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

TAT Forum

August 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.

TAT is hoping for a volunteer workday in late August to help clear the building site and driveway, and we will keep you posted on that. In the meantime, contributions to the building fund are still trickling in and much appreciated. We are about $4,700 short of the goal, which the sharp-eyed among you may recognize as $200 further than we were last month! You can blame that on my bookkeeping. :-) Please help us close the remaining gap.

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


Receive new-Forum notifications each month


Convictions & Concerns

TAT members share their personal convictions and/or concerns

Attending the Actual

People occasionally ask me to describe the meditative activity that I found most helpful when searching for the truth. Many years ago I attended silent meditation retreats during which I pursued breath awareness exercises or the contemplation of existential questions, but at some point I decided to intensify the effect of sitting practice by using every available moment of free time to pursue what I now call "attending the actual," or ATA.

ATA is the activity of non-conceptually interacting with the world through direct sensory perception, in mental silence. If a thought arose, I used the thought like a dharma bell reminder to shift attention away from the thought and back to what the eyes could see or the ears could hear. I wanted to know if it was possible for an adult to interact with the world like a little child, without naming or thinking about anything. I had been an intellectual for many years, and I was no longer interested in thoughts; I was interested in finding out whether the body could become significantly free of thoughts. As it turned out, ATA had such a strong effect that I began using it on all future retreats and also during everyday life. It was an informal activity rather than a formal practice, such as sitting zazen, because it was not confined to a specific time or place.

Eventually, I discovered that silent looking and listening was just as effective as the attention-focusing exercises pursued while sitting on a cushion, and it had the advantage of greatly extending the duration of time spent in present-moment attentiveness. Periodically, I went on wilderness hiking trips during which I spent almost every waking moment doing ATA. On many of those retreats, or shortly thereafter, sudden realizations occurred that resolved long-standing existential questions. It therefore appeared to me that ATA was just as effective in that respect as sitting practices. A side effect was the eventual ability to completely stop thinking for long periods of time.

After a final existential question was resolved in 1999, which ended the search for truth, I began telling people about the value of ATA. During one such presentation someone asked me, "Aren't thoughts part of what is actual?" Upon reflection I realized that I needed to distinguish between ATA+T and ATA-T. Attending the actual PLUS thoughts is what most meditators call "mindfulness." It's the practice of silently watching EVERYTHING within the field of awareness--both the "outside" world PLUS the "inside" world of thoughts. Attending the actual MINUS thoughts, or ATA-T, is the practice I found most efficacious.

The reason that I encourage people to try ATA-T rather than ATA+T is that thoughts are "sticky," and people who watch thoughts often end up following them down various mental rabbit holes. For me, ATA-T was simply a faster way to attain psychological unity of body, mind, and cosmos.

Because many people do not like to do sitting meditation, ATA-T is worth considering as a viable alternative because it can be pursued while driving a car, walking in the woods, doing the dishes, or pursuing any other daily activity. Furthermore, it's not special, so it's unlikely that anyone will get attached to it in the way that some seekers get attached to "hard sitting" and other forms of spiritual exceptionalism. If nothing else, it's a simple and effective way to become present and non-conceptually aware during all facets of everyday life.

~ Thanks to Bob Harwood, a recently retired builder who has volunteered to act as general contractor for TAT's new home and is the author of several books including Pouring Concrete: A Zen Path to the Kingdom of God and A Path to Christ Consciousness. Bob can be contacted by .


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 had a five-day retreat at Claymont (Charles Town, WV) on the Monday–Friday leading into the TAT meeting on June 23–25. The next retreat is scheduled for Nov. 12-17 at Grand Vue Park (Moundsville, WV). ~ 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 is holding a retreat August 18-20th in County Clare Ireland, at The Boghill Centre. She is also leading a retreat in Wexford for the local ACIM group Sept 29-Oct 1st. This is being held in the Ballyvaloo Retreat Centre. There are places available for both retreats. For details and to sign up, contact . 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 Philadelphia area:
Folks from the dormant Philadelphia group met with two new folks who want to get an active group started. Day and time for regular ongoing meetings is still being resolved. ~ Email for more information.

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. July 5 topic: "Why are you interested in philosophy, psychology or spiritual seeking?" July 19 topic: "What bugs or irritates you in your searching, and what are you seeking as a result?" 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

More Philosophy of Ambiguity







~ From forums.malwarebytes.com "ambiguity and idiosyncracies" topic. Thanks to TAT member Mike G. for this link.

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

A Wandering Mind Heads Toward Insight
Researchers Map the Anatomy of the Brain's Breakthrough Moments and Reveal the Payoff of Daydreaming

"It happened to Archimedes in the bath. To Descartes it took place in bed while watching flies on his ceiling. And to Newton it occurred in an orchard, when he saw an apple fall. Each had a moment of insight. To Archimedes came a way to calculate density and volume; to Descartes, the idea of coordinate geometry; and to Newton, the law of universal gravity.

"In our fables of science and discovery, the crucial role of insight is a cherished theme. To these epiphanies, we owe the concept of alternating electrical current, the discovery of penicillin, and on a less lofty note, the invention of Post-its, ice-cream cones, and Velcro. The burst of mental clarity can be so powerful that, as legend would have it, Archimedes jumped out of his tub and ran naked through the streets, shouting to his startled neighbors: "Eureka! I've got it."

"In today's innovation economy, engineers, economists and policy makers are eager to foster creative thinking among knowledge workers. Until recently, these sorts of revelations were too elusive for serious scientific study. Scholars suspect the story of Archimedes isn't even entirely true. Lately, though, researchers have been able to document the brain's behavior during Eureka moments by recording brain-wave patterns and imaging the neural circuits that become active as volunteers struggle to solve anagrams, riddles and other brain teasers."


~ Read the rest of this article by Robert Lee Hotz from The Wall Street Journal.

Thanks to TAT member Ike H., "so reminiscent of Rose’s thoughts about moods being colored glasses."

Top Ten Rap Songs For the Spiritual Seeker

10. Geto Boys – "Mind Playing Tricks on Me"
9. Kanye West – "Everything I Am"
8. JayZ – "U Don't Know"
7. Juelz Santana – "Who Am I?"
6. Fabolous – "Breathe"
5. JayZ – "Moment of Clarity"
4. Eminem – "Lose Yourself"
3. Eminem – "The Way I Am"
2. Common – "Be"
1. Talib Kweli – "Knowledge of Self"


~ Thanks to TAT member Brett S.

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 was: 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. Responses follow:

From Ann I:
What would I do with only 5 minutes a day for spiritual endeavors? I would walk my dog.

From Debi P:
If I only had 5 minutes per day to devote to spiritual practice I would earnestly chant my Satguru's name, or the mantra She gave me, over and over while imagining Her form in my mind, and put forth extra effort to stay one pointed. I think the EXTRA effort towards remaining one pointed would increase because I only had 5 minutes. Hmmmm … for me, that new awareness definitely deserves to be investigated.

From Nick G:
I would sit silently and ask myself one sincere question a day. If I didn't have a sincere question, I might be inclined to spend the 5 minutes in silence looking for one to use the next day.

From Rupert C:
If I had to recommend a five minute daily practice, being an English teacher, I'd take E.M. Forsters' advice to heart, 'only connect…'. I don't think it matters what that's with, put your hand on the table, the feel of the breeze through the window on your face, the smell of soap or coffee – everything is an invitation to connect: take it!

From Terri S:
Thanks for the reminder, what five minutes!! I would want to continue being mindful.

From Miriam K:
Right now I assume the most valuable use of 5 minutes practice would be to reflect (using pen and paper) on what has happened throughout the day and review a single time I felt deflated or inflated and uncover the identity and stories that I have taken myself to be. 4 minutes spent on this part of the practice. The final minute spent looking at the experience of 'being' with an attitude of curiousity.

Squeezing two practices into 5 minutes possibly shows my lack of faith or maybe a willingness to try other things. Sticking with the practice for a lengthy period and facing any boredom and resistance could be helpful as experience shows I get entertained and relief by diverting to other activities/practices.

From Frank V:
My intention will be to get in touch with the feeling, to feel the feeling, which is behind or motivating all the spiritual effort. If it seems no feeling is present, then I work with the thinking mind through reading a passage from an inspired passage and questioning what I read. If time allows, I will record thoughts and feelings which came up.

From Maria T:
I would say this prayer and try to keep feeling in my mind and heart throughout the day. "I take refuge in You oh God…. from all things that keep me from You, from every obstacle that prevents me from reaching You." This prayer is attributed to Rabia (a Muslim saint).

From Bill K:
Prayer for guidance would occupy my 5 minutes of "spiritual" practice, the rest of my day spent in just watching. Surely "watching" would not be considered spiritual practice. Actually, as a result of this question being posed, over the past week I have begun each meditative session with a five-minute prayer for guidance. It does set the pace to what follows.

The question for next month is: What helps enhance your spiritual practice?

  1. Forming strong habits that I practice regularly
  2. The value I get from praying, meditating, doing yoga, etc. that informs my practice
  3. Physically moving while doing my spiritual practice
  4. Making it a priority in my daily routine
  5. Um, I've got a lot of work to do to establish a spiritual practice
  6. Other

Please your responses for next month's Reader Commentary by the 25th 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?

Jaunsar Bawar hills above Dehradun, India. Photo by TAT member Anima P.

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 3 of the transcript follows (continued from the June 2017 TAT Forum and the July 2017 TAT Forum):

Meaning and definitions

Now we get down to proof. When you try to communicate knowledge, proofs require a possible scientific procedure, which is a question of prediction, and the proof thereby following. And when you get into prediction, this requires meaning, words that have meaning. So we come to the next question:

What is meaning?

And you'll think, "Oh, that's understood; everybody knows what meaning is." But we don't – we accept the dictionary and the arguments in it. If you ever get on radio or TV, be careful. Because they're using dictionary meanings, and sometimes less than dictionary meanings, to just confuse or try to confuse, or to put you on the spot. And when you get into esoteric philosophy, you cannot be hung tight onto the meanings in the dictionary.

For instance, take the word reality – I've checked this out in a few dictionaries. When I was in college there was a 1937-1938 edition of the Webster's Collegiate Dictionary. When my daughter was in college I picked up hers, and the definitions of words like psyche and the derivation of the word psychology differ – according to the voting power of whomever sits on the decision board, in the printing of the dictionary.

The word psychology comes from psyche and logos, both Greek words. Psyche was considered the soul or spirit, and logos is the science, or also the word. So psychology you would think would be the science of searching for the soul or the spirit, or at least the mind. But what is it? It's a behavioristic mish-mash; it's strictly studying reflexes of nerves.

The complete Part 3 of the Miami Theosophical Society Talk



TAT gathering


Did you enjoy the Forum? Then buy the book!
Beyond Mind, Beyond Death is available at Amazon.com.

TAT Foundation on Facebook


Keep informed of TAT events and receive our free monthly Forum filled with inspiring essays, poems and images.

Email & Social Media Marketing by VerticalResponse

© 2000-2021 TAT Foundation. All rights reserved.

View Full Site Back to Top


TAT Foundation logo