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

TAT Forum

June 2018

June gathering 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 hunt for a contractor continues, with a couple of leads (including a Forum reader who happens to be a contractor!), but no breakthroughs yet. Stay tuned!

Driveway entrance from Thomas Green Road.

In the meantime,

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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

The Pump of the Divine

"Tension is the prime element in any spiritual exaltation. Sometimes the tension is accumulated and unconsciously endured over a period of years... Life is tension at work." – Richard Rose

A trap affecting some spiritual seekers is having their practical ego centered first in spiritual work, rather than in the world. The personality has never developed to the point of being able to accomplish in the field of the mundane. This sets up a difficulty in later changing their being through spiritual endeavor, in moving up Jacob's ladder. This happens because they cannot set up a working opposition, and thus raise the tension or energy needed to change their being. We need the force of opposition in order for between-ness to work, to raise tension and eventually become objective to ourselves. This can be called the pump of the divine; the back and forth action between the opposites that generates force, that lifts us up. This cycling between success and failure, good and bad, silence and activity, work and rest, depression and elation, brings a certain inner accomplishment: the capacity for "doing," both out in the world and within.

If life first forms a practical ego centered in the family or job, a skill or hobby, or any practical action carried into actual manifestation through work and effort over the long term, then when the person becomes interested in spiritual work, a duality between spiritual seeking and life is set up as a functional working pair of opposites. The seeker will be grounded in life, and can then work with success towards developing their spiritual side. They will have something to observe. If they are living in an ego based entirely in seeking, having no practical life-based ego as an observable opposite, it is a sign they've never learned how to "do." They will be living in their imagination, and their response to resistance will be retreat or refusal, rather than to push through it. They have no ability to "work," whether in spiritual or worldly endeavors. Living in an imaginary world where they pick and choose what's real and what's not, when hard, sustained effort is needed, they always find a valid reason to stop. Any need for sustained effort in the face of resistance threatens their very existence, since it's based in concept rather than being.

See the complete essay.

~ Thanks to Bob Fergeson, a longtime TAT member and student of Richard Rose. Check out Bob's websites The Mystic Missal (A Door to Ways and Means on the Spiritual Path), Nostalgia West spiritual photography site & The Listening Attention (A Gateway to Within).

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)

Shawn Nevins – 'The Way Of Subtraction'
Interview by Iain McNay of Conscious.tv

Shawn is author of four books including Subtraction: The Simple Math of Enlightenment. In the foreword he says, 'This book answers the question of how to find out the answer to who and what you are beyond any shadow of a doubt.' His spiritual search ended on December 28th 1999 having started 7 years earlier. During that time he meditated for thousands of hours, fasted, prayed, retreated, met spiritual teachers, and never gave up. His primary teacher was Richard Rose but he also spent time with Bernadette Roberts, Douglas Harding and others. His breakthrough came when he read through a transcript of a talk by Franklin Merrell-Wolff. Shawn's story has many ups and downs. His sincerity during his search shines through and his many realisations on his path are tangible.

Join us for TAT's June 15-17 gathering. See In Search of Happiness 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.

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 .

On Sunday–Friday, June 10–15, the Gainesville self-inquiry group will be hosting an intensive retreat at Grand Vue Park in rural Moundsville, WV.

Update from the Gainesville, FL self-inquiry group:
We meet at the Alachua County library on alternate Sundays, although we canceled the first two of the three April meetings due to the library being closed on April 1st and then a big storm coming through the area on the afternoon of April 15th. ~ Email or for more information.

Update from Galway, Ireland:
Anyone who's interested in self-inquiry activity in Ireland is welcome to contact .

Update from the Greensburg, PA self-inquiry group:
We last met the weekend before Christmas where the topic was "Are you awake or merely sleepwalking?" My strategy right now is not to have the meetings for a while then start them up again when the regulars indicate an interest. 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:
Now meeting on alternate Saturdays. ~ Email for more information.

Update from the Pittsburgh, PA self-inquiry group:
We hold public meetings on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of each month, 7-9 PM, at the Pittsburgh Friends Meeting House in Oakland (4836 Ellsworth Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213) and invitation-only meetings on alternate Wednesdays. Last month's topics were:
May 2: Mike W. prepares some spiritual First Aid from Shawn Nevin's Subtraction chapters on #1 Honesty, #2 Your Natural Koan, #3 Energy Focus, and #4 Fall and Rise Again.
May 9: Richard hosts with select writings that include chapters/excerpts from Art Ticknor's books, a chapter from one of Robert Wolfe's, and a brief chant/meditation from Gary Weber's website.
May 16: Gloria will lead the meeting based on "Living Beautifully: with Uncertainty and Change" by Pema Chodron
May 23: Ambiguity: Of what are you most certain? In what do you believe the most? Of what are you afraid?
May 30: TBD
~ For further information, contact .

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:
See the interview with Iain McNay of Conscious.tv (above). ~ Email for information about upcoming meetings and events.

Subtraction, by Shawn Nevins

"December 28, 1999 was the day my spiritual search ended. From late 1992 till that day, I devoted myself to finding an answer to the great philosophic questions of life: Who am I? What am I? What happens to me at death? These were not theological musings, but eminently practical questions that demanded answers based on personal experience rather than belief. I meditated for hundreds of hours, fasted, prayed, talked to spiritual teachers and talked to myself, spent days alone in the woods, tested and challenged my beliefs through dozens of practices, despaired and cried. A central theme of this path was that of a Way of Subtraction fueled by honesty. It was Richard Rose who taught me this simple, but elegant formula: "You back away from untruth," he said, turning from untruth until all that was left was what was real."

The TAT Press has released Shawn's long-awaited book Subtraction: The Simple Math of Enlightenment, available through Amazon, your local bookseller, and at TAT Foundation gatherings.

You can view the Prologue (from which the above quote was taken) and the first two chapters of the book at the Preview page of SpiritualTeachers.org.

A new self-inquiry group is forming in Sarasota, FL:
Meetings are on alternate Wednesdays. ~ Email for more information.

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.

TAT's April 2018 Gathering was titled Steps on the Path. The following audio recordings 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 page.

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

How I Spend Money

Thanks to TAT member Michael R. © Sarah Andersen.

According to most studies, people's number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you're better off in the casket than doing the eulogy. - Jerry Seinfeld

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

Discipline, Sex, Psychedelics, and More –
The Return of Drunk Dialing

Excerpt from a Tim Ferriss podcast

My biggest interest right now is what states of higher perception can we cultivate through training.  What's coming to me is sex.  Sex seems to be a doorway in some cultures or philosophies, like tantra, Taoism, kama sutra.  I've heard some things and I'm trying to put them together. For example, abstaining from sex. Like you were talking to Jack Kornfield.  Or withholding orgasm as a training.  Or multiple partners, and relationship, and "let's have a lot a sex, guys," as a way to learn how to deal with your internal stuff.  What do you think?  Is that a doorway to higher perception?  Either of the techniques, or all of them, or what?

Yeah… good question.  I'll try to take a stab at it.  There are many components to that question.  I would say that, in general, my experience has been that whenever you take an act or daily habit – such as eating – and you make previously automatic or subconscious decisions conscious, that you can very deliberately change perception.  That can lead to many interesting places.  That could take the form of – and I will get to sex – intermittent fasting, or fasting.  In which case you notice how much of your day is structured around three scheduled meals whether or not you are hungry.  That brings to you a new appreciation of your automatic behaviors that may or may not be justified.  Secondly, it gives you greater appreciation for, in this case, the thing you may have abstained from for a certain period of time, which is food. 

Sex is very similar….

See the complete excerpt.


~ Thanks to Shawn Nevins, who writes: "I heard this Tim Ferriss episode a few weeks ago and found it surprising enough to transcribe the interesting portion.  I was amazed to hear someone speak about the value of abstinence from such a practical viewpoint.  His signal to noise ratio analogy is exactly my experience of celibacy."

Read more about celibacy as a modern spiritual practice in Shawn's book, The Celibate Seeker.

Love is a tree with branches reaching into eternity and roots set deep into eternity, and no trunk! Have you seen it? The mind cannot. Your desiring cannot. The longing you feel for this love comes from inside you.
~ From "One Swaying Being," Rumi: The Book of Love edited by Coleman Barks


Koan: What is a tree with no trunk?
Are you aiming for a maximum experience?
Is what we long for beyond experience (no trunk)?




I never knew Hinduism and Buddhism existed until 1961 (age 30) when I took a class called Eastern Philosophy at USC. The visiting Oxford Professor spent a single talk on each subject and I never thought about it again. It was not until I first met Fr. Thomas Keating in 1982-83 that I heard the term "nonduality" that he defined as "not-two and not-one." He said nonduality was the Eastern term for what, in Christianity, we call a Unitive State – generally regarded as far as one can go this side of the grave. While this is an egoless state of being – really the state every mature person was intended to live out his earthly existence – this Unitive State is not, however, nondual. Man's oneness with God does not make him God – for heaven's sake!! While God is man's true center of being (center of all being in fact), man is not God's being! In truth, man's Divine Center is empty of all self, God is literally no-self. God is no part of man nor is man part of God. Where man's original self-center was "I exist, I am myself"(ego-self), God has taken its place so now "we exist, we are" is self's abiding unitive experience of life with God. It is man's oneness with God that is his "true self," and until he comes to this state he is not free to be the "whole" human being God created him to be. Obviously, this unitive state is not God's experience – God's enlightenment, realization or whatever you want to call it. Anyone who thinks this is a nondual state-of-being has never experienced it.

So what is this the Eastern religions talk about? I do not have the slightest idea, I've never been able to figure out its thinking in this matter. Though I've done a lot of research, what they call "nondual" certainly is not nondual as I see it. Because nondual makes no sense to me, I regard it as the error of assuming God is the true nature or essence of everything that exists – human, animal, plant, the whole cosmos – and that, like other religions, it tends to make God into man's own image – i.e., God is self, mind, soul, consciousness, energy, love, you name it. Those who assume such a view could never have honestly seen God – because nothing in this universe – including self – is God. God is so utterly Transcendent to all man knows and sees, that if God did not deliberately reveal Itself to man, he would never know God exists.


See the entire paper presented by Bernadette Roberts at the Sand [Science and Nonduality] Conference in San Jose, California on October 22, 2015.

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: What question(s) would you like to ask readers? Responses follow.

From Maggan H:
I would like to ask if they know or made clear for themselves what they want or what their goal is?
And if they think they need a teacher or not?

From Brett S:
Questions I would like to ask readers:
How can I help myself lose interest in the ups and downs of my life?
How can I see everything from a less personalized perspective?
How do I become un-obsessed with my thoughts?

From Sergio F:
I'd like to ask "What book was the most inspiring read in your search?" as it may help me discover some gem I'm missing.
And also I'd ask "What about the idea of 'retreating from untruth' makes sense to you?"

From Richard G:
What is the biggest problem, (difficulty, or concern) in your spiritual search?

From Deep J:
Do you think honesty is an absolute rule to be followed at all times, or just a tool to be used as part of a spectrum of ways of communicating? What are the benefits you see in being honest with yourself and others?

From R.C.:
What question could I ask you to which you could provide a certain answer?
What answer could you give me that wouldn't provoke another question?
If asking and answering questions is as addictive as inhaling and exhaling cigarette smoke, could you resist taking another puff?
Is there any essential question which isn't asked from a place of fear and a sense of lack and to which you already know the answer if you were prepared to face it?
What does this mean to you? If less than everything, where do you go from here?

From Vince Lepidi:
What is your Heart's deepest desire?
Do you want this desire to be fulfilled in your lifetime?
Why do you believe this desire is worth fulfilling?
Are you sure you are honest about wanting to fulfill this desire?
Could this professed desire actually be a desire for something else?
Are you willing to make the sacrifices and effort to fulfill this desire at all costs?

From N.G.:
Do you feel separate? If so, can you list the reasons why? Have you explored any evidence that contradicts those reasons?
As a person, will you ever be able to see clearly?
Would you ever rate yourself as doing a good job as a seeker? Or do you tend to err towards critical assessments of yourself? Why?

From Miriam K:
1) What is your greatest appeal with TAT?
2) Why do you remain a member or connected with TAT?
3) What would you like to see different in the approach adopted by TAT activities or resources?

From Colm H:
What do you do when you hit a barren patch in your search, when answers are not forthcoming and you feel stuck – what do you do to not lose direction and stay focused on the work, inquiry, looking, etc.?

From Anonymous:
Questions I would like to hear others on a path answer – please choose one:
1. Of what in the TAT Forum is the most benefit to you? How do you use it? Suggestions for change?
2. Why do you seek? (Rather than are you a seeker or what do you seek?)
3. If you were to die tomorrow, what would you write as your epitaph for your spiritual search today? If you knew you would definitely die a year from now, how would it read differently if written a year from now?
4. Do you consider yourself to have a spiritual teacher? Without referencing a name, describe your relationship with this teacher and how have you benefited? Any advice for someone seeking a teacher?
5. How would you describe your spiritual search by naming one or two of its chief features?
6. Have you ever attempted Between-ness? Has anything happened in which you had a better understanding of the possibility of Between-ness?
7. How do you meditate? What constitutes a good session?
8. There has been much talk about humans as sleep-walkers. Do you believe you are awake or asleep? Do you believe you are ever awake and why? How do you know and can you prove you are awake?
9. For whatever tensions you have in your life, have you identified in which directions you are either led or pushed as a result? Have you found ways to use these tensions by redirecting their influences?
10. "Within each of us is a question that demands an answer." Have you found a question that makes you ache for an answer? (Shawn Nevins's Spiritual First Aid #2: Remember a natural koan, from the last chapter of Subtraction: The Simple Math of Enlightenment.)
11. Is there some guiding principle that determines your search?
12. If you were headed alone to an island for a prolonged period, what book would you take and why?
13. What one book would you suggest to someone about to embark on self-inquiry and why?

From Sofia:
1. (How) do you discuss your search with your loved ones?
2. If you don't speak to them about it, why not?

From Ann I:
I have the same question I have been asking myself since I got sick, and that is: "Who am I when I wake up in the morning?"

From Mr. Nobody:
What do you need to subtract NOW?

The two-part question for next month is: Do you know or have you made clear for yourself what you want or what your goal is? And do you think you need a teacher?

Our thanks to Maggan H. 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?

man and moon

Man and Moon

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.

Talk at Duquesne University, Pittsburgh

Part 1 of a talk given at Duquesne University in 1974:

Stand up for a minute. Ok, you can sit down.

Now, I want to apologize for that as soon as I do it. But this is to bring out a point. It's very difficult to be truthful and honest, or investigative, as far as that's concerned, but if there is one thing that I can get across to you tonight, if I don't say anything else, it's just what I said there: Why do you stand up every time someone tells you to stand up? Why do you get in queues and lines and say "thank you" when somebody hands you something that's worth nothing?

And unless we start to observe our behavior from the very beginning, these little things that are imposed upon us by society, you will never be able to think for yourself. And if you can't think for yourself, after standing up the next order will be to fix bayonets, and I hope pointing in the other direction, of course.

The complete Part 1 of the 1974 Duquesne University talk



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