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

September 2016 / More


Convictions & Concerns

TAT members share their personal convictions and/or concerns


Notes from a November 2015 TAT meeting presentation:

> Retaining the Identity of the Real Observer in various states of mind

> An attempt to Knock You Off Your Rocker!

> Where Are You Within Experience? Are you the observer, or recipient?

> From "On/Off, Waking/Sleeping" by Mark Seabright, in the Nov. 2015 TAT Forum:

I became interested in the transition into and out of sleep as a way to notice the "I Am." I had heard or read that you might be able to catch a more direct glimpse of it as you wake up, and it made sense to me to try to pay attention to the transition into sleep also, partly as a way to set the intent to notice waking up. So I began a kind of sleep practice. I would remind myself of my intent just before going to sleep, and I would try to follow consciousness into sleep.

But I didn't have much luck with noticing the "I Am." Instead, I started to become troubled by what I take for granted: the experience that I go away in deep sleep and that I appear when I wake up. I – sense of self, consciousness, all of it – come and go daily, automatically. I tend to think that "I go to sleep" and "I wake up," but when I try to look at the transition into or out of sleep, it becomes clear that I don't have anything to do with it (any more than I control my thoughts, for example). It seems more accurate to say that I am turned on and off, "similar to a kitchen appliance" (Beyond Relativity, p. 330). The image that has stuck in my mind is of a light bulb (me) being turned on/off, on/off … off.

Why does this image touch a nerve? It's a reminder of death. It makes me question the continuity between the "I" that falls asleep and the "I" that wakes up. It makes me question the sense that I am in charge of or in control of being conscious. What else is it that bothers me so much about the on/off image? What does it say about what I am or what I am not?

Indeed ….

Lincoln Memorial (late 1960s). Photo by Bob Cergol.

> What Is Being Observed?

> Identifying the Real Observer

> Experience Is a Continuous Dream

> What Impacts the Focus of Attention?

> Guided Meditation

> Guided Meditation … 2

> The Container of Everything Is Awareness

> Your life's mission has been to define yourself…

… to organize the stream of experience into some cohesive, comprehensible story.

The machinery demands self-consistency, so the storyline becomes a feedback loop that steers your thinking and your behavior.

But you can't control even the simplest tiny habit pattern – and are anything but self-consistent – other than in your imagination.

Is there anything consistent about you? What is it? It seems beyond you. Truly, it is behind you.

You are so locked into the story about your body, and your I-experience is so laminated onto that body-mind – how in the world is it going to be peeled away for a look behind – at what is left – without some disruptive surprise!? You say that you disappear during sleep. What about the countless times you disappear while awake? How many miles can you drive your car – during which time you disappear – and then on waking, say to yourself: "I don't remember driving them!"

Isn't that "waking" really just the focus of attention returning to viewing the sense of self – aligned with body-mind – and looking through it at the world?

> Your sense-of-self is an experience

… a mere object in the focus of attention.

The power of attention does not belong to you.

The seeming that you exist anterior to the attention, and possess it, and use it to see yourself, is just that, a seeming…

Look closely at the sense of being you, and you will see that sensed-you is in the view. The sense-of-self is in the view – is being watched.

Self-consciousness is being observed – meaning it's an object – being observed by what?!

Isn't there an awareness of that self-conscious object that is separate from, and independent of, the presence of that object? An awareness independent of the "I"…

Hence it is true that, as with all objects that arise, sooner or later, all disappear, – the body object will decay, turn to dust and disappear, – that "I exist as me" sense object, a.k.a. "the mind," is one with the body at all times, and therefore will likewise decay and disappear – nothing of you will remain.

> The "I am" sits camouflaged in the surface of the water.

Revealed when a pebble makes contact, and produces a ripple,

Rising in the empty space above,

Seen as a ray of light reflecting off the waves.

> Awareness is Continuous –

It is never broken or interrupted.

The focus, or object, of attention makes it seem otherwise.

We lose ourselves in whatever we are looking at.

And that includes looking at what we take to be our self – the individual consciousness that comes and goes with the body and experience.

Retaining the identity, or point of reference, of the true observer is to step back, and to notice what we are looking at. Then the process of looking becomes the object, or focus, of attention – until there no longer is any object – "I am that I am … eternally."

From that point of view there never was any interruption – and this seeing is independent of body-mind. How the self-conscious, body-based phantom can "know" this, how this jack-o-lantern face can know that it is the light that fills the space on both sides of its form – both sides of experience – can't be explained, – except perhaps to say, that Awareness is indivisible, and therefore everything contained therein partakes of awareness.

> Discernment

Retaining the Identity of the Real Observer in various states of mind

The ultimate discernment is to know the difference between the sense of I, and the awareness that powers it.

Sooner or later, either in life or at the hour of your death, everyone must face this discerning moment.


~ Thanks to Bob Cergol, who has been an active TAT member since its 1973 inception and was the first of Richard Rose's students to reach sahaja nirvikalpa samadhi (a recognition of our true nature, which continues with the resumption of daily activities).

Comments? Please the Forum.

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TAT Foundation News

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

Downloadable/rental versions of the Mister Rose video and of April TAT talks Remembering Your True Desire:

"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/.

Return to the main page of the September 2016 TAT Forum.

Reader Commentary

Encouraging interactive readership among TAT members and friends

From Sheri R. [in response to "What are your ways and means?"]:
1. Get up approximately 5:30am to avoid the rush of husband and kids. Walk around the block to wake up (so I do not fall asleep in meditation) but also, and just as importantly, to focus attention. I will focus my vision on a mundane object and walk towards it not allowing the vision to wander. Once the object is passed, I focus on the next and keep going. This cues the mind-set attention on a focal point. The walk is kept brisk and I am attentive to posture, again to build focus.
2. Grab a coffee with a little milk, again to help wake up so I can be alert in meditation.
3. Read a short paragraph, page from literature/authors I am confident are Truth oriented.
4. Pray.....to Jesus. Both talking and listening. The intention for the meditation is likely in focus by this time. If it is not, it is by the end of prayer.
5. Seated meditation (35 minutes). I'll state my intention, or point of focus, for the session at the beginning and then watch and use a "procrastination technique" Art suggested. The technique is simply acknowledging any thought that is unrelated to the proposed intention and then "setting it aside." Anything that is relevant to the intention is simply watched.
6. Following the meditation I journal any insights, happenings, or observations that I want to bring more attention or exploration to. Writing also helps to ground any heightened energy. It's often difficult to not rush the writing due to excitement or time or laziness, so I make a point of only writing as much as I will write thoroughly.
7. Finally, I log what I did on a calendar I hung in my room. There are also other smaller goals I am tracking on the calendar that I update from the day before.

Whole thing takes between 1.5 to 2 hours.
There is still a lot of free form in the interim: reading, self inquiry, journaling. But that's basically it.

From Soanna P. [in response to "What are your ways and means?"]:
God (a problematic word) is not a being.
God is Absolute Being = Total Freedom.
Becoming one with God = transcending all enslavements.
A self-inquiry practice is the ultimate form of prayer.

When you know all, you know nothing.
When you do all, you do nothing.
When you love all, you love nothing.
When you are all, you are nothing.


                          The Bottom Line

A summing up of advice for your consideration:


Work diligently for the beauty of working, but don't strain. It's a fascinating mystery to solve. Look with light-hearted curiosity. Look for insights into your behavior. Look (feel, listen, etc.) then relax. It's the most natural thing in the world.

[Soanna has cited excerpts from the TAT Press publication Beyond Relativity.]

From Mike G. [in response to "What are your ways and means?"]:
The search for self-definition employs the same principles by which humans apply energy to any task – the difference is the goal is inward, not outward. Success in any human endeavor whether education, business, sports or self-knowledge results from energy conservation, focus, self-analysis and determination in the face of adversity. Working with peers and others who have previously succeeded accelerates progress. The paths of great scientists, business giants and Olympic medalists are illustrative. The inward direction of energy to the question of self-realization has the distinction of applying one's capacity to discern the source of what is, rather than creation of some thing. Thus, the practice of meditation is not for health and well-being but clarity and insight; the conservation of energy is not to run a race but for holding the attention in awareness. Analysis is not to create a new paradigm but for discernment of what is not-self, or resolution of a paradox or koan. The end to seeking self-knowledge is not guaranteed any more than the outcome of any other human effort. However, what is not real is ever more apparent, freedom from attachment and suffering follow, the seeker becomes more intuitive, and grace appears to follow from dedication to the task.

Return to the main page of the September 2016 TAT Forum.


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.

Introduction to the Albigen System

The following transcription features rare material from an early lecture of philosopher, poet and author Richard Rose. The talk, based on the speaker's own experience, describes a way of life aimed at understanding that life … a self-directed retreat from untruth … a common-sense, non-dogmatic approach to spiritual realization. Part 1 of a 1977 talk given by Richard Rose in Cleveland, OH:

The basic idea that I'm going to talk about is why Zen at all? Why fool with Zen, as opposed to some other system? I don't think anybody can give you more than their own personal reactions – you have to choose your own. But sometimes by giving a talk, someone with similar questions, a desire perhaps for a certain answer or a certain completeness of philosophy, may receive an intuition, and we may have the same direction.

I don't mean that everybody has to go the Zen direction, or that anyone has to go any particular direction. There's no direction that you should endorse for everyone. As an old farmer said to me one time, "There are many paths to the top of the hill, that the cows make, but they all come to the barn."

So I'm not trying to convince people that this is the only path to the top of the hill. But if it rings a bell for you, then my purpose is achieved. And if it rings a bell for just one or two, I presume it's achieved.

The only thing that I can give you – I think that I could possibly give you a lot of argument, but that it might be pretensively technical, philosophical. And in the long run I don't think philosophy does much, in the line of proving things. That is, the argumentative philosophy.

We eventually get, somewhere along the line in our spiritual searching or philosophic seeking, to where we realize our logic isn't going to do us any good. We have to depend upon another faculty. This faculty is largely intuition. Which means we have to feel. Consequently, hours of complex argumentation won't do any good; and too much dependence on the cruder forms of feeling will not do you any good. It has to be a certain refinement of feeling.

But regardless, I'll run you through – with an apology to those who have heard it before - my reasons.

I felt an inclination when I was young, very young, to find out the truth of things. And it could have been rooted basically in fear – I'm not making a pretense about that – I think a lot of us get curious about what happens to us after death because we fear death. That doesn't mean we have to curse our findings because they began in an experience of fear.

But my early years were an emotional search, you might say. I was raised as a Catholic, and I was trained in an emotional appeal to respect – because I loved my parents – the doctrine that my parents taught me, so to speak, or brought me up in. The idea possibly being as a child, that the love was the deity.

If I could have analyzed it at the time I would have found that I followed that which my family followed because of love for that family. Thinking of course, as almost every person at some time thinks, that the mother is infallible. Because as a child, the mother protects – and as a result of this we get filial religious strains.

I went away when I was quite young to study to be a priest. Because this was the fulfillment of filial obligation to the true religion as taught by the truest person on earth, being my mother. They can do no wrong.

But after some time in the seminary – I wasn't in there too long, maybe two or three years – I became dissatisfied. Fortunately enough I had been weaned from my family for a while, and I began to think as an individual. And I began to see what I considered holes in the logic. Incompleteness, if you will; injustice – according to my standards: a theology that didn't allow for a man's microscopic intelligence.

Feeling that I could not live up to the edicts – that somebody else translated to me as being God's edicts. Some edicts seemed to be very cruel, and the people didn't show me that they had any comprehension of that God's desires.

So I was about to part from what I considered my emotional search. I began as an emotional child, and when I got to the point where I could free myself from emotional attachment to theology and religion, I started looking around elsewhere.

So the next step that I went through was a search for a tangible proof. I realized that believing just wasn't enough. That if I were created with doubts, the doubts were as sacred as the belief. If an all-powerful being created me with doubts – they must have a purpose.

Of course, I stumbled a little bit in this business of just bravely going out and taking those doubts and running at right angles to my previous indoctrination. But I also noticed in the Bible where it says, "Seek and ye shall find." The same part that says, "Believe in Me."

Well – it's difficult sometimes to tie in those two. Where somebody's exhorting you to believe in them, and at the same time go out and search until you find. But that's what I started to do, regardless.

Of course, it became pretty much of an egotistical thing – I didn't realize that at the time; I thought I was objective. I had hoped to have an objective research, and I tried to get into everything that was objective, even studying psychology for the purpose of analyzing the brain, to find the contact point where the spirit touched the brain, and all this sort of thing.

I thought that by some intricate study you could come to that point – and maybe somebody already knew it. So you could go through all the psychology books and see if you could find what thought was.

In the process of doing this, of course, I realized that if it were possible, I would understand myself – which didn't occur to me when I first got into this. Because I sensed that I wasn't talking to myself clearly; that I had a lot of misconceptions, and some of the misconceptions were rooted in my inefficient computer, in my inefficient translator; and that the data coming into me was being translated by certain appetites or certain desires, colorations, and so on.

So I followed several things. Anything that popped up in front of me that would be objective – like spiritualism. I got into spiritualism I guess when I was 17 or 18 years old – because there seemed to be nothing more logical if you want to find out what happens to you after death, than to talk to the dead.

And I heard that there were bona fide materializing mediums that could bring the spirits up – and you could talk to them, and they could say, "Well, here's how it is. Here's the keys to the door." And the rest would be easy.

I was rewarded in many of these searches. Another one of them was the scientific search on the aspects of longevity. I felt that there was a need for maintenance of life. That you couldn't just take chances and get yourself killed – because you have no proof that a dead man knows anything. So seeing that the task ahead was monumental, the idea was to try to find a lifestyle in which you could live long enough to continue the problem. This was part of the project also.

But in regards to spiritualism, we did find – and I say "we" now because I started to associate with people who had the same interest, people who knew mediums and that sort of thing. I got into everything that was contingent upon spiritualism, also.

I was fortunate enough to run into a little circle just north of Columbus, Ohio that had brought a materializing medium down, and he brought some people out – little foggy creatures that had lived before, supposedly. And we asked them some questions.

Some of the people in the group that I was connected with at the time had relatives come out that they recognized. To me, no relatives came out; I saw a half of a nun and half of a priest. Maybe some sort of reproaching for the life I was leading, I don't know, being away from the Church.

But these figures didn't give me any great amount of wisdom. The priest just repeated over and over, "I am a Catholic priest; see my chasuble, see my stole, see my surplus. I am a Catholic priest…." It sounded like a record. The nun said nothing; and as I say, the nun had no eyeballs – that was the distinctive characteristic about her. There was a head, but no eyeballs in the head. I recognized the nun, incidentally, as someone I had known. She was very similar to a nun I had known as a child.

Well all these figures – there were some eighteen people there, and for a good many of them two people came out and talked to them. For one lady her mother and father both came out.

This was no rigging. This was not cheesecloth; this was genuine. There was a concrete floor and you could see them go through the floor. They would just sink right down. Some of them would explode and leave a vacuum – the medium sat behind a curtain, and the curtain would move out to fill the vacuum. They were genuine phenomena.

But as for valuable information – here's the opportunity to ask somebody, "Where are you?" – and this is what they were asked: "What's it like there? Who is there? Do you see Jesus Christ?" Not one of them said they had seen Jesus Christ, for instance. And these were Christian families.

This disturbed me a bit. I remember the answer of one was, "Well, we have heard that he is here." They were always vague answers. They were always an answer that you could not really nail down as being a lie or misinformation.

Answers were given mostly in the line of the questions that you would ask: "How are you?"

The answer would be, "Oh, we're fine."

"Is Joe there?" "Yes, Joe sends his love." These were responses that were almost uniform. I have heard this about other sittings that I didn't attend myself.

Question. Were these individuals?

Rose. Yes. This was the spirit talking. Individual spirits, yes. You could see them, they were standing right there. The room was only 18' by 10', so there were several rows of people. And I'd say we were within six feet of them.

Q. Did they have personalities?

R. Yes, well – yes. For the lady from Steubenville, her mother and father came out and talked to her a few minutes, and they started to go down through the floor. They said, "We have to leave now." And she asked them or pleaded with them to stay a little while longer and talk.

But there was no coherent information. They said, "We're happy to know that you're here, and you know now that you don't have to worry about death" – little things like that would be said.

So we asked questions about the state of where they were. There was nothing given except, "Oh, it's just pretty much the same as where you are, as it is on earth. We live pretty much as you do." But it was always in generalities, like the words "pretty much the same." There was no definition of time. For instance, "What's the time difference between where you are and where we are?" This was important to us. And "Who are the personages? Do you have teachers there? Are you at rest? Is there an aim yet in view for you?" There seemed to be no aim.

And I was reminded of something I read in the Bible, that the dead know nothing. I don't know whether Christ said it or whether it was in the Old Testament. The idea was not to pester after the people who purported to bring back the dead. Because it was evident that if these people, or these entities, had reached a point of any wisdom or any knowledge superior to that which we have here, they didn't manifest it.

In fact, the common quality was one of apathy. The tone was always one of apathy – no despair, but no enthusiasm; just a monotonous tone of voice.

Now these were not the medium's voice; I had heard the medium talk. And there was what they call a cabinet spirit that came out first.

This was the "guide," so called. I considered it much the personal entity of the medium, a little creature about two feet high that jumped around before the spirits started to come out that were identified. This one identified itself as Midget.

This Midget had some characteristics of the medium's voice. But it was the only one that did. The spirits' voices when they talked could be localized. The medium may have been maybe six or eight feet back in the cabinet, whereas the voice came from right in front of you.

Now this isn't unusual. This happens in other instances besides a planned materialization. I talked to a fellow in Mexico, a Mexican, who had gone out into the desert and invoked the spirits supposedly of some bandits who had been killed at a certain place – they had hidden gold – and they were trying to find the gold by invoking the spirits of the bandits.

And the same thing occurred there – the voice would appear in their midst, right in the middle of them. They wouldn't necessarily see anybody, but the voice would appear there and speak. So this is not unusual that you'll get an entity of some sort to speak.

But regardless, to make a long story short, like Omar Khayyam I came back with the same amount information or knowledge that I went in with.

And after pursuing this objective search for a while, I could see where some people had taken this as an entire path of life. Some latched on to it and continually stayed with it, hoping for more of a message, and a better message, and a better medium, and this sort of thing.

Some people of course became fleeced. I knew some people in particular – they had had some outstanding things happen, that were impressive enough to make them become suggestive easily. But it seemed like the whole thing – as too many philosophic and spiritual movements do – degenerated into moneymaking gimmicks.

I realized that these things if I put my life into them – I looked at some of the people in these groups, some of them were fairly old, and I realized that they didn't have the answers from it.

There was a man who came to a meeting we had in Akron, Ohio; a man about seventy years of age – he had been in spiritualism practically all his life. Fitzpatrick and I were sitting there talking to him, and he was telling us how they made the noise with the trumpets. They were shills for these old spiritualists – they would have a person behind the curtain and they would float a trumpet around with wires in the ceiling, and give an eerie sounding voice.

This became quite a business for people who where looking for contacts. Of course, the nice thing about this fellow was that he was devoting some of his time going around telling people about some of the pranks he used to pull. Because he saw that the most valuable message you could bring was not comfort to somebody but the truth about some of the chicanery.

But anyhow, I drifted away from it. Because I didn't intend to put a life into something that might be just circular. And I realized that in pursuing an objective search for a subjective truth, I was really shooting for a very long shot. That the only way that I could get it would be an accidental combination of an infinite number of variables.

It was like alchemy: by continuous experimentation or study or reading, you might discover some key, which would give you another key, which would give you yet another key. And this is another little path that's hinted about in some of the esoteric writings, about the seven seals inside the seven seals, and all that sort of thing. I never found the sixth one. Because I think that's just the incessant looking for keys.

This automatically led me into philosophy and away from objective psychology and objective thaumaturgy, you might call it. And instinctively I began to look inside myself. Because most of the systems that seemed to indicate having found this answer, through examining the variables over thousands and thousands of years - such as raja yoga – wound up with a system of self-contemplation.

And so we come full turn in a way, because the original thing is to find your soul, or your God, and after digging around for a while you find that there's something in the road of your finding it. And it isn't as much your ignorance as your ego. That you have a certain desire to write into any philosophy everything you want to believe.

If something is hard to believe, there's an automatic inclination to think, "Well, that's unreasonable." In other words, the humanization of God, they call it. The creation of God in the image of man. I often think this may have been the true meaning of the words in Genesis. God didn't create man in his own image; man created God in his own image.

And this is what happens today: You'll hear people saying, "Well, I can't buy that."

When I started out on my search I said, "I'll buy whatever is." In other words, "If I find out that oblivion is the answer, that when I die I cease to exist mentally, physically, spiritually, that there is no such thing as a soul – this I want to know."

If you start out on a spiritual search to find your soul, you're in error because you're postulating a soul. If you start on a search to find God, you're postulating a God. So be careful, or you're liable to create one in your own image and likeness, or in the image and likeness of your desires.

An honest search has to be a scientific one of trying to find that which is. When you analyze a chemical compound, you don't say, "I'm going in there and find gold." No. You say, "I'm going to run a qualitative analysis, and whatever's there I'll report as I find it."

This is what I mean by scientific. You can't be too scientific; you can't be objective. But you can use this little bit of common sense, as not to postulate in advance what you're going to find. Because you may well create your answer. And you may be decades getting rid of the creation, before you get back to an honest search again.

But I found out that first of all there's a bit of fear, in stepping into this type of investigation. One fear is that you're liable to lose your health in the experimentation – you may decide that fasting will give you more clarity of mind. Or some spiritual exercise might drive you crazy, say meditating on a certain philosophy or prayer, or whatever formula that you run into that appeals to your intuition.

And this is what you have to do. You have to start someplace. You just can't start and say everything's foolishness; because if you believe that of course, you're postulating that. Everything may not be foolishness. Everything may not be oblivion.

So you have to approach the thing with an open mind, in the full realization that you may go crazy or you may lose your life. And if it's worth it, then you go ahead. Because you'll be challenged somewhere along the line. Somebody will say you're going to lose your job, or you're going to lose this opportunity or that opportunity – and if that opportunity means more to you that finding out who's doing the job, then you have to stop and vegetate.

To be continued….

~ Transcription by Steve Harnish of a talk given by Richard Rose in Cleveland, OH in 1977. for information on the transcription project.

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