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

TAT Forum

May 2015



Convictions & Concerns

TAT members share their personal convictions and/or concerns

Tao Is Self

"Tao is self-evident to one with no preferences. When like and dislike are absent, the real is obvious and clear. Make the slightest distinction, however, and it appears disguised as Heaven and Earth." ~ Faith Mind Sutra, as worded by Bart Marshall and published in The Perennial Way.

Creation … how the mind is bound to it!

The self is an obstacle to self-definition. We hear this, we say this, and we often acknowledge an obstacle exists when observed. And, at times, the mind tricks us into believing that acknowledging the obstacle makes us immune to the obstacle in order to avoid serious consideration of it, while it continues to enslave us to habitual thinking and behavior.

Richard Rose wrote decades ago in his Meditation paper that "the world has grown suddenly meditative." This could again be said of the present decade – the world has again grown meditative. "Mindfulness," popularized by Eckhart Tolle, has introduced millions to meditation, and corporations have begun to explore meditation to enhance compatibility and productivity. If the goal of the seeker is to know, beyond a shadow of the doubt, that which IS, then the utilitarian objectives are irrelevant.

Meditation and the Ties that Bind Us

My own experience has validated the recommendation by Rose that meditation using a system of self-observation and self-analysis brings results proportional to effort applied. Moreover, in order to be effective, he noted, this will involve conflict and dismay. One readily recognizes his fellow seekers are invaluable helpers in the effort to observe the self clearly through challenging questions aimed at the goal of knowing the mind. This is "confrontation", and many are engaged in efforts to help each other with this technique.

It is my observation that the popularized practice of "mindfulness" tends to acknowledge, but then sidesteps, the need to rigorously understand the nature of thought, egos, desires and attitudes. There is so much there to lead one to greater understanding, but the mind, which at all times is trying to drive our attention outward, tricks us all. There is a paradox here – the rigorous effort involved in self-observation and self-analysis recommended by Rose – is a form of meditation which can stop the mind, and lead to realization. I support efforts to help seekers find the most effective techniques and short-cuts possible, but even birds walk before they fly, and children crawl before they run. Rapport sessions are one such short-cut.

A number of popular meditation techniques can allow the mind to play tricks on itself, including those involving visualization, chanting, and peaceful mental experiences. All of these require mental attention – but the attention is directed outward – in contrast with the inward attention during self-analysis and self-observation of the mind to see that which enslaves and afflicts the individual. Truly seeing and understanding such afflictions can, in turn, lead to relative freedom. The relative freedom comes from rejecting that which is not real, the "retreat from untruth."

For those who determine to pursue a rigorous self-analysis and self-observation, Rose described in the Psychology of the Observer, the Meditation booklet, and The Albigen Papers, the nature of thought and the mind, and pointed to what IS. In The Albigen Papers he describes states of perception (qualified means of seeing or perceiving often of shorter duration), states of mind (periods of conviction marked by related attitudes), and subliminal states of mind (perceptions of longer duration and greater intensity and have the ability to dominate the entire perspective or perception field).

Meditation on Subliminal States of Mind

Now, to the broader point, which relates to the subliminal states of mind. The Faith Mind Sutra speaks to the role of the mind in creation, and points to the world as mental experience. The implications of those few lines are staggering. Similarly, Rose pointed out that "faith creates" and stated the formulation for creation as: "will plus the 'fiat' equals creation."

One need only observe the psycho-drama of adolescence, social-climbers, or corporate aspirants to the throne to understand how beliefs plus appearances create individual experiences of a relative "reality."

Subliminal states of mind are more difficult to see directly in one's self. But they are present, ruling the day with fundamental attitudes and beliefs. "Like and dislike" of which we may be unaware, are present, not absent. Distinctions do arise in the mind. The very belief of "I" as an independent, separate entity is one such distinction. And, as described in the Faith Mind Sutra, only one such distinction is needed to pull the mind into the relative dimension – "the slightest distinction" creates "Heaven and Earth". We get the picture of the seeker of Truth in a helpless position – beset with the mind having deep-seated subliminal beliefs, creating experience which at the same time is manifesting in accordance with an unseen master plan.

What core beliefs might be in one's subliminal state of mind? What questions might one ask to get an inkling or observe one's subliminal states of mind? Consider the possibility of:

These and other deep-seated subliminal convictions arise in the mind based on relative experience and are reinforced by practical necessity. Yet, ask yourself, can there be two of me? Can there be that which my relative mind believes "me" to be, as well as Tao or THAT which is "obvious and clear" when "like and dislike are absent," when there are no "distinctions"?

Throughout the ages, men and women have sought and found the Truth. Evidence shows the master plan of life does permit a doorway to open to final realization of the Self. And while throughout the ages, men and women have sought and found the Truth, humanity does not drift in the direction of Realization of Truth. Why? The mind fascinates us with relative experience – thus the imperative to rigorously meditate upon and understand the nature of thought and the mind, get the help of others, use any techniques that can short-cut the effort to identify what is not real. Bart Marshall's essay on Ultimate Between-ness provides insight into the balance required of the seeker.

In closing, the Faith Mind Sutra echoes in the writings of Richard Rose:

"And the voice replied, "I am the beginning and the end….

"I speak and thou hearest Me not. I am the Truth. I am the Love. And as I promised, I and thou are one…. And now thou speakest to Me of a word. And I reply to you, that the word and I are one. And you and I are one. And if I spoke a word unto thee, then there would be two people, the hearer and the speaker. But this is now not so. For we are one. Long have I been divided against myself, but now thou has found me. Let there be no question or answer. Let there be no positive word, for that is creation, and it begets the negative. Let us be one. And this One shall be I whom am, unborn and undying. Seek not for a word, for then shall we be three, then shall three cast a reflection of three, and these shall case other reflections, until there shall stand armies preparing to war against one another. And their name shall be legion, and my voice shall be like gnat's looking vainly to be heard.

"I am the voice of silence. I am the joy and the sorrow. I am the beginning and the end. Be still and know that I am the discernment." ~ Richard Rose, The Books of the Relative, Book I, published in Carillon.

~ Mike Gegenheimer has been a TAT member since 1973 and is active in local group meetings as well as TAT Foundation work.


TAT Foundation News

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

TAT Meeting News

April TAT weekend feedback:

I was impressed with people's willingness to engage in honest conversation. It's so utterly different than a typical spiritual event, where a teacher gives a talk, then everyone leaves. I hope all continue following the "high" of the weekend, and avoid the mind's attempt to "understand" enlightenment by boxing it into something known. ~ Shawn Nevins

The April TAT meeting at PSV was amazing, magical, I'd say: rapport with every single individual and with the whole group, especially, in the Rapport Session which brought tears of gratitude, then, and, now, whenever it comes to mind. ~ Catherine Morrison

The group was open and welcoming. I enjoyed the presentations and rapport, both were insightful. I look forward to returning and embodying Truth more fully. ~ Saima Yousuf (newcomer to TAT)

The April meeting at Penn Scenic View was one of those meetings where science, philosophy, confrontation, meditation, rapport and wit combined to inspire those present to look at their minds and thought in new ways. TAT received a number of follow-up emails expressing appreciation and gratitude towards the speakers and friendship found there. ~ Mike Gegenheimer

In regards to the April TAT meeting at Penn Scenic View, I would have to say that even though this was only my second TAT meeting that it is the people who attend these meetings that truly make it what it is. Many of the attendees have devoted a significant portion of their lives seeking to heighten their spiritual experiences and there is an appreciation for diversity as well as respect for different opinions that is rarely found. It is a joy to spend a weekend with such folks in such a beautiful setting. It is a shame that Penn Scenic View will no longer be able to accommodate future TAT meetings due to the property being sold.
     I found the centerpiece of the weekend to be the talks given by Gary Weber and Richard Doyle. Gary does a fascinating job of bringing science into the spiritual dimension and explaining how one can identify and eventually shut down the brain's "Default Mode." However my favorite quote that Gary made later in his talk was that, "Something is running the show and doing a much better job than I ever could." Richard gave an excellent presentation on his prior research in South America with Ayahuasca and how psychedelics had shown his brain what was possible on his spiritual search.
     Overall, a great weekend workshop, and I am already looking forward to the next meeting in June! ~ Mark Cole

The April TAT meeting was for the most part what I've come to expect: a great natural setting, interesting and engaging events and activities, and a real sense of friendship from companions old (and graying) and many just met. What struck me this time is I left the weekend buzzing; not something usual for me. Typically life crashes back in once I'm in the car heading home. Each mile back is another one further from the feeling of possibility. This time it lingered and carried me for days after. Maybe it was the setting or the time of year (after another brutal winter in the Midwest), but more likely the confirmation from friends that seeking self definition doesn't have to be a lonely path. ~ Todd W.

Register now for the June 12-14 TAT gathering, Friendship and the Spiritual Search. Several TAT members have volunteered to talk about the path they're on, and guest speaker Bob Harwood will be talking about the varieties of "unity consciousness."

Local Group News

Update from the Denver, CO self-inquiry group:
We had 6 attendees for our meeting on Tuesday. We used Tess's list of questions, and did so by printing out the entire list and then selecting 10-12 for use. We cut out each question and arranged them face down so that each of us would select one at random. With this approach, we noticed that our meeting stayed on course and followed a sincere line of inquiry as the questions kept members from discussing what they might have otherwise and typically shared (whatever problem was presenting itself that day or in the recent past). Also, instead of flattering the spiritual ego, we were forced to speak more honestly about where we were (in the search) due to the directness of the questions. We will continue this format for our next meeting. ~

Update from the Gainesville, FL self-inquiry group:
Art and I are experimenting with having every other meeting on a Sunday, instead of a Monday. It looks like some different people are RSVP'ing, at least! ~

Update from the Greensburg, PA self-inquiry group:
We continue to have our regular meetings in Greensburg Saturday mornings from 11:00 am to about 1:00 pm. Right now we average about 7 people, all regulars. Our format continues to be the same as when I started nine years ago where I have a topic with questions. The participants will answer round robin but sometimes I let people respond to the questions without a structure if they feel inspired. My regulars have formed friendships with each other and faithfully attend each week. However, I'm afraid this group has lacked dynamism lately. I must admit I continue to struggle keeping the focus upon each participant's "going within" as they answer the topic question. Some participants still want to drift off into something topical or else try to go on a political rant in spite of my admonitions. Most regulars are committed seekers, though, and into such things as non-dualism or Buddhism. I believe part of the lack of dynamism has to do with the need for new people who are serious seekers. I'm considering starting a Meetup page like Nathan's and Shawn's because I'm not getting new people with postering any more. Apparently the young people get their information though the new social media technologies, but I'm a bit behind on this stuff. ~

Update from the Philadelphia, PA self-inquiry group:
The concern I have currently is regarding my relationship to the small self inquiry group I work with. There are several sincere seekers and we have been meeting for several years. Currently we are in a low cycle in terms of attendance and interest. Also with the exception of 1 person who attended once, we've not had any new members for many months. I believe its important in the life of the group to have new people, to keep the meetings energized and productive. Some considerations:

Update from the Portland, OR self-inquiry group:
Four of us have been meeting in Portland since last summer, and a few months ago we decided to post our group on Meetup. We meet every other Sunday, and the format has been for the four of us to meet from 4:30-6:00 for confrontation and then to have an open meeting from 6:00-8:00. One of the challenges has been making newcomers feel welcome coming into an existing group of friends. Another has been deciding how directed or on-topic to be when someone is joining the group for the first time. ~

Update from the Raleigh, NC self-inquiry group:
The Raleigh meetings are still following the same format we have been for some time now. After a 20 minute meditation sometimes preceded by a short inspirational reading each member gives a brief share on what's going on with them. This could be something they have been strugling with over the week, a reading or topic that had an impression on them or just "pass" if they prefer. The main idea is not to have any cross talk, suggestions or feed back during this time so that everyone has an opportunity to speak. After the individual shares the meeting is open to discussion and questions if any are moved in that direction. In my view the meetings have gone quite well mainly because there are some "core" members that have been around awhile and seem to keep things on track. The intention is on self-inquiry and we have had times when some one wants to either impose their concept structure on others or just espouse their views. Again, partly because of the core members and the "maturity" of the group the meetings so far have not strayed too far from the stated intention. ~

Members-Only Area

A password-protected section of the website is available for TAT members. The area contains information on product discounts for members as well as a substantial amount of helpful and historical information, including audio recordings, Newsletter and Retrospective archives, policies, conference proceedings, business meeting notes, photographs, and suggestions for ways to help.

The most recent content contains resources and ideas for those planning a group spiritual retreat:
1. "The Numbers" exercises (link to zip file on the members-only page). Richard Rose used this exercise with students during the 1970's as a way of developing focus and concentration. One student recalls: "I specifically remember him going around the room and holding his hand a couple of inches over people's heads as they got into the numbers. During a break I asked him for the purpose of him doing that and he said he was feeling for heat and the purpose of the exercise was to generate voltage. He even gently criticized a young fellow (non-Tat member) for holding back; that he was very smart and not pushing himself hard enough. He also said it doesn't matter how intelligent you were, it was not a contest with anyone else but yourself."
2. Icebreaker Ideas (link to comedy improvisational exercise sheets on the members-only page). An effective way to get a group working together at the beginning of a retreat.

us if you have questions about the members-only area, or refer to your most recent TAT newsletter for log-in information.

Amazon and eBay

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.

TAT has registered 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.

Your Contributions to TAT News

TAT founder Richard Rose believed that working with others accelerates our retreat from untruth. He also felt that such efforts were most effective when applied with discernment, meaning working with others on the rungs of the ladder closest to our own. The TAT News section is for TAT members to communicate about work they've been doing with or for other members and friends. Please your "ladder work" news.



"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 took the titles from 47 prominent nonduality books and put them in a word cloud generator. Originally, I'd thought to poke fun at them, but the graphic below is oddly compelling to me.

Judging a book by its cover might lead one to suspect nonduality teachings are slipping into the realm of New Age panaceas, especially as a generation of seekers grows older and more interested in soothing thoughts than dynamic action. I promise not to name the next TAT Press title The Simple Awareness of the Ever-Present Abiding Oneness: Awakening to the Dream – Your True Nature of Bliss, Peace, Presence and Absence.
~ Shawn Nevins, from the blog on the new TAT Press website

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

Unity Consciousness, The Goal of Many Seekers
Bob Harwood

There are four kinds of unity-consciousness wherein selfhood is absent. These include relative samadhi, absolute samadhi, cosmic consciousness, and what some writers call "flow." Everyone has experienced relative samadhi even though it is rarely recognized as such. A musician strongly focused on playing a piece of music, or a workman engrossed in his work, or anyone who becomes non-reflective while engaged in some activity enters a state of mind where selfhood is absent. In short, they become psychologically one-with whatever is happening for a limited period of time.

Occasionally, athletes, rock climbers, dancers, and other people engaged in purely physical activities will focus so strongly upon what they are doing, that they enter what is called "the zone." Only later, after returning to "normal," do they realize that something extraordinary occurred. They often write about these kinds of experiences in mystical terms, and say things like, "I don't know what happened, but I disappeared, and the game continued without me," or "Time stopped, and 'something else' took control of the body." There is frequently a sense of awe concerning what happened, and one tennis player stated after a zone experience, "Somehow I knew where the ball was going to go even before my opponent hit it, but 'I' wasn't the one who knew it because I wasn't there." In these cases, the relative samadhi is so powerful and all-consuming that the experience is recognized as something unusual after it ends. During the experience, itself, self awareness is absent, so there is no conceptual knowing about the experience while it is taking place. In cases like this direct body-knowing (gnosis) replaces indirect conceptual-knowing (episteme).

Relative samadhi can also occur, and later be recognized, by people on long hikes in wilderness areas because attention upon the "outside" world can cause the sense of selfhood to fall away so completely that it is not known who is hiking; identity as a separate person can simply disappear for a period of time. The same thing is true for people who can stop thinking, at will, and remain internally silent. In all forms of relative samadhi the world is seen and responded to non-conceptually via the body because the intellect stops reflecting, thinking, or commenting upon what is happening.

By contrast, absolute samadhi is an experience in which selfhood and the "outside world" BOTH disappear, and only pure awareness remains. This form of unity-consciousness is usually attained only during meditation, and is triggered by intense concentration. The entry into absolute samadhi, also called nirvikalpa samadhi, is often accompanied by what is called "off sensation" – a skin-surface numbness that spreads from the hands to the arms and eventually to the entire body. Breathing slows down and becomes almost imperceptible, and one can feel the body and mind coalesce into a state of oneness as the observing "me" disappears. Very little can be said about this state of mind because there is no reference for it in everyday life. It is often accompanied by a feeling of coolness, and the sensation is like that of a rock dropping to the bottom of a deep ocean and remaining there in a state of alert awareness without any content whatsoever. Most long-time meditators have probably experienced this state of mind, and many Zen Masters consider it a primary goal of meditation. It results in deep relaxation, and has been likened to hitting the "clear" button on a calculator (which may help free the mind from attachments to ideas and beliefs).

Beyond these two types of unity consciousness there is a third type commonly called "cosmic consciousness." During a cosmic-consciousness experience all boundaries drop away, and the world becomes alive in the most intimate and startling way. CC experiences are often accompanied by many unusual psychic phenomena and enormous euphoria, and they can result in many realizations. Most people having these experiences are awed by what they perceive. The most common realization that follows such an experience is verbalized as, "Reality is not what I thought it was," or "The universe is alive, intelligent, infinite, and unified." Such experiences can change the way the brain functions and reorganize existing knowledge, and it can also change the way the world is perceived afterwards. Richard Bucke's book Cosmic Consciousness is a classic on this subject, but his conclusion that CC experiences represent a new form of evolutionary development was erroneous. Such experiences have happened to people throughout recorded history.

The important thing to know regarding all of the above experiences is that 99.99% of the time they are transitory in nature. Like all experiences, unity-consciousness experiences have a beginning, middle, and end, and the person having such experiences almost always returns to a "normal" sense of selfhood after the experience ends – a sense of a "me in here" looking at "a world out there."

The greatest misconception harbored by people who have had powerful, or long-lasting, experiences of either samadhi or cosmic consciousness, is that the experiences happened to a person, a "me." After returning to "normal," these people frequently try all kinds of things in an effort to get back to a similar state of unity consciousness. Ironically, the only lasting kind of unity consciousness – flow, also called sahaja samadhi – occurs as a result of seeing through the illusion of personal selfhood and becoming free of it.

The seeker who has had recognizable experiences of unity consciousness usually verbalizes her aspiration as, "I briefly encountered God, and my goal is to become permanently unified with God," or "I want to attain a state of permanent unity consciousness," or "I want to lose the sense of being a separate person." Notice, however, that all such goals are predicated upon the idea that there is an "I" who can attain a state of unity. However, no such "I" exists. The very "I" that imagines attaining unity is, itself, imaginary. Paradoxically, lasting unity cannot be attained as long as there is a belief in a "me" who can attain anything.

Fortunately, it is possible to penetrate the illusion of "me" by persistently shifting attention away from self-referential thoughts until selfhood, as a thought structure, finally collapses. The truth then becomes obvious. This realization is not an experience, and it happens suddenly. At a particular moment in time, the body/mind looks, and suddenly sees that selfhood has vanished. Zen Masters call this event "satori," and it is commonly called "Self-realization." After it is seen that selfhood is an illusion, life continues as before but without the self-referential thought processes that used to be at the center of everything. The body/mind then lives in a state of flow, free from the dominance of mind, and free from seeking. The Self-Realized sage knows that the person who seemed to be at the center of all activity was a thought structure, and that the only actor on the stage is what Nisargadatta called "THAT" or what Ramana Maharshi called "The Self." After Self-realization there is no need to control the activity of mind, or shift attention, or remain silent, or meditate as a way to attain anything because there is no longer any psychological separation between that which is observing and that which is being observed. The best advice that a sage can give seekers can be summed up as:

1. Shift attention as often as possible away from thoughts to whatever can be seen, heard, or felt in the present moment
2. Become a person of action rather than reflection
3. Acknowledge whatever experiences occur, but then leave them all behind
4. Don't get attached to ideas of any kind, even "spiritual" ideas
5. Give up all desires except the desire to know the truth
6. Contemplate (rather than think about) what you want to know because the answers to all existential questions exist at a deeper level of mind than the intellect
7. Forget about making "progress" because that idea reinforces the idea that there is someone who can make progress, and there isn't
8. Be persistent in contemplation and in shifting attention away from thought


Bob will be a guest speaker at the June 2015 TAT gathering. He sometimes humorously refers to himself as an existential dumbass. This is because he stumbled around for twenty years searching for truth without learning anything important. At the age of forty he began meditating to alleviate business stress, and subsequently had a mind-boggling kensho experience. He then became a spiritual fanatic, and devoured everything he could find about mystical experiences and non-dual spiritual traditions. He joined a Zen group, went on silent retreats, helped build a large retreat facility, and had many more experiences and realizations. For ten years Bob wrote a newspaper column about non-duality, and subsequently authored a book, A Path to Christ-Consciousness: Non-Conceptual Awareness Practice as a Doorway to the Infinite. His personal search for truth came to an end in 1999, and he then published a spiritual autobiography, Pouring Concrete, A Zen Path to the Kingdom of God. Today he operates a rental management business and enjoys ballroom dancing, mountain climbing, investing in the stock market, and corresponding with people about non-duality. Bob is an active participant in the SpiritualTeachers.org discussion boards.

"By teaching others you will learn yourself." ~ G.I. Gurdjieff (Aphorisms)

Richard Rose described the structure of the mind that we retraverse in the search for our source as a "Jacob's Ladder" and felt that we get pushed up the ladder by those we reach down to help more so than we climb it by our own efforts. He described and diagrammed the climb from earth to heaven, the ascension from the mundane to the sublime, in Psychology of the Observer, labeling it as Jacob's Ladder from the story of Jacob's dream in the biblical book of Genesis. He also gave a talk in Los Angeles in 1976 titled Jacob's Ladder.


Reader Commentary

Encouraging interactive readership among TAT members and friends

A reader wrote that what would make the Forum more interesting would be:

Hearing from people who are searching – and have questions instead of those providing endless advice and "answers." What challenges they are facing. What their doubts and questions are. How they perceive their path is going. What they are doing in their lives. Where they think they will end up. Etc. etc.

Can you help make the Forum more interesting?

The Perennial Way

The Forum staff solicited feedback on TAT Press's third book, The Perennial Way: New English Versions of Yoga Sutras, Dhammapada, Heart Sutra, Ashtavakra Gita, Faith Mind Sutra, and Tao Te Ching by Bart Marshall, published in December 2009.

Insightful new versions presented without commentary ... clear and poetic, yet intensely faithful to the language and nuance of the originals, they invite direct communication with the masters, and vibrate with a revelatory self-evidence that resonates in the mind and heart long after reading.

From Dan Andrews:
This book answers the question, "If trapped on a desert island, which book would you bring?" I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Thank you Bart for this masterpiece.

We are told, and it's true, that words can only serve as pointers, but the words in this book are the best I've ever seen in pointing towards the Real. Being from the West, the old Eastern texts were blurry to my eyes; this book is like the magnifying lens which helps me see.

The chapter Ashtavakra Gita alone is worth all the gold that's ever been mined.

That which has form is not real.
Only the formless is permanent.
Once this is known, you will not return to illusion.

From Tess Hughes:
This book is a gem. It brings to life and makes accessible ancient wisdom by presenting it in modern language. The texts are the core texts passed down through two thousand years from Taoism, Buddhism, Advaita, and Zen. What was once considered esoteric wisdom is now available to any serious seeker in this book.

From Ken Howarth:
For me, each and every page of The Perennial Way contains the nectar that, when I am open to receiving, satisfies my thirst for Truth through exemplary Teachings of the Ageless Masters brought to life by an Ageless Master himself.

From Larry Yinger:
This translation finds beauty and truth that were thought to be in the past, then shows them as fully present in everyone's life.

From Mark Seabright:
Bart Marshall's The Perennial Way brings together six of the most inspirational writings from Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism. Some of them, or some sections, point as directly as possible at Truth, while others explore the spiritual path or indicate how to live an authentic life. The Perennial Way introduced me to spiritual writings that I didn't know about and, for the few that I was familiar with, Bart Marshall's translation breathed new life into them.

From Mike Gegenheimer:
The Perennial Way is one of those rare books that travel well – one of those books that attracts one to read and reflect not only at home, but to find inspiration and keep the attention on the deepest questions while traveling on vacation or business. The sutras travel in another sense. The clarity of expression and meaning brings a feeling of connection with the great teachers over thousands of years. Bart Marshall's translations can inspire seekers today, just as they have fellow seekers of past, to gain a new perspective on the obstacles to seeking, the nature of the mind, and the question of self definition.

5-minute video of Bart reading excerpts from his book:

If you don't see the above video, go directly to YouTube

Please send us your brief reviews or feedback on something that stood out for you in the TAT Press book Solid Ground of Being for next month's Reader Commentary.

Richard Rose described a spiritual path as living one's life aimed at finding the meaning of that life. Did you find anything relevant to your life or search in this month's Forum issue?


Banda Isles, Indonesia - photo by Ike Harijanto


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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 4 of 6)

Continued from the February 2015 TAT Forum through the April 2015 TAT Forum:

More on intuition

Q. You were talking about intuition. How do you distinguish imagination from something you want?

R. Well, imagination is nothing more than a free running of associations. But your intuition is a becoming. It's like growing a new faculty. And it can only be done by a protected lifestyle. You have to protect yourself.

Q. What do you mean by that?

R. I don't want to explain it to you now, because there are two sexes here. Women are born with intuition, but it kind of runs wild. It can go haywire. A woman is much more sensitive. And I go back to anthropology, if you want to call it that: The woman was gifted with intuition because she had to raise the young, which were helpless, and she had to be able to make an instant decision on how to protect their lives against a predator. Whereas with the man, that wasn't his concern so much as protecting the wife or just defending himself. So he developed a logical system, of getting a sharper ax to chop up the enemy with.

But in the female the intuition does run wild sometimes. I've seen women who when their husband was out, they knew exactly which beer joint he was in. They'd just see it; there was a picture. And maybe they'd call on the phone and get him at the right place. And then they would become proud of that or really thought they had something – and then they'd make a fatal mistake in judgment as a result of listening to their intuition. I'll say this much to you: you can check it.[1] You may be able to enlarge on it or excel in it by checking it, and you should. Everybody should perpetually check their intuition. The checking of course is germane to whatever problem you're on.

There was a truck driver who was telling me he had a voice once in a while that would speak to him, and he would always listen to it. But one time he didn't. It wasn't a wreck; I think the trucker's union was fighting somebody and they were trying to hit him. He said he was going around this truck full of bricks and he heard the voice – it called him by name – and it said, "Duck." But he ignored it, and got hit in the head with a brick. I have watched him over the years follow that intuition, a voice that spoke to him. Now I don't understand why the voice, but I don't argue with it as long as it's giving him information. Intuition doesn't necessarily mean a voice is going to speak to you, although it did to him. But he was checking it out; he wanted proof. So he got hit checking it out.

Q. Are there different states when you can have more or less intuition?

R. Intuition takes you to different states, to higher states. You can't travel that road unless you have the intuitional guide. Logic is absolutely no good. If you notice, the tone of the reading [referring to the Lecture of Questions in parts 1 and 2 of this transcript] is that we think we're operating very much by logic, but we don't know the human mind. People are practicing psychology and psychiatry who can't define thought, and this should be against the law. That's their stock in trade and they should know what they're talking about. But someone else can come along and heal people; and maybe he doesn't know how he does it, but he knows that if he keeps his head in a certain way, things will happen. So what's wrong with that, even though he doesn't have a license? As long as he's not harming people. Not only that, but you can't tell what he might avoid, some physical operation, by what he is doing through those means.

One time somebody said to me – they had heard that these things happen around me – they said, "Why don't you heal people?" Well, you can only do one thing in your life. You shouldn't focus on too many different things. Number one, I think that people should first try to heal themselves. Find the cause, quit doing what's making you sick, stop it. Go another direction.

But you do get powers. There are powers that come to you, and I was amazed when they first started happening. But I made up my mind not to use them, because I have one objective and that's the maximum. I'm going for the maximum potential for people, not necessarily where they've got to take off a wart, or to stop their bleeding or something like that.

I wrote a letter one time to Kathryn Kuhlman. I don't know whether you've heard of her. She was a healer who was on the radio for many years out of Pittsburgh. I said, "How do you operate?" And she wrote back and said, "I don't do anything." Of course at that time if you claimed to be a healer you could get sued or the government could stop you, practicing medicine without a license for going into the business of healing. So when she said that, you couldn't really believe whether she was telling you the truth, or whether she thought you were a detective trying to see if she's charging for healing people.

But whatever it is: If you want to become a millionaire you can become a millionaire, starting young enough. Some people have done it later in life. It comes from total dedication. If you want to be a mathematician you can become a mathematician, by total application. But you can't do two or three or five little things with it.

Q. What if you find that in life you positioned yourself in whatever factors took you to where you are now, and all of a sudden you realize that that's not what you're supposed to do?

R. If you have any intuition that there is a certain path that you should follow or a certain thing you should do, follow that intuition. Follow it come hell or high water. That's anything, whether it's making money or anything else. Of course, I didn't choose money. When I was a kid I went away to be a priest, and if I had wanted to get rich I surely wouldn't have gone there. Although my dad said you get free wine. But that was my objective, and I thought I'd keep at it. You do get doubts. When I started to go bald I started looking for a girl. I thought, "Hell, nobody's going to have this guy if he gets too bald."

Q. And you've been on a spiritual path, ever since?

R. Ever since I was a kid.

Q. You didn't go down one path and suddenly change?

R. No.

Q. Was there any factor that produced this?

R. Yes – I was lucky. I had good parents, that's one thing. They kept me clean. Of course, that may be something another individual will have to fight out for themselves; they'll have to protect themselves more.


Q. A lot of people have an interest to know something, like studying meditation or the new physics. I'm not necessarily needing an answer to whether there is life after death and all those things, although it's interesting to have a perspective on them. You had a burning desire, and other people did as well. Can I study, just having an interest rather than a burning desire, in order to alter my state?

R. I don't believe you can think about any subject, whether it's philosophic, spiritual or metaphysical, without going to the root. You chase it back. If you want to know something about meditation, for instance, there's a lot of material written on it. And some people think meditation is sitting around thinking about girls. Or just having peace. To give you an example, the TM [Transcendental Meditation] formula for meditation was to pronounce a sonorous word that ended mostly in "ng": Boing, boing, boing. This had a pacifying effect on the body and mind. But you can't advance with that. You're just taking somebody else's word for it, people supposed to be experts. You've got to know for yourself.

You've got to be suspicious even. How many of these fellows are phony? One of the symptoms you have to watch for – it's really unfair to say this, because rich men can also be enlightened – but why did they go to the bother to get money if there was a greater value? So there are little things that are almost like symptoms, to look for a disease. But in the business of chasing anything back, meditation will happen automatically. Like with those questions in the reading. If you start answering those questions you'll be meditating. You'll think, "Wow, I never thought of that. So let's think about it."

But as I said, there's no point in thinking unless you know who's thinking. There's no point in tolerating thoughts if they're caused by outside entities. So you've got to analyze thought: "What is thought?" You find out that you can't control it. Your mind takes off in a certain direction; it's like a goat when it gets downwind on another goat at breeding time. Our mind is attracted to certain pleasures and things. So we've got to bypass that and say, "Hey, where in the hell did I come from? And what happens to me?"


Q. [Break in tape. Missing a question, apparently on the new physics.]

R. But what is it, basically? We know it's iron, but what is iron? Well, it's molecules. What are molecules? They're atoms. What are atoms? They're force fields. What are force fields? Mental power. That's the best definition they've come up with yet, that force fields are composed of mental power. I mentioned the photons: if you read The Dancing Wu Li Masters [by Gary Zukav], they say these photons are intelligent. They convey messages to each other at or faster than the speed of light. Now what other messages could they carry? Boy, if we ever get onto this, nobody will be able to cheat on their income taxes.

Q. In physics they had experiments where an electron appears from nowhere and disappears to nowhere. They came from someplace but you can't tell where the entrance or the exit is.[2]

R. I'll give you an example: just recently in the last twenty years they've come up with the black hole in space theories, which they claim are real, that they can observe them out in the distance. Now [Helena] Blavatsky, the founder of Theosophy, practically, writes of the old texts from Tibet and China, in which they measured time by yugas, which I think are 360,000 years. And they talk of the great outbreathing and the inbreathing of the universe. Now this is utterly amazing for people who had no telescopes, two or three thousand years ago. This wasn't just one little remark they made, but a whole composite thing about time: tremendously great eras divided into smaller components. But they recognized back then the black holes in space: the outbreathing [manifestation] of the universe and the inbreathing, the period of pralaya [dissolution]. So the way this came about – in my understanding and the only thing I can think of – either somebody came down in a fiery chariot and said, "Here's what's upstairs," or else their intuition developed it.

I've always been more of a scientific mind, but I realize that science is a snake with its tail in its mouth, meaning that it goes nowhere. Because the truth in science years ago is now no longer the truth. I studied under the valence theory in chemistry but now they've got something else. So the truths of yesterday are changing with knowledge. But there are basic observations you can make when things happen according to a certain pattern, that indicates that it's not what it's cracked up to be. We've got a theory. And this is what we don't take into consideration. All science today is composed of theories; even Einstein's relativity was a theory, it wasn't proven. At the time he brought it forth it was just a mathematical theory.

I say everybody is looking for the truth. You go down to the steel mill and they're all trying to make a better grade of steel; they're trying new alloys and all sorts of things. That's truth. But once a person starts after truth in any field, it has to go back to basics: Who's looking at the steel? Who can you trust? When I was a kid I went to church and I thought that these people were infallible. They're not infallible; they're making a living. Consequently, I've got to go and find out for myself, that's all. So you read a bunch of books. And you get a place in the country; get away completely, go out there and sit and think. And the coordination occurs then. You run the rubbish past the screen until you sort out something that's less rubbish.

The process of the discovery of truth is not by direct attack upon knowledge. It's caused by backing away from error. We have no direct road to truth. The only thing we can do is build a road away from nonsense, from garbage. And as you do that, you do it with your life. Certain things that you do, you should say, "This is garbage. There's no reason for me doing this. It's taking my energy." You back away from it and you think more clearly. You quit smoking, you quit drinking, quit acting like an animal. And then you can think. You don't have to go to church; all you have to do is sit down and think about it inside yourself, and you know it.

This is the whole path. I don't pretend to be a religious person. I had nothing but bad write-ups for them. I studied to be a priest, and I'm glad I got out as young as I did. I was only about seventeen when I finally broke out. I hunted the gurus and I found that they were just a fancier shade of clipsters. A lot of them. But of course, we're a nation that loves clipsters. We love to believe the impossible.

One time I was out in California and there was a woman who had a tremendous congregation; her name was Clare Prophet. And I kind of sensed that she was as phony as a three dollar bill. So I talked to a fellow out there who knew her and I said, "How can that woman get out there with no knowledge, no message, and indoctrinate all those people?" She had a great big spread out there on Mulholland Drive and they'd come out there every Sunday. She was making millions off them. And I said, "You try to be honest with people and it gets nowhere. But here she's telling you, "Oh, we're all going to be happy together." It's hoopla. He looked at me and he said, "She followed a simple rule of thumb of business: don't advertize your losses." In other words, if you have a bad showing, you only had a hundred people, tell them you had five thousand. Then the next time, four thousand people will come out to see the five thousand, and you'll have them.

But I've done this all my life; I have gone into every cult that I thought was halfway sensible. I don't have bad words for all of them, believe me. There are some that are nonprofit, that don't make any money. I never believed that a person should live off another man's money. Just like myself: I'm retired but I was a contractor. I didn't get to write any books until I was fifty years of age because I was busy raising a family. But I never charged for anything except for the light bill. We'd have meetings and we'd say, "Let's chip in and pay the light bill or the rent for the room."

I made up my mind that I would never keep a preacher and I would never charge. Because that's the only way you can look people in the eye. Everybody in the country knows what's going on: this is the day of the million-dollar grab. They don't grab hundred dollar bills anymore, they grab millions when they go. We've got a Pure Food and Drug law, but we have no law against lying in psychology and religion.

And thank God there are no checks and balances on it, because then we'd be killing each other. If we don't let the liars get away with it the same as the honest people, why then there'd be bloodbaths. So it's a necessary evil I guess. It serves its purpose. Not everything's bad. Some people lean and they can only lean. There are other people who fight. I chose to fight. And I turned all my meanness into determination.


Q. As far as some people having out-of-body experiences or being able to receive history, like that fellow in Texas [see the section on Paul Wood in last month's Forum] – everybody is different so everybody is going to sense reality in a different way.

R. No, the funny thing is, when certain things occur there's a common denominator. That's the reason I understood the man. Let's say he sees a certain section of history. General Lee and General Grant are in their graves, they're not out there in front of him, but he's watching them. So if you analyze that for a minute, he's watching something that's presented to him.[3] Just the same as we'd see a picture of Lee and Grant, or some movie star who's dead. That isn't Clark Gable on the screen; the man's no longer here. But people react according to a multi-colored filter, you might say. And they react differently. But the key element is always the same.

There are different experiences and they come in different levels. Gurdjieff had a way of categorizing: the instinctive man, the emotional man, the logical man (the scientist and mathematician) and the philosophic man.[4] The instinctive man is a person who lives to live. He's sanguine and he loves to eat, to drink, to have sex, to laugh, to be boisterous and so on. And that's life to him; it's like the puppies bouncing around over the woods. And he's selfish. He or she is very selfish.

Then the emotional man is the step above that. That's when this instinctive man gets religion or falls in love. If he gets religion, Christ is his lover. He finds something greater than himself. And only when a man finds something greater than himself does the ego of all this fun-making disappear or diminish. Now he's elevated on a different plane and he feels better for it. And if he falls in love he feels there's nothing as significant as the other person. (Now when I say "he" in this instance it applies to women as well. I don't like to go through this paranoid routine of naming all the sexes, all six of them.)

And of course he languishes in this love thing for a while. He loves his children and thinks his children love him as much as he loves them. But the kids grow up and kick him in the face, and the wife kicks him out and gets a younger man or whatever. Then he realizes that he's been projecting values instead of actually seeing them, actually knowing them. He realizes he's being used by nature and he's no longer needed by nature. So then maybe he gets into religion, an emotional religion. He becomes a born-again Christian or something, or he goes to a guru and throws himself at the feet of the guru.

But then he transcends that emotional thing. He says, "This is all nonsense. I'm going back and analyze the Bible and prove it right or wrong." Or, "I'm going to make a liar out of this preacher; I'll find out who's telling the truth." Or, "I'll get into something that's scientific, instead of something that's just believing." So what does he do? He becomes an astrologer or a numerologist, because he considers those to be hard figures he can work with. And maybe he can find by studying astrology who made the zodiac, the first one. And ultimately after many years of that, he finds out that this was another ego trip: he's proud of his brain and he thinks he's going to do all this with his brain.

So the next step – you don't know where to go, so you look under every rock. You just start examining all the religions of the world. This book, Profound Writings, East & West[5] has excerpts of some of the ancient works. And the reason we put it together is that they're individually not available. I had a hard time all my life trying to find the Platform Sutra, for instance, or the Upanishads. These are writings that take you clear back to where the first con games were played. There are different stories of enlightenment. There's the poetry of Francis Thompson, an Englishman, who had as profound an enlightenment as any yogi in Tibet. He was a devout Christian, but he was also a devout drunk, and trauma brought him through. (By the way, years ago I knew a married couple here in Columbus, and I used to spend time talking to them about Bill Wilson, the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous.) Some of the other ones are Elegant Sayings,[6] Himalayas of the Soul [from the Upanishads], The Voice of the Silence,[7] the Bhagavad Gita. Those are the ancient ones.

It shows you what those people were thinking back then. It makes us almost ashamed that we're piddling with what we're piddling with. Those people didn't have the mathematical education; they had very little scientific knowledge, two thousand years before Christ. But they had a profound philosophy. And strangely enough, the more complicated our technology develops, the greater our egos become, collective and individual. We think we're powerful people, that we're going to change society, that's the big thing. We will only change what was already planned to be changed. The only thing we can do is predict it; we'll not change anything.

Q. If you observe your own thinking, who or what is doing the observing?

R. That's a question I wanted you to answer. But don't you get the point? Doesn't that pose to you that there are two people? That there's a schizoid thing, but it's a good schizoid thing if you're getting a profit from it. What happened to me in Seattle – when I went out the window so to speak – I saw myself back on earth. Now I'm not saying that was accurate, but this was an amazing thing. I couldn't see my feet but I knew I was watching. So which is the real observer? The real observer was the man who was watching. And when you become an observer, when you start to watch your actions, you're starting to watch the animal, and you become the opposite of the animal.

Q. What good does it do to tell us these things? It seems like everything I'm hearing is just kind of brushing the surface, and we're not going to understand what you're talking about anyway until we actually reach enlightenment.

R. This can't be communicated in words. We can do this for two solid years and you wouldn't learn anything, just talking. But when you're face to face with it you'll know it. Now again, that sounds like I'm brushing the surface. But I can show you. I can introduce you to people who had one second of contact, or just a few seconds of contact, and they knew. That's the way it happens. And that happens in any of these experiences. You don't learn, you become.

But what you're almost demanding of me is that you allow yourself to be distracted by life, and then you say to me, "Why don't you make sense?" And I say, "Why don't you quit being distracted by life, and become sense?" Then, when your mind is prepared to receive, it will open. And when somebody says something you'll see the honesty and the truth behind it. Then after that, another door opens. It's a progressive thing. The reason for the koan, as they say in Zen, is that nobody believes what they're told. They say, "Give me proof." And I can only say, "Make your life a search for truth." Don't say, "Give it to me." It can't be given. You can't get it like a possession, you have to become it. When man knows God, he is God.

Q. But can we understand it by getting it from other people?

R. You are getting it. This is as close as you may get. There ain't too many of us around.


To be continued....
~ Transcript of a talk given by Richard Rose in Columbus, Ohio in February 1989. Transcription by Steve Harnish. For information on the transcription project .


[1] See "Intuition and Reason" by Richard Rose: https://tatfoundation.org/forum2004-10.htm#1
[2] See "Robert Anton Wilson Explains Quantum Physics," a 6 min video: http://selfdefinition.org/science/robert-anton-wilson-explains-quantum-physics.htm
[3] See Psychology of the Observer [https://tatfoundation.org/psych.htm] for Richard Rose's description of six different types of vision.
[4] See Ouspensky, In Search of the Miraculous, chapter 4. Pdf here: http://selfdefinition.org/gurdjieff/
[5] For Profound Writings, East & West see https://tatfoundation.org/profound.htm
[6] Precious Treasury of Elegant Sayings, attributed to Saskya Pandita, published in Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines, Evans-Wentz editor.
[7] H.P. Blavatsky, "Fragments from the Book of the Golden Precepts."

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.

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 April, we have reached 69.4% of the fund-raising goal. Please keep your small donations coming; they truly add up. We only need $14,000 to reach 75% of our goal, at which point we begin the search for a new property.

Other News:

Don't forget that every purchase on Amazon helps raise funds for this project. So far this year, we've raised over $100 via Amazon. Each time you want to make a purchase on Amazon, follow this link (Amazon Purchases), or any other Amazon link on TAT's site. Add whatever you want to your cart, and a percentage of your purchase price is credited to TAT. It's easy and costs you nothing.

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.

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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