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

TAT Forum

June 2016

June gathering details



Convictions & Concerns

TAT members share their personal convictions and/or concerns

The Final Hour

The underlying problem that plagues individual human existence is survival. We suffer from a conviction of our vulnerability and the misery of unfulfilled desire that accompanies it. This vulnerability is reflected in our fear of failure or rejection, with their threat of overwhelming us. The ultimate failure or result of being overwhelmed is, we fear, our personal annihilation.

Fortunately, vulnerability is disposed of along with the root of yearning when we recognize what we really are (which, mirabile dictu, is whole, complete and eternal). But that is just a possibility unless discovered.

The project of discovery

Recognizing what we truly are – which, as it turns out, is what we always have been and always will be; time is actually within us rather than vice versa – results from a process of paring away the inessential to reveal the essence. Life may do this for us, or we may try to accomplish or accelerate the result by a conscious effort.

Ramana Maharshi reportedly accomplished the task within an hour as a teenager. As British disciple and biographer Arthur Osborne related the story told to him by Ramana, then-Venkataraman Iyer was walking home from school one day, was assailed by the feeling that he was dying, went home, lay down on the floor in his room, and asked himself what would remain when he died. The duration's about right, but most if not all people who pursue the project of self-discovery to its conclusion spend years or decades before getting down to that final hour.

"Western devotees with Ganesan" drawing © Jane Adams. Arthur Osborne is back right. See Jane Adams Art: An illustrated journal of eastern and western wisdom, for her July 7, 2013 posting The Mythology Behind Ramana's Thirty Verses.

An example in microcosm of what gets in the way can often be seen in lesser projects. For example, a friend was asked by another friend to proofread a book for publication. He jumped into it enthusiastically, even expanding the project to include page layout, font selection, writing style, and so on. He attacked the first chapter with a flurry of activity then got bogged down. When a deadline was eventually set for about three months from the beginning, he completed reviewing chapters two and three – altogether less than ten per cent of the book.

Similarly, once the search for self becomes a conscious project, we overcomplicate it, probably inflating it to match the size of our self-image. And then, being convinced that it's a potentially overwhelming task, we procrastinate working on it – making occasional dust devils when we're inspired, then forgetting about it in the periods between inspiration, which tend to grow in duration.

The work is really quite simple in a profound way. We feel the deep longing of unfulfilled desire as an emotional reminder. This only takes a moment or two. And we have a worded question, which probably changes over time, as an intellectual reminder. It will be some variation on the "Who or what am I?" question since our intuition tells us that salvation lies in self-definition – finding the real self or essence at the core of being. The whole process, at heart, is one of observation, or looking.

That which we're looking for is what's looking. The subject of the search is never the objects that come into view, whether those objects of consciousness are apparently outside or inside. Thus paring away the inessential is a simple process of subtraction.

Each day we take up where we left off the day before. Eventually we will reach the core lie or pretense that generates the fog of illusion, and then the light of truth will dispel all vulnerability and unfulfilled yearning.

When we turn within and search whence this thought of 'I' arises, the shamed 'I' vanishes – and wisdom's quest begins. ~ From "The Thirty Verses" of Ramana Maharshi

We can't be too sure of our milestones, though. We only see them in perspective retrospectively. And even then, they will be speculations on our part. The only absolute knowing is our true identity.


~ Art Ticknor has been an active TAT member since 1978. See his website at www.SelfDiscoveryPortal.com. Comments? Please the Forum.


TAT Foundation News

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

Breaking news....

1. Your generosity more than met the May donation-matching challenge for our new-home project! See the Homing Ground section below for details.


Cover of This Above All: A Journey of Self-Discovery by Tess Hughes 2. Tess Hughes has written her first book, which TAT Press has published: This Above All: A Journey of Self-Discovery – "sharing some understandings I gained along the way and practises I was doing, or trying to do, that I feel contributed to the final return Home."

Order This Above All: A Journey of Self-Discovery at Amazon.com buy This Above All: A Journey of Self-Discovery by Tess Hughes from Amazon.com [Amazon CanadaAmazon UK]

2016 TAT Meeting Calendar

April 15-17, 2016 (Claymont)
June 17-19, 2016 (Claymont)
September 2-4, 2016 (Claymont)
November 18-20, 2016 (Claymont)

Register for the June TAT gathering, The Short Path, which takes place Friday-Sunday, June 17-19, 2016.

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:
We're having a retreat the weekend of June 3-5. The theme is an investigation into "What shapes your future?"

We're excited to be having Ike from Indonesia and Jeroen from The Netherlands joining us for the retreat and spending a little extra time in Florida. ~ Email or for more information.

Update from the Galway, Ireland self-inquiry group:

Self-Inquiry Retreat in Ireland – Summer 2016
When: Friday evening, July 8 - Monday lunch, July 11th.
Where: Star of the Sea. Mullaghmore, Co. Sligo
Check the website "Events" tab for more information.

Update from the Lynchburg, VA self-inquiry group:
We're organizing a retreat for Sun. November 13 - Fri. Nov. 18, before the TAT meeting on Nov. 18-20. It will be either in the Lynchburg area or Raleigh area – site not yet determined. And so far we have about 20 participants including leaders Anima Pundeer, Paul Constant, Shawn Nevins, Tess Hughes and Art Ticknor. ~ E-mail or for information on meetings.

Update from the Pittsburgh, PA self-inquiry group:
We have scheduled a talk on Thursday, May 26 in Mt. Lebanon and follow-up discussion-session Thursday, June 2 at the same location. A second talk is scheduled for Oakland on Thursday, June 2 with follow-up discussion-session on Thursday, June 9 at that same location.

We're pretty well filled up, with one spot left, for the retreat at Grand Vue Park on Sunday-Friday, June 12-17 preceding the June TAT meeting (Friday-Sunday, June 17-19) beginning Sunday afternoon and ending Friday noon. Paul Constant and Art Ticknor will be leading the retreat. ~ For further information, contact or .

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. Confirmed presenters for the October 2016 retreat include Paul Hedderman, Jenny Clarke, Gary Weber, Doug White, Bob Cergol, Paul Constant, and Anita Avent. See The Nature of Identity/Beyond Self for details and registration. ~ Email or .

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 presentations at the April 2016 TAT Gathering by Bob Cergol, Paul Constant, Bart Marshall, Shawn Nevins, and Saima Yousuf are now available in the members-only web area.

us if you have questions. (Look into TAT membership.)

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


In a Ruidoso, New Mexico cemetery:

Here lies Johnny Yeast.
Pardon him for not rising.

In a Uniontown, Pennsylvania cemetery:

Here lies the body of Jonathan Blake,
Stepped on the gas instead of the brake.

In a Silver City, Nevada cemetery:

Here lays The Kid,
We planted him raw.
He was quick on the trigger,
But slow on the draw.

A lawyer's epitaph in England:

Sir John Strange.
Here lies an honest lawyer,
and that is Strange.

John Penny's epitaph in the Wimborne, England cemetery:

Reader, if cash thou art in want of any,
Dig 6 feet deep and thou wilt find a Penny.


"Cereal Killer" created by TAT member Paul C.

We're hoping to present more 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

When your sadhanas [practices] themselves become a means of giving life to the non-existent ego, how can they destroy it? ~ Ramana Maharshi (thanks to Brent P.)

The Brain-Mind Connection?

Q. You talked about the process observer … [the rest is inaudible].

R. Yes, it's an observer. An observer isn't an actor. But your awareness too is very passive. There's a strange thing that happens; I haven't explained it tonight, but it's part of this formulation in studying the mind. The brain seems like a blob of flesh, but the brain has the mechanisms in it which I believe are in contact with the mind. I believe that the point of contact is the synapse. The synapse is like a spark plug; there's a gap there. And there's a small voltage that crosses the gap in the synapse, and it has to have a purpose for crossing that gap or else it would just be continuous wiring. And I believe that this is the contact between the physical sensory pickup and the mind that transcends the body.

~ From a talk given by Richard Rose in Denver, CO on June 10, 1983 (transcript beginning in the March 2016 TAT Forum and concluding in this month's issue).

Steve S.

It starts with the longing,
with deep empty yearnings
Yet the suspicion ... nothing will work

Comes self-inquiry and hard brutal probing
(I hear the whisper ...nothing will work)
Sobbing and hurting, gut wrenching devotion
(still there behind me.... nothing will work)
Journaling, listing, reviewing and checking
(softly softly ..... nothing will work)
Reading, pondering, so deeply thinking
(still in the background.... nothing will work)
Progress, revelation, climbing and climbing
clearer and surely ....closer to God
(in stillness of evening .... nothing will work)

Sacrificing and giving.. releasing, allowing
(more clearly now ...... nothing will work)
Feeling... and sensing... more clear intuitions
(still it is there ... nothing will work)
Longing and yearning, heart painful opens
(nothing and nothing ever will work)
Meditating, sitting ... staring at nothing
(ever louder .... nothing will work)
Goings and doings and endlessly seekings
(Closer and loudly now ..... Nothing will work)

Satsang and meetings and teachers and teachings and sittings and fastings and going and doing and breathing and moving and walking and seeking over and over and desperately praying and begging and asking
and pleading and bleeding
ever and ever and on and on

And right in my face now
no longer avoiding
I die on the floor 'cause

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 is the primary question you're asking yourself or, to word it another way, your primary quest, and why?" Responses follow.


From Bill K:
How can I uproot, overthrow my ego, myself, and simultaneously how can I become receptive to that which can guide me?

From Colm H:
I think my primary question is, why am I here!? The reason why, is that I seem to be an entity that is meant to be conscious of its own inevitable demise. To be given the faculties of self awareness, reason, logic and so on, implies they are part of the design. These of course enhance one's ability to see one's own decline. This strikes the same set of tools as either a somewhat cruel joke or something that most of us just don't, or can't, understand or resolve. It seems yet further ironic that as humans we seem to have an insatiable appetite to try and figure things out, to find answers and so on. Again, it almost seems we are built to inevitably want to chew into this type of question. However, the fundamental existential questions are so difficult to get an answer to for most, it seems an odd set-up.

From Chuck W:
I would like to contribute if I had something worth saying. Right now I can't really put any words on my quest that convey anything sensible….

From Miriam K:
My answer to this question is so obvious to me right now yet I've been overlooking or ignoring it for a long time – I wanted a different answer, a more potent, clear goal befitting the place this quest takes in my life.

Since coming across TAT 3.5 years ago and having my eyes and ears opened to question what I'm doing and why, I've been hit with a sense of responsibility for the individual and personal journey we all are embarking upon. The herd mentality, group think and being told what to do is where I've come from. To think for myself and gain clarity with simple questions like – 'What do you want?', 'What are you searching for?', 'Why are you reading the books that you are?' seem fundamental questions that I've been unable to answer with full conviction. I can give all the acceptable, familiar answers that we hear from those that have walked this path – but in truth I can't give those answers with a high enough conviction that sits consistently with me. They are others' words, not mine.

At various stages I have felt a sense of clarity in what I'm doing and why, but then it fades and I'm left with a sense that the truth of my quest is not clear to me. I would love to be writing here and declaring the conviction of my quest – yet…maybe I will never know with clarity until I actually find what it is that I'm looking for. I'm torn between the recommendation that 'knowing what you want' will help guide the path towards what it is you're looking for and my sincere, honest experience of not having that clarity. I search in the dark not knowing what I'm looking for and this is quite acceptable to me until I'm confronted with the disarming question of 'what am I looking for from the exploration that I do' and a rational sense that without a purpose, I haven't a chance.

I participated in an exercise with Tess last weekend where we were asked to identify our first memory. The theory being that this first memory can provide a good indication of early ego formation and how it possibly continues to play out. I've done this exercise in the past, but Tess suggested to explore how it might link in with this question. My earliest memory is of sitting on a toilet with a nappy on (diaper to the Americans). I must have been in the toilet training phase and assumed that I would be able to do the required business – it didn't work. I had a goal and felt disappointed and unclear why I couldn't achieve what I wanted. Having a rational goal is obviously something that I was used to from an early age and is a default place for me to hang out. The business world of SMART goals is familiar territory for me – yet I humbly realise (and quite often forget) that this exploration is of a different order.

A sense of unfulfillment has been with me in life – I've lived a pretty happy life, yet that sense of unfulfillment has been there from a young age. Career, love relationships, friendships, travel, owning a home have all left me still knowing that something is out of place. The first memory on the toilet of feeling disappointed and not achieving what I want has continued. The discontent is not dramatically played out in the world, yet it's a quiet digging that drives me to search for the fulfillment that my entire being requests.

From Chris P:
How important is actively living the truth? Is the truth enough? I find that this has been the theme lately, although as a barely conscious feeling rather than words.

From Chad N:
Answer: To quietly observe what is happening.
Why: Because both Papaji and Ashtavakra suggest it.
Something to contribute:
Shattered, shell-shocked shards
Shimmering silently amid the roar
Egoistic precipice precious
Slip fall
Inspiration, expiration, perspiration
Seemingly so
Let go.
Recommended/Currently Reading:
Enlightenment the Only Revolution by Osho

From R.C.:
What is "openness without vulnerability?" If I am something that is vulnerable, then what is that? Perhaps that is a wrong conclusion: That vulnerable is what I am is a wrong conclusion. Then what? Life brings constant pain. Minor things, major things, all sorts of traumas and "dukkhas," various afflictions to the sense of self, yet what is it that is hurt or afflicted? What is vulnerable and what can be open without being vulnerable?

From Aimée N:
My primary question over the past several years always comes back to trying to understand my relationship to power. WHAT IS MY RELATIONSHIP TO POWER?

All of my problems, all of my pains are all rooted in lack of power. I am constantly confronted with situations that I want to control but appear to have no power over – other people, circumstances, the government, housing prices, aging, health, my thoughts, the results of my actions, the past, the future... I am powerless over ALL of these things, but constantly fantasizing about controlling them.

So often, the entire universe feels like a dream in my mind, and I think "I made this"... But, as I move through the world, I'm obsessed with trying to figure out how I influence this dream... And the more attached I get to an outcome, the more I find myself feeling powerless and degraded.

Religions all seem to point to One who has all power... I don't know if I agree... If there is a God who has these characteristics (the big 3 in Catholicism = omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence), what's my relationship to this God? I sure don't feel connected to those qualities in the dualistic, meaningless world I find myself in on a daily basis...

This debate generally opens the door to further questions about the self... What part of me wants to have power? What is that? Is it possible that the part looking for power is not me? Is it possible that my true identity is the part of me that wants nothing? Nah! Ha hahaha.

From Brett S:
My primary quest is to find out who I am. I have the hope that if I find out who I am, I will also know why I am here and where I will go after I die. Some, including Richard Rose, seem to suggest that these three questions are sometimes answered simultaneously. However, I'm not terribly concerned with "why" I'm here (the reason may not be that interesting!) or where I will go after I die (wait and see lol). "Who I am," however, seems to me to be something that affects my daily existence, my being, day in and day out. Who you are can dictate how you go about the world. Since I have no choice but to go about the world, I want to know how to "go about it" the right way. I assume without knowing that there is no "one" right way; I believe, however, that there is a "way of being" unique to every individual that, if we discover it, will allow us to live fully, or at least more so. Less abstractly, "knowing who you are" I hope would help take away daily fears, assuage self-doubt, and give direction/purpose when faced with life's myriad challenges. At the very least, it would give a set of principles that point a direction. Often, principles are inherited, or inculcated, or socially given/imposed. My primary quest is to find out who I am, and therefore what "I" believe.

What question would you most like to ask other readers? 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?


Butterfly photo thanks to TAT member Paul Constant.
See his web site at www.SearchWithin.org.


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 4 (conclusion) of a talk given by Richard Rose in Denver, CO on June 10, 1983 (continued from the March 2016 TAT Forum, the April 2016 TAT Forum) and the May 2016 TAT Forum):

Mind and body

Q. You talked about the process observer … [the rest is inaudible].

R. Yes, it's an observer. An observer isn't an actor. But your awareness too is very passive. There's a strange thing that happens; I haven't explained it tonight, but it's part of this formulation in studying the mind. The brain seems like a blob of flesh, but the brain has the mechanisms in it which I believe are in contact with the mind. I believe that the point of contact is the synapse. The synapse is like a spark plug; there's a gap there. And there's a small voltage that crosses the gap in the synapse, and it has to have a purpose for crossing that gap or else it would just be continuous wiring. And I believe that this is the contact between the physical sensory pickup and the mind that transcends the body.

The complete part 4 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

We raised $1,450 in the first two weeks of May, which smashed through the $1,000 we needed to receive an anonymous matching contribution of $1,000. The month of May has been very successful for donations as we now have $178,860 in the bank and $202,630 if we add pledged but not yet received funds:

Funds Raised as of May 2016

Even more impressive is that over 90 individuals have invested in this project, including people from as far away as Turkey and Indonesia. Others have never been to a TAT meeting and only know us through TAT Press books, the TAT Forum or other TAT-affiliated groups. This is evidence of how this project and all the other group work TAT members contribute to ripples throughout the world in often unseen ways.

Two and a half years have passed since we began the Homing Ground project, and the end is near: $48,000 will bring us to the goal! If you have yet to invest, now is the perfect time to help drive this challenge to its end.

To invest in the Homing Ground project, mail a check made out to the TAT Foundation (for instructions on mailing a check, please the TAT treasurer).

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.

Don't forget, just buying stuff on Amazon helps. $858 has been raised since last January just from members using the Amazon link on TAT's webpage. Every time you want to buy something on Amazon, follow this, or any other Amazon link on TAT's site and a percentage of your purchase price is credited to TAT. It's easy and costs you nothing: Amazon Purchases.

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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