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

TAT Forum

July 2017

Fall Workshop details

Homing Ground Update

... A spot on earth where people can do retreats and hold
meetings; where the emphasis is on friendship and the search.

The TAT 60-day fundraising challenge culminated at the June TAT meeting and raised an amazing $37,200! Thanks to all the Forum readers, TAT members, and others who pitched it to make the drive a success. TAT is now a mere $4,500 short of its $250,000 fundraising goal. We'll soon begin clearing the building site and driveway, and will keep you posted with news of construction and ways you can contribute to that effort.

Use PayPal button above to donate now. TAT is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit educational organization and qualifies to receive tax-deductible contributions.

Alternatively, you can mail a check made out to the TAT Foundation (for instructions on mailing a check, please the TAT treasurer).

If you want to try eBay, use this eBay link: http://charity.ebay.com/charity-auctions/charity/tat-foundation/73911/. If you use the link and donate 100% of the proceeds to TAT, you won't pay any seller fees when an item sells, and eBay will transfer the funds to TAT for you.

For additional background, see the Homing Ground page.

In friendship,

Shawn Nevins
on behalf of the TAT Trustees


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Convictions & Concerns

TAT members share their personal convictions and/or concerns


I began my search within by looking for my true nature, and I came to the conclusion that there was nothing wrong with me. When I related this result to a group not long ago, one response was "I have found exactly the opposite." At the time, I didn't respond to that comment, but it raised a question in my mind. How is it that two of us, with honest intention, both looked within and found opposite answers? The solution to the seeming contradiction is quite simple, we weren't looking at the same self. I have two selves, not in the way someone with a split personality has two selves. With the split personality, there is dissociation, the means by which our brain creates self-delusion. A dissociative split happens at the level of the personality; the abstract structure of thought, definitions, and judgment that govern our moment-to-moment behavior. What I refer to by two selves is a layering of selves, the superficial personality laying on top of the deeper self that is not dependent on the workings of the mind. When I say that there is nothing wrong with me, I mean that to the extent I have experienced the deeper self, I have found no flaw. How could I, as flaws are products of the mind, and my deeper self is independent of my mind.

On the other hand, my personal self is full of flaws, in fact it exists in a world dependent on flaws, they are how my personal self is defined. They get in my way, they muddle my vision, they occupy my mind, and they cause me to suffer. I don't need to fix all these flaws, at least I don't think so, I am just clearing out the most distracting.

Referring to the July 2015 TAT Forum video on Descartes How Do You Know You Exist? by James Zucker (a 3-minute animated TED-Ed video), his "I think, therefore I am" is a clear expression of identity with the personal self.


What I have is pretty short, but it was something that stuck with me from the last retreat…. I couldn't help adding the bit about Descartes…. When I watched the video, I was struck by two things. First, it was very well done, and second, Descartes didn't really follow through in his contemplation; he stopped at identification with the thinking mind. Intellectually, that is so obviously incomplete, yet I am doing it right now. It is like watching a magic show: how is that possible? Honestly, I feel like laughing and crying at the same time.

~ Thanks to TAT member Dean Nelson.


TAT Foundation News

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

2017 TAT Meeting Calendar

March 31-April 2, 2017 (Claymont Mansion)
June 23-25, 2017 (Claymont Great Barn)
* August 18-20, 2017 (Claymont Mansion) *
November 17-19, 2017 (Claymont Mansion)

Join us for TAT's August 18-20 Workshop: The Prism of Truth.

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

Local Group News

Update from the Central Ohio Nonduality group:
We continue to meet on Monday evenings at Panera across from The Ohio State University. ~ For further information, contact or . We're also on Facebook.

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 meet at the Alachua County library on alternate Mondays and Sundays. We are having a five-day retreat at Claymont (Charles Town, WV) on the Monday–Friday leading into the TAT meeting on June 23–25. ~ Email or for more information.

Update from the Galway, Ireland self-inquiry group:
In addition to meetings in Galway city, satellite groups are now meeting in Cork and in Dublin. Tess Hughes, along with guest Art Ticknor, will be leading a retreat in Tallaght, Co. Dublin, on May 26-29. And in October (27th-29th), Tess and Bob Fergeson will be leading Awakening Together's fall retreat in Colorado Springs, CO. ~ See the Events page on Tess's website for details.

Update from the Greensburg, PA self-inquiry group:
We continue to meet every other week at our usual location with our several regulars. ~ Contact .

Update from the Lynchburg, VA self-inquiry group:
We meet on Wednesday evenings and welcome inquiries. E-mail or for information on the meetings.

Update from the New York City area:
We've recently started a group in NYC and are looking for consistent, serious but lighthearted ;) members. So far, we have started each group meeting with a short meditation followed by a self-inquiry session with questions and responses. We plan to vary the format and also go on local retreats and spiritually-minded events, as time allows. We are meeting in downtown Manhattan (the financial district) in a really great public space that we are fortunate to have. Please contact me with any interest or questions. Tell a friend :) ~ Email .

Update from the Pittsburgh, PA self-inquiry group:
We hold public meetings at 7:00 PM on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of each month at the Pittsburgh Friends Meeting House in Oakland. We also have private (i.e., by invitation only) confrontation meetings on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays. ~ For further information, contact or .

Update from the Portland, OR self-inquiry group:
We meet most Sundays and have been meeting at different local libraries around town due to limited room availability at any one library, but this has made it easier for people in those neighborhoods to attend the meetings. ~ Email or for more information.

Update from the Raleigh, NC Triangle Inquiry Group:
The Triangle Inquiry Group (TIG) meets on Wednesday evenings near NCSU. ~ Email or for information on local meetings.

Update from the San Francisco Bay area self-inquiry group:
Email for information about upcoming meetings and events.

Update from the Tallahassee, FL self-inquiry group:
We continue to meet every other Tuesday at the downtown public library. ~ 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 following audio recordings from 2016 TAT meetings are now available in the members-only website area:

The following video recordings of presentations from the April 2017 TAT meeting are now available on YouTube:

Please us if you have questions. (Look here for info on TAT membership.)

Amazon and eBay

Let your Amazon purchases and eBay sales raise money for TAT!

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. Or if you use the link and donate 100% of the proceeds to TAT, you won't pay any seller fees when an item sells and eBay will transfer all the funds to TAT for you. 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 on the new home for TAT project 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

Suggested title for a seeker's autobiography.

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

Individual Thinking?

"Democracy is founded on the idea that the voter knows best, free market capitalism believes the customer is always right, and modern education tries to teach students to think for themselves."

"Behavioral economists and evolutionary psychologists have demonstrated that most human decisions are based on emotional reactions and heuristic shortcuts rather than rational analysis, and that while our emotions and heuristics were perhaps suitable for dealing with the African savanna in the Stone Age, they are woefully inadequate for dealing with the urban jungle of the silicon age."

"In The Knowledge Illusion, the cognitive scientists Steven Sloman and Philip Fernbach hammer another nail into the coffin of the rational individual…."


~ Thanks to TAT member Brett S. for this link to the the New York Times book review https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/18/books/review/knowledge-illusion-steven-sloman-philip-fernbach.html?emc=eta1&_r=0.



Abu Yazid al-Bistami (804-874 AD), a Persian Sufi, said:

This thing we tell of can never be found by seeking, but only seekers find it.

For thirty years I sought God. But when I looked carefully I found that in reality God was the seeker and I the sought.

If I only knew that I had taken one single step in sincerity, I would give no value to anything else.

Mindlessness over Mindfulness

"We offer a contrast to the large amount of scientific and public coverage suggesting that mindfulness is better than mindlessness…. To capitalize on unconscious thinking, we described the strengths of mindlessness in life areas as layered as goal pursuit, trusting people, creativity, prejudice, and complex decision-making."

"In a cognitively demanding situation with a large number of options, the formula for optimal decision-making looks like this:
1. Spend a small amount of time contemplating the situation (e.g., a dozen apartment choices that all require compromise).
2. Stop.
3. Skip over to another unrelated activity for an incubation period.
4. Render a decision."

"What would you be doing with your time if you were not busy managing your [insert whatever difficult feelings, thoughts, urges, or memories that bother you here]? What have you given up, how has your life space narrowed over time, in an attempt to feel less social discomfort?"


~ Excerpted from The Upside of Your Dark Side, by Todd Kashdan, Ph.D. and Robert Biswas-Diener, Dr. Philos.

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?

The question we asked readers for this month's Commentary, submitted by Brett S., was: What do you expect to happen in your life? (What are your expectations? What do you expect to happen to you? To others? If you have any expectations, what are they based on? What are the assumptions underlying the expectations?) Responses follow:

From Deep J:
I expect that one day I may find an answer to this puzzling and disconcerting situation (what am I, where did I come from, what's the point of this existence/place etc). Although I don't expect the answer to come easily.

I expect that one day I'll die although this is just an intellectualisation – my mind won't let me look at what it would mean, or what the implications would be….

From others … I don't expect that the collective ignorance of humanity with lessen significantly in my lifetime. (However groups like TAT do provide hope that small numbers of individuals will advance into relative wisdom.)

As I trace the thoughts and expectations back and look at their stem, I see my self-enhancing belief that I can find an answer, to come from experience in usually being able to read and think about things and figure them out. Even though the general advice is that one can't think their way to the Truth, there's 2 things that occur:

The dying thing seems to be self-evident – I see others die and think "well that's what the future inevitably holds."

My expectations from others come from looking at the general public and seeing most people are so addicted to drama that the entire world is now building dramas on top of dramas. ((Maybe at some point in history the "news" was designed to actually tell you what was going on. Today even the news has dramatic music, cliffhangers, captivating theatrical presentation and emotionally charged interviews.))

Why are we so addicted to this drama? Is it because it causes us to forget ourselves momentarily?

From Isaac H:
I expect to watch my career, relationships with friends, family members and lovers, wishes and dreams grow, take their courses, blossom and fade. I expect to see my grandparents and my parents and some of my friends die, to have children and watch them grow, and maybe have children. I expect that this body will die at some point, and hopefully by then I will have fully realized what it is I actually am. I base these expectations on the lives of other people that I have watched unfold, or read about. The assumption that I am a discrete self separate from all the other objects in "my" awareness is primary to most of these expectations, and these expectations are also contingent on the assumption that this body will not die too soon.

From Debi P:
I've been on this planet for 53 years so I see pretty clearly that my plans and expectations rarely work out the way I had envisioned or had worked so diligently towards. I don't recall where, but I read an article and the author asked the question: How do you make God laugh? The answer: Tell Him your plans.

I do expect I will stop breathing someday, I hope before my son and grandson, but it is no longer an expectation. And, unless I'm in a moving vehicle I don't expect it will happen in that moment. I do expect, at least at my current age, that I will wake up in the morning … which is why, at times I waste time instead of turning within. And, I expect that when I arise in the morning I'll still have my eyesight, my memories, and the physical and mental capabilities to take care of myself, etc. I expect I'll continue to have inconsistencies in my thoughts, feelings, and experiences. I also expect my son to treat me certain ways because I'm his mother. I expect others to behave in certain ways—be courteous, apologize, etc. I expect this world will get worse before, or if it ever gets better.

I suppose I have these expectations because much of the time I believe I'm a person with certain values and beliefs. And, because I believe that living according to MY values and beliefs is the key to living with the least amount of suffering. (The only reason I suffer is because the rest of the world won't cooperate!)

I think the bottom line here is that I'm terrified of what I'll become, or what my life would look like if I totally surrendered all of my expectations/gave up TRYING to control and manipulate in an effort to have my expectations met. My mind tells me that if I gave up my expectations I would experience a whole other realm of suffering. And, evidently I still believe that crap sometimes. At least it's not all the time anymore! :)

The question for next month is: If you only had 5 minutes a day to devote to your spiritual practice, what would you do in that five minutes? Reading, meditating, writing, whatever you consider a practice. You only have 5 minutes.

Please your responses for next month's Reader Commentary and indicate your preferred identification (the default is your first name and the initial letter of your last name).

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?

Road near Claymont Foundation's Great Barn (Charles Town, WV). Photo by TAT member Nick G.

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.

Miami Theosophical Society Talk – 1985

The first public talk that Richard Rose gave was by invitation of the Pittsburgh Theosophical Society, in 1973. It was at that talk where two college students got inspired by what they heard and became instrumental in setting up self-inquiry groups at colleges primarily in the northeastern U.S. In 1985, one of Rose's students had moved to Miami, Florida, and Rose traveled down to help in starting a local group there. Several members of the Miami Theosophical Society had heard about Rose and were enthusiastic about inviting him to give a talk there. Part 2 of the transcript follows (continued from the June 2017 TAT Forum):


Most of the gurus when they come over here don't go contrary to the immorality of the American youth.1 They just pat them on the back and say, "Go ahead. You just keep on chanting this mantra and you'll go straight to payday. Do what you please. Just chant the mantra and don't worry about anything else." Well, I've never believed that. Consequently, when these gurus show up, I don't have to waste any time with them.

I don't want to rush you on this, but I do believe that you do not learn the truth. Nobody learns the truth; you have to become it. And to become it, you have to go through maybe certain privations, distortions, inhibitions or whatever. You can't just live like a pig—or worse than a pig, actually, being that the pigs and the animals have a certain code that they follow automatically. We don't. We're supposedly given our freedom to do as we please, while the animal runs according to a schedule. And so in many respects we get worse than animals. And then on top of that there is this pretense, that these people are going to be transformed into this maximum spiritual being, or join this spiritual heaven together.

Some of you may get an inkling that you'd like to look into this a little more deeply. We're not going to get too deep here in an hour. I'm used to talking all night long. I used to get around these universities and we'd go down to McDonald's hamburger joint and the second session would begin there. But you can only scratch the surface in an hour here. Later, some of us are going over to where I'm staying, and if anybody's interested in asking questions and we can't get to them here, you'll be welcome to come over. Because I feel that there will be a lot left to say.

I'll mention this briefly, that I did have an experience when I was thirty years of age, in Seattle, Washington. And tonight I'm going to run through some more of the things I have encountered.

The complete Part 2 of the Miami Theosophical Society Talk



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