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

TAT Forum

February 2016

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Convictions & Concerns

TAT members share their personal convictions and/or concerns

Where Do We Come From....

Where Do We Come From What Are We Where Are We Going is the title of a Paul Gauguin painting.

D'où Venons Nous / Que Sommes Nous / Où Allons Nous. The inscription the artist wrote on his canvas has no question mark, no dash, and all words are capitalized. In the upper right corner he signed and dated the painting: P. Gauguin / 1897

He had a plan to kill himself after he finished this painting, considering it to be his masterpiece. His plan failed.

John Kent summarized the core questions in the Richard Rose teachings http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Rose_(mystic) as:

Richard Rose is the one whose teachings I have found most useful on my spiritual path.

But the questions, these big questions are the perennial questions for us self-conscious beings – humans. They are the existential questions.

Gauguin's painting, which is read from right to left, goes from an image of a baby to an old woman, with life in between. An image of a life, any life, you could say. Each life is but a variation on a theme, the theme of life and death.

The Tibetan Buddhists have been making images addressing this same idea for centuries. They are called Thangkas.


The Wheel of Life, Tibetan Thangka.

Before literacy was common, images were the main method of sharing ideas.

All children, I suspect, ask questions about where they came from. We tell them that they come from their mother's belly. That is true in a sense, the relative sense. Biological beings come from biological beings. Minds come from minds. Spirit comes from spirit. These are the three dimensions of a human.

The pressing question for a child is about where they came from but for an older person it becomes about where we are going.

My three-year-old granddaughter has copped on to the fact that I am her mothers mother. She recently asked me if I had a mother too. I showed her a photo of my mother. She stood staring at it. I could see her mind trying to take in the fact that even grandmothers have mothers. Of course she couldn't ask or even think, where did the first mother come from, but I'm sure that the seed of some question like that was being planted in her little mind?

She did ask where is my mother now and I said "she died" knowing full well that "She" did not die, only her body died.

So, over the course of a reflective human life, our question of where do we come from changes from "where did I biologically come from?" to "where does the world, all creation come from?" There are many lovely mythological stories about the origin of the world or the universe, all based on the assumption that the world is out there.

Spiritual teachings say otherwise. As Jesus said, "The kingdom of heaven is within", within us. Spiritual work is about finding what is within us and what we really are at core.

The question, where do I come from, takes on a different perspective. We look for the source of ourselves within ourselves by removing what is blinding us from this.

The child's version of the question is based on the assumption that what we are is a biological being. This assumption is not often questioned later on. Sure, we have a biological aspect but it's not the whole story. Later on most of us become more identified with our mental/emotional aspect. We try to figure out the answer to our questions, in an effort to heal our emotional discontent or insecurities. This very effort to figure out is the giveaway that we are identified with our mind. We're operating from the assumption that the mind can understand life (consciousness). This would mean that life was of a lesser order than the mind. The opposite is true.

Assuming that what we are is a mind/emotional being, we are not conscious of the fact that there is the underlying assumption. The hypnotic belief in the mind/emotional dimension is very convincing but it is also not the whole story. In spiritual literature this operating on unconscious assumptions and being hypnotically under the spell of beliefs is referred to as "being identified with".

The mind can never figure out where we come from since it also comes from the same place – the mind trying to figure itself out. It's a closed self-reflective circular loop. But, we can observe and examine our own mind and become aware of its underlying assumptions. It is this quality of self-reflection that leads to our misidentification and consequent suffering.

This process of examining the mind and uncovering the assumptions, which are the root cause of the various floating (mis)identifications, leads to a dissolution of the assumptions.

In this process we become less fooled by the mind and something else comes into our consciousness. The hypnotic spell cast by the underlying beliefs and assumptions begins to lift. We gradually come to see and trust that there is another dimension beyond the mind.

So, our once childish question of where do I come from takes on a different meaning. Where do I come from, before birth? Where does creation come from? What is the backdrop to my being? What are we? Who am I?

What am I, ultimately?

This question cannot be answered by the mind, but it can be answered experientially by a change that happens in us. This change happens as the false identifications and assumptions fall away and another aspect comes into view. This other aspect or dimension is what we call spirit. Consciousness of our spiritual dimension gradually replaces our roving and changing identities. This is often referred to as being present. Spirit is not changing but is a stable, permanent consciousness against which all changes take place. It is the unchanging nature of spirit that causes us to overlook or ignore it. A time can come when complete identification with this aspect of ourselves replaces the roving identifications of our biological and mental/emotional dimensions but it does not delete them. They continue to function as a necessary aspect of our existence in the world, until such a time as they are no longer useful – with death of the body.

This shift in identification is what is known as Christ consciousness, Enlightenment or Self-realisation.


Thanks to Tess Hughes, an active TAT member since 2005. You can check out her website at TessHughes.com. Comments? Please the Forum.


TAT Foundation News

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

2016 TAT Meeting Calendar

April 15-17, 2016 (Claymont)
June 17-19, 2016 (Claymont)
September 2-5, 2016 (Claymont)
November 18-20, 2016 (Claymont)

In addition to one of the TAT talks, there's now a downloadable/rental version of the Mister Rose video:

"You don't know anything until you know Everything...."

Mister Rose is an intimate look at a West Virginia native many people called a Zen Master because of the depth of his wisdom and the spiritual system he conveyed to his students. Profound and profane, Richard Rose was not the kind of man most people picture when they think of mystics or spiritual teachers. Yet, he was the truest of teachers, one who had "been there," one who had the cataclysmic experience of spiritual enlightenment.

Filmed in the spring of 1991, the extraordinary documentary follows Mr. Rose from a radio interview, to a university lecture and back to his farm, as he talks about his experience, his philosophy and the details of his life.

Whether you find him charming or offensive, fatherly or fearsome, you will not forget him, and never again will you think about yourself, reality, or life after death in quite the same way.

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

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 in order 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/.

TAT Meeting News

Register for the TAT Weekend Intensive taking place Friday-Sunday, April 15-17, 2016.

Local Group News

Update from the Columbus, OH self-inquiry group:
The Columbus Self-Inquiry Group is continuing to meet at the St. Stephens Episcopal Church on Monday evenings at 6:30 PM, adjacent to the Ohio State University campus. Contact Todd at 614-477-9959. We finished a great series of DVDs on "Modern Spiritual Teachers" in the Fall Semester, and are focusing this Spring on practicing some of the techniques discussed by those teachers. ~ For further information about the Columbus group, contact or .

Update from the Gainesville, FL self-inquiry group:
We're continuing to meet at the Alachua County main library on alternate Monday evenings and Sunday afternoons, and we're holding our 4th weekend retreat at Horseshoe Lake Park in rural Orange Springs, FL on Feb. 19-21, 2016. ~ Email or

Update from the Galway, Ireland self-inquiry group:
On January 1st we had a meeting at my house for about ten of the folk who often come to the Thursday evening self-inquiry group. This is the second year we have had a New Year's Day meeting. Everyone feels it is a great way to start the year, even though there can be weather restrictions at this time of year.
     Going with the idea that everyone has a fundamental game (belief) which sustains their life we did a "confrontation" session around the idea "What's your game?"
     Like Eric described for his group, we have started doing a "where you are at" round of the room at the start of each meeting and it seems to work very well. ~ Tess

Update from the Philadelphia, PA self-inquiry group:
Back in November, one of our new members in the Tolle meetup had a shift occur. He is a friend of mine, and only very recently became interested in inquiry. The week his breakthrough occurred, Saima had hosted Paul Hedderman and then a workshop with Richard Lang. The morning after the Lang workshop, my friend looked into the mirror and suddenly saw nothing on either side (mirror or at the place from which he was looking). For some time afterward there was a lot of emotion, tears (joyful), and to judge from the ensuing 2 months, it seems to be a stable shift. I mention this as to me at least it seems that years go by and nothing major seems to be changing, or one asks if anyone is benefiting...
     Paul Constant did a workshop on meditation and rapport at Saima's studio last Saturday.
     At last night's meeting we decided to say a few things at the beginning of the meeting, about listening (inside and outside), and sensitivity to the group/inviting in those who are more quiet. We also decided to give each person at the beginning a minute or 2 to talk about "where they are at." We did this because the prior week the meeting was at times chaotic/boisterous with two people talking over each other, side conversations, etc. I feel that the meeting last night was more productive – possibly as a result of the two things we did at the beginning. ~ Email

Update from the Pittsburgh, PA self-inquiry group:
Good news: The Pittsburgh group reactivated at the end of December after a couple-year hibernation. Meetings occur on alternate Wednesdays at a restaurant in Oakland. ~ For further information, contact or

Update from the San Francisco Bay area self-inquiry group:
We had a Yule gathering at the house on 12/19. A number of Aimee's friends in her Depth Hypnosis and Step Work community came as well as some Hollow Reed members and Rajesh and Lori skyped in from San Diego. We had food, then met for about an hour to share what we hoped to manifest in the coming year. I surprised myself by really enjoying the fellowship. :-) ~ Email

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


Atheism is a non-prophet organization.


If you don't pay your exorcist you get repossessed.


Khakis: What you need to start the car in Boston.


Pasteurize: Too far to see.


A hungry traveler stops at a monastery and is taken to the kitchens. A brother is frying chips. 'Are you the friar?' he asks. 'No. I'm the chip monk,' he replies.


Without geometry, life is pointless.


The roundest knight at King Arthur's round table was Sir Cumference. He acquired his size from too much pi.


~ Thanks to You-can-be-funny.com.

The pun, also called paronomasia, is a form of word play that suggests two or more meanings, by exploiting multiple meanings of words, or of similar-sounding words, for an intended humorous or rhetorical effect. These ambiguities can arise from the intentional use of homophonic, homographic, metonymic, or figurative language. A pun differs from a malapropism in that a malapropism is an incorrect variation on a correct expression, while a pun involves expressions with multiple correct interpretations. Puns may be regarded as in-jokes or idiomatic constructions, as their usage and meaning are specific to a particular language and its culture.

Puns have a long history in human writing. Sumerian cuneiform and Egyptian hieroglyphs were originally based on punning systems, and the Roman playwright Plautus was famous for his puns and word games. Punning has been credited as the fundamental concept behind alphabets, writing, and even human civilization. ~ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pun


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

Bruce Lee: My Definite Chief Aim

"When he wrote the following mission statement in January of 1969, Bruce Lee was 28 years of age and a minor TV star in the United States, having featured in a number of shows which included, most notably, the ill-fated Green Hornet series. With his second child recently born and no financial security to speak of, the clearly determined founder of Jeet Kune Do decided to put his 'definite chief aim' down on paper. The rest is history."
~ From www.lettersofnote.com/2011/03/my-definite-chief-aim.html (thanks to Ike Harijanto).


Do you have a definite chief aim?

"Death Relieves You"
Shawn Nevins

Death relieves you of many dreams;
allows you to see that line
between sea and sky
where waves unroll with grace
into open air.
Every step of your life
slips silently from your care,
as these smoky words
trail off into yesterdays.

Glen Campbell – I'm Not Gonna Miss You

When the Best Original Song Oscar category is announced this Sunday night, it'll be a bittersweet moment for country icon Glen Campbell. He's up for his first Academy Award for "I'm Not Gonna Miss You," a song he co-wrote with producer Julian Raymond. The song appeared in Glen Campbell…I'll Be Me, the 2014 documentary about his diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease and his final tour. [Glen Campbell…I'll Be Me is available currently on Netflix.]

The recording of "I'm Not Gonna Miss You" was Campbell's last time in the studio, where he logged time with old recording buddies the Wrecking Crew. Raymond got the idea for the song as the movie was being made; he pitched the idea to director James Keach, who ended up using the day they spent recording as one of the film's final scenes.

Over the course of Campbell's final tour, Raymond kept a log of things Campbell would say that he felt inspiring. A conversation the two had sparked the idea for the song. "He had a hard day of people asking him about Alzheimer's and how he felt about it," Raymond recalls. "He didn't talk too much about it, but came up to me and said, 'I don't know what everybody's worried about. It's not like I'm going to miss anyone, anyway.'"

I'm still here, but yet I'm gone
I don't play guitar or sing my songs
They never defined who I am
The man that loves you 'til the end

You're the last person I will love
You're the last face I will recall
And best of all, I'm not gonna miss you
I'm not gonna miss you
I'm not gonna miss you

I'm never gonna hold you like I did
Or say I love you to the kids
You're never gonna see it in my eyes
It's not gonna hurt me when you cry

I'm never gonna know what you go through
All the things I say or do
All the hurt and all the pain
One thing selfishly remains

I'm not gonna miss you
I'm not gonna miss you

~ http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2015/02/19/oscars-2015-the-story-behind-glen-campbells-im-not-gonna-miss-you/

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 life event would you say had the biggest impact on your life, and why?" Responses follow.


From Ike H:
A major turning point was hearing for the first time, "God is within." It made me turn to attempt a looking within. What I found was fear itself. That is, I felt my separateness singled out without much surrounding noise. (I use William Samuel's definition of fear, which I find to be the most to the point: the individuality sense is not the root of fear, it is fear itself.) Hearing that God is within changed my life course and saved me much time. I think I heard it at the right time, too, which was shortly after I had made the determination to go out there to find the absolute truth. And it was from the right person, someone who, by examples of his life, taught me about friendship. I suppose a good friend – this one was a student of Richard Rose, who exemplified the value of friendship – has a way of making you slam the wall when you're going full speed in the wrong direction.

From Peter O:
I can't pick any one experience. I learnt from it all. I still am. I see how I gave so much chasing pleasure and it took almost everything to deal with the pain. But when I look back over my forty two years, I realise I absolutely needed to experience both and it was the pain I resisted the most, which resulted in most of the personal growth. I needed to live it all. Childhood Abuse, Drink, Drugs, Horrendous drug induced fears, Tens of thousands of panic attacks, Suicidal flirtations, Death, Kids, Marriage, Devastating Heart break, Divorce, Annulment, Tumours, Life Saving operations, Bankruptcy, Spiritual Glimpses. The list could go on but we all have our own lists. Mine is nothing special.

So what have I learnt from it all. Most of all I have learnt to trust life. To let it flow. To stop trying to run from it. To stop trying to run it. I've learnt that this is not easy. I've learnt that what I thought at the time was bad has actually always been good, needed. I've learnt it's a gift. All of it, just a privilege to experience it. I would live it all again. Every ounce of it. If I could, I would change nothing. I am so grateful for the gift of Life itself. I am so grateful for where it has brought me, here.

I might leave you all with a quote I love. "Everything will be alright in the end, if everything is not alright, then it is not the end". That is truly the greatest lesson I have ever learnt. [The quote comes from The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel - ed.]

From Mike G:
The death of my first pet dog when I was around 4 years old triggered curiosity about life and death. Two rapport sittings have had a profound effect on me later in life and have marked my mentality for around 40 years.

From Vince L:
I can't say a particular life event had the biggest impact on my life. But I think what happened in my situation was that over a period of years I gained an accumulation of insights about the "big picture" of life. These insights ultimately made me decide during my college years that a commitment to the spiritual search would be my first priority in life. And I would say the decision to make this commitment has had the biggest impact on my life because not only have I gained greater insights about the "big picture," but also the most important friends and associations I've made in the 40 years since graduating from college stem from it. Truly, this spiritual endeavor is my meaning and purpose in life. I don't know if I will have an Ultimate Realization but I'm certain the the decision I made 40 plus years ago has been worth it.

What was the nature of these "insights" mostly gained in my youthful years that led to my decision? Generally I'll say that the theme of the insights involved my realization that the "I" that I take to be myself is of a limited nature and that I would not be able to permanently gratify or satisfy any desire for status, wealth, or relationships by nurturing that "I." I sensed that even if I did succeed in fulfilling these desires they are finite, and I did not look forward to the prospect that at the end of the road of my life I might see I wasted most of it in their pursuit.

From Todd W:
There have been several moments in my life that created major inflection points. The party in which I met my wife, or the time when my roommate and I both went to the same job interview. For the former, I was more inclined that night to laying on the couch but a last minute irritation with a TV show motivated me to go to a friend's party. For the latter, I got lost on the way to the interview (pre-GPS) and my roommate received the job offer (I was much more qualified).

Those two events, if a coin flipped the other way, would have greatly changed my life situation. I would be living in a different house, maybe a different state, different job, could be richer or poorer, surrounded with friends and maybe children that in this life I'll never meet.

Those examples and maybe a dozen others (or maybe countless) that have occurred without my direct knowledge, would have greatly changed my external circumstances. But those tweaks in initial conditions, resulting in widely different outcomes, most likely haven't created major impacts in my internal condition. For that, I need to go back to when I met Chuck Conrad to pinpoint a life changing inflection on my mental perspective.

Chuck was a longtime TAT member; one who exemplified an intense interpretation of Rose's teachings, yet was very approachable. I was a freshman at Ohio State and on my way back from class, "borrowed" a poster attached to the wall next to the elevator. The graphic was intriguing and a bit controversial and detailed a meeting to be held that evening at a local church. My impression was this was some new flavor of Christian cult. Stepping into my dorm room, my roommates were kicked back in a post bong hit stupor. I let the poster drift down in the middle of the coffee table. For the next hour, four of us slowly increased our righteous fervor to confront this group, to the point that we actually left our room and went to the church (an event that was highly improbable unless there was a pizza deliverer in the lobby).

Of course when we entered the room, we weren't met with raving cultists, rather just Chuck Conrad sitting at a table with a copy of The Albigen Papers. The stark contrast between our expectations and the plain spoken man probably opened our slightly inebriated minds to hear what he was saying. And what he said, has been ingrained in my memory since, "who you were before you were born, who you will be when you die, and your true nature to the universe can be known in your lifetime."

I had always been inclined toward philosophical and spiritual contemplation, but meeting Chuck and subsequently Mr. Rose, caused something to click in my mind; to solidify. There is a fundamental difference in reading about long dead masters or accounts of enlightenment from different times and really meeting a living example. It is about opening up the possibility. Stories and accounts can be apocryphal or subject to interpretive biases. However, meeting and developing a personal relationship with a group of "Finders" that demonstrates that the chance for having a permanent change of being is within your grasp is exhilarating, absolutely terrifying, a heavy burden and a promise of hope all simultaneously.

I can't say that if we had decided to get the Tuesday night pizza special instead of venturing out to meet Chuck that I wouldn't have stumbled on a way of defining my search, but the odds are probably it would have taken years longer, if ever. The reality of finding Reality would have remained only for those individuals of extreme circumstances or remained as accounts of fictional creation. That moment was beginning of a process of "going within" with a faith that fundamental answers are possible.

From immelgeist:
I had a friend when I was growing up named Cole, the stepson of my next door neighbor, we were both the same age. He and I got along amazingly, we'd play outside together, ride bikes, and he was the only friend I ever had outside computer land that enjoyed playing videogames like I did.

When we turned 6 though, things started to change: Cole started losing a lot of weight, and began to grow weak. I didn't really understand what was going on, but we continued to play and have a fun time nonetheless. We stopped playing outside and so mostly spent our time inside his house playing Mario Kart and eating those awesome Planters HOT Peanuts or his sister's candied dehydrated fruit. I don't know why that sticks in my head so much, but it does.

By the time we turned 7, Cole could no longer walk. He was relegated to a wheelchair, but I have fond memories of pushing him up his driveway to let him coast down. I started to feel odd though, I was afraid of inviting myself over to his house, and I didn't want to intrude on him being sick.

One day, his dad, a veteran cop of the Portland PD pulled me aside when I came to his house, and I explained how I felt about it-- I was afraid Cole wouldn't want me there because he was so sick. He told me never to think that way, that what I was giving him was the best thing anyone could do for him: To look at the reverse of the situation, how I would feel were I in his position. I was his friend, and the fact I still wanted to play with him meant more than I could know.

It was the first time I really understood what empathy was, even if I didn't know the word. I look back and I have such pride for the morals I had as a little kid. I didn't judge, I just did what came naturally and felt was right. I try to model myself after that little kid who had a chance to affect someone's life positively.

Cole died shortly after. His life may have been short, but the lesson learned changed my life and how I saw the treatment of other people. Every day I try to live up to it.

From Phil F:
Early in my junior year in high school I experienced being totally ostracized by my group of teenage friends. We were a tight knit group of boys that did everything together.

A tangential member falsely accused me of something I didn't do and no one believed my denials. There had been some unkindness developing within the clique but nothing prepared me for his. I reached out but to no avail.

I was completely identified with these guys, we had a brotherhood bond yet even my best friend Skip turned on me. After being bullied throughout elementary school I felt I had finally "made it" being part of an "in crowd" … all of my adolescent yearning had been fulfilled. Then my world collapsed.

First there's the feeling of shock, then the slow loss of hope followed by the grim reality setting in. Of course there is also denial, sadness and loss all rolled into one. It was an experience of being totally shunned. I hoped that it would gradually end, that someone would come to their senses, but it never did. It lasted all the way through graduation.

The sense of loneliness and dread was so overwhelming I didn't know if I could continue living.

I developed a strategy of hiding and avoiding contact whenever I could. I told no one (not even my parents) my shame and humiliation were so great. I chose to suffer in silence.

It was a Catholic school with a secluded grotto to Our Lady on the high school grounds. I went there to pray and walk the Stations of the Cross identifying with Christ's passion.

It became a refuge for me. Sometimes I would wake up in the middle of the night, slip out, and take long walks. As I look back now I, realize that even though I was in thought a kind of meditation was setting in. In the midst of the pain I developed a perception of the mental nature of things. I began to sense a presence of something other, maybe it was grace. I read the lives of the saints, spent time in nature, forgave my friends and began to let go. I now had a new identity of being an outsider.

This is a condensed version of "my story." I now see it as a confusing, involuntary initiation onto the spiritual path. I continue learning lessons from it to this day.

From Paul S:
That's an easy one. Meeting Richard Rose, which opened a whole new world of possibility and understanding I never knew existed. But almost as remarkable were the conditions leading up to this event.

I don't know with certainty that there is an Invisible Hand, but I strongly sense so. I was almost 30 when I moved away from Denver. My destination was to go East, and the exact place was mostly determined by closing my eyes, circling my fingers around a U.S. atlas, and touching down on a spot. Norfolk, VA seemed to be the closest city. So I drove out and found I didn't like the area. I then drove north, and as I was passing through Baltimore, I was hit by a mood I'd never felt before, almost otherworldly, by seeing a stone house on a hill. So I decided to live there. After about a year of self-destructive behavior and hitting bottom, I was totally lost and desperate. I had discovered a couple of Zen books which intrigued me. I also happened to read an article in the Baltimore City Paper, about a college student who went to interview an anonymous Zen teacher, who laughed and poked holes in the student's high-minded assumptions and views. I thought to myself – Man, how I would love to meet a man like that. Later on I saw an ad in the City Paper about a Zen meeting. It turned out to be a meeting run by TAT members Bob Cergol and Doron Fried. I went and was a little hesitant at first when they offered some books to purchase written by a Richard Rose. In short time, they invited me to visit him on his farm in WV at a TAT meeting. Funny what impressed me most was that an author actually would invite people to come and visit him in person. And from there it took off. I would say the two practices Rose encouraged which most impacted me were celibacy and isolation, which somehow seemed to change my inner being.

But I also want to give credit to a Visible Hand. My mother, who was and is the greatest person of my life. She exemplified unconditional love, which for me is convincing "proof" of God's existence.

From Wyatt W:
My mom died of breast cancer when I was 23 years old. My brother and I were both home from college for Thanksgiving vacation. The evening of the day after Thanksgiving, she collapsed while being helped to the bathroom. Our last moments with her were spent attempting to console her while she writhed in what appeared to be agony with difficulty breathing while laying in her bed. She was unable to speak, but when I asked her to squeeze my hand if she could hear me, she did. When the hospice nurse arrived, he insisted we move her to a more upright position in a lazy boy at the living room despite her apparent objections. After a while she appeared to drift to sleep and we all went to bed a couple hours later. Only a few hours after that, I awoke to see the living room light on through my bedroom vent and the cracks in the door. I had a feeling she had passed, and when I went out I saw my dad sitting on a couch nearby and he confirmed it. A while later when the undertakers arrived, they rolled in a gurney along with a reusable body bag that reeked of death. There were movements in my mind to object to her being placed in that bag, but a wiser part of me knew there was no her there that would mind or that I could object for. The experience of both her illness and passing were a powerful memento mori and lesson in general impermanence.

What music 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 Correspondence

I would like to know whether there is any material difference between the teachings of Ramana Maharshi and Nisargadatta Maharaj. To me, on the face of it, they appear to be identical in substance. The difference appears to be in the use of language and the manner of presentation. Am I right? ~ Gurudas Bailur

What are your thoughts on this? Please your feedback.

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?


Irises and Locust, Katsushika Hokusai. Wikimedia Commons.


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

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Founder's Wisdom

Richard Rose (1917-2005) established the TAT Foundation
in 1973 to encourage people to work together on what
he considered to be the "grand project" of spiritual work.

Decision, Determination, and Discrimination

[Notes for a lecture.]

Keys: Decision, Determination, Discrimination

Set a goal (subject to change, but make the goal permanent until the conviction for change is accompanied by opportunity to change).
Set sub-goals and in order.
Make commitment to accept all means to your goal – all suffering or work provided such acceptance does not [interfere with the goal].

Determination: (Courage)
CONTINUALLY WORK for ways to accelerate your adventure.
Prefer the company of colleagues over pleasant but aimless social contacts.
Work relentlessly, but without drudgery.

DO NOT WORK FOR YOURSELF (very important).
Plan intelligently, but incorporate in your plans a desire to know and work within the master blueprint of life and the cosmos.
Cover all the factors related to your goal. Now this is impossible with a mind whose thoughts are counted in seconds, whose attention span is limited to minutes, whose waking period is limited to hours and whose energy is limited to days. THE FACTORS ARE LEGION.
How can this be done. This seems to be the chief key if such exists – whether the goal is spiritual, mental, or objective (i.e. material).


LIVE FOR THE TRUTH (so that your computer will function for correct answers). BUT KNOW WHEN TO AVOID TELLING THE TRUTH.

Value true friendship.

Find the ways to develop intuition (instant computerization) to understand:

The engineer's blueprint.
Libertarianism or predestination?
Prenatal accidents or inheritance of limitations.
The animal self. The appetites.
The ego.
States of mind – your own and other people's. (You have to work with others.)

Formulae with incomplete knowledge of factors:
You go to church and follow its rules, but a thief ruins you, or something destroys your family.
You work honestly and hard but inflation wipes out your life's savings.
You rigidly follow a law and order philosophy, but a sadistic policeman kills your son in jail.
You love almost everyone including your mate – but the mate hates you, uses you and takes off with your bank account and another man or woman.
You use positive thinking religiously, but everyone you know succeeds with a dog-eat-dog philosophy, while you get nowhere.

Ask for opinions on the following:
Napoleon, Hitler, Idi Amin, Grant, Nixon, Ed VIII, Howard Hughes, the Egyptians such as Akenaton.
Positive thinking.
Chanting, or will to believe.
The reason some [spiritual or religious] groups raise millions.
Faith, except faith in yourself or faith that all things happen by design and that there is room for us in the design.
Positive thinking may be selfishly directed.
Good works, charity, etc. (What is good).
Prayer (unless you pray to yourself).
Thaumaturgical rites or magic.

Causing things to happen.
J.B. Rhine and dice.
The gambler and dice, cards, etc.
The casino story (danger of improper use [of between-ness; based on a film where an old prospector down to his last dollar rolls up big winnings in a casino, goes off with a fancy woman, and drops dead]).
The Colin Wilson story Mind Parasites.
Napoleon Hill [Think and Grow Rich].
Huna (danger from harmful intent).

Direct Mind Science
1. Assembling of quantum energy.
2. Direct mind exercise (ESP exercises, reading your own dreams).
3. Mind control. Ability to lock out undesirable and unnecessary thoughts. This creates the mental vector.
4. Limiting mental activity to the goal (sharpening the vector).
5. Allow things to happen. Rejoice but do not brag.

Cosmic Consciousness
All is perfect.
But the babies are still murdered.
Man and animal breeds almost uncontrollably.
Behind that perfection is programming.
We are programmed to like certain foods. The cat does not abhor the hair on the mouse – the whole thing has exquisite taste coupled with a programmed joy in hunting and a lust in killing.
The rabbit is programmed to eat vegetation, perhaps to cause resistance in the plants which would make them hardier. The fox is programmed to eat rabbits and it is my attitude that the predator stimulates the species of the food supply, preventing overpopulation, disease-spreading by such ones, and apathy or carelessness in the victim.

Mileposts – Spiritual or Financial
1. You begin to doubt others whom you were inclined to believe.
2. You learn that you are not right all the time.
3. You reach certain convictions and plateaus and are inclined to think that each plateau may well have another superior to it.
4. You recognize that your intuition is improving and find that your intuition is capable of sensing techniques for greater intuitive accuracy.
5. You find Peace of Mind.
6. You begin to pinpoint things which destroy your peace of mind.
7. Struggle for the adventure of it, and look for the advantage that may follow every loss.
8. You reach the ability for between-ness.
9. You continue to work after ambitions have proven ridiculous, even spiritual ambition. FOR ALL TIME YOU ARE THE VECTOR OF YOUR WILL.
10. People surprise you by wanting to live with or near you.
11. You realize that you have met the finest people on earth. Their unselfishness will continue to astound you.
12. You must know when your work is done.

All of us are programmed. All of us are limited. The fox is not king. The predator is not superior. If he multiplies too much his food supply will diminish and he will weaken. He will acquire rabies and run around biting other foxes.
The human predator is not absolved from doom if he ventures too far into apathy or too far into killing or reproducing.
The human has automobiles, wars, herpes, and AIDS to shorten his life-span.

Questions for Forum reader discussion:

Do you have a clearly-felt life goal?

Have you made and stuck with a whole-hearted commitment for your life?

Are "CONTINUALLY WORK for ways to accelerate your adventure" and "DO NOT WORK FOR YOURSELF" contradictory?

Who or what would you be working for if not for yourself?

Is there a "master blueprint of life and the cosmos"? If that's a possibility, how would you "incorporate in your plans a desire to know and work within" it?

Other questions that the notes generate for you....


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

At the end of January we are at 77.2% of our goal. We looked at two properties near Raleigh, but neither were what we hoped they would be. Please keep your donations coming as when we find a promising spot we will need to move on it quickly. And please keep an eye out for potential properties. Many eyes on the ground will help a lot in this respect.

When you make any purchase on Amazon after visiting the TAT Press webpage and clicking any of the Amazon links, TAT earns 4 to 6% – all at no cost to you. 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 ).

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


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