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

TAT Forum

April 2016

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Convictions & Concerns

TAT members share their personal convictions and/or concerns

Facebook Enlightenment

We post the latest quote by Adya or Ramana, proud of our apparent spirituality. We agree with the wise men's words when they tell us all the wonderful things we seemingly see in ourselves. For we have had our hard knocks; now we know and agree with the wise men. We've become humble, experienced, and oh so clever.

We agree with other people's memes, the beautiful photos, wonderful quotes, yet strangely enough, never see our own contradictions. We fail to see how we act against our own best interests. How we never really work for the spirit, but stay in a perpetual dance of supporting and glorifying the all mighty "ME." That feeling of uniqueness, our specialness, that which keeps us different and separate from others. Though when the need arises, we agree with them, and hope they agree with us. We may by turns argue with them, even yell and scream, stomp our big feet, but this is all just to maintain that separateness, that uniqueness. To help them as they help us: by loving or hating each other in turn. We can't see how we never really change. We simply spin in the same old pattern of routine, base desires and needs, and never move towards anything higher. That would require that we go against that separateness, that specialness. But no, we continue our lazy dance, bumping into the furniture, oblivious, only hearing the music of our own special song.

Sooner or later the fun machine will wear out and die. Then we'll have to get a new one; the party will continue. The dance can go on, seemingly forever, with maybe some new awkward steps thrown in here and there. But never with the realization that we contradict ourselves with every move. The one thing we need to get to the bottom of all this madness is to go against that specialness, that uniqueness, and instead find the similarities between us, the common ground that lies ever within, covered by the noise and distraction of our song. To go against ourselves; not in agreement, but in wisdom. To go against the feeling of "me." Not in contradiction, but as a quietness, an acceptance. To move into the silence where we find we're all the same. And that the uniqueness, rather than being the thing that helps us, has actually been our greatest enemy.


Thanks to Bob Fergeson, an active TAT member since 1991. This essay comes from a post on Bob's Mystic Missal blog. See also his Nostalgia West Facebook page and his latest book book available on Amazon, Dark Zen: A Guru on the Bayou.

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)


Downloadable/rental versions of the Mister Rose video and of April TAT talks Remembering Your True Desire (details).

Local Group News

Update from the Gainesville, FL self-inquiry group:
It looks like the local Gainesville group is, after 3+ years, getting a few core people who actually "get it." People have come and gone, over the years, and our average age has gone from 60s-70s to 30s-40s (if you don't count Art, who throws off the curve ;)

When we want to have retreats in FL, many people from the local group are able to attend, which makes things more vibrant here. I've found the meetings an excellent mirror, and people are starting to say that they are getting a lot out of the group.

For anyone who's on the fence about starting a group, it's as simple as setting up a page on meetup.com and showing up to meetings that you set up. You'll meet some characters – and they might, almost always on accident, help you see something new about yourself. ~ Nathan. Email or .

Update from the Greensburg, PA self-inquiry group:
Our group has been meeting twice a month with a steady attendance of about 6-7 people per meeting. It's still strictly a confrontation format. We've been very fortunate lately because Ram S. has been driving from his home north of Pittsburgh to attend our meetings. The topics in March were "Is Peace of Mind Possible?" and "Success Through Failure?" I've been able to stay "on point" much better and avoid having participants drift off into side topics because of Ram's presence at the meetings. There was some good, intense but friendly confrontation during the Peace of Mind topic between Ram and one of my regulars who is a Theravada Buddhist meditator and a dedicated seeker. Perhaps what's been needed was to have two TAT members there so I can "stay on the ball" as the monitor. As I mentioned in a previous update, our Greensburg group is comprised of people with varying interests. However, things go better when we have a critical mass of people such as the Buddhist meditator, who are serious seekers and have an inkling of what confrontation is about so we can do what the group was established for. I can happily report the group has become more dynamic and is doing what it is supposed to do, namely, to get participants off dead center and go within. ~

Update from the Raleigh, NC Triangle Inquiry Group:
The Triangle Inquiry Group (TIG) is planning a retreat for October 1st and 2nd in conjunction with the Center for Mindfulness and Nonduality at the Juniper Level Botanic Garden. See The Nature of Identity/Beyond Self for details and registration. ~ Email or .

A Tallahassee, FL self-inquiry group is forming. Check out the Meetup.com link and join as a supporting member to help get things going. ~ Email for details.

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 November TAT Gathering are now available in the members-only web area. Descriptions of each session are also available there along with the speakers' notes.

us if you have questions about the members-only area.

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

Zen Rattle

When Chan Master Deshan (Te-shan, 782-865) arrived at Guishan monastery, he carried his bundle with him into the teaching hall, where he crossed from east to west and then from west to east. He looked around at all the monks assembled and said, "There's nothing here, simply no one at all." Then he went out.

When Huineng (638-713), regarded by Shenhui's "Southern School" of Chan Buddhism as the 6th Patriarch, was allegedly asked on what basis he succeeded the 5th Patriarch in this lineage of Buddhism, Huineng is said to have instantly replied, "Because I do not understand Buddhism."

Modern-era Soto Zen master Shunryu Suzuki (1904-71) clarifies: "We practice zazen meditation to naturally express True Nature, not to 'attain enlightenment.'" And one of Zen master Sengai's (1751-1837) famous cartoonish Zen paintings shows a smiling frog sitting on a lily pad, with the caption: "If by seated meditation one becomes a Buddha … [implication: then all frogs are Buddhas!]"

Sengai meditating frog

Meditating Frog, by Sengai

"If by practicing zazen
One becomes a Buddha …"

Thanks to Timothy Conway, PhD. See his website at www.enlightened-spirituality.org/Zen_Humor.html for more Zen humor.

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

Colm Heaney

I can't see the light, but somehow know it's there
I falter between the lines of hope, and trying not to care
A mirage within a desert, a trick played on the blind
Thoughts they start to hit the wall, they must be left behind
There are no maps or waypoints, in what seems an empty night
Yet there's a strange kind of knowing, that what's seen just can't be right
Every step forward, seems closer to nowhere and no thing
The growing realization that there's no turning back, quietly disarming
The gradual acceptance that the tools I know and turn to, are of little or no use
I'm told the freedom that I look for, bodes a phantom in a noose
So a slow walk to a gallows, not one left behind
A mirage within a desert, a trick played on the blind

Blindsight: The Strangest Form of Consciousness

"Some people who have lost their vision find a "second sight" taking over their eyes – an uncanny, subconscious sense that sheds light into the hidden depths of the human mind.

"When Daniel first walked into London's National Hospital, ophthalmologist Michael Sanders could have had little idea that he would permanently alter our view of human consciousness.


"Daniel turned up saying that he was half blind. Although he had healthy eyes, a brain operation to cure headaches seemed to have destroyed a region that was crucial for vision. The result was that almost everything to the left of his nose was invisible to him. It was as if he were looking out of a window, with the curtains drawn across half of his world.

"Daniel was adamant that he could not see a thing, yet somehow his unconscious mind was guiding him correctly…."


See the rest of the BBC article by David Robson at www.bbc.com/future/story/20150925-blindsight-the-strangest-form-of-consciousness. ~ Thanks to Paul Constant for this link.

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


From Mark S:
I met with Mr. Rose twice when I was 17 years old, but I didn't commit to a spiritual path. Almost 40 years later – after school, a bout with Zen, and then marriage, family, and career – I googled his name and found some youtube clips of talks that he gave. While watching them, what struck me was that all I have ever wanted in my life is to know who I am, and I'm doing nothing about it. That was the beginning of my current search.

Mr. Rose wasn't my teacher; I don't think I spent more than a total of two hours with him. But somehow he left me with the impression that it is possible to find an answer to the question of what you are at core. I don't think I would have been able to admit my deepest desire if he hadn't left me with that. I will always be grateful.

From Mike G:
My mother. Looking back, I see that the rapport with my mother cultivated that sense in me and her outlook on life formed my basic reactions to life. You are asking which "one" … but of course, Richard Rose and my own father were the others.

From Joyce S:
When I was in college I took a course called "Bible as Literature." I was an economics/finance major so this was quite a change from my usual coursework, but I really wanted to understand the Bible as that was the main topic of conversation among my three born-again Christian sisters. Not wanting to go to hell, I was trying really hard to join my sibling evangelists: I alternated between being the beer chugging champion at frat parties to being the meekest of members of Campus Crusader.

Little did I know how much confusion and frustration lie ahead. The elder, jolly Professor just loved the Bible – but took very little of it literally, which was utter blasphemy in my small world! Long story short, it was the beginning of the end for me in terms of fundamental Christianity. Although I knew better than to ever repeat any of what I was hearing in that classroom to my sisters (we'd still be arguing!), it started me questioning, and it didn't take long until the flood gates were wide open.

For the real "seeking" to start, I knew I had to go far far away. I ended up spending years overseas trying to get "the answer" – from a Christian study center in Switzerland (L'Abri), to a Hari Krishna community in India, to a Buddhist monastery in Thailand (Suan Mokh), etc., etc. The endless striving to sort it all out and finally know the "truth" didn't seem to work though. Now I see those decades of seeking with a newfound compassion for this hopeless over-achiever who took it on like another assignment. And who of course is nothing like that now. Ha.

From ikeh:
Failures. That is, having the plans I devise for the future not working out as I have envisioned. Such a failure is like a hand turning my head to see where I actually stand: having no solid ground. It forces me to admit that I do not know where I am ultimately going, but that there is usually at least one step visible amidst the thick fog and that I can at least take it though my knees feel like buckling under the weight of uncertainty. This, or else, just lie there and watch myself slowly rot.

From Eric C:
I heard Richard Rose speak at North Carolina State University in 1991. Mr. Rose spoke about the possibility of knowing for oneself, of knowing with absolute and final certainty. Up until that point my mind could only conceive of belief – various types of beliefs (content) in which the believing subject was itself not known. After 25 years with many other teachers, books, and meetings, the possibility of knowing for myself, knowing in my bones from my own experience remains a life koan.

From Jason S:
Bob Fergeson has had the biggest impact on my life. He has been a true friend to my essence, at the expense of my personality, and has been unwavering in his commitment to helping me discover what's within. He's been endlessly patient during my identification with my shadow side, and restrained himself from giving advice unless the situation was dire enough. It's hard to discern when he's teaching and when he's not, though I feel that he's always teaching, whether it's by his actions or words. He's shared with me priceless insight on various methods to self-discovery, and though I've been a struggling student and not able to follow through on all of it, it's given results.

Bob, I think, is easy to overlook. He's playful at times, in his videos, photography, and writings. Though underneath this is a deadly serious teacher who strikes the ego with precision if one is paying attention to what is being communicated. I first met Bob back in 2011 and have sent him hundreds (if not more) of e-mails, gone on numerous hikes with him, camped with him, and participated in our Denver Self-Inquiry meetings. He's taken my whimpering calls (more than I'd like to admit) at just the right time, giving me a mirror to see myself even when the pain was unbearable. All of this has helped me to separate from experience, and recently has given me a chance to walk a straight line in hopes of having a productive life and the possibility of becoming.

I suspect that a lot of folks don't want to get too close to an authentic spiritual teacher, and if they do, delude themselves from being open to the message being transmitted. That's understandable, as coming to it is (likely) not going to be a pleasant process. It certainly hasn't been for me. After years of misery, and conniving, and escape, I am convinced that my work with Bob brought me to a dead end. This is the work of a real teacher, to take away your buffers and mental escapes, and give you a chance of getting beyond yourself and going within. I reached the point of being crippled, mentally, and being forced to surrender and look inside. What was revealed on a couple of occasions was my Inner Self, though I didn't know this at the time. It was a presence that made itself known, like a warm blanket for an impoverished soul. It is invaluable to have someone who knows the path to discuss such matters, not to validate the ego's acquisition of an experience, but to confirm that finding out who you are is a real possibility.

From Maria T (Sydney, Australia):
Many people have had profound influences on my life, especially through books these people have written. Bernadette Roberts book What is Self? A Study of the Spiritual Journey in Terms of Consciousness was especially helpful for me because she explained things about our self and consciousness that I had never heard before that are quite useful as I continue my spiritual journey. I am beginning to understand why my self is not a being but rather my awareness of being and although self is what it means to be human, it is not eternal. Bernadette also explained the difference between my ego and my self, a difference not always distinguished in spiritual circles. Her guidance has been invaluable. ~ Contact for Sydney discussions.

From Jeroen vR:
One of the big shifts in my life happened when I was a student at the university, and one of the teachers mentioned in passing about his strict Christian youth and how he completely changed his view of Christianity after reading a book. I was intrigued and pressed him for more details. After a while he told me that it was a book from Osho about the Gospel of Thomas. A few weeks later he lent me his copy. It was the first time I read a spiritual book, and it too gave me a very different view of Christianity. We talked about it, and he mentioned Gurdjieff as 'more advanced'. I had no clue what he meant, and I haven't spoken to him since, but I went to the library, borrowed a book of Gurdjieff's teaching and became part of a group that worked along his line of work. My spiritual unfolding had started...

What is your favorite aphorism (a concise observation that contains a general truth), and why? Please your responses for next month's Reader Commentary.

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


Stonehenge. Photo by Tess Hughes.


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.

Knowing Oneself

Part 2 of a talk given by Richard Rose in Denver, CO on June 10, 1983 (continued from the March 2016 TAT Forum):


Now there's a third step that's taken, and this is the last step. The process observer, you've pretty much exhausted that. You've cleared out all the cobwebs and you don't know where else to look. But you still don't particularly know yourself totally, you just know what to expect under certain conditions. And there's a strange combination: After you do this, which might take a couple of years, you become aware not so much of any composite being, except an observer on one side and awareness on the other [points E and F of the Jacob's Ladder diagram]:

Source: Psychology of the Observer, © 2001 Richard Rose. All rights reserved.

The investigation of the life inside the human being, thinking objectively and practically, seems to boil down to nothing but awareness. Here's a person or a point of consciousness watching all the games it's played inside this structure. And that's all he has, outside of awareness. But the concentration upon the two points of awareness – a person observing the processes of life, and this other awareness – brings you to a state of realization.1

Now from this overview, once this state of realization came, I was able to look back and see what had happened. You can't see it from where you are. You have to do it. If you have never been into any of this, you can't see it. What I'm saying you may not understand. It may seem reasonable to you or appeal to you intuitively, but you have to apply your head to it. Or possibly read something on it. There's a little book back there2 that will spell this out, and if you forget what I've said you can read it. Every time you forget it you can read this and you'll understand a little more.

But the view is not the viewer. And you continue in this, but what happens is that you suddenly get an overview of exactly who you are and what your purpose is. And all this mechanism below seems to be some definite fog that's been put between you and this, so that you'll be a good fertilizer.3 Our purpose here as I can see it, in the final analysis on the natural level, we are nothing but fertilizer....

The complete part 2 of "Knowing Oneself"


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

Since meeting last October's fundraising challenge, investment in the Homing Ground project has shown a modest increase as money in the bank is now $164,919. Our earnings from the Amazon program are $754 since last January. Adding pledges brings us to $189,939 which is 76% of the goal.

Funds Raised as of March 2016

RECENT DEVELOPMENTS: Larry I., Doron F. and Michael C. recently investigated properties in the Raleigh area. With relatively inexpensive land and proximity to the greatest concentration of TAT members, Raleigh is looming high on the list of potential home sites. Additionally, Art Ticknor has done several calculations on building costs, and Bob Harwood has offered sage advice that "my primary objective would be to find an interesting, difficult, or unusual piece of land that could be bought at a very good value."

One idea for a moderately priced meeting space is a steel building such as this:

Sample steel building

At this point, however, we have what Larry humorously remarked as "champagne taste and a beer pocketbook." We do not yet have enough money in the bank and need to continue towards our goal of $250,000.

For example, we found an interesting property twenty minutes from Chapel Hill, NC with 24.7 acres of bare land, and a mix of open pasture and mature trees for $105,000. See more at: 8225 Holman Mill Rd,Snow Camp, NC. However, after purchase we would not have enough funds to build a meeting space. Within the past day, Larry identified a 29-acre property an hour and twenty minutes from the Raleigh airport for $50,000. It was recently timbered and replanted in pine: Nicholson Road, Macon NC. Timbered land such as this is common in NC and would put us much closer to having enough funds to construct a building after the land purchase.

Here's what you can do to help:

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.

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


The Purpose:

The Vision:

Shawn Nevins
on behalf of the TAT Trustees



TAT gathering


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