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December 2019


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Convictions & Concerns

TAT members share their personal convictions and/or concerns

Commitment Issues

Commitment is when one decides and agrees to work towards a goal with complete dedication and determination. It brings a one-pointed focus towards a goal. What does it mean for a spiritual seeker to commit to finding Truth? There is no guarantee, no timeline, and no tangible benefits in this search. And yet, once that commitment is made, the whole universe aligns itself to help you find what you are looking for.

Making a commitment is hard when we think that we may miss out on another more fulfilling fruit because of our commitment to a cause. The hope of a better tomorrow is an integral part of our psychology. Probably nature's way of ensuring that we continue in spite of our miserable life. Any introspective person will soon realize that that there is this inner angst he has, which cannot be blamed on life circumstances. Changing your life scenery may distract you from this inner unrest but it wouldn't get cured. For most people, this realization comes after they have tried different paths to get away from this pain. Commitment to the Master Game [the meta-game of awakening, from The Master Game by Robert DeRopp] comes naturally when you have tried playing other games.

Do you have to make a commitment? Well, there is always that shiny toy out there which causes temptation. I can spend years chasing that illusory golden deer before I see the illusion. Unless you have clearly noticed that inner suffering, and have realized what will cure this, you'll have resistance to making the commitment. When my heart and my life goal are aligned, making a commitment comes naturally.

Commitment brings inner determination and focus. Your mental/physical energy is used towards the goal and not wasted. I found that my day got structured such that it was aligned towards my goal. Most importantly, you realize that a lot of distractions get eliminated. The mind works with much more focus on the problem.

When I am not committed to whatever goal I want to achieve in life, I know I am just playing. I am not serious yet. I am still waiting for something else to come along which will bring me more happiness. I am still looking for "more" and not "Permanent" yet. My biggest fear was that, on my deathbed, I will regret not having committed to trying my best. Being born a Hindu, it would be a waste of this very precious life, which you only get after going through the lifetimes of being all organisms. I didn't like the idea of having this thought on my deathbed.

Commitment, when made with complete self-honesty, from your heart, brings urgency and fire to your search. If you are not ready to play the Master Game yet, commit to other games so that you can get done with those. You just have to look at what the resistance to making a commitment is.


~ Thanks to Anima Pundeer, a long-time active TAT member. Anima is active in leading self-inquiry retreats and email self-inquiry.

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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

TAT Press's latest publication….

cover of Falling for Truth: A Spiritual Death and Awakening, by Howdie Mickoski Falling for Truth: A Spiritual Death and Awakening by Howdie Mickoski is now available in paperback and in Kindle e-book format.

The Reader Commentary question for the January TAT Forum:

What are you impressions of Falling for the Truth?
Or, if you don't have the book, of Chapter 1?

Please add your review of Falling for Truth to the Amazon listing. It makes a difference!

2020 TAT Meeting Calendar

* April 3-5, 2020 (Claymont Mansion) *
June 19-21, 2020 (Claymont Mansion)
August 14-16, 2020 (Claymont Mansion)
November 6-8, 2020 (Claymont Mansion)

April TAT meeting details will be coming well before April

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.

Irish clover A new self-inquiry group is forming in Dublin, Ireland:
We will meet in Dublin City, location to be confirmed. We already have two people so technically I guess we already have a group :-) but it would be great if we can get some more people involved. Meetings will take varying formats e.g. confrontation, reviewing TAT material and Rose teachings for discussion, etc. ~ Contact for more information.

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.

"Ignoramuses Anonymous" blog
Ignoramuses Anonymous is for seekers to explore questions together…a fellowship of seekers for whom ignorance of the absolute truth had become a major problem. It started as a blog for Pittsburgh PSI meeting members back in 2009. Welcoming discussion on the path.
To get notices of new posts, you can subscribe by RSS feed or by email.
From the Nov. 17th post:
William Samuel recommends adding glimpses to your journal, and I've been doing that for about half a year when I review the day. If I haven't had a glimpse I write down something I appreciate…or can appreciate. But what is a glimpse?

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.

NYC-NJ retreat The New York City and the Central New Jersey self-inquiry groups held a day-long intensive retreat in NYC on Saturday, November 9th.
> Feedback: I liked the process of everyone getting to know each other, and seeing people that might have started off as suspicious of each other(!) at the beginning become more like friends at the end(!). We did activities related to Byron Katie's The Work, "the I and the You," and how identity is formed in childhood. Looking forward to the next one…!
> Feedback: I enjoyed seeing how the participants came up with exercises for the group. Another item which was well done, was the development of "rules for engagement" at the beginning of the day—which helped set the proper tone for a productive day together. Enjoyed making new friends.

Update from the New York City self-inquiry group:
Our goal is to investigate and confront our unexamined beliefs in a group dynamic within a safe environment. We aim to serve as mirrors for each other, to see ourselves more clearly. Topics range from the psychological ("What kind of people annoy you?") to the abstract ("What is the nature of perception?"). We have meetings every Monday at 180 Maiden Lane from 6-8 PM. We welcome any new members who are interested in self-inquiry. ~ 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, 7-9 PM, at the Friends Meeting House in Oakland (4836 Ellsworth Ave, PGH 15213). Last month's topics were:
- Wed, Nov 6: "Nisargadatta: Does free will exist?" Here's your chance to prove that you have Free Will—or not.
- Wed, Nov 20: How do you define Sanity? "It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society" - J. Krishnamurti. What is YOUR sanity based upon?
We also meet informally on the 2nd & 4th Wednesday of each month at Panera Restaurant in Oakland, 3401 Blvd Of The Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, 7-9 PM. "Bring your own topic," get some coffee, and look for the table with a green raincoat on the back of a chair in order to find us!
~ For further information, contact or .

Update from the Portland, OR self-inquiry group:
A small group of us meet most Sundays at a coffee shop. The format for our meetings is to give each person 20 minutes or so to talk about whatever is coming up for them in their practice and to answer questions from the others. ~ 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 Rockville, MD self-inquiry group:
We've switched to meeting weekly, Wednesday evenings, whether or not a "quorum" of three can make it. The Rockville, MD public library rooms can be reserved exactly 6 days and 12 hours before a meeting's end time, so it's been a challenge to get a consistent room among the five available, but it's a consistent group and the walls are glass—so, so far, figuring out the room hasn't been an issue. ~ Contact for more information.

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 August 2019 Workshop was titled Beyond Mindfulness: Meditation and the Path Within 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 2019 Spiritual Retreat Weekend was titled Between You and the Infinite. The following audio recordings are now available in 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:

Please us if you have questions. (Look here for info on TAT membership.)

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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


Detachment cartoon by Bart Goldman

~ Thanks to TAT friend Tim H. Cartoon by Matt Goldman, from Church of the Churchless blog by Brian Hines.

More For Those Who Enjoy Language
(or Severe Distortions Thereof)

  • Dancing cheek-to-cheek is really a form of floor play.
  • Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.
  • A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion.
  • A man needs a mistress just to break the monogamy.
  • He often broke into song because he couldn't find the key.
  • Santa's helpers are subordinate clauses.
  • Acupuncture is a jab well done.
  • He had a photographic memory that was never developed.

~ Thanks to TAT member Bob C.


Dope Just Galumphing Where Life Takes Him from The Onion.
~ Thanks to TAT member Brett S., who commented:
"Good textbook example of someone without a vector. :)"

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


Where did I go?
Rendered silent
Have I gone?
To join you my love
Leaving through the bedroom window
To swirl amongst your high branches
And become a babbling leaf
Oh that sweet frequency
Dancing within your resonance
We merge with the chattering brook
That silent noise of emptiness
The ripple of your love
In total harmony
I stand ready; empty
Packed, travelling light
It is but the shortest journey
Taking eternity
For the voyage internal
Set sail with me
into your rapturous silence
Dazzling in your nothingness

~ Thanks to TAT member Ben B. "An entry from my journal…written while on break in Poland."


Straight Talk

This Above All, by Tess Hughes

Our relationship with ourselves is the most important relationship we will ever have. We die alone. Nobody else can accompany us on that journey.

An experience, a spiritual experience, is a falling away of something, maybe a loss of a piece of ego, and from then on one is changed by it, whether they understand what has happened or not.

We are socialized to cover up our inner motives, to such an extent that we have lost sight of them ourselves. Everyone is playing the same game, getting what we want while playing nice.

Self-inquiry is the business of uncovering all that has been suppressed, not necessarily to share with others but in order to be ourselves, right down to the roots of our being.

Equanimity is gained by objective observance of sensations and not reacting to them. I longed for equanimity, and maybe this is why I became adept at sensation watching so quickly.

Some comfort themselves with the notion that some aspect of the mind or emotions will remain after the body is gone. But, the mind and emotions are necessary associations of the living body and die with the body.

My view is that we can use our suffering by looking into what causes it, to see how we are contributing to our own suffering, unwittingly.

I find myself repeatedly talking about a few practices and ideas that were beneficial to me on the journey. These include: making the incidents of daily life fodder for your inquiry, learning to become discerning about yourself in every way, becoming self-responsible and self-managing, reading material that will give you a clear idea of where you are, and persevering. Daily life is the spiritual life. They are not separate but streams within the one life.


~ This Above All is published by the TAT Foundation Press.

Things in Themselves

Things in themselves have no idea what they are.
~ The Handsome Man's De Luxe Café by Alexander McCall Smith.


Look at political broadcasts by presidents and prime ministers. The shaky ones, those one thinks are lying or at least being economical with the truth—they bedeck the tables behind them with large floral arrangements. I take that as a sure sign that there's something fishy going on.
~ The Careful Use of Compliments by Alexander McCall Smith


Precious: That's what we have to find out.
Grace: And how will we do that?
Precious: That's what we have to find out. There are some occasions on which you have to find out how to find out.
~ The Handsome Man's De Luxe Café by Alexander McCall Smith.


That was just the result of a particular pattern of repeats in a sequence of DNA, an instruction somewhere in that long code that made you what you are. There were only four letters in that code, yet the order in which they followed one another determined everything, or almost everything. There was still a small role for individual effort, but even then you could argue that people would only make an effort to change their fate if their DNA endowed them with the ability to do so.
~ The Quiet Side of Passion by Alexander McCall Smith.

Singing Mice

Researchers at New York University discovered a brain circuit in mice that allows for high-speed, back and forth "conversation." The Alston's singing mouse, a vocal species found in the cloud forests of Costa Rica, trills songs to one another in a rapid-fire duet that gives scientists new insight into the fast give-and-take in human conversations. Read and watch the video at nyulangone.org.

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 composite question we asked readers for this month's Reader Commentary:

I'm always wondering how people balance a spiritual search with their career. Or rather, in my case, how they try and fuse the two, and the conflict of interest that arises from making a living at it.

Thanks to TAT member Daniel O. for this question. Responses follow.

From Joe B:
I am 72. I am done with "careering," "making a living" and "spiritual searching."

This question addresses one of the aspects of the human spiritual path. I was "fortunate" to have a career in an occupation that I enjoyed. That made a big difference in the way I confronted the requirement to have an engagement with society as well as spirituality and searching. Having hindsight available is certainly an advantage to address the question presented. It also is a distraction because my methods and outcomes are based upon the past and they don't necessary apply, in detail, to the navigation of the career, making a living and spiritual search minefield.

These are the pithy sayings that have and still pass the sniff test during my 3 score and 12 years.

1. Don't get really good at what you don't want to do.

Society and commerce have interests that are often in conflict with my personal goals and interests. Society is interested in not rocking the boat and in assisting those in society who are currently at the front of the line to the feeding trough. Spending time researching my own responses and interests is often more important than reviewing a predetermined set of offerings. If the offerings don't match my interests, I have some deep searching to do.

2. Is what I am currently involved in or considering MY personal design or someone else's offering?

There are clues as to what is my personal design and what is someone else's. Many, if not most, activities are someone else's offering. When I look at my life as a story or script, I find it contains mostly activities I didn't design or create. When I was a child, I selected mostly from the offerings others present to me. Examples are language, which country to live in, what company to work for. The human condition I found myself in APPEARS to be predesigned by someone other than myself.

This has changed as I got older. The human condition has become less and less someone else's presentations and more and more a personal creation of self-initiated events. It has been a progression of "freedom" from the presented societal monolithic offerings toward "freedom" to create a unique creation regardless of societal offerings. Freedom from society becomes freedom toward myself. It moves from conflict to detente to cooperation; often in fits and starts, but the general direction seems consistent.

3. I don't know how this can get any better, but I am willing to be shown.

This has to do with willingness to release what is without my creation being finished. "I don't know" leaves an opening for the currently unknown. "Willing to be shown" is the opening for a novel revelation method. If you have a map, someone has already been there such as a teacher or coach. If you truly want something better, it may require bushwhacking without a map, teacher or coach.

The universe uses "just in time" inventory control. Navigating life WILL occur. The way I navigate changes along the route.

4. I get what I focus on: how do I want to feel, not what do I want to get.

If I dwell on getting a "what," a "what" eventually appears in my awareness. If I dwell on a feeling, then the "what" becomes secondary and the feeling primary. Society and its accoutrements are "what." Satisfaction, copacetic-ness, bliss are feelings with no particular requirement for a specific "what" to appear or a particular requirement for how I "make a living." I currently make my interior state primary and let the exterior experience display its idea of the primary feeling dwelt upon.

5. I must have my life in balance before I try to smooth the path I am on.

Sequence does make a difference. I will never know a smooth road from a rough road unless I get into balance. A rough path is rough regardless of how much in balance my life is. A smooth road will still be rough if I am not in balance.

From Bob H:
For several years this was a huge problem for me. I used to regard my work as something that prevented me from going into the wilderness and getting enlightened. I would continually have a thought like, "If I didn't have to be doing meaningless work-related stuff, I could go on a long solo retreat and find the truth." One day after many years of thinking this kind of thought, I took a momentary break from a hard physical task, and just as that thought once again occurred, I suddenly saw how that thought was keeping me psychologically separated from the truth of "what is." I then asked myself, "What must I be doing this moment? Not in the future, but NOW?" The answer was crystal clear. I had to be doing exactly what I was doing, which was the physical task I was doing. Asking that question freed me from the idea that my daily work was an obstacle, and I realized that if I were ever going to find the truth, it would have to be right through the center of my work. This totally changed my orientation, and I accepted that the idea of running off to the wilderness and getting enlightened had been a mind-generated fantasy. From that time forward, I realized that whatever was happening was the truth, and I simply did whatever needed to be done in the moment. Sometimes that meant meditating and silently looking within, and sometimes that meant doing my work with 100% attentiveness. It was not a matter of balance; it was a matter of silent attentiveness to whatever was happening in the present moment. Within a few years I found exactly what I had been searching for.

From Baruch C:
I used to be very passionate about my job, and I still take pride in what I do. However, I stopped regularly staying after 5 PM because the time felt like it was better spent on self-discovery. This morning I thought about how I might leave my job to spend more time on the spiritual search. But how would I buy groceries and pay rent? I also thought about the conflict of interest that might arise if I were to make a living at it. I feel there would be a danger that the message could be compromised if my physical comfort (food, shelter) depended on my ability to attract people to a spiritual message. There could be a slippery slope of altering the message and telling people what I think they want to hear. For me, that seems like it might undermine my reasons for wanting to do this work in the first place.

From Steve S:
Back when I had a career, I had the perception of an intense tension between the "spiritual search" and duties/needs/responsibilities of day to day living. I think this tension was due to my attempt to have it both ways. I thought I could carry out the spiritual search while at the same time maintaining the facade of normal living. I suspect that, had I been a bit wiser, I could have seen through the seeming dichotomy and realized I could "play my part" without being caught up in it.

But that's not the way it happened for me. I'm now without a career (retired) and my marriage and many of the things I once valued are gone. I can't say I gave anything up. They were taken from me, either through changes in internal values (self-definition), or just what seemed a natural falling away. I strongly suspect we really don't make "choices" or "decisions," we just latch onto what happened and call it our own. Maybe the best we can do is just be willing to let go of things when they are taken.

There is a quote from Christian writer Corrie Ten Boom which I heard as a teenager and stuck with me. She advised: "Hold everything (which you love) in your hands lightly, otherwise it hurts when God pries your fingers open."

From Colm H:
If I understand the question correctly, the premise seems to be about there being a conflict between working life and the spiritual path. I don't really see a conflict between the two; in fact, work can be a great place to see my ego in action, and it gives plenty of opportunities for self-confrontation in real time. I guess I could see how it could be a conflict if one's job is all consuming, but I am lucky to have the space to have a reasonable balance.

Also, Rose's advice about 'keeping your house in order' makes a lot of sense to me. I see having a job and making a living, 'career', which in turn enables me to have spare time to do the work, as a supportive thing to my path, not a conflict. It does seem possible that the two could conflict at a certain point on the path though.

From Anonymous:
It has been helpful to me to look at everything (as best as I can) as spiritual, sacred, holy, or having worth. Or, one could do the opposite and see none of it as spiritual, sacred, holy, or having worth. I do my best to just look—which doesn't involve thinking, and when thoughts arise, I either challenge the validity of them, let them go, get lost in them, or watch them drive me nuts. Also, when I'm identified with the sense of a separate self, I do my best to be fully with whatever is present, relax into it and/or I remind myself of what's been seen and experienced repeatedly: "I" don't control anything, I can't make anything happen, and I don't even exist as a separate person. Looking, dropping mental concepts, challenging thoughts, praying, reading/listening to Self-realized people and Grace helped me to see that there aren't two things to fuse together and there's no one there to try and fuse anything together either. Actually, "I" didn't/don't see that; it's just seen.

From MT:
Now that I am no longer working full time, it's interesting to reflect back on how I used the past 30 years of my working career in relation to my spiritual search. Early on in my career, I was almost always totally identified with my job and all this entails…reactions to what I considered negative situations and coworkers. As time went on I was able to use work instead of being used…and was able sometimes to separate myself from reactions and develop responses that were more coherent. But this took a long time and many golden opportunities were wasted. I took life and my job way too seriously. Without conflict, I think we are not able to develop spiritually as situations, people and life in general "test our metal." I only work part time now—5 hours a week for extra income—and find since I don't care anymore…the work simply allows me opportunity to use spiritual practice and see how I am going…sometimes I even go "looking for trouble" so to speak and see how much fun it can be to stay serene and calm instead of reacting with negative emotions, etc., like in the past. In the end…since most of us spend a good part of our lives making a living…it's ideal to fuse career and our spiritual work as long as your working environment is not too toxic and the conflict of interest not overwhelming.

From YC:
I knew I was primarily a musician somewhere in my late teens. I also knew I'd never make any money via music. So I arranged my life with the assumption that money was time: free time in which music and creativity could happen. You need a lot of free time and space if you want to focus on art of any kind, I think. Either you get it by depending on others to support you, or you get it by adjusting your material expectations way downward.

I got very frugal, as every dollar I didn't spend was a dollar I didn't have to earn at a shit job taking my time away from music. I did work a lot of shit jobs though. Didn't want a career, as I was afraid it would eat into my mental space and physical energy too much. I knew I had to keep the creative space open, and that narrowed my options. Fortunately other options didn't hold much appeal for me anyway, and the ones that did appeal just didn't work out.

So my experience with livelihood has been about feeling driven toward something very impractical and financially unremunerative, and making sacrifices for it. Jobs were never the focus, they were an unpleasant necessity. My real life was sitting in a quiet room, disappearing while a song wrote itself through me. That was my priority. I loved and valued that feeling and I guess it led me to spiritual seeking.

In response to the question about career vs. spirituality, my own experience is that they don't "balance". You can't give equal importance to both, you can't serve God and Mammon (unless you want to be a half-hearted servant of both). You prioritise one and make sacrifices for it. I think for spiritual work, as with art, you need a lot of free time and space and quiet. I don't see that balancing with the world of work unless you're lucky enough to have a very low-stress, undemanding job, or a job you can do on autopilot while your mind is free. But I'm sure people manage to have high-powered jobs and follow a spiritual path—my opinion is based on my own limitations.

As for trying to fuse the two, to make money off spirituality—yes I think there's a conflict of interest there. It's not even all about the money (though the money issue is pretty problematic: if your paycheck depends on this, how are you going to be able to challenge people and tell them what they don't want to hear?). It's about forming an ego identity around being an "expert" in spirituality, a guru figure for others. That seems virtually unavoidable to me if it's your career. And if you're still searching, it seems like it would keep you stuck.

From Heather B:
On the face of it, working as a psychotherapist, where the general aim is to help people to have a "healthy" sense of self by challenging unconscious patterns, and the spiritual search to know the Truth of what/who I am (which, according to those who have had that realization/recognition is that ultimately we are No-Thing,) these two things may appear to conflict with one another, but I've not only managed to continue with this career, but actually find enjoyment in it. Perhaps this is because both psychotherapy and the spiritual search require self-reflection. Additionally, when I consider my own journey, I know there were times early in my life when I would have had absolutely zero interest in "knowing the truth"/"Enlightenment"/"Awakening," I simply wanted to feel a little bit better, and psychotherapy can often accomplish that. Since I try to meet clients where they are, and the vast majority of the clients I work with don't want to look any deeper, it might actually be unkind to push them to dismantle or see through the self-structure.

That being said, there are occasions when I become frustrated with my own unwillingness to be more confrontational/transparent when working with clients, and wonder: Am I just "being kind," or is this part of my own pattern of "sticking my head in the sand" and maintaining the status quo for myself? (The fact that I question myself at all would seem to indicate that at least some of the time it's the latter and not the former.) However, there are also occasions when I do share a self-inquiry/spiritual video on YouTube with certain clients and have had some "breakthrough"/"aha" moments, which can provide "fuel" for both of us to continue looking deeper.

I have also talked to a few people who have had awakenings, and they indicate that in their everyday lives they still discover the character (they previously took themselves to be) engaging in the seemingly endless robotic/programmed patterns of the self-structure. Even though they now KNOW the character isn't who they are, yet to actually EMBODY on a daily basis the TRUTH they now KNOW themselves to be, and live a life of LIBERATION (truly free from the conditioning) still requires a willingness to challenge the character's patterns. So, even though traditional psychotherapy won't likely lead a person to Awakening, it can at least pique a person's curiosity and start them on the spiritual search… and perhaps it can also help dismantle some patterns in advance, so if they are fortunate enough to come to the end of their spiritual search, they will find the TRUTH that they are "No-Thing," and still the life energy flowing more fully/smoothly through the character they had believed themselves to be. To me, this seems to be the ideal result of the spiritual quest. Otherwise, there will continue to be people who have Awakenings and Know the Truth of who they are, and can even share profound insights and inspire others, but the patterns of their character/ego still come up and bite them (and others) in the ass (so to speak.)

Finally, I have to support myself some way, and I find that observing myself as I work with others provides daily fodder for the spiritual search…ultimately, there doesn't seem to be any demarcation between "work life," "personal life" or the spiritual search…everything is always fuel for the spiritual fire?

From Anonymous2:
I'd question if it is even possible for there to be a conflict between a career and the spiritual search. What one fundamentally is remains so through a job or a career. Perhaps what is being asked are the practical considerations. I've found jobs and careers that can be distracting, or worse, addictive. I find self-honesty and awareness to be extremely helpful in managing such situations, including changing jobs/careers in the worst case.

Practical considerations aside, if a seeming conflict still remains, I'd ask myself if I can simply turn my head away from the question, rather than trying to answer it, and focus instead on finding what may be truer than the question or the answers.

From Benedict James:
I've been on the spiritual search my whole life, it's just that only recently I started calling it a spiritual search and it became more single pointed. I haven't allowed career to get in the way, although I have made changes. It's my feeling that it doesn't matter what career or job I have, so long as I can make time for stillness and reflection.

I joined the Air Force at 19 and became a pilot. In hindsight, it's clear that a great deal of the sense of self was wrapped up in this pilot identity. It's quite funny now to think how much I wanted to be like Tom Cruise in Top Gun.

In my late 20s my first child was born. I left the Air Force and moved to commercial flying, and eventually long haul. A divorce happened and I moved away from the family unit.

As the spiritual quest became more established I considered giving up the flying. My feeling was that being a commercial long haul airline pilot was hardly very 'spiritual'. However, I had to weigh up the advantages/disadvantages of the work, my commitments and how I could integrate this with energy management and finding quiet space for reflection.

I realised that the job afforded plenty of space for meditation and reflection. I could take time down route to sit quietly alone. During quiet time in the cruise I could read and reflect.

The job paid well but my lifestyle was exhausting. I was living in Berlin, commuting to London to work and regularly driving to the south west of England to see my children every month. I decided to take a part time contract and work less. I moved back to live close to my children and said goodbye to the thrills of living in a vibrant but distracting city. I simplified.

This period was like sharpening the axe, or some might say making life into a vector. Yes, I could have changed job but I would still have had to earn money to support my children and the energy lost in starting a new career path wasn't worth it.

In my metaphorical attempt to chop the tree down, rather than get a different axe, or to hit the tree harder or more often, I decided to make my axe sharper and improve my chopping technique. It was in hindsight a very simple but effective way of generating space and focus. It did take some sacrifice to say goodbye to my friends and life in the city and to move back to a quiet part of rural England but it had huge benefits.

Living back near my children was of course far better for them than I could have imagined. Around the same time my mum fell ill. The move turned out to be serendipitous because I could easily spend more time with her while she regained her health, while preserving my own energy and space.

There's a rather amusing yet wonderful analogy I found a few years ago. It's a phrase that KTM motorcycles use in their design philosophy and states: "To go faster, simplify and add more lightness." To me it works rather wonderfully in the spiritual quest. I use this phrase regularly when reviewing life and how I can tweak and improve what I have in order to work better towards the goal.

In summary, I don't believe it matters much what job I do, so long as I can generate time and conserve enough energy to look within. I don't see spirituality as a way of life, simply it is life, no matter what I do, wherever I am, It never leaves me and I couldn't leave It if I wanted to.

From Bill:
One advantage of running your own business is that I can hang a "GONE FISHIN'" sign whenever I want, however it turns out that my clients never seem to go fishing or go to an Intensive the same time I do. The question "What is the relationship between my career and my spiritual seeking?" may be the same as "What is the relationship between driving my car, eating dinner, going to the bathroom, etc., and my spiritual search?" Business and fishing are hard to combine as they are distinctly different activities and mutually exclusive—I can't flyfish with a cellphone in one hand. But with my spiritual search, I can still pray and question during any activity whether it be leisure or necessity: "What is really going on here? With whom or what am I identifying? Why am I doing this?"—if only I remember to do so! For me, it's the simple reminders like an artifact on my desk (a 3-inch tall plastic grim reaper toy), artwork on the wall (a photo of my parent's cemetery) or some cryptic message taped to my monitor (the words "don't forget")—each selected to remind me to stop and pray and question—everything. And the best reminder I've found is a programmable wrist watch that vibrates every hour during the work day to which I have committed to pray for the inspiration to continue praying and searching every moment (eventually) of the day.

There are no Amazon reviews as yet for the latest book from TAT Press: Falling for Truth: A Spiritual Death and Awakening by Howdie Mickoski.

The Reader Commentary question for the January Forum:

What are you impressions of Falling for the Truth? Or, if you don't have the book, of Chapter 1?

Please your responses by the 20th of December and indicate your preferred identification (the default is your first name and the initial letter of your last name).

We hope you'll also add your impression of Falling for Truth to the Amazon listing. It makes a difference!

Other Reader Feedback

From Author Still Unknown:
While reading "To Do or Not To Do" by Brett S [in the November TAT Forum], I interpreted his comment that the "things I would do anyway are most important" as the "things I feel compelled to do but know not why." Simple rephrasing triggered something in me and prompted a quick inventory of my own personal disciplines on my path. I tried to fit each activity under one of two categories: those related to searching and those that were trying to grasp or comprehend, or seek improvement. The huge divide between searching without expectation versus seeking for understanding hit me, and I was led to detail a list of my disciplines and activities on the path, split between two columns along with motivation or intention noted for each. To my surprise I found in all honesty no solid members of the seeker without intention column! The question I now face is "Am I always searching under some premise, seeking comprehension?" Some advice for me may lie in the last line of his article, a quote by Anima P: "love for the sake of love!"

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?

fluid dynamics Tina York

Tina York, 1995, mixed media. Tina York graphically depicts the principles of fluid dynamics, the movement of gases as a solid body passes through them. York researched this concept at California's NASA Ames Research Center while participating in the NASA Art Program. © Smithsonian Institution.

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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.

Ways & Means

The path to Truth, or Reality or Essence is very simple…. [See the The Direct-Mind Experience end paper.]

birdnest drawing

"The proper path is somewhere between hope and hopelessness."

"The first step is to decide what the next step will be. You need to develop a ways and means committee."

"A seeker needs to set up a 'ways and means committee.' He should develop a plan, and then stick to that plan. Nothing should get in the way of that plan, and nobody is worth allowing that plan to take a lower priority."

~ Paul Constant: Richard Rose Quotes & Notes — 1986 to 1993 — Part 1: Spiritual Action/Practice

birdnest drawing

You can read books from now on. And believe me, as fast as you read them, somebody will write them, and they'll be in the bookstore over there. And that means procrastination, to use that as a rationalization to stop working. It isn't that impossible to start working on yourself tomorrow. Right now. That's all that's necessary. And if you start working, your ways and means will be better in your meditation. As you meditate, you'll find ways and means to develop meditation.
~ From a 1976 public talk in Columbus, OH. These days we can add listening to audio books and watching YouTube videos to the list of procrastinations.

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 hope to have exciting news to share next month, but for now just know that many have been working diligently to bring our new home to fruition.

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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