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

TAT Forum

July 2019

TAT August Workshop: Beyond Mindfulness. August 16-18, 2019.

August workshop details


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Convictions & Concerns

TAT members share their personal convictions and/or concerns

Realization Experience

Self-realization is not an experience, it is a state of being—your true state of being. This state of being is beyond words. The only experience involved in self-realization is the body-mind-identity's reaction to seeing this state of being.

This is paradoxical because the body-mind-identity has no substance. It can only see by virtue of the power of this underlying state of being. In other words only Self can see Self.

If you hold up a mirror and gaze at your reflection, you are seeing the Truth of your existence. The truth is that your body-mind-identity is similarly a reflection of the true underlying state of being. The power of this state of being is such that the reflection in the mirror has a seeming life of its own. If that reflection were self-aware and came to realize (through the power of its underlying source awareness) that the source of its consciousness was from you and not its own—it would have an experience of seeing its own non-existence.

In our case, self-realization is possible because the state of being to which I refer is always present. It is our true nature, but the mind is preoccupied gazing at the reflection in the mirror.

The difference between you and your reflection is that your reflection looks you back in the eye. In your case you do everything you can to avoid looking back at the eye of the "source of you" because you cannot accept that the reflected world is not real or that the reflective "you" has no substance or permanence.

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~ Thanks to early Richard Rose student and active TAT member Bob Cergol. Bob came across this "bit of old writing" recently from something he wrote in March 2003 about his November 1999 realization experience and submitted it for TAT Forum readers. See the archive of past TAT Forum issues for more of his writing and philosophic rumination.

Awareness Diagrams

Awareness diagram 1

Awareness diagram 1

Awareness diagram 1

Bob constructed the above diagrams for a presentation in 2006 and wanted to include them here without any additional commentary. He can be contacted by .

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Would you like to share your impressions or questions with other TAT Forum readers? Please email your comments to the .


TAT Foundation News

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

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 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.

TAT Forum readers shared their impressions of Subtraction with other readers in the October 2018 Forum.

Please add your review to the Amazon listing if you haven't done so already. It makes a difference!

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 Foreword by Norio Kushi, is available in paperback and in Kindle e-book format.

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

TAT Forum readers shared their impressions of Awake at the Wheel with other readers in the December 2018 Forum.

Please add your review to the Amazon listing if you haven't done so already. It makes a difference!

2019 TAT Meeting Calendar

April 5-7, 2019 (Claymont Great Barn)
June 14-16, 2019 (Claymont Great Barn)
* August 16-18, 2019 (Claymont Mansion) *
November 1-3, 2019 (Claymont Mansion)

Join us for TAT's August 16-18, 2019 spiritual retreat. Details & registration.

The following video recordings of presentations from a previous April 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 New Jersey Group:
The Central Jersey Self Inquiry Group has been meeting 2 times per month since our first meeting in early January this year. We have been averaging 5 participants at each meeting. Current outreach is our meetup.com page (above link) and word of mouth. Our most recent meeting topic was: "What is your biggest obstacle?" ~ Email for more details.

Update from the Central Ohio Non-Duality Group:
The Columbus group operated under the name OSU Self-Inquiry Group and met for many years in a church next to The Ohio State University. After attendance dropped off, the venue was changed to a local Panera restaurant, and the name changed to Central Ohio Non-Duality Group. The group has exposure to seekers through Meetup, but has only occasional visitors outside a core group of 4 people.
     Due to schedules, we have met infrequently the past semester, and in deference to an effort to try to do other things, like rapport sittings, in private meetings.
     Meeting format is a discussion format on topics of interest to seekers, and often bridges from the concerns, questions and interests of the core members in attendance into the topic which we intend to discuss. See the rest of the update.
     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.
     "We are two friends who were encouraged to continue our spirited and free-wheeling conversation about life with a blog. This bipolar labor of love intends to roam between various forms of expression and perspective, both serious and amused. And traverse between the nitty-gritty of the everyday to the essence of being. As above, so below."

Update from the email self-inquiry groups:
An update on the women's self-inquiry group from Anima:
     The Women's Online Confrontation (WOC) group consists of weekly reports where participants can include:
     > What is on your mind?
     > Any projects that you want to be held accountable for?
     > Responses to a selected excerpt (in the previous report).
     > Comments/responses/questions for other participants.
     A philosophical/spiritual excerpt with two or three questions is included in each report. Based on what we share, participants ask questions to help get clarity about our thinking. The intention is to help each other see our underlying beliefs about who we are.
     One rule we try to adhere to is not to give advice or solve problems. The number of participants, to make it work efficiently, is between 4 and 7 including the leader.

Both the women's and the men's weekly email groups are active and welcome serious participants. ~ Contact or for more information.

Update from the Gainesville, FL self-inquiry group:
We continue to meet at the Alachua County library on alternate Sundays. ~ Email or for more information.

Update from Galway, Ireland:
Tess Hughes is currently working with seekers one-to-one and holding occasional group self-inquiry retreats. Anyone who's interested in self-inquiry activity in Ireland is welcome to contact .

TAT Press publishes Tess's easy to read, profound This Above All, the story of her journey of Self-Discovery.

This is a new listing for the self-inquiry group in Goldsboro, NC:
The Goldsboro Inquiry Group (GIG) meets on the first and third Monday evenings of the month. We begin the meeting with a short reading, then sit in silence for 20 minutes before opening it up to what I like to call group assisted self inquiry. ~ For details on when and where, 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 coffee house/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 if interested in local self-inquiry meetings.

A new self-inquiry group is forming in Hartland, VT:
Located in central Vermont, along I-91, the group will be using TAT videos from past conferences as a primer for discussion. ~ Contact for more information.

Update from the Lynchburg, VA self-inquiry group:
We're currently using Alfred Pulyan's correspondence with Richard Rose as inspiration for our weekly gathering. We're perusing the letters during the week and then coming together to see what got our attention. This activity was inspired by several online groups who have used them in past years with good results. The women's group, run by Anima Pundeer, also inspired us as we already have some questions posed by Anima to go with each letter. It's always good to share additional questions among groups!
     We continue to meet at The Drowsy Poet cafe at Little Dickens Bookstore, from 6:30-8:00 every Thursday evening. ~ Email or for information on the meetings.

Update from the New York City self-inquiry group:
We meet every Monday in New York City's Financial District, where all great spiritual realizations take place ;) Our goal is to investigate and examine our beliefs (definition of examine: from Old French examiner "interrogate, question, torture"). We aim to serve as mirrors for each other, to see ourselves more clearly, in a group dynamic, within a safe environment. Recent topics include critiques of pema chodron, what it would be like to be god, and the consciousness of trees. If you believe something and are interested in doubting it, we are here for you :)
~ We have open meetings for first-timers; so if interested please reach out to or find out more through our Meetup link above.

Update from the Pittsburgh, PA self-inquiry group:
We meet on the 1st & 3rd Wednesdays of each month, from 7-9 PM, at the Friends Meeting House in Oakland (4836 Ellsworth Ave, PGH 15213) and on the 2nd & 4th Wednesdays, also 7-9 PM, at Panera Bread in Shadyside (5430 Centre Ave, PGH 15232). Last month's topics were:
June 5: "Unanswered Questions" concerns questions we may face in life that seem unanswerable.
June 12: [No meeting due to a self-inquiry retreat.]
June 19: "Awareness Games Part II": Brian Tom O'Connor, the author of Awareness Games: Playing with Your Mind to Create Joy. Mike W. hosted.
June 26: "What is your True Identity?" Mike W. hosted.
~ For further information, contact or .

Update from the Portland, OR self-inquiry group:
We have two kinds of meetings in Portland. One is a small closed group that meets at a local coffee shop. The format for this meeting is to give each person 20 minutes or so to talk about whatever is coming up for them in their practice. The other is an open meeting, held at a local library, that is advertised through Meetup. These meetings usually have a topic with questions, and the format is to give each person approximately 10 minutes to comment on the topic and then to answer questions from others. We haven't been holding open meetings regularly but hope to get them back on track for the new year. ~ Email for more information.

Update from the Raleigh, NC Triangle Inquiry Group:
The Triangle Inquiry Group (TIG) meets on Wednesday evenings near NCSU. The inquiry process that we practice is essentially subtractive in nature, identifying 'what I am not', while exposing our false certainties and limiting beliefs; thus we are revealing the underlying truth of Who We Really Are. By asking honest, open, respectful questions that invite reflection, insight and the deepening of one's inner knowing, and by simply being present with our attention and sincerity, we create a space for direct seeing into true nature. ~ See the website for more information.

Update from the Richmond Self Inquiry Group:
The Richmond Self Inquiry Group has been off to a slow start, and is still seeking consistent participants. Once a small steady group is formed, this often attracts more interest and things evolve from there. The Meetup group is private, which aims to foster the creation of a committed gathering of individuals. Clearly there is a potential downside to this as it limits visibility and exposure to potentially interested persons.
For those reading about the group here through the TAT Forum, please know that you can certainly attend without being a member of the Meetup group, just shoot me an email any time if you're in the area and we can communicate about future meetups.~ Email for information about upcoming meetings and events.

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.

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 June 2019 Spiritual Retreat Weekend was titled Between You and the Infinite. The following audio recordings are coming soon to the members-only website area:

TAT's April 2019 Spiritual Retreat Weekend was titled Once in a Lifetime is Now. The following audio recordings are now available in the members-only website area:

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

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.

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.

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

do not flush

Spotted in a bathroom at the Warung Kecil restaurant
in Sanur, Bali, by TAT member Ikeh.

New Proverbs

A first-grade schoolteacher had 26 kids in her class. She presented each child with the first half of a well-known proverb and asked them to come up with the remainder. Here are some of their concoctions:

It's always darkest before … Daylight Savings Time.

You can lead a horse to water but … how?

A miss is as good as a … mister.

You can't teach an old dog new … math.

An idle mind is … the best way to relax.

A penny saved is … not much.

If at first you don't succeed … get new batteries.


~ Found on the web by TAT member and Richard Rose student Mark W.

chicken hitting eggs, by Dan Reynolds

~ Farmyard relaxation by Dan Reynolds. From Wikimedia Commons.

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

Auntie Poldi's Natural Koan

"The fruits of the Lord … Poldi couldn't get the phrase out of her head. It got caught up in her thoughts like an autumn leaf under a windscreen wiper, and it was beginning to get on her nerves.

"But things that annoy us, Poldi once told me, are simply messages sent to us by life and ought to draw our attention to something. And my aunt knew a thing or two about life's messages.

"The only question was, what was life—in its peculiar, inarticulate way—trying to convey to her this time? Poldi sometimes imagined herself to be a plump, sweet grape on a vine, waiting in the sun, wind and weather for the wine grower to pick her and transform her into something delicious. Sometimes she thought of Padre Paolo's admonitory parable about Noah's drunken stupor. Sometimes she thought of Avola, who was a wine grower and possibly a murderer. And sometimes the whole of life, which could end so swiftly and abruptly, seemed to her like a vine that could be killed off by a single hailstorm. And the way in which the Almighty treated his noblest fruit sent my Auntie Poldi into a towering Bavarian rage that made her forget all about her heartache and hangover, swept away her doubts and cleared her head. In short, my auntie was back in the zone. She was a ruthless investigative machine…."

See the complete excerpt of Aunt Poldi's natural koan.


Emma Thompson Gets a Shock at 60

Emma Thompson 2013 film fest

May 23, 2019

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — If anyone did not expect to have a midlife crisis, it was Emma Thompson. Being quite sure about things has been a central organizing principle of her life. It has informed most every character she has played.

"The eternal question, which I never thought I'd ask, is who am I?" she continued. "I was always so sure. As it turns out, I have no idea."


~ From a New York Times article by Cara Buckley.

Emily Dickinson, 1830-1886

Emily Dickinson at age 17

Thanks to TAT friend Tim H. for sending a photo of Emily Dickinson at age 17—the only authenticated portrait of her after childhood—and this line from a letter she wrote to a friend when she was 33:

When a little Girl, I had a friend, who taught me Immortality – but venturing too near, himself – he never returned.

Many of her poems were about death and immortality. "Because I could not stop for Death" is an example:

Because I could not stop for Death –
He kindly stopped for me –
The Carriage held but just Ourselves –
And Immortality.

See the entire poem.

Q: What are your impressions of the line from her correspondence, of "Because I could not stop for Death" or of her other poems?

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 strongest belief held by the respondents to last month's online survey was that they were "lacking in some way." It was elaborated on by one respondent as "Something is wrong with me. I am worthless," and by another as "I need to be fixed." The composite question for this month's Reader Commentary was: Do you feel that there's something wrong with you? If so, do you feel that you need to be fixed? What do you think it would take to fix what's wrong with you? Responses follow.

From Brett S:
There's lots of stuff wrong with me. But compared to when I started practicing self-inquiry, I'm much less convinced that it can be "fixed" by me or that it needs fixing. And I've noticed how an attribute that is a "shortcoming" in one context can seem advantageous in another context. For instance, I may wish I felt more sociable at work, but then I notice how being reserved at work gives me more silent time for reflection. Who's to say which is better? There's a Kanye West line, "everything I'm not made me everything I am," which could mean that my supposed shortcomings are just as fundamental to my personality as the attributes I seem to value. There are, however, parts of me (fears of being vulnerable with other people, for example) that I wonder about. Are these inherited? Protective? IDK, but I'm interested in exploring them. For example, it was recently pointed out to me that I am more likely to believe I am seeing things accurately if I'm identifying an aspect of my personality that I label as negative; whereas if it's an aspect of my personality I see as positive, I'm more likely to think I'm fooling myself. But why?! My best guess is because of a belief that "pain" is a sign of "truth"(!), because pain is an indication that I'm telling myself the "hard truth" or being "brutally honest." But it could just as easily be because I have, for example, a deep, underlying sense of not being worthy of love, and so I look for "pain-inducing" data to support my "not-worthy-of-love" theory. I remember in law school wanting to be the smartest student in the class (I wasn't even close) but now I see where the smartest students ended up. I don't think I'd want now what I thought I wanted then.

From Patrick K:
I used to feel that something was wrong with me, a large gap between an ideal self and the reality of what was showing up every day as me. This was when I was primarily focused on the outside world and improving my place and functionality in the world.

Lately I am more driven as to finding out what a human being is, and what the cavalcade of human experience is actually for. I have begun to accept that I am not running this ship and never was. Nature is just running its course. Nature presented this body at birth, maintains it, and back to nature my body will return. What a character in the play does in the meanwhile is hardly relevant somehow and nature may well, I feel, be pulling the strings behind the scene. So maybe I am more of a puppet than a real autonomous actor even.

From seeking and researching awakened people, I believe that there are filters through which I see that are obscuring my view of reality. To be fixed, I need to peel away those filters and blinkers I feel. The carrot for removing all of this fogginess is beyond my current ability to classify. But from my practice of chipping away at the low lying fruits, I have determined that this process of work (self-inquiry) is essential for mental clarity, peace of mind, purpose, and meaning. I like the word satori, and I believe along the path a seeker has many satoris, openings, shifts—those type of experiences that tell the seeker he is on to something good.

To fix my problem, it will take self-inquiry with others to broaden my perspective and then to use that information to look at myself with more and more honesty and clarity. I feel ladder work [see a description for ladder work - Ed.] will help me; I feel making constant efforts will help me; I feel working against fear will help me; and I feel pushing my boundaries will help me.

From John A. Johnson:
I'm only a limited human being, not a god, so I can't do everything perfectly. But even if I have defects and imperfections, I wouldn't say that those are wrongs that need to be fixed. "Fixing" usually means restoring from a blemished or broken state back to a pristine, perfect state. But I was never pristine and perfect in the first place, so I can't be fixed, I can't be restored to a state that never existed. Or, maybe more accurately, as a human being I am already perfectly imperfect. This means I have and will always have shortcomings, gaps in my knowledge, internal inconsistencies and self-contradictions, and potentials that I haven't fulfilled. I have made mistakes in my life. Who hasn't? Again, this doesn't mean that there is something wrong with me; rather, this just means that I am a human being.

Perhaps I can correct some of my shortcomings, fill in my some of my knowledge gaps, resolve some of my inconsistencies, and fulfill some of my as-yet-unfilled potentials. But not all of them. That would be an impossible task before I die. However few or many of these "improvements" I make in my remaining time will be fine, will be enough. Sometimes I learn from my mistakes, making better choices when faced with similar circumstances. Sometimes when my mistakes hurt other people, I find ways to make it up to them. But not always. Not repeating some mistakes and making whatever amends I am able to will have to be enough, because I can only be who I am: a human being, not a god or even a saint.

From Damian C:
I have this sense that there is something wrong with me, but it's more a sense that I am lacking in some way, a sense of insignificance, that I am incomplete in some way, that I need to add to myself in some way. My whole life has been a search to fix myself in some way. I think I would need to be a more likeable person, have more things that society thinks are important such as a house, money, etc., and not to be socially awkward. But there is another part that knows that what is required is a knowledge of the Self.

From Chris B:
As to your question about what I feel is wrong with me – I'm not sure if it's A or B:
A) I don't like myself, and I'm afraid of other people.
B) I don't like other people, and I'm afraid of myself.

I think it might be possible to fix it, but I'm not sure what that would look like.
Am I unable to fix it?
Am I unwilling to fix it?
Or some combination thereof?

From M.T.:
When I was reading George Gurdjieff's books in my early twenties … he mentioned that most people are broken machines, so in this sense I think I did need some fixing. I worked on "fixing" useless negative emotions, bad habits that damaged body, mind and spirit and many other things I felt were obstacles to being a good householder and living the straight and narrow way that leads to Life. These days my focus is more on letting go (thank you to the person who mentioned the Sedona Method and Lester Levenson in a recent TAT Forum issue). Rather than try to fix … I work on letting things fall away … useless memories, residual trauma still held in my body, repetitive feelings and thoughts … my whole past with its conditioning/etc. I notice a lot of energy has been freed up, and I feel much lighter and more able to concentrate on spiritual work … a small step but one that seems to be helping enormously.

From Michael R:
I feel lacking, separated somehow from a fuller experience or knowing of what I am and how I relate to the whole. Whatever "waking up" is, and by whatever name we call it, that's what I assume the "fix" to be. Knowing what I am, what I'm not, what's real, what's not, what's a threat, what's not, what matters, and what doesn't. Knowing the essential and absolute truth. Seems to me that would be the fix. What would such a thing take? I think it takes something dishearteningly beyond my control, but I'll keep looking and praying just in case there's some influence I might have.

From Tara S:
I've spent most of my life trying to improve (or even perfect) what I came to believe was a flawed product. Greatly due to some of what I've learned during my involvement with TAT, on an intellectual level I have mostly dropped the notion that there's something wrong with me. I make the disclaimer because part of the time I still behave as though or feel there is something defective or incomplete that needs fixing. Old habits of striving for more, for something better, for self-improvement, etc. die hard, at least in my case. Throughout my life I was so driven to achieve and prove myself, professionally, socially and, yes, spiritually. But I have come to believe that if a correction is needed, it is simply in my own seeing. I don't think I can perfect this human body/mind but I can come to an understanding that it was never really messed up to begin with. I may never become enlightened or awakened to the ultimate Truth of existence, but this acceptance of not being able to "fix me" has already had positive side effects. I am no longer depressed, as I once was, thinking I'm not good enough or somehow deficient. I'm no longer stagnant, afraid to try for fear of failure. I just do stuff, knowing that it will be what it will be. There is a freedom in that.

From Mark W:
I've felt there was something wrong with me and I needed to be fixed for as long as I can remember. Despite all of my efforts to fix myself over decades, I never succeeded, and yet I never gave up thinking I just needed to try harder, find the right discipline, experiment, book, teacher, course, community, friend, soul mate or magic combination of any of the above. I could never even consider accepting or loving myself when I felt so worthless, inept in so many ways and plagued with self-doubt as to what to do about my situation.

Ironically, in retrospect I can see that it was my pride that kept me from seeing or feeling the depth of my suffering and sealed me in a cocoon of ignorance and frustration. But I have come to gradually see with relative certainty over the last 1 and 1/2 years that the question, itself, is based on two false assumptions: that there is something wrong with me, and that I can be fixed. In other words, while attempting to look at and face "what doesn't feel right about me" hasn't and won't make the feeling go away, the feelings and seriousness of the wrongness, as well as the corresponding fear, have lessened the more I have been willing to face my fears. Consequently, it doesn't feel like there's something wrong with me as much as I realize there are things I need to work on despite the fears and challenges that arise along the way.

Moreover, listening to the story of other seekers and the challenges they face has significantly changed my perspective about my own problems. And although I can see that I do benefit from reminders and confrontation, I'm not something or someone that can be fixed by an external something or someone other than my self. What I'm looking for and what I'm convinced will work, consequently, is not a superficial fix or pipe dream from without, but a change of being which can only come from within by using that which comes from without and uses us but is not us, to loosely paraphrase Richard Rose.

So I don't think there is something wrong with me anymore, if there ever was. And even if one argued that there was, it wasn't something that could be fixed in the way "fixed" is generally used.

From Bill K:
What's wrong with me is that I continuously forget the strong desire to simply watch my mental activity in a detached mode. Instead, as if in a walking sleep, I engage and identify as the originator of all mental activity as my normal mental mode. Some part of me is convinced, with a strong inclination, to remind myself to identify as an observer that witnesses and questions all that arises mentally as a step in a "more free" direction.

From Mark Cole:
My initial inclination would be to say that I don't see any real evidence that there is anything wrong with me or that anything needs to be fixed…that things are just as they are….

But this response is at an intellectual level and not at a gut level, which I think is where the real answer lies.

I still find myself getting disappointed when I react in what I refer to as a "vested" angry way (meaning that the anger affected me rather than just being an expression) and I also still find myself unhappy that I didn't get the things done that I had set out to do. I internalize these "failings" as deficiencies within me, and then there is this ongoing mental dialogue that develops about how I am going to strategize to be this "new and improved" version of me in the future…rather than an acceptance that sometimes "life happens" and not always in a way that I prefer.

Having just completed a retreat in June of 2019 where the phrase "Thy will, not my will" was mentioned, I have recently had an intuition that my spiritual guidance system may need some adjustments. Given the fact that my roots began in the rooms of 12-step meetings, I was already familiar with the phrase "Thy will, not my will," but it seems to me that I like to be in the driver's seat more than I like to surrender to a higher power. In the Big Book of AA, they refer to this as "living by self-propulsion" and that "the show doesn't come off very well." My intent or direction will be to apply more energy to praying about what direction to take and to likewise learn to accept myself and others as they are, rather than trying to arrange the show as I see it.

From Paul C:
Looking back through my life, I wasted a lot of mental energy in a hopeless Self-Improvement Project, trying to permanently root out personality quirks and harmless flaws. But I also know that if some flaws (desires) were left unchecked, they would have led to self-destruction or even resulted in harm to others. Clarity, sharp discernment, and becoming rooted in our intrinsic awareness are the keys to knowing when to laugh at our flaws and when to give them attention. As a sidebar, I do not support the belief that enlightenment is a cure-all. Sorry to rain on the seeker's parade, but most spiritual teachers won't publicly admit they are still holding onto a lot of psychological baggage that really should be "fixed" before teaching others.

Thanks to TAT member Colm H. for this Reader Commentary question for next month:

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.?

Please your responses by the 25th of July and indicate your preferred identification (the default is your first name and the initial letter of your last name).

Other Reader Feedback

From Joe B:

[Referencing the Placebo Buttons essay in the June 2019 TAT Forum.]

The experiment Gary Weber is referring to is the [Benjamin] Libet free will experiment. He used direct brain activity to demonstrate the internal conscious feeling of making a choice occurs after the choice is made. There are YouTube videos of this.

The whole of nonduality points to no free will simply because this is the direct conclusion of no permanent separate entity. Who would the free will apply to, other than the appearance of separation rather than the actuality of no permanent separation? Even if the unseparated actuality had free will, it would only operate on itself, the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing for some brief instant. The whole of actuality REQUIRES the differentiation of some sort of selective amnesia to give the appearance of some other to compare our choice and free will to.

As many of the descriptions of awakening posted on TAT state, it's like there is nobody home. Personally, I like to state it as "there is nobody to report in to." As such, the "me" or "I am" is a superfluous statement, somewhat like looking in a mirror to see who is looking in the mirror.

Free choice is like the children's game of hide and seek. It has to be played with at least two. It simply cannot be played by yourself.

Eventually, we grow up and realize (become enlightened) that free will and choice are indeed a child's game and nothing more.

Q: What are your thoughts on this month's reader commentary? Please your feedback.

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?

April in Hog Canyon, photo by Bob Fergeson

April in Hog Canyon, Dinosaur National Monument, Utah. Photo © Bob Fergeson. Check out
Bob's websites The Mystic Missal (A Door to Ways and Means on the Spiritual Path), the
Nostalgia West spiritual photography site & The Listening Attention (A Gateway to Within).

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.

Where Did We Come From?

There are three major questions in life. And you can gauge any philosophy, -ism, or movement by the way they answer these three questions. The first is: "Where did we come from?" The second is: "Who are we?" (Or "What is life?") The third is: "Where are we going?" ~ From "Zen & Common Sense," a public talk given by Richard Rose in 1974

Where did we come from? Who are we? What is life? Where are we going?

What is yesterday and what is prehistoric? Is there any difference? Is retrograded time estimable in consciousness itself? Meaning is the past just one timeless experience in view of the possibility that it will always be there as it is with no change? That which cannot be changed is without variation or motion.

Is not the experiencing of the past, a varied viewing of the same immobile picture by all who view?

Who are we?

Are we that which we see, – just a bag of protoplasm?

Are we more than that being a bundle of conditioned reflexes, – or are we still more, – being a sentient, self-directing entity that moves freely, willfully and purposefully in this dimension while preparing artfully for another more eternal dimension?

What do we identify as now? Is the present second only now? If so then we have only a microscopic now and are a creature hanging by a thin thread, on this ephemeral second between the frozen past of each second that has gone and the inexorable next second, minute, and hour.

Are we a creature as we would like to define ourself?

Are we really this warm body that is a pure child of God, waiting with kindness and noble compassion to extend our love and warm body to other less fortunate lovers with the eternal hope or conviction that we are bearing superior children from this noble passion?

Is this world one that is ruled by love, to be followed by another world of love, – created by a deity who had nothing better to do than create an eternal playhouse for what may really be an unloving snarling pack of animals?

What is love?

Is it compassion for lessers?

Or is it rapport of equals?

Can you love the unknown or superior creature?

Can you love God when you find it impossible to love anything out of your range of rapport?

Do people have rapport with or love only equals or are they just harmonizing with physical similarities, or experiencing chemical familiarity?

Can you love a dog? What type of person is it that would claim to love a dog more than his neighbors (sometimes more than his mate)? How would such a person ever find love for a superior, – much less a God possessing all the superlatives that God is endowed with by man? Is not our feeling for lesser beings one of pretended compassion for those inferior that we can use or wish to use?

Is not our pretended love for our superiors one of inhibited envy, – loving really that which they have, – which we do not and want, – perhaps trying all the time to pull the envied one down, – to dispossess, – to rape, seduce, use and even dominate in turn? To get but not to give.

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 are still very much in brainstorming mode for bridging the gap between our original design and the funds we've raised. If you have ideas or suggestions, feel free to Shawn.

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

TAT gathering


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