly meetings. Yet, the desire to provide a greater service has been a frequent topic. Our dream is to create once again a space that encourages honesty, provides a crucible for spiritual development, and produces the next generation of spiritual seekers and finders.

To that end, TAT is raising $250,000 to find a new home. We envision a semi-rural facility, close to a university town, with a meeting hall seating up to 70 participants, kitchen and bath facilities, and a room for a live-in caretaker. Additionally, the facility would have one cabin for solitary retreats. Ideally, the property would border public lands to provide a buffer of quiet and solitude, and have enough acreage to allow for additional cabins, sleeping quarters, and facilities over time. A resident teacher, week-long retreats and intensives, public events and other activities are planned.

Current Status

As of the end of January, we have reached 63.2% of the fund-raising goal:

Received $117,564
Pledged $40,400
Total $157,964
Goal $250,000
% to goal 63.2%

Here are some rough estimates of what we could accomplish based on a currently-for-sale property an hour and twenty minutes from the Columbus, OH airport, and forty minutes from Athens University. The property is 18 acres, with a 672 square foot cabin overlooking a pond. The price is $149,900. To construct a brand new steel frame meeting hall on the site, large enough for 70+ people, might cost another $69,000. A small isolation cabin might be another $25,000, which puts the total roughly around $243,900.

Mike's Kidney and Other News:

While our esteemed president, Mike Gegenheimer, has offered to donate a kidney for this project, another idea has been advanced: a TAT auction (not of Mike's kidney, however). Mark Seabright researched this idea after it was suggested at the November TAT meeting, and found that Ebay/PayPal has an online auction program for charitable organizations. Our question to you, dear reader, is: do you have item(s) you would like to auction?

Besides the usual auction suspects like books, clothes, and vintage toys, perhaps you own a business and could donate a free or reduced-price service. Maybe you have a cabin by the lake, or a condo by the sea and could auction a weekend stay? There are many possibilities.

We've registered TAT with the eBay Giving Works program. Check out our Giving Works page. You can list an item there and can select TAT to receive a portion of your sale. Click on the "For sellers" link on the left side of that page for details.

Please us for assistance with the above "community selling" or to discuss direct donation of items for TAT to sell.

Don't forget, just buying stuff on Amazon helps. Every time you want to buy something on Amazon, follow this, or any other Amazon link on TAT's site and a percentage of your purchase price is credited to TAT. It's easy and cost you nothing: Amazon Purchases.

To invest directly in the "Homing Ground" project, mail a check made out to the TAT Foundation (for instructions on mailing a check, please ). Or you can use PayPal (though we lose 2.2% of your gift to PayPal fees) by choosing the "Make a Donation" button below. TAT is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit educational organization and qualifies to receive tax-deductible contributions.



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