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

TAT Forum

September 2018

November TAT meeting details coming soon

Homing Ground Update

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

We're still awaiting bids from contractors, which gives you some idea how busy the construction business is in the Raleigh area. We still suspect that any bids will substantially exceed the funds TAT has on hand, but will keep you informed of how we plan to proceed if that is the case. Stay tuned!

What is the new home for TAT going to look like? We came across this artist's rendition of the library in Swan's Island, Maine and are looking for a volunteer to come up with a similar drawing based on Bob H's floorplan and elevation drawings. We feel it would help us all picture the actual manifestation of the concept and continue to raise the necessary funds. The 3,500-square-foot Swan's Island library was built in 2011 at a cost of $1.1 million. Bob's plan for TAT's home creates 5,000 square feet of floorspace in three floors to minimize the cost per square foot.

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

Remembrance & Contemplation

This month's entry is a composite of our memories of a friend, Jeff Crilley, who committed suicide, and of our experiences with depression.

Jeffrey A. Crilley

Age 37, of Washington, DC., passed away on July 31, 2018. Jeff was born in Pittsburgh, PA to Duane and Mary on May 14, 1981.

Jeff went to school at North Hills High School, and graduated from Carnegie Mellon University. Jeff worked as a surveillance analyst for the Commodities Futures Trading Commission in Washington, DC for over eight years. Jeff enjoyed traveling the world, reading, and hiking.

See the Neely Funeral Home site for the complete obituary and tribute wall.

I came to know Jeff through working with him at the government agency where he worked for over 8 years. Even before I met him, the reputation of his work, and the impact it had on the work of the agency preceded him. People spoke of a unified database and a dynamic and flexible analytical system built by one man. When I walked past people's computers in the office, I saw analysts looking at intricate charts produced by Jeff's tools. I was, needless to say, impressed and astounded by what Jeff had managed to accomplish.

But despite having single-handedly revolutionized the analytical capabilities of the agency, Jeff was humble, and generous, and kind. He personally tutored me in skills I would need to succeed in my new job at his agency, provided a sounding board for ideas and questions, and helped foster an environment of fun and camaraderie in the office. He was always happy to help anyone who passed his way. Jeff had more than an open-door policy. Even though he had a nice office, he chose to sit in a large, open room so as to make himself readily available to anyone who wanted to drop by to ask him for help.

I took to sitting at a computer next to his in this large room, so as to learn as much as I could both from him directly, and from the many conversations he had with people who came by. Sitting next to him every day, we would often talk, especially during lunch, about topics unrelated to the office. The range of subjects on which Jeff was conversant was a testament to the depth of his intellect. Economics, physics, politics, dating, education policy, diet and fitness, psychology, and so much more. Jeff could speak and reason intelligently on them all.

One day, during a conversation about the nature and purpose of life, of where we were going, and what we were seeking, I decided to take a leap and reveal to him my own longing and pursuit of inner self realization, and many of the experiences I'd had along the way. Rather than being met with derision, or skepticism, as is so often the response when expressing an interest in topics that are far from the concerns of the materialistic mind, Jeff responded with enthusiasm, encouragement, and an open mind. And he shared with me much about the journey he had had in pursuit of the same goal.

Alone in a new city, removed from my friends, my family, and my spiritual community, I found in Jeff a true friend, with whom I could share my experiences, my fears, the new lessons I was learning on the Path, and the struggles I was having along the way. Jeff, having gone that way before, was always happy to respond with an open mind and a genuine word.

He often spoke of his desire to return to that Path some day. He told me about some of the difficulties he encountered during his journey into those depths years before. His struggle with depression, how he had conquered it, and his necessity to get the proper balance in his life before returning to his ultimate goal. Jeff, ever introspective and self-aware, knew the state of his own mind (which is vanishingly rare in a population that is constantly looking outwards), and was working diligently in his personal life and with the help of professionals to ensure that he would be on firm mental footing.

In the months before his death, even when the disease started to get the better of him, we were confident Jeff would overcome it. He was doing everything right. It came as a shock and a heartbreak for all of us when we heard the news of his passing.

As we look back with longing and regret to the friend we have lost, and yearning for the experiences we could have had together, I count myself privileged to have known him for the few short years that I did, and honored to call him my friend. The impact he has had on my life, and the lives of those around him, will be felt for many years to come.

And although Jeff as a person is gone, he and I both knew that this life, and this thing that we call "self," is not all there is. And I wouldn't be surprised if our mutual pilgrimage brings us to cross paths again. ~ An anonymous friend

I did not know of this. So shocking. I am at a loss for words. ~ Sharad B.

It's really sad to hear about Jeff. It's also scary because it could have been me. I knew Jeff, and I've suffered from depression also. I know of a lot of people who either suffer from it now or have in the past. I started noticing how many people are affected by it only after I recovered.

In retrospect for me, depression was like having a parasite that influenced my thoughts to benefit itself and keep me sick. After years, the parasite suddenly let go, and a giant weight was lifted from my shoulders. I don't think that people who've never experienced depression have any idea how hard it can be. If someone said they had chest pain, wouldn't you think that was a serious health issue? But instead, people with chest pain and other symptoms due to depression are blamed for bringing it upon themselves and condemned for considering suicide.

You can't openly discuss suicide, and this makes it much worse. People either have a strong opinion at the level of politics and an agenda to "fix" you, or they're required by law and fear of lawsuits to report you. Why is that a problem? When I worked in the medical field, I saw them lock up a teen girl who was suicidal in a tiny room with bars on the window and nothing in it but a mattress on the floor. I'll probably never forget that image, and I didn't want that to be me. Because of this and other issues, I never found an environment that I felt was safe to seek out help that I actually wanted. I suspect that there are others out there facing similar problems. ~ Anonymous

I met Jeff for the first time in September 2005. We were participating in a self-inquiry workshop. He told me that he was haunted by thoughts of suicide. He was serious and friendly and didn't seem unduly unhappy to me. I didn't know if he had shared this "secret" with others.

But, I did notice the intensity in his eyes when he spoke about the suicidal ideation.

He was only twenty four at that time, very young to my mind. He was only getting started in life I thought and it wasn't going to plan, or at least not as fast as any young man might like. Perhaps it was circumstantial disappointment, I thought.

Though I hadn't told Jeff, or indeed anyone, at that time that I too suffered from suicidal ideation, I wondered if he had picked up on something about me. Had he recognised some kind of kindred despair or disappointment in me.

The thing was that after about thirty years of "off and on" bouts of intense suicidal ideation, it had for me passed. And I knew it. 

I had come very close many times to "jumping" and was always prevented at the last movement by god knows what. I understand and have lived that intense desire to get it all over with, contradicted by the desire to not cause suffering to others. I understand how these contradictory desires wax and wane. I understand that inner agonising torsion between the two poles of desire.

It's like a hurricane that comes and goes with "us" little folk having no power or control over it. 

Some of us are born into Tropical Regions, it seems. It's nothing to do with the families and culture we grow up in. We are what might be called the "born seekers". And Jeff was that. 

At some point along the way I came to think of it as a kind of "suicidal flu" that I suffered from.

It's power over me must have weakened enough for me to be able to put it into some kind of box. Suicidal ideation was no longer the tyrannical boss that had tormented me off and on over the decades. It had become that nuisance of a visitor. I learned ways to not indulge its visits. Eventually it stopped visiting.

This coincided with, or happened because I had found a spiritual path that made sense to me. I had found something I could commit to. This gave me a new reason to live, a purpose, a new hitherto unimagined possibility, a direction in which to deploy my energies.  Now in my fifties, an unexpected light had opened up at the end of my decades long tunnel of suicidal ideation and emotional turmoil. 

All I can say is that this happened to me.  I cannot attribute it to anything I was doing or not doing. It hadn't happened for Jeff.

I met Jeff again in Pune, India in the Autumn of 2015. We were attending the same wedding. He didn't look much different to me. A little more solid physically. We had one brief moment sitting side by side at the breakfast table when I asked him how he was doing. He gave me that same intense look that I remembered from our first meeting and he shrugged his shoulders. Later that day we went shopping in an Indian mall where he wanted me to help him choose some fabulous Indian clothing for his beloved niece, Bella. I remember how carefully he felt the materials, tested them for authenticity. He was making sure that Bella got only the best. 

During the trip I did hear him make a few remarks that indicated a disappointed man - a man who thought that life is a silly sham and that we are all caught up in this tawdry drama. He just hadn't yet found that light at the end of his tunnel.

He now has, for if we accept the evidence of the Near Death Experiences, that is exactly how it happens for most, we go down a tunnel towards The Light. 

I have been absorbed into that tunnel. After this, suicide is no longer attractive or even an issue. All is Peace.

May Jeff Rest in Peace.  ~ Tess Hughes

That's terrible news. I didn't really know Jeff that well, I think it was only my first June men's retreat in 2009 that I met him, and I remember being struck by how sensitive and extremely conscientious he was. I remember his thoughtfulness causing me to look deeper into how I treated people. I didn't really understand anxiety well at the time, but it seemed like he was suffering deeply from that looking back. I also remember him being the first person who I had actually seen wearing crocs, which I enjoy wearing in the garden to this day. ~ Isaac H.

I'm sad to hear the news about Jeff.  I will remember him as being a sweet guy with a warm smile.  I send my condolences to his friends and family. ~ Heidi M.

I did not know Jeff, but my sympathies go out to his family and friends. I don't know why, but oftentimes when I hear of someone taking their own life, it's almost like I take it personally, as if I knew them, and I experience a real sadness and confusion.

What I can share is my own experience with depression. I think some people from an early age are predisposed to melancholia, as I apparently was. As a young adult I experienced two major debilitating episodes. They came out of a self destructive lifestyle at the time. And over the years, there have been many lows, brought on by a variety of factors, But the time spent in these lows was always abbreviated by weeks or months, never years. What lasted for years was a pervasive sense of emptiness and futility, but it became a familiar coat and I could still work and function and experience life's ups as well.

Depression is still largely misunderstood and underestimated as a major mental illness. It is often incorrectly associated with weakness of character.  Even with my history, through that dubious gift of nature – forgetfulness, whenever I was feeling my oats, on top of the game, I would look askance at those sunken in depression as if they preferred to wallow in misery. So I never fully and maturely appreciated the gravity of depression until I fell through a trap door 10 years ago. And I came to understand what the Zen master Alfred Pulyan meant when he said most people don't realize how fragile the mind is.

This fall into depression was precipitated by a family crisis, which opened up a pandora's box of dark things tucked away and tamped down for years. What was so different about this depression was that it felt like the scaffolding or skeleton that held my mind in place suddenly collapsed, and my mind couldn't support any weight at all, sometimes even the weight of a thought. If felt like a continual falling down inside. And it came with a bonus of serious anxiety and panic, which was new to me. I don't know what type of depression Jeff was suffering from, but when anxiety is a co-partner, the afflicted person is in for a special hell.

The best description of major depression I've heard is that it's a disease of loneliness. The defining feature is that it literally can incapacitate you. The most basic functions, like standing up and taking 6 steps across the room to get a pen, brushing your teeth, or even turning your head, can feel like a gargantuan effort. A vicious cycle gradually develops of isolation begetting more hopelessness begetting more fear begetting deeper isolation. And major depression is a physical beast. Thoughts and the perceptions of things, external impressions and sensation … they physically hurt. Another curse is that you truly believe your condition is permanent ... irreversible.  One of the biggest ironies is that recovery often demands the greatest effort when you are at your most vulnerable and weak. I've never become suicidal, but often an inner voice would say I wish this life could be over.

In my case, this particular depression lasted around 6 years and took just about everything that's recommended for recovery. It wasn't one or two things, but the totality of everything together, which gradually loosened the stakes.

Depending on the individual and contributing factors, depression can be a blessing or a curse. One may begin to draw closer to some form of a supreme being, as certain illusions drop away; or become more estranged and forlorn. Sometimes one is suddenly able to see things with greater clarity. Or conversely, with disintegrating distortion.  ~ An anonymous TAT member

Grief over Crilley's suicide. Oh my god. It feels like he couldn't find a love he innocently ached for. ~ Dan M.

Paul passed along word that a fellow TAT member passed away recently. I am very sorry to hear that. Here is a poem by David Whyte that may be appropriate for the memorial in the September Forum:

                       THE WELL OF GRIEF

Those who will not slip beneath
    the still surface on the well of grief,
turning down through its black water
    to the place we cannot breathe,
will never know the source from which we drink,
    the secret water, cold and clear,
nor find in the darkness glimmering,
    the small round coins,
        thrown by those who wished for something else.
~ Sheri R.

For Jeff

The funny things one remembers about a person once they are gone…. Jeff Crilley roomed with me for a few months in Louisville, Kentucky. In my meager apartment, there was no furniture other than a desk and chair, so he slept on the floor. It was winter, 2003 if I remember correctly, and he'd proudly gotten an entry-level job in construction – a double major, honors graduate from Carnegie Mellon University working on a cleanup crew. Hard to explain, but it was a "thing" among spiritual seekers in the Richard Rose tradition, to use their backs and save their brains for the spiritual search. I recall him showing off his brand-new hammer and nail apron, though he didn't do much hammering or nailing and told mostly of trying to keep warm while burning wood scraps on the job site.

Jeff was always considerate of others, so when it snowed one morning, he paused to scrape the windows of my truck with the claw of his hammer. "Nice guy," I thought, then later that day I realized what looked like lines on my windows from road salt were actually scratches left by the hammer claw. I'm sure I was pissed, but now I think how those scratches stayed with me till that truck finally went to the scrapyard a decade later.

Jeff left more serious impressions with me, as well. His friendship shaped an essay of mine called "Depression and the Spiritual Search". In it, I wrote that there are "a few people on whom depression descends like a shadow with no cause." Jeff opened my eyes to the need to use any method available to help with depression, and not believe that mindfulnesss/meditation/will-power alone could lift one out of the depths.

After losing touch with Jeff for several years, in 2016 I called him out of the blue and apologized for not being a better friend when he was in Louisville. He was on my mind as a person who once looked to me for help, but I'd had little to offer. In retrospect, I thought Jeff was going all-out, really throwing himself into the spiritual search, and I could have spent more time trying to understand him. He was surprised by my apology. Ever polite, he humored me by trying to recall some way I'd let him down, but Louisville was a distant memory. Since that call, we stayed in touch with an occasional email or text, usually to chat about stocks or finances.

Once again, I find myself wanting to apologize. Jeff last emailed me in early May, sounding well. I thought several times of sending a text or email to see what was new in life but didn't. A few days became nearly three months, and now it's too late. I join a long, sorrowed line of those saying, "If only…."

Jeff also appeared in my film Closer than Close, as one of the "seven friends seeking freedom." In the ending scene, those friends walk away from the camera and into the night. Their backs are to us as the music swells, and the scene fades to black. Jeff is at the front of the pack, leaving us, the audience to his story, to figure out its meaning on our own.

A phrase that has brought me solace over the years is, "I am the bowman, the arrow, and the victim." I attribute it to the Bhagavad Gita, though Google tells me my memory is flawed. Regardless, there is truth in those lines: I am the bowman, the arrow, and the victim. I'm in the last scene in the film, too, walking at the back of the pack, trailing my subjects. All of us walking into the night together.

We are the bowman, the arrow, and the victim. ~ Shawn Nevins

I didn't know Jeff, but I feel his loss. As a friend to my friends, he was part of their lives and so, vicariously, he is a part of mine. When I have been depressed, the world seems so small, as if everything that happens in it is a confirmation of my narrow view that everything is for the worse. Because of that, it seems like there is no way out. It feels so real and so convincing. That's scary. When I think about how I've come through on the other side, I think of friends. One time in high school I mentioned to my girlfriend at the time that I was having thoughts about self-harm. I think I said it mainly to hurt her. But when I got home one day I found three of my best friends waiting for me. They were there to tell me that they were my friends, and that they didn't want anything bad to happen to me. Intervention is not always possible. Medically, personally, or practically. Friendship remains. This is dedicated to Jeff. ~ Brett S.

I didn't know Jeff, personally, but I knew of him, had read some of his Forum contributions. That's the first thing that struck me – that we had been involved with TAT for about the same amount of time. I feel a connection with anyone who lifts their head out of the sand long enough to question what's going on here, who we are, where we might have come from. I wonder where those questions led him. In the past, I felt that death would be the ultimate escape hatch, but as with most everything else, doubt creeps in. I have many ideas of what lies beyond and I know there are contingencies I can't even imagine. For some reason, Jeff's suicide shone a light on another idea I was holding onto – that as seekers, we are somehow immune to the actual act of suicide. We might brush up against it, but are somehow protected. It's made me take a little more care in how boldly I've held it as a legitimate option. ~ Leesa W.

That's so sad to hear. I do remember Jeff – I think there was one retreat we were at together, probably a decade ago. There's something particularly tragic about how blinding suicidality can be to the person struggling with it.

What exactly is depression? It can be hard to pin down. Unlike many physical ailments, mental ailments have no physical test that can be done to determine if someone "has" it. When it comes down to it, if a person is exhibiting enough of a certain list of symptoms, they are considered to "have" depression. Like two cases of the common cold, no two cases of depression are exactly the same, but they often share a number of common characteristics.

Even more difficult to pin down is what causes depression. It is probably the case that there is no single cause, but that there are several different combinations of ingredients that can together create the condition we call depression.

The particularly insidious thing about depression as compared to other ailments such as the common cold is that we tend to identify with its symptoms. When we have a cold, we don't tend to expand its symptoms into defining features of our identity. We don't tend to think, "I'm such a sneezy person", but instead, "I'm sneezing a lot, I must have a cold."

Depression on the other hand is partly characterized by thoughts that seem to be about us. In some cases it might be self-criticism: "What's wrong with me?", "Why am I so ___?", "I'm such a ___.", etc. In some cases it might be a kind of hopelessness: "There's no point," "Nothing means anything," "This is never going to change," etc. And in other cases it might be isolation: "No one else seems to feel this way," "No one can understand what I'm going through," etc. Like the sniffles of a cold, depression drips with these kinds of thoughts. Unlike the sniffles, we tend to take the symptoms of depression as from us or about us. We come to believe that we are faulty, hopeless, and isolated, beliefs that reinforce the depression and allow it to extend its stay in us.

The dark, heavy cloud of depression acts like the information wing of a totalitarian government, spreading its own propaganda in order to stay in power and blocking information from outside itself. Recovery from depression begins when we are ready to launch a kind of inner revolution, being willing to ignore the endless propaganda, entertain alternative perspectives, and try things that the state tells us not to do or tries to scare us away from.

I don't know exactly what brings this readiness for revolt about, but many of my clients have found it helpful to find out just how inaccurate the isolation messages of their depression are. No one with depression is alone.

According to data from the CDC, between 7-9% of the American population suffers from depression at any given moment. That's 22-29 million people right now in just the U.S. If we consider the number of people who at some point in their life experience diagnosable depression, the numbers go up to around 16% of the American population, or around 52 million people.

If there is good news coming from the prevalence of depression, it's that there is an incredible amount of help available, and that there is treatment that works. If you are suffering from depression, consider finding a therapist to help support you in your inner revolution. A good therapist can help you better understand your depression, recognize it, dis-identify with it, and build means to keep it from taking hold again.

Some people find medication helpful, but this is not always necessary. The benefit of antidepressants is that they can lift the weight of the depression for a while as you do the work to fight off the depression's hold on you.

For more information about depression check out the website for the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

If you are having thoughts that you would be better off dead or thoughts of killing yourself, please do not hesitate to reach out for support. In the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for free and confidential help at 1-800-273-8255 or find out more information at the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. ~ Ben R.

I watched this movie last night on Netflix called "The End of the Tour." It's based on a Rolling Stone interview with David Foster Wallace. Wallace was a major literary sensation, but suffered from clinical depression and committed suicide a few years ago. In a scene at the end, he reveals what it was like when he committed himself to a hospital out of fear he was about to commit suicide. I think it really articulates the existential dilemma which precipitates suicide.

"There's a thing in the book about how when somebody leaps from a burning skyscraper, it's not that they're not afraid of falling anymore, it's that the alternative is so awful. And so then you're invited to consider what could be so awful that leaping to your death would seem like an escape from it. I don't know if you have any experience with this kind of thing. But it's worse than any kind of physical injury. It may be in the old days what was known as a spiritual crisis: feeling as though every axiom in your life turned out to be false… and there was actually nothing. And that you were nothing. And that it's all a delusion and you're so much better than everybody 'cause you can see how this is just a delusion, and you're so much worse because you can't fucking function. It's really horrible." ~ Anonymous

I did not know Jeff while he was alive. However, his name came up enough number of times during my conversations with our mutual friends, such that the news of his suicide stirred up much in me. Our Pittsburgh PSI and TAT connections, and his successful suicide attempt and my failed one, evoked a sense of camaraderie. Jeff's death showed me glaringly how urgent one particular need could demand to be fulfilled, shifting its priority status to primary. That said, my reflection below is entirely of my own experience, and I do not claim to know the reasons for Jeff's suicide.

Speaking from experience, at bottom a suicidal person is absolutely convinced, albeit for one brief moment, that death would solve or end her problem, or is a better alternative to the situation she currently finds herself. Not dismissing the pain, looking back, I say considering suicide is an act of pride loaded with blind beliefs.

See the complete essay by Ike H.

Jeff came for a visit to Raleigh and our [Self Knowledge Symposium] community in the early 2000's, and he spent a night in our home where I lived with several roommates. Later I remember being on retreats with Jeff in the winter, including one retreat with just 5 or 6 of us – the last winter retreat on Mr. Rose's farm. I remember Jeff being bright and perceptive, and willing to engage and participate in the retreat activities.

A friend and I meet for breakfast regularly here where I live. Recently that friend turned to me and asked, "Do you have any personal experience with depression?" He then shared that he was feeling depressed as a result of blows to his self-esteem at work and in other parts of his life. My mind flashed over the advice we hear most often – to find a good psychologist, to seek a good friend to share with, to seek the company of others, to exercise. Yet having experienced depression myself recently, I made an effort to remember what that state felt like. What was helpful to me then? Did anything actually work? I remember noticing that in a depressed state my mind would selectively gather negative memories, or interpret memories negatively, in order to support its central conclusion (typically a negative self-assessment). In the depressed state I was still aware that there was another state, and in that more normal state of mind, the mind would likewise selectively gather memories or interpret the memories positively, in order to support its conclusion (positive self-assessment). Whatever was watching the monologue was also largely taking it in, buying it – yet noticing that the mechanism of mind was the same in both "normal" and depressed states allowed a tiny gap to exist around the mind's conclusions.

I also noticed adverbs such as "never" and "always," which the depressed mind was using in its monologue. When I heard these, something would ask, "Really? I've never had success in this area?" The mind, provoked by the question, would have to review the data and admit its initial conclusion was incomplete. This admission, followed by a gap in the mind stream, was also helpful in lessening the conviction of the depressed mind monologue. ~ Eric C.

Hi M. [responding to a young friend who has been through multiple depressions and had written for some guidance],

Just got news yesterday that one of the guys who was very active in our Pittsburgh, PA self-inquiry group and in TAT from 2002-2009 killed himself two nights ago. I hadn't seen him in half a dozen years until he, another Carnegie Mellon U. friend Jon, Tess Hughes and I spent 3 or 4 days together in Pune, India for a mutual friend's wedding in Oct. 2015. My last email exchange with him was in Jan. 2017, in which he mentioned: "It wouldn't surprise me if our paths do cross again :)."

Apparently it wasn't destined to be.

The reason I mention this to you is because Jeff, like many seekers, experienced depression, including suicidal thoughts, and that state of mind triggered his suicide. That led me to reflect back on my 7-year depression with its conviction that what I most wanted in life wasn't possible. I'd made a decision to kill myself, but not until my mother—in the early stages of dementia—no longer needed me to look after her.

Shortly after her condition reached the point where she needed to go into a nursing home, I then felt it was okay to do a solitary retreat. Solitary retreats had been high points in my life, but I hadn't done one for 7 years. As my scheduled retreat approached, I found myself taking Benoit's Supreme Doctrine off my bookshelf. I'd read it 15 years earlier, felt it had something important, but it had gone completely over my head. I also found myself—for the first time in my life—browsing randomly through the book rather than starting with the first page and reading sequentially. I came across Benoit's definition of acceptance (considering something with our whole being and arriving at the view that we wouldn't change it even if we had the power to do so), and my mind starting arguing vehemently against it: acceptance would cast all the things I didn't like about myself in concrete—or, worse yet, in Lucite, where everybody could see them clearly!

I had made a list of all the "pain balloons" (humiliations and embarrassments) I carried around with me and found myself, at the beginning of the retreat, going through the list and picking one of the items seemingly at random. Then I saw my mind go into a turbo-drive process I'd never witnessed before, processing so much data from my life experience at such a rate that I could only register bits and pieces of it. At the end of maybe 10 or 15 minutes, it arrived at a quiet conclusion: If I could change whatever that humiliation or embarrassment was, it might make things worse rather than better. In other words, I didn't have a big enough "computer" to guarantee a better outcome by changing the past.

Then I selected the first, I think, item on the list and watched my mind go into that turbo-drive process again. It processed a different selection of memories from my life experience, at the end of which it arrived at the same conclusion! I didn't have to go through more items on the list; I was convinced that it was in my best interest to accept things as they were and had been. And it was as if the weight of the world was lifted off my shoulders.

It amazed me to realize that acceptance didn't require liking or approving. And I found out that acceptance in fact opened things to changing rather than the reverse.

In retrospect I can see that the convictions underlying my depression state of mind were faulty. But I certainly didn't have a clue about that at the time.

I assume that Jeff hadn't reached an acceptance experience, which I think could have led to a more open and less pessimistic state of mind.

He may very well have remembered a time in childhood before the weight of the world was on his shoulders, as you do, and was convinced that getting back to it was hopeless.

Trying to go back to remembered experience is not going to solve the weight-of-the-world problem. My recommendation is to give whole-hearted consideration to whether you can accept yourself (i.e., your life experience up to the present) in Benoit's terms. ~ Art Ticknor

Been a tough week with finding out about Jeff. He was always so good about getting help for depression and sounded cautiously optimistic about new medications helping when I saw him in May, so hard to believe the news at first. He had a lot of options and couldn't remember them. He had agreed to call K. if he ever got serious about suicide but didn't.

Have gone through a few stages of grieving including anger he didn't try some options like the new MRI treatment, LSD, or even the frontal incision that helps in some incurable cases. Let alone trying other medications. Or changing jobs.

In 2009 he had reached out for email support and maybe 10 people signed up for daily updates on his mood and efforts to get the situation improved. V. pointed out he could have emailed a dozen people and said he's serious about dying and asked to stay at their house a month and they would have said yes. He had bankrolled vacation and could have taken time off. He could have gone to a hospital. It doesn't add up that none of those options came to mind as easier/better possibilities. I wish one had.

Going to Pittsburgh for the memorial and will see my dad's family so may not be a perfect meditation week. The fact that I don't care is one thing that sets my pattern apart from Jeff's oppressive, perfectionistic, superego pattern.

Another angle on Jeff is not just hopelessness but also anger. He also had a lot of anger he almost never expressed at all. K. noticed doing construction work, Jeff relished destroying with a sledge hammer, and when he visited me when I worked at Eat'n Park, a black waitress who served him told me with confidence afterward that my friend hated black people. I never saw that, but maybe she was seeing his unexpressed anger. If he had found an outlet to express it, any outlet, from healthy to not, he may have had a moment after of opening for intuition that his "solution" he had planned wasn't going to solve the real issue.

If Jeff had worked through his confusion for our sakes, he would have been able to help anyone.

I'm scared. I'm scared other people will think Jeff knew what he was doing. I'm scared I may hit a day when I get to his conviction state, if enough first world problems crash in at once. I'm sad my friend didn't want to live, and that my friendship wasn't enough for him to feel it was worth it. I'm sad I won't get to talk with him as a more mature person. I'm mad God gives me friends then takes them away. I'm mad I can't prove him wrong, I can't prove Jeff was wrong beyond all argument. I'm sad it could happen to anyone. I'm scared. I know he's wrong, I can't articulate why. It's like the proof 2=3, I know he's wrong but I don't want to tell my friend he's wrong, so I don't have the courage to say it. I know there is a flaw in the logic somewhere. But it doesn't even matter anymore. ~ Dan G.

Such sad news about Jeff.   It's hard to know what to say or think, but the feeling is one of sadness.  I really liked Jeff and I feel grateful to have known him. Thinking of Jeff and many TAT memories, with fondness. ~ Heather S.

I never knew Jeff, but the Forum reached out to TAT people to see who'd be interested in writing about depression. My grandma had it, my dad had it, and so do I. I hope I might say something worthwhile.

To me, depression is a suffocating feeling right where your heart is. It sort of reaches up and chokes the throat. Life is colored by futility, crushed under the weight of the future. You might be good at solving problems, but not this one. Other people want to help, but don't know how. It feels unfair to burden them. You hide how you really feel, look strong and get through the day. You have to do something productive. Be an adult. You don't want to. It betrays how you feel. The question "Why?" weighs heavily on your mind.

I've had some degree of success when it comes to depression but am no means impervious and can easily fall into old patterns. The elimination of intoxicants, specifically depressants, is vital. Sleep, diet, and exercise will pay off in the long run if you can manage to stick with it long enough. Conscious attention applied to attitude helps. Not buying into thoughts is also a good one since a lot of thoughts will have to do with "worthlessness" or "futility" and are aimed at inaction. ~ An anonymous sufferer

Life is always accompanied by suffering, and suffering heightens the urgency of our search for meaning. Inquiries into the meaning of life are universal, but those who have attempted suicide seek the answers with special intensity. In confronting death, theirs has been a most rigorous spiritual practice—an unceasing meditation on life and death.

This quote, from psychologist Richard Heckler's book Waking Up, Alive, well captures the significance that my encounters with death have had in my life. Regardless of the question of specific underlying causes, I have found myself profoundly contemplating death on the pretext of preparing for it via suicide off and on for the past 30 years. So although I feel a certain type of poignant kinship with Jeff Crilley despite never having met him, I won't presume to speak for whatever factors ultimately led him to end his life, which I believe should be regarded as a most intimate mystery and thus sacrosanct.

For me, it's taken numerous brushes with the abyss over three decades to become clearer on the twofold nature of what's driving each attempt (or near-attempt) to be done with it all. Thus, my path has straddled the fine line between, on one side, the pathological craving to not exist in any form at all—the urge toward annihilation or absolute nonbeing (the idealized result of a successful suicide); on the other side, the transcendent longing for the falling away of the reflexive and suffering-prone mediator of all experience (the idealized result of a successful ego-death). Either way, death of some kind is felt to be necessary.

But if the driver of my search is twofold, there's also a twofold agony: on the one hand, the agony of pursuing suicide is that there is no guarantee death will be either an absolute end or even a 'temporary' reprieve. The agony of pursuing transcendence is that there is no way to commit egocide, except in maybe a few purely symbolic forms which unfortunately do not constitute a true realization of one's transcendent nature.

So where does this leave me now? In an indescribable type of limbo that feels like suffocating in some birth canal, stuck between a contracted way of being that is a living death, and a potential way of being that is life unbound. So, even after being impacted by impersonal truth to enough of a degree to prompt an abiding shift, there is still an identified sufferer here, and I will admit that that sufferer is still seriously tempted to make a last-ditch bid for egocide that isn't merely symbolic. For one whose life has become a never-ending dying, with the needed culmination ever just beyond reach, such a potentially hazardous gesture feels like nothing other than prayer for one without God: Let the two become none. ~ Peter Lisa

Please email your comments to the .


TAT Foundation News

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

Looking for reviews.... cover of Subtraction: The Simple Math of Enlightenment, by Shawn Nevins TAT Press's release of Shawn Nevins's new book, Subtraction: The Simple Math of Enlightenment, is now available in Kindle e-book format as well as paperback.

"I appreciate writers who get to the point right away, then tell me a story to illustrate the point, then remind me again what the point was." – Shawn's opening sentence.

Willing to share your impressions of Subtraction with other readers? Please your response to the TAT Forum and add your review to the Amazon listing.

And announcing TAT Press's latest publication.... cover of Awake at the Wheel: Norio Kushi's Highway Adventures and the Unmasking of the Phantom Self, by Stephen Earle

Awake at the Wheel: Norio Kushi's Highway Adventures and the Unmasking of the Phantom Self by Stephen Earle, with a Foreward by Norio Kushi, is now available in paperback and soon to be available in Kindle e-book format.

Check out Shawn Nevins's interview of Norio on SpiritualTeachers.org podcasts.

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 November 16-16 workshop, Forgetting & Remembering. Details will be available soon.

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.

"Double Take on Life" blog

Two friends—one a TAT member, one a TAT friend; one living in Canada, one across the border in the US; one male, one female—have partnered to create a blog site, which they hope other TAT members and friends will enjoy and respond to.

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

Update from the Gainesville, FL self-inquiry group:
We continue to meet at the Alachua County library on alternate Sundays. We're planning an intensive retreat at Grand Vue Park in Moundsville, WV for the Sunday-Friday, November 11-16, preceding the November TAT weekend. ~ 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:
The Greensburg Self-Inquiry Group is still in hiatus. I do plan to start it up again at some point as I see it as a lifeline to my own spiritual path. Things got stale with my group's participants, but I will e-mail them at some point to schedule another SIG meeting. In the meantime, I participate in a local "Socrates Cafe" group at the coffeehouse/art gallery where I have had my meetings. This group is not into esoteric philosophy as such, but they're supposed to be into "Socratic Inquiry," and I figure it's better than not engaging in any discussions with people. At least we sometimes touch upon spiritual matters, and this makes attending their meetings worthwhile. ~ 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 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:
Aug. 1: Mike will explore excerpts from the book The Blind Spot Effect by Kelly Boys.
Aug. 8: "How do you get in touch with an inner-self?" We'll examine short excerpts or quotes from Jim Burns.
Aug. 15: Mike W. host: "What do you consider to be the spiritual part of you life?"
Aug. 22: "What is important is what catches your attention." What catches your attention from a selection of quotations, and why?
~ 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 for information on local meetings.

Update from the San Francisco Bay area self-inquiry group:
See the Shawn Nevins interview by Iain McNay of Conscious.tv, kicking off the publication of Shawn's book Subtraction: The Simple Math of Enlightenment. ~ Email for information about upcoming meetings and events.

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 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:

  • "Upgrading Your Personal Operating System and Buggy Programs" with Gary Weber
  • "Cultivating the Seed of Awakening" with Jenny Clarke
  • "The True Nature of Being" with Norio Kushi

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):

  • "Obstacles" by Anima Pundeer
  • "Navigating Our Spiritual Waters" by Paul Constant
  • "By His Logic, Man Can Do Nothing" by Shawn Nevins
  • "TAT Weekend Key Take-Home Highlights" with Tess Hughes

TAT's April 2018 Gathering was titled Steps on the Path. The following audio recordings are now available in the members-only website area:

  • "Rose's Jacob's Ladder: Steps on the Path" by Bob Fergeson,
  • "The Threefold Path" by Paul Constant,
  • "What Keeps Us from Being Awake?" by Paul Rezendes,
  • "Allowing Exploration" by Shawn Nevins, and
  • "What's Trying to Get Your Attention?" by Mark Seabright.

TAT's June 2018 Gathering was titled In Search of Happiness. The following audio recordings are now available in the members-only website area:

  • "Four Views of Happiness: Three steps beyond the search" by Avery Solomon,
  • "How You Can Be 'Free of Happiness'" by Gary Weber,
  • "A Personal Perspective on Friendship: Ode to 'Mrs. C.'" by Larry Inderbitzin,
  • "Seeker Stories and Q&A" by Michael W., Penny W., and Michael R.

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

Feudalism: It's you count that votes

©Irish Archeology and Irish Archeology on Twitter.

"Wisdom comes from experience. Experience is often a result of lack of wisdom."

"Some humans would do anything to see if it was possible to do it. If you put a large switch in some cave somewhere, with a sign on it saying 'End-of-the-World Switch. PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH,' the paint wouldn't even have time to dry."

"The presence of those seeking the truth is infinitely to be preferred to the presence of those who think they've found it."

~ Thanks to 27 Terry Pratchett Quotes That Show Him At His Most Brilliant And Hilarious.

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

The Remedy?

"[Dr. Filemo] thought he had found an efficaous remedy for all human ills, an infallible recipe of bringing solace to himself and all mankind in case of any calamity whatever, public or private. Actually it was more than a remedy or a recipe that Doctor Fileno had discovered: it was a method consisting of reading history books from morning to night and practicing looking at the present as though it were an event already buried in the archives of the past. By this method he had cured himself of all suffering and of all worry, and without having to die had found a stern, serene peace, imbued with that particular sadness which cemeteries would still preserve even if all men on earth were dead."


~ From "A Character's Tragedy," in Eleven Short Stories by Luigi Pirandello.

Q: Is this a form of "being in the Now" or of no problem when "In this moment now, all the pain that was ever suffered in the world is past, and that is the grace that we cannot appreciate when we are believing our past/future stories"?

Keeping Our Options Open

~ Thanks to TAT member Brett S.


Sudden Realizations / Insights

"… Inhibitions are the enemy of improvisation. When mPFC [medial prefrontal cortex—the inner artist, inner child, etc.] activation is turned up, it encourages the internal generation of ideas. And when lateral PFC brain areas [the inner critic] are simultaneously turned down, it allows novel thoughts and behaviors to emerge uninhibited, leading to divergent thinking and unfiltered creativity. In other words, the inner critic must be shut down, and the inner Picasso turned up. Deactivation of lateral PFC regions is associated with free-floating, defocused attention, allowing spontaneous associations between ideas to arise, and sudden realizations or insights to occur…. Just as children will play more wildly when the teacher isn't watching, when we reduce the influence of the DLPFC on our behavior, it allows us to think more like artists."

"Creative thought also involves the 'default mode network' (DMN), a set of brain regions active when attention is directed interally and suppressed when a person engages in externally directed tasks. The DMN is active when you're daydreaming, but not when you're filling out an application form, which requires executive control areas like the DLPFC [dorsolateral prefrontal cortex]. Improvisation requires a balance in activation between these two networks, reflecting the extent to which creative thought and behavior needs to be responsive to environmental input, and constrained by certain rules to meet the specific goals of the task at hand. But if you become overly self-aware or self-conscious for too long, you can lose the flow state and the performance will suffer."

"Luckily, you do not need to be able to improvise (or take drugs) to achieve flow states. Deactivation of the lateral PFC also occurs during other altered states of consciousness such as meditation, hypnosis, and daydreaming. And a similar pattern of dissociated activation in PFC has been identified during REM sleep, where dreaming usually occurs. Dreaming involves unplanned, irrational associations, defocused attention, an altered sense of time, and a feeling of lack of agency or volitional control (with the exception of lucid dreaming). The same characteristics are associated with creativity when one is fully awake."


~ See the entire article, "What Time Feels Like When You're Improvising" by Heather Berlin, in the July/August 2018 Nautilus issue 61.

Q: Which voice—the inner critic or the inner artist/child—are you more identified with?

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 is your Heart's deepest desire? Submitted by TAT member Vince Lepidi, who included these additional questions to stimulate your response:

  • 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?

Responses follow.

From Maury Lee:
Since I was a very young child I wanted to understand and know the truth for myself. I could see through adults giving out platitudes and trying to believe them, but failing miserably.

When I began reading the existentialists in my late teens, I had to face the void of emptiness, of meaninglessness. That emptiness did not feel right. The truth had to be something that propelled life, that made it want to move forward.

For many years I felt that my heart's greatest desire, the search for truth, was a curse. It wasn't like I had some questions I thought might be nice to be answered. No! There was a force in me that wanted to know fundamentally, wholly, completely, satisfactorily, what is the Truth.

I willingly went into the pits of the deepest despair, lived in it, felt it to the depths. How could I know the truth if I did not look in every corner, honestly, even if it was dark?

I was willing to go through any therapy, consider any intellectual position, feel whatever I could find in my unconscious, listen to any teacher, until I could know for myself, a truth that I could not deny.

I went from childhood believer to atheist, to agnostic, to discovering my own presence as a universal principle, eternal, unlimited, creative, and without judgment. This eternal presence that I am is the truth that makes the foibles and issues of the person I thought I was bearable, peaceful, and laughable.

~ Maury has a blog at https://nomaury.blogspot.com/.

From N.G:
My Heart's deepest desire is for me to make my home in it.

From Ram S:

  • Do you want this desire to be fulfilled in your lifetime? Yes.
  • Why do you believe this desire is worth fulfilling? When you know for sure you are "lost," it's natural to find out what's going on, where you are and if it's possible to return to "home" if that exists.
  • Are you sure you are honest about wanting to fulfill this desire? Yes.
  • Could this professed desire actually be a desire for something else? Possible.
  • Are you willing to make the sacrifices and effort to fulfill this desire at all costs? My heart says yes but my actions don't reflect that.

From Brett S:
What is your Heart's deepest desire? 100% undeniable certainty about who I am.

Do you want this desire to be fulfilled in your lifetime? Yes. I don't see any reliable alternative.

Why do you believe this desire is worth fulfilling? Without an Absolute reference point for the source of my thoughts and feelings, I have no reliable reference point for anything in my own experience, making EVERYTHING in life potentially distressing and confusing.

Are you sure you are honest about wanting to fulfill this desire? Yes. Since I seem to experience my own life, figuring out what experience is and where it comes from (including the experience of thoughts and feelings) seems to be the best way to live life.

Could this professed desire actually be a desire for something else? I want to to live more honestly and more sanely. It's possible that this desire comes from another desire to live forever in painless bliss. That does not seem realistic, but I will use it as a motivator to work towards integrity and honesty (a seemingly more practical distant second choice).

Are you willing to make the sacrifices and effort to fulfill this desire at all costs? YES. There is nothing more important than my experience of my own life.

From Maria in Australia:
My heart desires union with the Divine … this is intimately I feel the reason for our creation.

  • Do you want this desire to be fulfilled in your lifetime? Yes, it would be good to die a good death with no attachments and looking forward to whatever lays beyond this life. In order to fulfill this desire, as many veils between myself and my Creator as possible need to be removed. Most veils develop because of our ego
  • Why do you believe this desire is worth fulfilling? Why am I here to begin with? So far I have not found a better explanation than going back home to God. But it is more than intellectual … something deep inside feels this desire is God calling me
  • Are you sure you are honest about wanting to fulfill this desire? Yes I am sure
  • Could this professed desire actually be a desire for something else? Maybe the desire is also a wish for immortality
  • Are you willing to make the sacrifices and effort to fulfill this desire at all costs? I am finding that I do have to work hard and make sacrifices for the veils to start disappearing and become less dense.

From Charles S:
My deepest desire is to be free of desires, deep or shallow.

I believe that non-desire is worth fulfilling because it's the only way to real spiritual freedom.

I'm not sure I can honestly say I want to be free of all desires; I'm still desirous of so many things—potato chips, great music, being with my kids—do I really want to stop desiring those things?

My professed freedom from desire doesn't seem to be a proxy for something else, except maybe fear of meaninglessness. In a universe without meaning, reflections about desire would be a silly charade, so I seek desirelessness.

Seeking desirelessness necessarily entails sacrifices, but if pursued compulsively, that would be pathological. Maybe I should say that my deepest desire is desirelessness with equanimity.

Then there's the big, tricky mega-question: Isn't the desire for non-desire itself a desire, and so, a contradiction? That's true as a linguistic and logical construct. But experientially, syntax and ideas don't come into play. When I can be open to bare, non-desiring awareness, the space/nonspace that I'm in/not-in leaves language at the gate, and even the gate disappears.

From Joyce S:
My hearts deepest desire is to be OK with whatever happens. Sounds so simple. I find that that is REALLY hard to do when working really really hard to make something happen (as I am doing right now in Silicon Valley!). For me, that is the ultimate challenge. Underlying the "accepting what is" would be an inner peace that comes with not taking all this so seriously (on more than just an intellectual level). I guess for right now I should be OK with not being OK with whatever happens. Yeesh.

From Anon:
If only you acknowledge me, I will respond.

From Steve S:
John Kent's dissertation on the life and teachings of Richard Rose includes the following: "The fellow asked: 'You're talking a lot about God but what makes you such an authority on God?' Rose faced him and unflinchingly replied: 'I am God.' There was a tense, dead-still hush in the room at this seemingly blasphemous, grandiose claim. Then, he added: 'And so is each one of you. The big difference is: you don't know that. I do.'"

That's what I want. Not to "know God," but to BE God. To truly live with the certainty that there is no separation between what God is and what I am. If you'll imagine drawing a circle on a blank page and labeling everything inside the circle as "me" and everything outside the circle as "God," what I want is to erase the line.

I'm using the word "God" here just because it works. I could just as easily call it "Truth," "the Absolute," "Love," "Presence" or any other such word. I don't know the real meaning of any of them. During the June TAT conference, a similar question was posed during a confrontation session. During my time on the "hot seat" I was questioned by different folks in our small group and gave whatever answers came up at the time. The bell sounded, indicating my time was over and one more question was given: "Does Love have anything to do with it?" There was no time to answer, but over the next few weeks that question just would not leave me alone. My initial answer was "Of course, I want to both give love and receive love unconditionally." But that answer didn't feel quite complete or right. I did some reading, looked here and there and mostly just had the question percolating in me. I slowly started to realize that I don't know what pure Love is. I think I have a sense of it, a feeling of it, maybe a dim idea of Love, but not a grasp of the real thing. I don't know what real Love, God, Truth, Presence…whatever you might call It is. I don't have that, but I feel it pulling at me. And that's what I want.

From Jeroen vR:
The first thing that comes up as my Heart's desire is to be content. To be able to live life as it is, alive, and not always working to fix or change things. On second thought this sounds more like satisfaction or completion. I find it hard to put words on this. Of course I am willing to work to fulfill this desire – says my head. :) Yet I know that I only exert effort part-time for this. There are many other desires competing for my time and energy. It is a competition! On top of it, I am never sure that what I'm doing will actually lead to fulfillment of my desire, so regularly other desires become dominant by yelling loudly. Nice reminder to keep clear and stay connected to the longing….

The question for the next month is: What are your impressions of Shawn Nevins's new book Subtraction: The Simple Math of Enlightenment?

If you haven't read it, there's a detailed review of it in a recent interview of Shawn by Iain McNay of Conscious.tv.

Please your response by the 25th of September and indicate your preferred identification (the default is your first name and the initial letter of your last name). And please consider adding your review to the Amazon listing.

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?

Wonosobo, Central Java

On the slopes of Dieng Plateau, Caldera, Central Java, Indonesia. Thanks to TAT member Ike H. (It's a view from her hometown, the city of Wonosobo.)

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.

The chief feature of the Quoter is his manifest cowardice and inability to outline in his own words that which he believes. (Ouch! Richard Rose, The Albigen Papers.)

From Paul Constant: After all these years, I still enjoy reading Richard Rose's talk transcriptions.  If you're looking for a great quote from him, here's an eye-catcher from "Introduction to the Albigen System" (Cleveland, Ohio, 1977):

Question: You mentioned the difficulty of describing enlightenment, and to use a common analogy, it would be like trying to describe a tree to someone who has never experienced a tree. It would be meaningless.

Richard Rose: It is meaningless. And it should be. Not only should it be meaningless, but it shouldn't even be discussed. Now that's the truth. It should not be discussed. Because as soon as you mention it, there's a postulation involved. And then we wrangle: "What do you mean by this and what do you mean by that?" Again, you have to make the trip. It's a culmination of a trip. But as I said, the thing we're interested in—or perhaps that we're talking about, not interested in—is the retreat from error, not the arrival.

We presume, by virtue of these books I mentioned, that people have arrived someplace, mysterious as that may sound. But the only thing you can really speak of logically is that it's logical to retreat from garbage or nonsense. You retreat from the more ridiculous and satisfy yourself tentatively with the less ridiculous. And then that becomes more ridiculous to something else that is less ridiculous. This is the whole system.

The full transcript of that talk was serialized beginning with the September 2016 TAT Forum.

Thought, no-thought, results in Absolute realization. What it is must be found by trying it. You do it, you live it. You reach an Absolute realization by looking between thoughts.


Over an eight-year period, Paul Constant recorded nearly 350 pages of personal notes in four notebook binders and subsequently extracted Rose's most remarkable wisdom from the notebooks. Readers can find a four-part series of "Richard Rose Quotes and Notes—1986 to 1993" in the download center of searchwithin.org.



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