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

TAT Forum

November 2016

November meeting details



Convictions & Concerns

TAT members share their personal convictions and/or concerns

Shifting Our Attention: From the Unreal to the Real and Everything In Between

Stairs to heaven Stairs to Chimney Top, Smoky Mountain National Park. Photo by Paul Constant.

On October 1-2, 2016, the Triangle Inquiry Group and the Center for Mindfulness and Non-Duality in Raleigh, North Carolina, sponsored a Fall Retreat with the theme The Nature of Identity/Beyond Self. Paul Constant was one of seven speakers at the retreat and provided the following observations and tips at the end of his presentation. In the coming months, video recordings of all presentations will be released on the Web.

First and foremost, these aren't hard-core practices or techniques. The best I can do is inspire you to use your spiritual compass to find your inner teacher and allow your own authenticity to blossom. So, in no particular order, the following observations and tips might help a spiritual seeker:

The complete set of observations and tips


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 2-4, 2016 (Claymont)
* November 18-20, 2016 (Claymont) *

Register for the November 18-20 gathering.

Journals of Spiritual Discovery

The SpiritualTeachers.org website has been redesigned and includes the launch of the Journals of Spiritual Discovery podcast – featuring in-depth, insightful interviews with spiritual teachers, exploring what we can learn and apply from their life stories. Check out the great content available at those resources.

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

Local Group News

Update from the weekly email self-inquiry groups:
Both the women's and the men's email groups are active, and we welcome serious participants. Contact or .

Update from the Gainesville, FL self-inquiry group:
We continue to meet at the main Alachua County library on alternate Mondays and Sundays. Attendance has been rather sparse lately, maybe due to summer doldrums – but we welcome the depressed, dispirited, disconsolate, downhearted, dejected, despondent, and despairing: a good starting point for self-inquiry and the conquest of illusion. (Thanks to Paul C. for the impeccable alliteration :-) ~ Email or for more information.

Update from the Galway, Ireland self-inquiry group:
Tess along with guest teacher Bob Fergeson held a self-inquiry retreat in Co. Sligo on October 28th through 31st. Check Tess's website "Events" tab for more information.

Update from the Lynchburg, VA self-inquiry group:
We're organizing a Sunday, Nov. 13 - Friday, Nov. 18 retreat, at the Eagle Eyrie Conference Center here, leading up to the TAT meeting on Nov. 18-20. There are currently 27 participants committed to coming, including leaders Anima Pundeer, Art Ticknor, and Paul Constant. E-mail or for information on meetings.

Update from the Pittsburgh, PA self-inquiry group:
We're now holding public meetings on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of each month at the Pittsburgh Friends Meeting House in Oakland. For further information, contact or .

Update from the Raleigh, NC Triangle Inquiry Group:
On October 1-2, 2016, TIG and the Center for Mindfulness and Non-Duality in Raleigh, North Carolina, sponsored a Fall Retreat with 34 people attending. The Triangle Inquiry Group (TIG) meets on Wednesday evenings near NCSU. Email or for information on local meetings.

Update from the Tallahassee, FL self-inquiry group:
We continue to meet every other Tuesday at the downtown public library. If you are interested contact , or find the group on Meetup.com.

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, and Bob Harwood's presentation from the June 2016 TAT Gathering was added recently.

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

"I'm a mog – half man, half dog. I'm my own best friend." ~ Spaceballs (1987) – Barf (John Candy)

"Roses are red, violets are blue, I'm a schizophrenic and so am I." ~ What About Bob? (1991) – Bob Wiley (Bill Murray)

"God gave men brains larger than dogs' so they wouldn't hump women's legs at cocktail parties." ~ Hackers (1995) – Kate Libby (Angelina Jolie)

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

I Don't Know

"I don't know whether you have ever seriously faced this issue of why your heart is empty." J. Krishnamurti, Freedom from the Known. ~ Submitted by Brent P.

Nice Work If You Can Get It
Why a Swiss town pays $24,000 a year for a hermit

GENEVA – Wanted: Hermit to live in secluded cave-like cabin to take care of nearby chapel and gorge, dispense wisdom and talk to tourists. Position pays $24,000 a year, plus room and board and a paid vacation. Twenty-two people applied for this unusual vacancy advertised by the northern Swiss town of Solothurn. Former policeman Michael Daum, 55, snagged the position that has existed since the 15th century. Starting in October, he will begin a solitary existence in his isolated dwelling. "I have lots of respect for the new job, and am looking forward to starting it," Daum told the Solothurner Zeitung newspaper Tuesday. City Council president Sergio Wyniger said Daum was picked, because "in Michael, we have found a charismatic personality, which is the right quality for our hermit," according to the newspaper. ~ From USA Today, http://usat.ly/2dhBmFZ

Nondual Talk

The non-dual "here's what the answer looks like" talk … seems to accomplish nothing more than inspiring people to formulate the process by which they arrive at that pre-conceived answer. It denies them the possibility of actually arriving at it!!! ~ Bob Cergol

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 question do you have right now, and how will you know when you have answered it?" submitted by Dean N. in his reply to the July 2016 TAT Forum inquiry. Responses follow:

From Paul S:
The real question that jumps out is: What's holding me back from getting genuinely serious and consistent in looking for a permanent solution? What will it take? I will know when it's answered by becoming serious and consistent and moving beyond where I keep leaving off.

From Frank V:
How can I as the rational self connect with the emotional self (inner child)? My sense or hope is that forming this connection will relieve the tension around the heart, and relieve some of the strong emotions (anger, depression).

From Joyce S:
Is it better to go all out – pull out all stops – be super disciplined and rigorous – to position oneself for that gift of "waking up" or to just lay back, be cool (possibly beaming with that mysterious knowing smile), and see what happens?

I've tried both, neither seems to work but the latter is more fun ;-).

Seems like I will never know when this question has been answered but would love to be proven wrong!

From Sheri R:
In June I started a formal spiritual practise encompassing readings and prayers to Christ/God and a longer seated meditation. About 3 months into the practise I started to find myself in this deep reverie/communion with Christ during the seated meditation component. It was lovely. One day at work I had this intense longing to go home and meditate. I wanted to be in that love with Christ! Just like a child needing her blankey! I stopped the meditation because it seemed I'd found another way to soothe myself. I had to sit with this dissonance and asked for reconciliation to this 'problem', trying not to over think it (which I am very good at!). One day the answer simply came. The answer itself was 'impressed', or perhaps imprinted, into me and came in such a way that was unfamiliar; not through the senses or thought. Because it had not arrived out of thinking there wasn't any doubt attached to it. Of course the mind kicked in right away and began doubting the answer. This lead me to 'test run' the answer so mind could give it the gold stamp. I suspect if an answer does ever come to my big question(s), it will come in a way similar to this: in a format unfamiliar to me and anterior to mind.

As for the question, right now I am working on a few different ones, but the two that get most of my attention are: Is there anything other than relative consciousness? And, how can I get into position (i.e., get my head out of the game enough) so that what is operating can 'impress' directly upon me (meaning in such a way to be uninterrupted/misinterpreted by little me).

From Paola B:
For several years I observed and studied my self trying to be honest, but not sure if I was using my intuition correctly. Am I a defective machine? (It seems likely). How to go out of the fog?

[How will you know when you have answered it?] I suppose when I am ready to feel profoundly to have made a step toward clarity, where the fog is less dense.

From Michael R:
In its simplest form my most burning question remains "why are we ignorant?" I remember my brother once telling me "if you wake up one day and find yourself in a lion's den, you don't ponder why you're in a lion's den – you just get out." Though I've always appreciated the point, it's never really sunk in with conviction. I continue to ponder the lion's den. Though my mind seeks an answer in its own terms, I'm aware an Absolute answer is unlikely to come in the form of relative knowledge. I imagine I'll know the answer to my question when the question falls away.

The question about ignorance has been a long standing one. A more recent question is "what difference does Realization make in death?" I imagine a Realized person lives a different quality of life, and likely the dying process is less sufferable, but once death occurs … does the ignorant man dissolve into the same Void as the enlightened man? Does it make any difference at all? Rose spoke of the urgency in finding an answer because you could die at any moment, but this assumes that Realization makes a difference in death (either for the individual, or for the Absolute). What reason do we have to think this is so? As for how I'll know when I find an answer … it would seem I'll have to die as a Realized person, and somehow have a way to compare this to the death experience of a "non-realized" person … no problem :)

From Mike G:
The question I have is how to get closer to what IS watching, while the sense of I-ness continues to impose itself on the mind. It maintains the separation of attachment to the sense of individuality-self, despite putting attention on what is watching.

From Mark C:
The only question that comes to my mind and seems to be the most important is, "When am I going to get serious on my spiritual path?" The past 2 months I have been unusually busy and not only has my spiritual practice suffered, but so has my self-care (lack of sleep, etc.). I rationalize my behavior pattern because I am the only provider for my family, but I am not getting any younger, and retirement is still about 10 years away. I do not believe that I can afford to wait for the next 10 years. Something has got to give. To my credit, I have maintained my focus, even in the midst of my distractions, but BS (bullshit) is still BS. I feel my question will be answered when I am devoting at least an hour a day to my spiritual practice.

From Siobhan:
My question: What's on the flip side of the terror of death/non-being? Lately I've been feeling the terror, and have noticed that there isn't a corresponding opposite feeling in favor of life. If I so vehemently don't want to die, why then don't I want to live as passionately as I don't want to die? I experience my day to day life as pretty good but not all that great – nothing worth clinging to with a passion rivaling the intensity of the fear of losing it. How will I know when I've answered the question? I suspect I'll know when it no longer occurs to me to wonder.

From Colm H:
I guess the question is 'I know I want freedom, but what does it look like and what questions should I be asking to find it?'

How I'll know the question is answered: 'The various layers of perceived limitation would be removed, or revealed for what they really are'.

From Pgh member:
How do I know if my spiritual endeavor is any different from my desires and efforts toward career, family, financial security, hobbies or other various diversions? How do I know that this search isn't just an escape that my ego gets preoccupied with, but this time a much loftier diversion, one exclusive to only the most capable of people? Answer: I don't know. But maybe it's the question that always needs to be present always in front of me.

What does love mean to you? Is it helpful or a hindrance on the spiritual path? Or is it irrelevant?

Submitted by Paul C. in his response for the July 2016 TAT Forum. Please your responses for next month's Reader Commentary.

Other Reader Feedback

From Bonnie:
I greatly enjoyed [Tess Hughes's] book [This Above All: A Journey of Self-Discovery] as her path was similar to mine, beginning with the extreme consciousness of death and the terror ensuing from that at a very young age, six years old in my case.

Thank you for sharing [the] video [of her Awakening Together interview, in the Inspiration & Irritation section of the October 2016 TAT Forum].

From Pgh member:
Question about Improv [in the Convictions & Concerns section of the October 2016 Forum]: I can see where improv can allow a lot of hidden material to come to the surface for examination. One of my favorite TV shows years ago was titled something like "Whose Line is It?" The spontaneity of some of the comedians bordered on genius. However, it seemed the spring of genius always seemed to go dry with time as the actors resorted to sexually-oriented jokes, that weren't really funny, but would elicit audience laughter not because of the genius of the comment but because of audacity of the comment, or a programmed response to what might be "embarrassingly" funny. I often walked out at that point because of a strange phenomenon: the actors would seem to feed on the audience's response to this cheap humor, and the whole thing would spiral into a sexually-implicit preoccupation. So, is there some procedure used in the improv sessions to block the unsavory depths that might reside in some of the participants from being exposed?

Comments on "Last Week" [in the Inspiration & Irritation section of the October 2016 Forum]: I identify fully with "Last Week" for it suggests the slippery slopes surrounding the peak of productivity and focus that I seem too often to be sliding down. My hope lies in developing habits consistent with my endeavor at least mechanically to keep me occupied with the right direction. But even habits and best intentions like the "conviction to get back to what I should be doing" get so easily hijacked. This leads me to wonder: Is there a next level where it gets easier? Oh, and: When do I get to turn that corner?

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?

Verena Gorge Hermitage and Church, Solothurn, Switzerland. Wikimedia Commons.
See the advertisement for a resident hermit in the Inspiration and Irritation section above.

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.

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 3 of a 1977 talk given by Richard Rose in Cleveland, OH (continued from the September 2016 TAT Forum and the October 2016 TAT Forum):

We are able to see these mysterious signposts at the time of the overcoming of a major ego. Many Christians speak of the Salvation Experience, which to them seems to be the maximum religious experience. It is generally attained by dropping instinctive or carnal drives, combined with emotional bonds with a mate or with a spiritual being, such as Christ. The animal man has learned selflessness in the face of love. He becomes an emotional man instead of an instinctive man. He has made his first milepost.

Then there is what I call the Eureka experience, and there's another one, called Cosmic Consciousness. If you want to read about it, get Richard Bucke's Cosmic Consciousness. This is a very profound writing; he's done a tremendous lot of research, describing the experiences of different people, such as St. Paul. St. Paul was struck on the road to Damascus, and blinded for three days by the light. And St. John of the Cross's jailer was blinded by the light in the prison cell, when he had his experience.

These have distinct qualifications, or designations. The salvation experience doesn't necessarily imply that a man is struck down and blinded three days by a blinding physical light, so that his eyeballs are negated, so to speak.

Then there's another word: Enlightenment. There's no substitute for it, that I know of, except in the Hindu terminology Sahaja Nirvikalpa Samadhi – in comparison with Kevala Nirvikalpa Samadhi, which is Cosmic Consciousness.

But these all imply that people down through the ages have searched and found. Read Ramana Maharshi. There are very few books available to the person who isn't looking. But if you're looking, you'll find quite a bit of evidence.

For instance, Plato. In Plato's Republic, the man in the cave – this is a perfect description of man's illusory nature in relation to a real world outside the cave. I try to keep some books in the group, we have some of them back there on the table. One of them is by J.J. van der Leeuw, Conquest of Illusion. This is a very good book.

The complete part 3 of the talk


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

Commissions earned from Amazon purchases stand at $1,158. (To keep the link handy for Amazon purchases, bookmark the Homing Ground page in your browser or add a shortcut on your desktop. Just click the Amazon link on that page and order away.)

Funds Raised as of October 2016

Funds raised and pledged are now at $204,228, making us $45,772 short of the goal. Currently, a property near Raleigh, NC is being investigated. Only 50 miles north of the Raleigh-Durham airport, and with a 2-acre lot potentially for sale next to it, this property is the most appealing we've seen to date. See for yourself at: www.trulia.com/property/3236103848--Thomas-Green-Rd-Roxboro-NC-27574. For the geologically minded, here's a map of the soils on the site (#2997):

TGR site 2997 soil map

GeB is Georgeville loam, 2 to 6 percent slopes; Cw denotes Chewacla and Wehadkee loams; and GeC is Georgeville loam, 6 to 10 percent slopes.

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.

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



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