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

TAT Forum

February 2018

April weekend event 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.

A lot of work was done researching insurance issues this past month, the short of it being that we'll need to get a North Carolina general contractor for the project. That search has begun, so we hope to have more exciting info. to report next month!

Driveway entrance from Thomas Green Road.

In the meantime,

Use the 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).

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

Doubt: The Two-Edged Sword of Spiritual Seekers


In his teachings, Richard Rose dedicated a lot of time and energy to the critical analysis of spiritual systems and to the application of doubt on the spiritual path. To that end, I'd like to spend some time talking about spiritual teachers and systems, and how we can apply doubt in the best way possible to sharpen our inquiry and hasten our way along the path.

In my life, three main "pillars of Truth" served me well when evaluating teachers and their systems. First, a deep sincerity to find Truth opened doors for the right teachers. Seemingly, they appeared at the appropriate time in my life and delivered the appropriate message. Second, self-honesty allowed me to make a crucial decision: was it time to leave the teacher because all the gifts were delivered, or was I was running away out of fear? And finally, perseverance enabled me to look under every rock—paradoxically, to continue searching until I failed my way to Truth.

First of all, we should be extremely grateful if we're lucky enough to find an honest spiritual teacher who is also a friend. In my life, I had the great fortune to meet Richard Rose when I was in my early 20's. Rose and his spiritual system ultimately emptied me to the very core of Being and fundamentally stripped away my fear of death. A few years later, another teacher opened my heart to an unimaginable love—and as I usually have to say, before that I was the tin man in the Wizard of Oz, who greatly feared love. Finally, another teacher stripped away my fear of small "s" self and struck down self-doubt, which dissolved me into everything and opened me wide to an impersonal capital "L" Love. And so it's been a grand journey….

Even though spiritual teachers served as beacons of light for me over the past 30 years, I encountered a lot of pitfalls along the way with various teachers. And I know there's a strong tendency in spiritual circles to brush off the pitfalls and bad behaviors so long as the teachers are beneficial to us. But I say we shouldn't so easily dismiss bad behaviors and bad advice—we should employ doubt to shorten the path. It's possible to avoid some of our own unnecessary failures. So while it might sound like I'm harping on spiritual teachers, I want to make it clear that personally, I would've been lost at sea without teachers to guide and inspire me.

I'd also like to point out that we wouldn't be at this event today if it weren't for all the spiritual charlatans. When he was a seeker, Rose encountered so many teachers who were after money, sex, and other nonsense that he became enormously frustrated. He said to himself that if he ever found Truth, he'd commit his life to making his findings freely available to all. And so we have the TAT Foundation today as a result of his commitment.

Today, I'll hit on three key points—doubt, self-delusion, and self-doubt. In addition, I'll offer several cautionary notes concerning the sword of doubt: while it can cut through a lot of nonsense, it can also cleave deeply into us if we're not careful.

The complete presentation

~ Thanks to Paul Constant, a student of Richard Rose. Presented at the November 19, 2016 TAT Gathering, at the Claymont Society Mansion in Charles Town, WV. Paul maintains a cornucopia of "resources for the sincere seeker" at SearchWithin.org. Please email comments to the .


TAT Foundation News

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

2018 TAT Meeting Calendar

* April 6-8, 2018 (Claymont Mansion) *
June 15-17, 2018 (Claymont Mansion)
August 17-19, 2018 (Claymont Mansion)
November 16-18, 2018 (Claymont Mansion)

Join us for TAT's April 6-8 weekend intensive. See Steps on the Path for more details and registration.

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

Richard Rose spent his life searching for the Truth, finding it, and teaching others to find their Way. Although not well known to the public, he touched the lives of thousands of spiritual seekers through his books and lectures and through personal contacts with local study groups that continue to work with his teachings today. Meet Richard Rose is a 34-minute audio recording of an audiovisual presentation by Michael Whitely at the August 2017 TAT meeting that explores the arc of Richard Rose's life as seeker, finder, family man, and teacher.

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.

On Wednesday–Sunday, March 21–25, one of the men's email groups will be holding an intensive retreat at Horseshoe Lake Park in rural Ft. McCoy, FL.

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 Sundays. Things have been rather quiet for the past couple months, but on January 21st we had a lively meeting with six new folks. ~ Email or for more information.

On Saturday, May 5th, Bob Fergeson and Tess Hughes will be holding a one-day introduction to TAT and the teachings of Richard Rose in London, UK. See https://tatcouk.wordpress.com for registration or e-mail for inquiries.

Update from the Galway, Ireland self-inquiry group:
In addition to meetings in Galway city, satellite groups are meeting in Cork and in Dublin. ~ Contact .

Update from the Greensburg, PA self-inquiry group:
Our Greensburg SIG meetings have been much less frequent since last September. Attendance from my regulars has become more sporadic, especially from those I considered more interested and dynamic. Up until a year ago we met every week, but when attendance went down I cut it to bi-weekly. Now I'm considering monthly meetings. We last met the weekend before Christmas where the topic was "Are you awake or merely sleepwalking?" I had this meeting at a request of a regular who brought someone he thought would be interested in what we were doing and it went well, with five people present. My strategy right now is not to have the meetings for a while then start them up again when the regulars indicate an interest. Recently the new owners of the coffee shop where I have the meetings told me that some of them have made inquiries asking if I still have the meetings. In fact I saw one regular at the coffee shop in January who told me that if I don't want to do the meetings then I should assign someone else to faciliate because he is interested in continuing. Hopefully if they miss the meetings I'll start them back on a more frequent basis. But I think the other problem is that we need new people and I'm still cautious about using internet social media like Meetup and Facebook. ~ Contact .

Update from the Lynchburg, VA self-inquiry group:
We meet on Thursday evenings and welcome inquiries. Email 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:
Meeting weekly on Tuesdays. ~ 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 (4836 Ellsworth Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213).
Wed Jan 3 Public Meeting Topic: We investigated the question: Of what in your life are you the most certain, and as a result, what are you doing about it? A parallel question: What is most important to you, and do responsibilities and priorities necessarily result? Also, consider this comment by Shawn Nevins: "If you need to invest energy in it and can't rest in it – it's not real."
Wed Jan 17 Public Meeting Topic: Our focus was on meditation. "Mindfulness & Awareness" is a section (begins on page 48) on meditation from the book: The Myth of Freedom and the Way of Meditation by Chogyam Trungpa. He states that meditation is a way of bringing mindfulness and awareness into situations: whether good, bad or neutral. In a paradoxical way when we create the space for everything to arise without judgment, we settle down. Is meditation (as understood here) a means for "enlightenment" or "awakening" (whatever that means for you)?
~ 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.

On Friday–Sunday, April 20–22, Shawn Nevins and Tess Hughes will be conducting a weekend retreat in Co. Sligo, Ireland. For registration or inquiries, contact .

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

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:

TAT's June 2017 gathering was dedicated to teacher, author, poet, and TAT founder Richard Rose. Audio recordings from the weekend include:

TAT's Fall Workshop 2017 was titled The Prism of Truth: where science, love, and reality merge and included three guest speakers who each led separate workshops. The following audio recordings are now available in the members-only website area:

TAT's November 2017 Gathering was titled The Treasure Within our Lives Unconnected to Experience. The following audio recordings are now available in the members-only website area (there's also a text file describing the speakers and their sessions, not all of which were successfully recorded due to equipment malfunctioning):

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

Surprising the Taxi Driver

Last Wednesday a passenger in a taxi heading for the airport leaned over to ask the driver a question and gently tapped him on the shoulder to get his attention.

The driver screamed, lost control of the cab, nearly hit a bus, drove up over the curb and stopped just inches from a large plate glass window. For a few moments everything was silent in the cab. Then, the shaking driver said "Are you OK? I'm so sorry, but you scared the living daylights out of me."

The badly shaken passenger apologized to the driver and said, "I didn't realize that a mere tap on the shoulder would startle someone so badly."

The driver replied, "No, no, I'm the one who is sorry, it's entirely my fault. Today is my very first day driving a cab. I've been driving a hearse for 25 years."

~ From BabaMail.com, thanks to TAT friend Dexter.

We're hoping to present more humor from 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

Holly's Last Letter

January 3, 2018

It's a strange thing to realise and accept your mortality at 26 years young. It's just one of those things you ignore. The days tick by and you just expect they will keep on coming; Until the unexpected happens. I always imagined myself growing old, wrinkled and grey—most likely caused by the beautiful family (lots of kiddies) I planned on building with the love of my life. I want that so bad it hurts.

That's the thing about life; It is fragile, precious and unpredictable and each day is a gift, not a given right.

I'm 27 now. I don't want to go. I love my life. I am happy… I owe that to my loved ones. But the control is out of my hands….

Holly Butcher lived in Grafton in NSW, Australia and wrote this letter a day before her death. See the complete letter.

~ Thanks to TAT member Brett S.

"All coins have three sides: heads, tails, and the edge. Intelligence is found on the edge of the coin, and in the ability to see both sides." ~ Robert T. Kiyosaki, Why the Rich Are Getting Richer


Consciousness: Where Are Words?

"All the objects we encounter, the objects we call experience, continue to be active in our bodies and brains, continue to be our experience. It is the nature of our fantastically complex brains that they allow these encounters to go on, and to go on going on. The encounters are not 'stored' and are certainly not static. They are continuing to happen. They are us."

"As you see it, the brain is a powerful enabler that allows experience to happen, but this experience is actually one with the objects we see, hear, smell, and touch, outside our bodies, or again, one with the body itself in those cases where it is the body that is experienced. And we are this experience, not something separate from it."


Excerpts from a Riccardo Manzotti conversation recorded in the New York Review of Books' NYR Daily. Manzotti is Assistant Professor of Psychology at the Institute of Human, Language and Environmental Sciences in Milan. He is devoted to the understanding of the nature of the conscious mind by 3 approaches: 1) creating artificial models of consciousness, 2) using art as a tool to probe the structure of the human mind and 3) by understanding the aesthetic experience. ~ Thanks to TAT friend Yasmin C.

  • Q: Are we what we experience or that which is never experienced?
  • Q: What is the source of consciousness?

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 Reader Commentary was:

What are your expectations of yourself in this lifetime?

Responses follow.

From Brett S:
In a famous scene, James Bond says, "What do you expect me to do?", to which the villain replies, "I expect you to die, Mr. Bond." I was thinking about that because if I'm not daydreaming and am being realistic, dying is the only expectation I can seriously have. Everything else is wishful thinking. I've also noticed how having expectations about anything causes me to seemingly suffer. Some examples: my girlfriend doesn't think I'm funny. This upsets me. Why? I expect her to find me funny. Or I go to a restaurant intending to order something but they're out. It's my expectations that make this feel like a "problem." Or I expect to feel happy, so am upset when I feel sad. If I didn't have expectations (about life, about death) most of what I consider "suffering" would be impossible. Death is the only reasonable expectation.

From Sergio F:
The idea of expecting something of myself sounds like having a passive attitude. I don't need to expect something of myself, I can act. As long as I act according to what I value and learn from my mistakes, whatever results is going to be well. I could say that I expect of myself to act according to what I value. For that to occur I need to be clear about what I value and pay attention to my life to be able to notice and feel if I am or am not moving in a valued direction. So, I also expect of myself to be attentive to the external and internal feedback of my actions.

From Desperado:
To find relief from self obsession
To look away from myself long enough to help others and be kind
To really really know what it's like not to be afraid
To become okay with not knowing
To have a little fun now and then for God's sake
To find the end of this sense of separation

From Jim P:
For me, this question is almost unanswerable. I immediately resist my own answer as it's coming out of me. But I want to see what I have to say within in a brief investigation. The question suggests two layers to me. What is meant by "yourself"? The ego, or illusory self, expects to have increasing success as a writer. It expects to find a wonderful old lady who will put up with this personality, who will maybe even love him, and who will want to spend the rest of her life in a blissful partnership with him. But something in me recognizes that these expectations are ego-driven. In other words, they are the delusions of an illusion. That non-judgmental "seeing" begins to dissolve the illusions of self and ego altogether. A clearer encounter with the present moment arises without the "basket" covering it up. Jesus said, "You are the light of the world, but you have put a basket over it." So who or what is this "light of the world," this other Seer? The ego is the basket we experience through. When we remove the basket, who or what remains? I don't "know." I keep investigating. Something in me sees that the investigator is ego in disguise. The investigator maintains a duality of investigator/investigated. And so in this seeing the investigator falls away. Now there is just seeing from within the light—the "something" or pure awareness that is always present. This "seeing," this light, has no expectations. Phenomena arise and fall away. Compassion and love arise organically from this light. But is all of this just the reasoning of a mind conditioned by years of spiritual reading and searching? Are compassion and love just the expectations of an ego that thinks it is the "light of the world"? So you see, I am adrift in my attempt to answer this question. Is this answer the Truth? Or is it just the small truth of a deluded ego? All I can do is keep looking, keep trying to lift the basket as best I can.

From Anonymous:
I suspect that, as time goes on, I will become more aware of just how little control I have over my life and realize an inability to accomplish much at all on my own. Simultaneously, I expect to find myself much better positioned to finally know who I am in some deepest and final sense, since I believe that the part of me that wants to know will never lose its influence over me and only intensify over time.

From Mark C:
I'm just going to give my current state of mind as an answer to this question. I recently saw a quote from an interpretation of the Book of Ecclesiastes that said: "Facing the inevitability of your death and the death of all you love, you are compelled to ask yourself: Am I living the way I wish?"

My answer would be no…And yet my answer would also be yes. I think Richard Rose said something about everything being illusionary with all of us dream characters coming and going, but yet I think he, or someone else, also advised to not step in front of a Mack truck to test this theory. My dream character firmly believes that I have to devote myself to the path if I am to have the momentum necessary to have this realization of Truth that I am after, and yet there is also the issue of sustaining this dream character as well as my family, who still rely upon me. I can't run away to a monastery because I would just wake up one day to find out that all the things that I had been running from had followed me there (they have a strange way of doing that).

So I live as I am living now, but there has to be a refining process, where I scale back the distractions and conserve and focus my energy towards my goal. My tendency is to condemn myself when I don't accomplish what I think I should or when I make a fool out of myself, but I have recently learned that my so-called shortcomings are excellent points of observation and insight on the path as long as I continue to stay disciplined.

I got to visit with Bob Fergeson and Tess Hughes in Colorado at the end of October last year and we went to breakfast one morning. As we were leaving the restaurant, both of them saw this large quilt on the wall, that upon closer observation was beautiful and amazingly crafted with fine detail. I realized at that moment that I would have likely walked right by that quilt in my day-to-day life and not have given it a second thought. I saw these two wise souls with a childlike wonder about them, and this was not just an intellectual observation, but something that was very felt. Of course, Bob and Tess helped me out by doing this sort of thing more than once during my trip just in case it didn't take right away (Ha Ha).

I went on my first isolation retreat last week (a short one) at a hermitage up north, but it is important to me to continue to push the envelope on this path. The time is short and there are no guarantees of tomorrow.

From Frank V:
I felt impaled by this question, as implications arose: Not "how am I hoping my life will manifest or turn out", nor "what is my life aimed at"; rather, imagining the arc of life remaining, and struggling to hear my soul's deepest prayer.

I imagine the arc of the rest of my life, and I feel the desires and fears of "the little man" who lives here most of the time. He wants to find love and to know that he has played his life-part well. Another perspective or possible answer to the question arises, a perspective embarrassed by the image of a life which, to too a great a degree, accommodated fear; a life where comfort may have been a dominant theme.

In this newer perspective, the expectations are simply put: be a true friend. Be brave.

The question for next month is a composite of these questions suggested by three readers:
How do you pray?
What is the nature of your prayers…requests, complaints, longing, remembrance…
What is your understanding of prayer? Do you have a prayer practice? If so, what is it and how do you understand how it fits into your overall desire for Self realisation?

Please your response 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?

Dexter—a gentle soul abiding with TAT members Chuck and Penny W.

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.

Nostalgia and Dreams

Part 2 of a talk given at Case Western Reserve University in 1978 (continued from the January 2018 TAT Forum):

Features of nostalgia

But the nostalgia mood is the least harmful. And it too can impede your sense of veracity about yourself. But it has a tremendous binding force upon humanity, in that it's not too dangerous socially, and it aims at beauty. And for tonight's talk, I have put together the key features, certain things that are earmarked in nostalgia.

For instance – what are the moods we get into if we dream about people? The rose-covered cottage by the side of the road, the children playing in the house, and the happy housewife. This is the perfect picture, let's say, that every young girl longs for. The perfect home, the perfect bliss, no troubles, that sort of thing. And when you're dreaming in this mood – all people are kind. Not even the enemy is rude. People whom you know in the daytime become suddenly kind in the dream. Everybody is seemingly understanding. So the most outstanding feature of this is the kindness, or you can say love, a certain amount of love.

There's another thing that's there all the time and not seen: the sense of eternality. There's a longing for whatever this is. Supposing you've been away from home for twenty years and you've forgotten all about the people next door when you were a kid. And then one night you dream about the people, and in this dream there's just a small part of your yard that's visible in the dream. Or maybe your birthplace is visible. But the people next door occupy the main part of the dream. And when you wake up you wonder why you dreamt of those people, because you haven't thought about them for ten years.

But what happens is that you're in a strange mood when you wake up. Despite the people; they had nothing to do with the mood, when you knew them twenty years ago. But you went back to this idea, that the old place is the same as it was. Sometimes the people are the same as they were. Maybe this man died when he was seventy years of age, and in the dream you noticed he was forty; he was dressed as he did when he was forty years of age, his complexion was younger, and all this sort of thing.

This type of dream is based upon this hunger for eternality in every individual….

The complete Part 2 of the 1978 "Nostalgia and Dreams" talk



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