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

TAT Forum

December 2015



Convictions & Concerns

TAT members share their personal convictions and/or concerns

True Life in True Detective

"Something's trying to tell me it's all paper mâché. Something's trying to tell me to wake up. Like I'm not real. Like I'm only dreaming." ~ Vince Vaughn as "Frank Semyon"

Whether you care or not, a story named True Detective: Season Two came and went on television this summer of 2015. Episode One, "The Western Book of the Dead," was an auspicious title that set in motion the arc of three main characters' lives. As in life, so in death.

Character one is Ray, a washed up detective in the corrupt city of Vinci. He does the bidding of both the crooked mayor and a crime boss named Frank. Ray is utterly buffeted by forces around him—a man with almost no will of his own. His now-ex-wife was raped many years ago, and their son is the presumed child of the rapist. Frank supplied the name of the rapist, who Ray in turn killed. This act of revenge haunts and angers him to this day, and leaves him in servitude to Frank. All that holds Ray to this world is his tenuous relationship with the sensitive, overweight boy that is his son. At best, Ray is awkward and at worst violent—witnessed in his beating of the father of a bully foolish enough to pick on Ray's son. Unless Ray reclaims some self-determination he is destined for suicide.

Character two is Frank, the crime boss intertwined with Ray. Frank has a scheme to invest millions in a railroad corridor which will leverage him into a legitimate career. When that happens, he and his wife will bring a child into their new life. Frank has every bit of will that Ray lacks. Frank is driven, focused, and won't stop until he reaches his goal. But what drives him? We get a hint that it is fear. Fear of being poor. Fear of being an outcast. Though his tenderness towards his wife earns our sympathies, we also see that Frank is capable of great violence. His plan threatened, he removes the fine suit coat, which is a thin veneer over the savagery within, and gives a bare-knuckled beating to a rebellious flunky. Enraged and vengeful, he takes a pair of pliers and pulls out his victim's front teeth.

Our last character is chiseled and handsome California Highway Patrol officer Paul Woodrugh. We see Woodrugh barreling down a darkened highway at one hundred miles an hour on his motorcycle. The reality of Woodrugh's physical prowess is clear, but equally clear is his flight from thoughts he cannot face. Woodrugh is doubly tortured: he's in denial of his homosexuality, and haunted by unspoken terrible deeds done overseas with a Blackwater-style private security firm. "He's better than any of us," Ray acknowledges, and brands him a "God Warrior" after Woodrugh guns down several Hispanic bad guys in an epic firefight. Yet Woodrugh's bravery is more a reaction to his inability to comprehend what drives him. The world of danger and action seems the only world he understands. His interior world is dark, hidden, unexamined.

Woodrugh is the first to die. Though hailed as a God Warrior, Woodrugh is the least comprehending of his life. "I was just trying to be a good man," he tells his fiancée, to which she replies "Well, you don't try right." He is essentially unchanged from our first introduction—still haunted, still unaccepting of his homosexuality. The desire to keep this truth hidden is what ultimately leads to his demise. Woodrugh knowingly walks into a trap to try and retrieve compromising photographs of him with another man. Woodrugh seems most comfortable, focused and at home in a firefight, and that is his final scene. He takes down five special-ops killers, only to be shot through the spine as he exits a tunnel. Woodrugh fights till the end, futilely crawling for his gun and dragging his useless legs. "Fuck you," he growls and repeats, "No, no," as he crawls. It's not fear, but total resistance to what is about to happen. It is as if denial is the core of Woodrugh's life. His killer calmly shoots him in the back of the head, and Woodrugh's struggle ends.

Bardo Thodol illustration. Wikimedia Commons public domain.

Frank is next, though his death is more nuanced as was his life. Captured by a Hispanic gang and driven to a barren salt flat, Frank hands over a million dollars in cash, and appears to have bargained for his life. Frank is willing to give away this huge sum of money because he has an even larger sum in the pocket of his suit. His plan is still intact. Just when we think he will live, one of the gang demands his suit. To give it up means Frank will have nothing… but his life. Frank punches the gangster and they tangle on the ground. Frank is stabbed in the gut, and grimaces in pain as he collapses on the salt flat. "Made a nice bed for you. Lie down, Frank," the gang leader says as they drive off. Through the actions of his life, Frank truly has made a bed for himself. Frank rises and starts to walk. "It's okay," he tells himself, but one look at the blood soaked ground and we know it's not. Eyes fixed on the horizon, limping, Frank is visited by ghosts from his past as his life drains away. His father, telling him what a piece of shit he is, then a gang of hoods hassling him and telling him to lie down. "Never lie down," Frank says to himself. Frank covers a few more yards before seeing his wife. As observers of this drama, we know Frank came to realize he truly loved his wife. Yet that love was not stronger than the demons which drove him to never be poor again. They could have run away together with a hundred grand, but Frank was willing to risk his life for the big score that would avoid what he saw as failure.

"You made it," she says, "you can rest now."

Frank replies "No rest; never stop moving."

"You stopped moving way back there," is her sad reply.

Frank slowly turns and sees his body lying in the dirt. The bardo through which he walked comes to an end and he falls to the ground.

Last to die is Ray. At first, Ray seems the most hopeless and befuddled of all these characters. He has neither the physical courage of Woodrugh nor the will of Frank. In the course of time, however, he finds a measure of redemption: In realizing his love for a new woman in his life. In finding the strength to leave his son to protect him. When Ray flees we know he is only trying to protect those he loves. We follow Ray to a grove of ancient redwoods, and hope that by some miracle he can escape the five SWAT team members who pursue him. Though he kills two, he's finally pinned down behind a massive tree. There, a glance upwards catches his eye and his awareness is drawn towards the sky. He is transfixed by the sunlight filtering through the heaven-leaning branches of the redwoods. In the final minute of his life, Ray relaxes, finds peace. His attention returns to this world and he realizes it is time to die. For no reason other than there being no other reason, he stands and steps from behind the tree. His bullet-ridden body falls to the ground and the camera cuts to the trees swaying overhead.

Woodrugh dies trying to keep his secret, Frank dies trying to keep his dream alive, and Ray dies trying to protect those he loves. Woodrugh's death is dark and quick. Frank's death is a bardo-like walk through his demons. Ray's death is a moment of beauty.

In the end, we think back to the first episode and its "Book of the Dead" title. In that episode, Frank's wife said that in death "You don't take anything with you."

"Just your self, whatever that was," was Frank's reply.


~ Shawn Nevins has been a TAT member since the early 1990s. He's active in TAT, including spearheading the Homing Ground project, and leads a spiritual inquiry group in the San Francisco Bay Area. Check out his Poetry in Motion Films and Spiritual Teachers websites.


TAT Foundation News

It's all about "ladder work" – helping and being helped

New downloadable/rental version of one of the TAT talks:

2012 April TAT Meeting – Remembering Your True Desire

Includes all the speakers from the April 2012 TAT meeting: Art Ticknor, Bob Fergeson, Shawn Nevins and Heather Saunders.

1) Remembering Your True Desire ... and Acting on It, by Art Ticknor
Spiritual action is like diving for the Pearl beyond Price. What do you do when you don't know what to do or how to do it? An informal discussion centered around the question: "What prevents effective spiritual action?"

2) Swimming in the Inner Ocean: Trips to the Beach, by Bob Fergeson
A discussion of the varied ways we can use to hear the voice of our inner ocean, the heart of our true desires.

3) A Wider and Wilder Vision, by Shawn Nevins
Notes on assumptions, beliefs, and perspectives that bind and free us.

4) Make Your Whole Life a Prayer, by Heather Saunders
An intriguing look into a feeling-oriented approach to life.

5+ hours total. Rent or buy at tatfoundation.vhx.tv/.

We're looking for a volunteer to rip the rest of our talks from DVD and upload them to VHX. Please for details.

TAT Meeting News

November TAT weekend feedback:

I heard about what sounded like a very interesting group, TAT, while traveling seven years ago and it took me that long before I found a way to make it to a TAT retreat. It was well worth the wait!

After years of reading and watching videos of the teachers – Art, two Bobs, Tess, etc – it was so strange to find them all interspersed among the 50 or so participants, drinking a coffee, discussing such things as life, death or where to find the broom. While spiritual teachers are always saying they are just like anybody else, these guys are living it.

Having just returned from years of travel in India, with countless satsangs and meditation retreats, I felt the last thing I needed was another teacher or teaching but I got so much more than that from the weekend. It was like being part of an ongoing family reunion where all who showed up were welcomed with opened arms (an Italian one perhaps).

If there is one thing that a TAT retreat hits you over the head with – unlike any place I know – is that "realization" can happen to anyone (and particularly, those who are a bit obsessed with it). And while it obviously is life-changing/ending, it appears to be the opposite of becoming special. One thing I've observed about myself over the years, is how special I feel trying to be un-special. So many tricks and paradoxes on this (non) path.

Though I tried desperately to hide it, during the last morning session, tears were flowing down my face uncontrollably. It was quite a surprise and still don't know what was behind it. Perhaps that's the best lesson I could have left the retreat with – stop trying to figure it all out and just be OK with whatever is happening. Scary.

Thanks to everyone, especially the teachers, for making these gatherings possible. I am truly grateful that TAT exists. ~ Joyce S.

This was the second TAT weekend I've attended. I appreciate how the presenters speak from their own experience and have a genuine desire to help the attendees work out their own self definition. More important for me, however, is the honest environment that TAT has created. These meetings have been opportunities for me to be honest with myself on a level which is, frankly, painful. Some of the things I've learned about myself have been hard to chew. But I've never found a group of people that have provided as much support, and set as high of a standard for friendship, as those affiliated with TAT. I am very much grateful for the friends I have found here. ~ Sean M.

I came away from the weekend somewhat dazed and beat up and craving solitude. Questioning myself intensely at times, reaching and mostly failing to understand what the speakers were offering. One particular question (thanks, Eric) during a group self-inquiry was particularly uncomfortable and is still working through me on some level. Tess Hughes's practice of putting thoughts into categories was helpful, as was Anima's "life soup." One moment I'll remember vividly is the person sobbing during Tess's talk. Her cry "I just want to go home" and the deep longing expressed by her tears echoed deeply in me. Meals and informal chats with old and new friends were probably just as valuable as the formal activities. Overall, I left the weekend feeling as if I had been through a storm and looking for a quiet place to sift through the wreckage. ~ Steve S.

I enjoyed how down-to-earth and normal the awakened individuals are. One does not need to be a superhero. One can just be human. Many illusions shattered. Love the [Claymont] mansion.

I find myself irritated that nothing like this is happening in Phoenix where I live. A part of me is interested in creating a group here and yet there is a reticence. ~ .

While the TAT weekends are only four times a year, they are the few times in my life when I feel more awake. The honesty, the space, and the friendship are all good challenges to my sense of comfort.

It is only when I am irritated enough that I can come to see my own comfort is exactly what is keeping me from going after what I want in life that I choose to leave that comfort zone.

These weekends which many wonderful people put much effort into in all sorts of ways allow this to happen. And I am grateful and disturbed from the retreat at the same time. In a good kind of way. The kind of way that motivates action. ~ Ricky C.

Attending the November TAT retreat, which was my first TAT event, felt like coming home. I felt a sense of finally being heard and understood. The group dynamic was one of equality, not hierarchy. I felt a sense of true friendship and warmth, and I'm happy this organization exists for those of us searching for truth, often finding ourselves feeling lost at sea. ~ Jim S.

I enjoyed the TAT weekend more than I anticipated. Since returning I've felt better equipped to not react to people in my work environment. Of course that may be because of the shorter work week due to Thanksgiving, but I also have not gotten worked up during holiday family engagements. I feel that I'm searching more for self-awareness and comfort of being, and at this point, not so much the goal of enlightenment.

On some level I could relate to all of the speakers at the TAT weekend. By this I mean I received information that reiterated what is useful for my own self inquiry. These are tools that seem to help me maintain better balance in my day to day living experiences. For example, I am attempting to be more aware of myself transitioning from sleeping to waking and vice versa. I am writing down dreams and journaling. I enjoyed the talk on Nostalgia as a tool for Self Awareness, and appreciated hearing about being able to absorb pain and feelings opposed to deflecting them.

I gained useful insight from the confrontation groups I participated in. I was aware of my mind wanting to shut out the questioning I was getting from others when I was in the hot seat. I can see a new dimension to my issue that I was confronted on. This is a good thing.

I am having a difficult time dealing with my father's Alzheimer's. I travel to DC regularly to spend time with him. It has heightened my awareness of my own mortality and has become another reason for me to look for truth. Our small SIAM [local self-inquiry] group has become a safe place to express my feelings. I felt that the people who I shared the TAT weekend with were also safe, and understanding, and that I was heard when I spoke.

I look forward to future TAT retreats. ~ Barbara L.

I came away from the TAT meeting profoundly mentally tired. I'm having a lot of trouble concentrating on anything. I think actually I don't want to concentrate on anything; I just want to let my mind wander and space out.

L. suggested to me that something more may be going on with this tiredness that might be worth looking at. Maybe. I don't see it yet though.

At the meeting I really liked Tess's talk (very moving) and Anima's talk (easy for me to understand). [Art's] confrontation session was quite interesting. I could really see the tricks that ego plays to protect itself (like jokes or red herrings), even when people were sincerely trying to be open. I'm sure I'd do the same things if I were in the hot seat. The other sessions were good too, though harder for me to grasp. I will need to review the recording.

I guess if I have to have an irritation, it would be with the loudness in the dining room at meal times. I couldn't hear well enough in there to hold a conversation – after a while I quit trying. ~ Chuck M.

My appreciation for Rose's genius has grown exponentially. His words were exemplified last weekend: "Don't thank me. Pass it on." His focus on friendship, ladder work, and the Law of Extra-proportional returns. The reverse vector. The three-fold path. The removal of financial gain from the equation. Genius, all of it.

If you consider that presenters flew in on their own dime and even paid a registration fee, it's astounding. What I liked most: a stranger could walk into the dining room during meals, and he or she wouldn't be able to identify the teachers from the students.... ~ Paul C.

A few years had passed since the last time I'd come to anything TAT-related.... I had my reasons for breaking away from TAT, none of which had anything to do with TAT....

It was interesting to take part in the interactive presentations and breakout sessions.... Coming back to this meeting a changed man made the value of meetings such as this so plain and obvious....

All the presenters had a unique take on the role of discernment in the spiritual path. They were all, in their own way, trying to gently pry the audience's attention away from the typical noise and toward the unknown. Tess H. and Bob F. appealed to felt experience via emotional dissonance and that nostalgic feeling. Shawn N. attempted to gently create cognitive dissonance via examination of some definitions that mind has set up. Paul C., as always, tried to map it out for the audience, though his sense of love and friendship shone through as if to say, it's going to be fine. Bob C. and Anima P. had a message to convey clothed in the garb of their personal route back to the Eternally Unchanging Substrate.

I came away having felt the pleasure of meeting with old friends along the path – real people, good people – and meeting new ones as well. I remain convinced of the high potential for benefit to the spiritual seeker who chooses to come to a TAT event. At the very least, there is no harm to the curious and interested people who come to check out what it's all about. I look forward to the next event. ~ Chris P.

November was my first TAT meeting with a group of teachers I often watch on the internet. There is a kind of rearrangement going on within me since the meeting. It is not easy to articulate. However a thank you to Richard Rose for engendering within his students now teachers the model of friendship, it was very evident at the meeting. And thank you to all those who shared. ~ Ann P.

I didn't know what to expect after arriving Friday night. I had spoken in length with Mark S. about this trip and the plan was to meet up with him. Upon arriving at the mansion I set out to find him. The first person I met was Anima Pundeer. I think she could tell right away I was new. After introducing herself to me she showed me around and helped me get settled. Then I asked her if she knew Mark and if she could introduce us.

Traveling from Oregon, being in a new place and not really knowing anyone around me, I was very nervous. Anima picked up right away on my anxieties and really helped me feel welcomed. I was so happy to have run into her first but her kindness and hospitality could be seen from everyone throughout the weekend. The impression this kindness left has stayed with me since.

I enjoyed the presentations and came away with something from each one. I especially enjoyed the workshops orchestrated by Shawn Nevins and Tess Hughes. Talking with others at the meeting on a specific topic was very helpful. I could explain where I was at and having experienced people I could talk to about it was a first. This may have been the most helpful part of the weekend.

Overall it was a very fulfilling weekend. Everyone was there to learn and work in friendship towards a common goal. People were more than happy to talk and get to know you. Nobody acted like they were doing you a favor or expecting something in return. I met a lot of people over the weekend and I hope to see them all again. ~ Andrew S.

My impression of the TAT weekend was one of sincere friendship, and clearer help on re-focusing on qualities that hinder my own awakening. It is a great intensive that I have grown to respect and love. ~ Saima A.

The TAT meeting was a great weekend. There was something about Tess Hughes's presentation at Claymont that overwhelmed me for a while. Hard to put in words, but there was an overwhelming sense of love in the room. Had to walk away a couple of times as it was affecting me greatly.

Many of the comments made by the speakers were extremely deep and subtle. One by Bob Cergol struck me: "Ultimate discernment is the discernment between the sense of self-awareness and the Awareness that powers it." Paul Constant had an interesting point in the comparison of the "not this / not this" retreat from untruth to the acceptance of aspects of experience in an approach of "this too / this too" as regards to what is there not to be annihilated, but rather observed unattached – the example being the absence of fear versus freedom from fear, or the absence of small "s" self versus freedom from identification with the small "s" self.

Anima Pundeer's talk was a beautiful example of the experience of one who has climbed Jacob's Ladder, with all of the details of a personal search illustrating the very diagram of the three triangles of Jacob's Ladder [a diagram from Psychology of the Observer by Richard Rose] leaning against the wall behind her. Tess's presentation was one that caused the strong reaction in me noted above. When Bob Fergeson spoke, I was unable to concentrate as I wished I could, and as best I recall, it had much of the same content as the Mountain High video. Unfortunately, I really did not get a chance to talk much with Bob F, but I saw a number of folks who would and did benefit from talking with him, Mark C, in particular. Shawn Nevins's questions about lies is one that ought to be in on-line format. I have often thought videoing some small group session with questions like that would be a great on-line example of interactive sessions. There are a couple of others from past TAT meetings that also come to mind. ~ Mike G.

Bob Cergol's talk opened the weekend gathering. Of death he said, quoting Alfred Pulyan, "Nothing of you will remain." To me there is nothing more apt to set the tone not only for the weekend, but for the spiritual search itself. Keeping the end of life in view forces me to take more seriously the act of facing myself.

The talks, especially from the female presenters, Tess Hughes and Anima Pundeer, were a poke in the eye for the intellectual ego who wanted only to cavort in the exotic garden of words, be it English, Sanskrit, or other foreign ones. "Experiment and experience for yourself" were an important takeaway from the weekend.

It was amazing to find myself, yet one more time, against all odds, in the same space and at the same time, with trustworthy friends, both finders and seekers, I met along this magical path of finding myself. Each presenter based their talk on their own experience, which gave me the sense of how their differing background and personalities permeated and shaped their journey. It showed me that each path is tailored to the specific individual in question. Discernment, which was the theme of the gathering, to me is knowing this. That is, getting to know our teachers as human beings and where they are speaking from. We sift through what they say to us and what may be helpful to move us forward or within (or whatever direction we want to go). Ultimately, this means taking responsibility for myself, ceasing seeing a messiah in others, and instead being my own authority in the journey of discovering my true self.

There is always an atmosphere of trust at a TAT meeting, and this one was no exception. It was not because I felt I found myself among the people who cared about my personal interest, i.e., feeling good, but because I sensed I was among people who shared my deepest value: truth and friendship. To me these two are one thing; there can be no real friendship without truth. ~ Ike (Ee-keh) H.

Local Group News

Update from the Gainesville, FL self-inquiry group:
We held a retreat at Grand Vue Park in Moundsville, WV on the Sunday through Friday before the November TAT meeting in Charles Town, WV. Fifteen people from various local groups participated. Session leaders included Anima Pundeer, Paul Constant, Shawn Nevins, Tess Hughes, and all the rest of the participants.

We're continuing to meet at the Alachua County main library on alternate Monday evenings and Sunday afternoons. One of the active members is coordinating a weekend retreat for December 4-6 to take place at Horseshoe Lake Park in rural Orange Springs, FL. ~ or

Update from the Lynchburg, VA self-inquiry group:
All of the members of the Lynchburg group (SIAM) went to the November TAT meeting, even a couple of folks who, in the past, felt that they didn't really resonate with the teachings. For all of the members there was a newfound appreciation for the methodology - a dawning of understanding of how group self inquiry can be beneficial - and of course, a big helping of love and friendship. There's always been a bit of resistance to formal group self inquiry and/or confrontation, in the past, though it seemed that we were doing it anyway and just not calling it by those names. Leaving the larger, more eclectic group six months ago has turned out to be a blessing in that eventually the serious folks came back around and are more focused on inquiry.

For myself, I saw how the dynamics of a formal group session can raise the tension level, not only for the person on the "hot seat" but for everyone. The ego needs to be lured to the surface so you can get a good look at it. I'm still shocked by the ego's ability to hide and not look at itself when it can be seen so clearly by others … thus, one of the benefits of working together as a group. I'd like to thank all of the teachers who gave so much of their time, wisdom, and experience … honest expression from their hearts & full attention to whomever they were speaking – it's a rare thing. ~ E-mail for information on meetings in the .

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 archives, Retrospect archives, policies, conference proceedings, business meeting notes, photographs, and suggestions for ways to help.

The audio recordings of the presenters at the April TAT Intensive are now available for downloading.
Recordings from the November TAT Gathering will be available soon.

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

You're Quipping

We never really grow up; we only learn how to act in public.

I want to die peacefully in my sleep, like my grandfather. Not screaming and yelling like the passengers in his car.

The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list.

I asked God for a bike, but I know God doesn't work that way. So I stole a bike and asked for forgiveness.

Quipping is when you say you are going to quit dipping, but you know you'll pack a lip within a few days because you are addicted. "Whatever dude, you're quipping." ~ UrbanDictionary.com

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

The Divine Indwelling

I was listening to an interview of Richard Rohr and really appreciated his honesty. Here's a quote from his book that the interviewer read. Perhaps the quote is suitable for insertion into a future Forum. ~ Paul Constant


"The Divine Indwelling is never earned by any behavior whatsoever or any ritual, but only recognized and realized and fallen in love with. When you are ready, you will be both underwhelmed and overwhelmed at the boundless mystery of your own humanity.

"Without that underlying experience of God as both abyss and ground, it is almost impossible to live in the now, in the fullness of who I am, warts and all, and almost impossible to experience the Presence that, paradoxically, always fills the abyss and shakes the ground." ~ Richard Rohr, The Naked Now

A Wandering Mind Heads Toward Insight

Researchers Map the Anatomy of the Brain's Breakthrough Moments
and Reveal the Payoff of Daydreaming, By Robert Le Hotz

In our fables of science and discovery, the crucial role of insight is a cherished theme. To these epiphanies, we owe the concept of alternating electrical current, the discovery of penicillin, and on a less lofty note, the invention of Post-its, ice-cream cones, and Velcro. The burst of mental clarity can be so powerful that, as legend would have it, Archimedes jumped out of his tub and ran naked through the streets, shouting to his startled neighbors: "Eureka! I've got it."


Following the brain as it rises to a mental challenge, scientists are seeking their own insights into these light-bulb flashes of understanding, but they are as hard to define clinically as they are to study in a lab.


In fact, our brain may be most actively engaged when our mind is wandering and we've actually lost track of our thoughts, a new brain-scanning study suggests. "Solving a problem with insight is fundamentally different from solving a problem analytically," Dr. Kounios says. "There really are different brain mechanisms involved."


In a series of experiments over the past five years, Dr. Kounios and his collaborator Mark Jung-Beeman at Northwestern University used brain scanners and EEG sensors to study insights taking form below the surface of self-awareness. They recorded the neural activity of volunteers wrestling with word puzzles and scanned their brains as they sought solutions.

Some volunteers found answers by methodically working through the possibilities. Some were stumped. For others, even though the solution seemed to come out of nowhere, they had no doubt it was correct.

In those cases, the EEG recordings revealed a distinctive flash of gamma waves emanating from the brain's right hemisphere, which is involved in handling associations and assembling elements of a problem. The brain broadcast that signal one-third of a second before a volunteer experienced their conscious moment of insight – an eternity at the speed of thought.


"You want to quiet the noise in your head to solidify that fragile germ of an idea," says Dr. Jung-Beeman at Northwestern.


Taken together, these findings highlight a paradox of mental life. They remind us that much of our creative thought is the product of neurons and nerve chemistry outside our awareness and beyond our direct control.

The above excerpts are from a Wall Street Journal article dated June 19, 2009 in the Personal Technology section.

The strange story of "Mr B." who looked in the mirror and couldn't recognize himself

I thought you might like this story from The Washington Post. ~ Bob Cergol


For days, 78-year-old Mr. B felt haunted in his own home. There was another man behind the mirror in his bathroom, one who looked like Mr. B, dressed like Mr. B, and seemed to copy his every move, yet was totally strange to him.

The stranger was his own reflection, but Mr. B didn't know that....

Mr. B had a mysterious disorder called Capgras syndrome, a condition that renders once-familiar figures suddenly foreign. Patients with the syndrome often believe that their friends, family members, even pets, have been replaced by an identical impostor. Their world is a weird variation on the horror movie "Invasion of the Body Snatchers." But with Capgras, it's not aliens that are turning loved ones into strangers – it's the patients' own brains. No one quite knows what causes the delusion, and no one is sure how to cure it.

Mr. B's condition was especially strange, his doctors say, because it was himself he couldn't recognize....

The full story by Sarah Kaplan in the Washington Post online issue dated October 31, 2015.

Please your thoughts on the above items.


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?

Last month the Forum staff asked the question: "What book would you say had the biggest impact on your life, and why?" Responses follow.


From Nathan L:
I'd say the books that have had the biggest impact so far have been:
- When Fear Falls Away (because it made me aware of a possible possibility)
- The Power of Now (started some inquiry into the limits of knowing, I realized that you can't prove anything exists outside of now)
- The Albigen Papers (resonated a lot on a feeling level, possibly gave me a feeling for the subtractive approach)

From Mark S:
The book that has had the most profound impact on me is Nisargadatta's Prior to Consciousness. In these dialogues during the last two years of his life, he is ruthless in his attacks on "identification with the body-mind." His conviction comes through strongly, as it does in all of his books, but the added focus and urgency in Prior to Consciousness makes it especially pointed and unsettling. It has a way of throwing me back on myself and making me face fundamental doubts about what I am.

From Mike G:
Your idea with the questions is an interesting one. Here are some answers based on gut feeling and initial reactions. Book, The Albigen Papers. It provided context and a means of seeking answers to intuitions about life and the unknown. [Mike also provided responses to other items that had caused profound impacts, which I'll save for future Forum Reader Commentary. - Ed.]

From Sean M:
The Supreme Doctrine: Zen and the Psychology of Transformation, by Hubert Benoit

I happened upon this book while living at a Trappist monastery, a time when I wasn't very confident in the spiritual guidance I was getting from those around me. This book pointed out routes of exploration that were previously unknown to me.

From the beginning I had a feeling that this was an important book, even though I didn't understand much of it. I've now read it three times and scratched it up with underlining and note taking (something I've done with no other book). One thing to note is that it is a difficult read, partially due to Benoit's inventive terminology and metaphors, as well as long, difficult to manage sentences created by the translator (translated from French). Some of its vocabulary I wasn't even able to find in a dictionary (I didn't have access to the internet at this time).

The real value of this book for me was the unique perspective which Benoit presents. This book is not a repackaging of psychological or metaphysical theories, but the fruit of a man who wrestled with his own inner workings and became his own authority. He had been severely wounded during World War II and spent years in a hospital bed. He used this time to investigate himself. This creative exposition has encouraged me to look afresh at my own psychological terrain and become a new man. To quote Benoit, "The only task incumbent upon us is to understand reality and to let ourselves be transformed by it."

You can find a good summary of the information in the book here (this is also where I found biographical information on Benoit): www.selfdiscoveryportal.com/BenoitZen.htm.

From Chad N:
The Book of Mirdad by Mikhail Naimy. The song between the words resonates with a longing in my heart.

From Rajesh K:
Over the years I have read a few books on, and about, spirituality. Some I somewhat understood and others I did not understand at all. Then I heard about the Peace Pilgrim and read Peace Pilgrim: Her Life and Work in Her Own Words.

It was not simply that I understood what she had to say because of the simple and direct way she said what she had to say. For me, her words also carried the conviction of certainty because even while surrounded by stark materialism, and wealth, she lived a life of true renunciation carrying just the clothes she wore, paper, pencil, a comb and tooth brush, all in service of a higher cause.

How could she not be speaking the truth?

Reading her I also understood that True Mystics know no cultural or geographical boundaries, and can exist even where there are no such traditions. One does not have to go to India, or anywhere else where such traditions exist, one has to just look and they can be in your backyard. I can honestly say that if it wasn't for her, because of the simple misconception that people like her only lived in the past or elsewhere, I may have never looked and found TAT.

From Ricky C:
After having a spiritual experience at the age of 20 which was not final but opened up a whole new world to me, I would read for hours on end until I was exhausted. After reading After The Absolute by Dave Gold (with Bart Marshall) I thought this story couldn't be real...but there was a ring of truth to it, even the magical stuff that he claimed his teacher, Richard Rose, did. Mentioned in that book was another book, The Albigen Papers by Richard Rose. If Gold's book was a fiction story then the book wouldn't exist, but I Googled it (in 2003) and sure enough it was a real book. My mind was blown. I ordered it from Cecy Rose (who did the awesome cover art on many of Rose's books, by the way) and read on the back cover: "The aim of this book is to approach Reality."

It does indeed. It got me out and facing fears of working with others. Instead of reading all day to become enlightened and find the truth, it got me to go to groups, meet people, and practice activities which have caused a change of being. I can see this might be how one can become accident prone (to Grace) but only through serious effort. That's the book which had the most impact on my life.

From Jim S:
Dave Gold's After the Absolute was the first spiritual book I ever read, as a college freshman. I credit this work with introducing me to Richard Rose, and opening my eyes to the truth. There was a certain undeniably in the words of Rose, which cut through delusion like a samurai sword. More recently, Jed McKenna's books have been instrumental in helping me find clarity on several points of confusion in my search.

From Barbara L:
My favorite book for now is The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer. This book helps me to see how most of my thinking is detrimental to my well-being. In simple language I am challenged to be aware of the Observer, and question who and what I am observing. I keep it close at hand and can turn to any page and come away with useful information.

From Chuck M:
I don't read that much...I have piles of books that I've only read halfway...I guess maybe Pema Chodron's When Things Fall Apart. I always remember her description of the time when her husband said he was leaving – when her world fell apart – and how for a few seconds she actually noticed the sun, the breeze, the present moment. Then the "story" started again and she picked up a rock and threw it at him. I dunno, I just like that. It reminds me that things are always falling apart; it's natural. Order is an illusion.

There might actually be other books which have had bigger impacts on my life, but definitely not good impacts...

From Joyce S:
One of the best and most remarkable nonduality book I've read (over and over ), and perhaps part of the reason I am soon returning to the Amazon, is Perfect Brillant Stillness by David Carse. David is not a teacher but a carpenter from Vermont who, kind of like Eckhart Tolle, suddenly experienced the disappearance of the self, taken by surprise.... David in an Equadorian jungle. It began with a deep intensive fear and an acceptance of the certainty of death.

For not being a writer or teacher, David does a great job of explaining the unexplainable in a way that is simple, direct and clearly his own. He describes his search for teachers who might put words to what happened to him, which leads him to visits with Ramesh in India and a look at the nondual spiritual scene.

David describes himself as a socially awkward person with various life struggles, including a couple divorces and certainly not a seeker. Having shared his story in his one and only book, David is said to be living a reclusive and peaceful life out in the country.

"Immediately, the dream falls away and it is known that the dream was never real, that one never was what one had been dreaming. There is no 'before and after,' no moment when I was 'no longer' david. This is the 'gateless gate': only the seeing that david never was. As near as can be said: the perception now is that there is no 'me,' no 'david'; and 'I' is that which has never not been All That Is. Always everywhere perfect Brilliant Stillness, and no-thing which has no name continually outpouring, seen now always not as from this mind/body thing" ~ PBS excerpt

From Ann P:
I have been a student of A Course in Miracles ('Course') for many years. The Course introduced to me the teaching of being willing to see/look differently without judgment. This has had a big impact on my life.

From Saima A:
The book that had the most impact on my life has to be The Power of Now. Although, looking back on my life, I have always had an affinity to the esoteric and mystical, I never had my feelings of "there is something beyond this world, beyond the routine, yet very real and timeless" expressed in a clear, concise manner. Eckhart's acute observations helped me to discover there is a Reality that I want to experience. Ever since then, I began a more cognizant search for self-realization, which led me to meet-up groups, studying various teachers, and eventually to TAT. I am very grateful for this journey.

What film would you say had the biggest
impact on your life, and why? Please your
responses for next month's Reader Commentary.


We'll be asking about other profound impacts in future issues.

Other Reader Feedback

Regarding the "On/Off, Waking/Sleeping" essay by Mark Seabright in the November 2015 TAT Forum:

What strikes me is not the "off" but the "on." We find ourselves "on" so now we are upset that we could go "off." But where did the "on" come from in the first place? Why are we "on?" ~ Imants Baruss BSc MSc PhD, Professor of Psychology, King's University College at The University of Western Ontario

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?


"Granby Night, Denver Light" photo by Bob Fergeson. NostalgiaWest


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

Sign up for notices of TAT's four annual events and free monthly Forums by email on our .


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 & Death

Part 3 of a talk given by Richard Rose in Washington, DC in September 1977 (continued from the October 2015 TAT Forum and the November 2015 TAT Forum):

Possible Conclusions

From our investigations in a psychological manner of our after-death experiences and a lot of just phenomenal experiences like ESP, we have what I call "possible conclusions," because you can believe what you wish. One of these is that man is dual. We are not somatic alone. We have two parts, or we are two parts. We are material and we are also something else more subtle, whatever it is. You can call it ectoplasm, spirit, smoke, but we're not all material.

And in this duality – if this is the end result or the reward at the end of the labor to seek for enlightenment – if we prove this duality we open the door for immortality. Because it's manifest. Now I'm not saying that we should just accept this, that we will hope to be immortal. But it's evident that we're not going to gather up our bones on judgment day – because we'd have to share them with a lot of people. And if we're getting scientific about anything it would be to reject the idea that someday the molecules are going to be re-gathered and the memory will come back and the sentience will come back and we'll walk away immortal. Immortality has to lie in duality. It has to lie in consciousness outside the body.

At the same time, the different levels or states that people have do indicate a parallel: that when a person dies his heaven is different. This is the reason for categorizing. That a person who only goes as far as the instinctive level may not when he dies have a greater experience than that.

I think this permeates nearly all of the Asian thinking, that people are not all the same. There is no great democracy in heaven. We're not all happy cherubs that look alike and have access to the popcorn machine or whatever refreshments they have up there. We're still basically different, and this is the reason why the belief in reincarnation was encouraged or received the life that it did from the minds of the people in India and Asia. Because of that difference there was the hope that perhaps you would come back and get into a better rut. That was the idea: there would be no point in reincarnation if everybody were immediately equal and all-wise just by dying. Now I know a lot of people say that. I went to a funeral home with a fellow one time and he looked in the casket and said, "That man knows everything." I wasn't too sure. The fellow wasn't talking, for one thing.

Now what are the possibilities from the result of this study? Besides what we might say are good possibilities, there are some that are lesser possibilities For example, the possibility that all human intelligence and life is aimed at oblivion. This is one possibility. We don't know where it's headed.

There's a possibility of infinite progression. This seems to be very tiresome, we have the feeling. I was reading this case in Oesterreich 1 about a rabbi who had fouled up with his people and he died and they wouldn't talk to him; he was shunned. So he tried to get into a pig and somebody killed the pig. So he got into a horse and finally he got into a girl. And they exorcised him when he got into the girl and they talked to him. It was another rabbi who was exorcising him. Manifestly, he wasn't too happy where he was. It seems that if he's going to work his way up – starting off with a pig and a horse – he's going to have a tremendously long series of experiences.

We get into certain Indian philosophy brought out by people like Blavatsky,2 where a person becomes a good chela and then becomes an adept and then master and Bodhisattva and a dhyan chohan.3 And the first thing you know we run out of categories and they're still going.

I have the feeling that's why we can't remember who we were before we were born. Because if there's a single mentality behind this that creates it, and if we knew how many people we were before we were born, or what we were, it seems we'd be liable to hunt a loaded gun and get it over with. Because the knowledge of say a million years of experience to which we are attributed by some people who believe in reincarnation – a million years of what? It would get very tiresome. So maybe the end result would be that eventually they would get hungry for oblivion, to just go to sleep.

Well, it seems like we we've deviated maybe, because where does Zen fit into this? I maintain that by the same token as the experiences of the people on these different levels who have died and been resuscitated and made testimonials, we also have the testimony of people who have received enlightenment, people who have gone the whole trip. The evidence is that these people know the score. This involves the total knowledge of yourself and the total knowledge of where you're going.

Now I say that and immediately I've got to explain it, because there's no such thing as knowledge, where you go. But that's the only way we have of expressing it. When you reach there, you are. And of course as soon as you say what you are you confuse people. Because the feeling that you have is that you're God. Beyond a shadow of a doubt you are God.

Another thing I want to mention about Zen is the batting averages. Zen has a poor batting average. I never hide this. Because most people build a big cathedral and say, "This is the door to IT. Everyone come here and you'll get the Truth." The batting averages of people in Zen are something like maybe one in ten thousand who enter, who make application or look into it. Maybe not. Maybe they're a little higher than that, but I know the odds are tremendous. So it's rather discouraging if you get into Zen literature.

I maintain that what happens is, once you get into it, regardless, you may not go the whole trip but there's one thing about it: you'll be a better psychologist when you get through. No matter, all the way along the line you're going to be able to look at yourself and understand yourself and develop a tremendous lot more compassion for your fellowman. Because you're going to understand why he's doing things. You'll understand the fact that he's not doing things. So this gives you more compassion for your fellowman.

Paul Wood

But as far as the ability to find Reality, regardless of the batting averages, I don't believe that there is another way. There are individual systems, don't get me wrong. I met a man one time who had never read anything on Zen or anything esoteric. He had been raised a devout Christian, a Protestant of some sort. His name was Paul Wood. 4, 5 He was an aviator in the war, bombing Japan. He found out that he was killing people and he got to questioning himself: "What goes on here?" Because in the Bible it said God observes the fall of the sparrow. So he said, "Where's God? Is He watching this? Is He encouraging this?" Somehow he couldn't accept that killing all these people was commensurate with his concept of a just God.

Of course we all create God in our own image and likeness; he made that mistake right off the bat. Because you can't tell what God wants. If there were a person capable of looking at World War II and making opinions, we wouldn't know what a creature of that vast nature would really think about us. But anyhow it shook him up, and they got him out of the army and sent him home.

So he came back to Dallas, Texas and he couldn't work. He was mumbling to himself trying to figure out the riddle, and he went back to church. Somewhere in the Bible it said that if you would get an answer from the Lord, pray thusly, and what followed was the Lord's Prayer. So he took the Lord's Prayer and he studied it: prayed, prayed, prayed and studied; took it apart a sentence at a time, concentrated on it.

But he said the more he did it the more trouble he had. His wife left him, his children despised him; they walked off and left. Lost every job he got ahold of. He finally got a job as a salesman in a car dealership, and in the middle of an interview with some customers he put his head down on the desk and asked God to kill him. He said he didn't have guts enough to kill himself, but he wanted out. He couldn't stand it any longer. And when he woke up he was in the hospital.

Now I ran into him in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. A friend of mine had brought him up to meet some people from Firestone, Goodyear and those places; they were mostly engineers. My friend thought he'd impress these engineers – and they thought the man was crazy. But because I had had a very similar experience I knew the man was telling the truth. And I'm watching them make fun of him. They were sitting there making fun of him, more or less. He was just telling it casually what happened to him. I was amazed, and of course I'd have liked to communicate with him, but he didn't stay around long enough and I lost track of him.

His wife was there. His first wife had dumped him and he was married now to a very beautiful girl I'd say twenty years younger than he was. Of course, they're looking at her too, thinking, "What's this holy man doing with this good-looking girl?" Well, he didn't pretend to be holy in the first place. We were out in the garage; we held our meeting out there to get away from the kids. So he went to the toilet and they caught her alone and said, "What do you think of your husband? Do you think he's all that he's talking about?" She looked them in the face and said, "My husband is my lord and savior," and turned around and walked out. And she meant it; she meant every word of it. But to look at him, he looked like Jackie Gleason's sidekick Crazy Guggenheim.6 His face was all slack and his eyelids hung down; he looked like he was boiled in booze. And I think he had his share, going through these traumas.

Regardless, this was a profound case. This man was in the hospital in an out-of-body experience that lasted for a week, in which he travelled through history. He could go anyplace he wished, and he would recount battles that occurred. If he would be in that particular scene he could tune into it. Which was a crazy talent in a way; I didn't see much point in it. But nonetheless, he said that it's there if you want to look at it. Once you get to that position you can just tune into anyplace in space and time. Because we're in a space-time continuum so to speak.

But this man never heard of the word Zen. So what I'm getting at is that Zen is a good word, it describes a lot, but it's not the only path. But to me, it's the only thing that you get any literature on. You don't get any literature on these individuals, like John of the Cross, somebody who was constrained by the fact that his life is threatened by the church. Or this fellow, who didn't have any money and can't put his words down, and people don't believe him when he talks. But there are some outstanding cases.

Zen – continued

Again, when we talk of Zen we're not talking about all Zen. I think there's a lot of chicanery in every movement and I never thought it would get into Zen, but I think there's a lot of commercialism. For instance, the only thing Zen-ish about me is the fact that my head is bald. I don't believe that you have to dress a certain way. It's the way you think, not the way you dress. You don't have to have koans; life is full of koans. All you have to do is apply the koans of everyday life. You'll get them by the bundle. Like this man; he got koans from the customers coming into the car dealership.

But we get into children's games with the most important of philosophic or spiritual movements. We start to play games and devise systems and exalt the history. I had a teacher – his name was Pulyan 7 – and he said, "I'll give you my genealogy if you wish, but it doesn't amount to a damn. Because how do I know my teacher's teacher wasn't phony? How do you know that I'm not phony? The proof is in the pudding, if I do you some good."

But a tremendous lot is done with the "ankh," I think they call it – the stamp that you're supposed to have to make a bona fide teacher.8 A stamp does not make a thinker. Genealogy does not make a man able to transmit. When Huang Po 9 was giving a talk in China – I don't know when he lived, a thousand years ago perhaps – he said there was no Zen left in China. They called it Ch'an: "There's no Ch'an in China." And they said, "Why? There are three thousand people in this monastery and there are monasteries all over China." He said, "There's no transmission." 10


Now, Bodhidharma,11 who was the first Zen teacher to reach China from India, laid down the four signposts, the direction to true Zen.12 The first is: A separate transmission outside the scriptures. Now this is very important. Zen is a method of mind-to-mind contact. That's what transmission means. The second one is: No attention paid to words or letters. In other words, fundamentalism is out. You can't recite sutras and get anyplace. This is pastime, like saying your rosary beads. It might put you to sleep, it might keep you from doing nasty things, but it will not open your head. The third one is: Looking into your nature. Again, this is true psychology, looking into your nature, understanding yourself. And of course, the last is: The attainment of Buddhahood.

Now I've given you a whole lot of yardsticks tonight to work with, and you can apply these to any of the movements. First of all, there's no price on anything. People have to pay the rent, and if you live with somebody it's good to share pro-rated rent, electric bills and that sort of thing. But when it becomes a business – I don't care what movement it is, whether it's Zen or anything else – get out, because that's all it is. When people get too busy with the business, that's where their head is. They're not into psychology, they're into finance. And the majority of what I call systems of self-definition are into pocket-expansion, not mind-expansion. So you can waste years with the wrong one.

Now I would like to do something I generally do and turn the meeting over to questions and answers, communication that is. Because there are different levels of inquiry here, people with different degrees of reading and that sort of thing. The only comment I have beforehand is that I'm not on the witness stand: No loaded questions. If anybody thinks I'm stupid I'll admit that before we start.

Small-t Truth

Q. Are you saying by these four principles that a truth can't be written down, or at least something relative to a truth that would help a seeker?

R. No. You see, you have to distinguish between small-t truth and capital-T Truth. In Zen they're only referring to capital-T Truth. In other words, when we say that phlogiston was the correct concept of oxidation four or five hundred years ago, that was small-t truth – which may change in the years to come. It's relative truth.

Q. But isn't everyone on this plane dealing with small-t truth until you get to the large-T plane?

R. Plane? How do you know there's a plane?

Q. Well, okay, for lack of a word, saying that there are two levels, the level we are on and the level of someone who has realized large-T Truth.

R. This is true, what you say...

Q. And isn't there some merit in writing down or explaining certain things or certain events in the past that might help a person organize his thinking to get closer to that truth?

R. Oh, I don't say there's anything wrong with it. In fact, I maintain that even the movements that are mercenary and phony have a place. If they inspire someone, if all a person is able to do is go through the mummery, then that's their bag.

The only thing I'm aiming at, I'm saying that for your final goal, if somebody pretends to be able to take you to capital-T Truth, that you can judge them by those four precepts. In other words, when a person entered a monastery, he did not enter that monastery for social purposes; he entered into there to find the Absolute. And he had a pretty good idea that it was an absolute finding, and that he had to rise above the small-t truths of everyday life.

Now we get into psychology, for instance. You can't dodge small-t truths either. I'm not saying you can hedgehop, no. You have to go through that. For instance, the world may be an illusion; which you'll find out if you read Zen writings, that the world is manifestly an illusion. But you don't dare operate as though it's an illusion. You'll wind up run over by an illusory Mack truck.

Q. When you speak of Zen do you think of a certain method, of a kind of meditation, of significant figures in Zen? What does Zen mean for you?

R. Zen means going within. Looking into one's nature. That's all you have to do. Now of course there are things that help; there are different teachers who have different things that help, and whatever helps is alright.

For instance, one of the things that I think helps tremendously is commitment. Now that sounds rather vague but this is a tremendous thing. I believe that unless you tell yourself you're going to do something, you never get started. I believe that if a person pledges themselves – you can call it the Absolute or the Ultimate or God; if a person says, "Hey, whoever is upstairs, whatever God is, bring me to the truth regardless of the cost" – and make this serious commitment, I don't care what religion you are, I believe you'll approach the Truth. And I believe traumas will help. It takes traumas to kick us loose from our preconceptions, our egos.

But I believe that it's commitment, and I tell the people who are studying with me to make a commitment – not to me, not to any teacher, not to any human being, but to their inner self, whatever that is. That their inner self deserves to know. And if there is a God in charge, if there is any architect, supreme engineer, whatever you want to call it, that has anything to do with us, my conclusions are, when you make this commitment, the God inside you answers and helps. You help yourself, in other words.


Q. What are koans?

R. The koan was a method used in China, pretty much. I don't remember Buddha provoking too many koans; his were mostly explanations. But in China the koan was developed. It was seemingly a meaningless question asked of the student, such as, "Why did Bodhidharma come from the west?" Or, "When the world goes up in smoke, where will you be?" or something of that sort. This is our supposition, because we're translating stuff into English. But basically the big koan was "Who am I?" And you apply this and apply it and apply it, and you keep your mind on it. The mind gets lazy and it wanders away. But continually applying this question back to yourself, I think this is alright. A nonsense koan I don't see. There are whole books you can get today of koans. Now this is foolish to think that you could just find a word formula that would bring you to enlightenment and you'd buy it for fifty cents on the bookstand. It's crazy.

Anything that provokes your thinking is good, if you're provoked and you think as a result. They were just little nonsense questions. But it was also the belief that by the intense study of nonsense, sense resulted. Because the only way to transcend the relative world is to hit the opposite. To study both. To study sense you've got to study non-sense. To study good you have to study bad. And by the marriage of the two an explosion results. You find that somewhere in between is the answer. I'm not saying compromise; I'm saying that the mind becomes one. It suddenly becomes one.

Q. I thought it was more like that the master would give the student a koan and it would lock up his mind to the point where he had to drop everything. In doing that, he supposedly dropped the non-sense of the whole thing, and then came to the realization.

R. That's possible. As I said, this happened quite a while back. I'm comparing it with the type of koans that were supposedly put out in Japan when Kapleau went over there,13 which was the repetition of the word "Wu." It was an assembly-line production of enlightenment. They had a room full of people moaning "Wu," they wouldn't let them sleep, day after day, and they had hired men cracking them on the back with boards to keep them awake. They all were hollering at once; the neighbors said it sounded like cows in a barn. He went through it and he didn't get enlightenment, so he went through two or three of them.

I hear stories of people taking one koan and hanging on to it for nine years. And I think they go to sleep with a koan. I've run into people in this country who have said, "Oh, my koan is this." It's like their pet dog is named Fritz or something. And they forget about it; they have abandoned the search. They just have a koan. So I just wonder. I'm not saying it wasn't effective in some cases.


Q. What do you think of mantra meditation?

R. Autosuggestion.

Q. No, I'm not saying in the mantra itself having meaning in the words, but sort of clearing the mind of thoughts.

R. Autosuggestion.

Q. If it's "Om" or "One" instead of say "Hare Krishna," still autosuggestion?

R. Yes. I went through seven years of it. It was Om; we didn't have ang, bang or whatever they're doing now.

Q. You don't think you benefitted from it at all?

R. Went to sleep. Very peaceful. Everything looked nice.

Q. What is autosuggestion? I don't really know what that means.

R. Well, when you can't do something, you tell yourself you're already there.

There are little things that people will repeat to improve their health like, "I am getting better every day in every way," etc. You will hear these things. Now don't get me wrong, I say TM 14 has its purpose. For traumatic people TM is very good. A traumatic person should sleep; they should rest. But if you're looking for something that will take you beyond sleep, if a person wants to fight his way through to his definition, he doesn't want to sleep. He can't afford it. The cemetery is full of sleep. So you want to make use of every moment.

I had something very similar to TM. I went into yoga when I was around twenty-one years of age and they just used the word Om. Anything that is resonant. You breathed deeply. Did you ever watch me hypnotize anybody? You tell them breathe deeply, breathe regularly, pretty soon they're asleep. So they've got Om and they put themselves into a peaceful state. But you've got to come out. And everybody that's in it will have to come out; it's a long recuperation period. But I was into it seven years.

To be continued....


1. [Already was referenced in part 2.]

2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helena_Blavatsky

3. http://www.theosophy.wiki/mywiki/index.php?title=Dhyan-Chohan

4. http://selfdefinition.org/christian/paul-wood-story.htm

5. See Robert Martin's book on Rose, Peace to the Wanderer, for more on Leon Paul Wood: pages 91-93 and 96, or search on Leon Wood. http://selfdefinition.org/rose/

6. http://selfdefinition.org/christian/guggenheim-gleason.htm

7. http://www.selfdiscoveryportal.com/Pulyan.htm

8. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dharma_transmission

9. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huangbo_Xiyun

10. Rose takes the following passage at face value, or possibly is reading between the lines in a corrupted story. Mainstream Zen considers it to be a koan. From the Blue Cliff Records: "You people are just like drunkards. I don't know how you manage to keep on your feet in such a sodden condition. Why everyone will die laughing at you. It all seems so easy, so why do we have to live to see a day like this? Can't you understand that in the whole Empire of the T'ang there are no 'teachers of Zen'?" A monk stepped forth and asked, "How can you say that? At this very moment, as all can see, we are sitting face to face with one who has appeared in the world to be a teacher of monks and a leader of men!" "Please note that I did not say there is no Zen. I merely pointed out that there are no teachers!"

11. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bodhidharma

12. See section: "Pointing directly to one's mind" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bodhidharma

13. Philip Kapleau, Three Pillars of Zen. Pdf and audiobook: http://selfdefinition.org/zen/

14. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transcendental_Meditation


~ Transcription by Steve Harnish of a talk given by Richard Rose in Washington, DC in September 1977. For information on the transcription project . An audio extract (4 minutes only) is available on SearchWithin.Org.


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.

Current Status

We're at 76.1% of our goal. As the Christmas season has now descended upon us, be sure to use our Amazon link for all your holiday purchases. We've raised $565 so far this year and aim to double that this last month. Follow the link, then make any purchase on Amazon and TAT earns 4 to 6% – all at no cost to you. Next time you want to make any purchase on Amazon, simply visit the TAT Press webpage and click any of the Amazon links. Or try it now.

LET'S MAKE THIS HAPPEN: To invest in the "Homing Ground" project, mail a check made out to the TAT Foundation (for instructions on mailing a check, please ).


"Papá Noel gatuno" by Flordelis - Own work.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Or you can use PayPal (though we lose 2.2% of your donation to PayPal fees) by choosing the "Make a Donation" button below or the Make a Donation button on our Homing Ground page. TAT is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit educational organization and qualifies to receive tax-deductible contributions.

Thanks to each of you who have donated and pledged and look forward to the day we set foot on our new home site.

What is TAT?

The TAT Foundation is a nonprofit, tax-exempt, 100% volunteer organization founded in 1973 with the express purpose of providing a forum and meeting place for inquirers into the mystery of life and ourselves. TAT brings together people from all levels and experiences and welcomes those in search of truth, adventurers of the mind, seekers of knowledge, the self, and the unknown to meet others of like interest.

TAT is non-sectarian and non-denominational; there are no secret oaths, dogmas, or rituals at TAT. Its membership, open to all of serious intent, from all walks of life, is united in the friendship of dialogue and fellowship of human spirit. All are on equal ground at TAT.

TAT believes that you can expedite and intensify your investigation of life's mysteries by working with others who are exploring, perhaps down a different road, so that you may share your discoveries and "compare notes" in order to come to a better understanding of yourself and others.

TAT is not tied to a single teacher. Its model remains in line with that of TAT founder Richard Rose, whose vision included an "umbrella" organization through which many people would exchange ideas. His vision also included "a spot on earth upon which to meet. A homing ground...."


The Purpose:

The Vision:

What's This All About?

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.



TAT gathering


Did you enjoy the Forum? Then buy the book!
Beyond Mind, Beyond Death is available at Amazon.com.

TAT Foundation on Facebook


Keep informed of TAT events and receive our free monthly Forum filled with inspiring essays, poems and images.

Email & Social Media Marketing by VerticalResponse

© 2000-2021 TAT Foundation. All rights reserved.

View Full Site Back to Top


TAT Foundation logo