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

TAT Forum

March 2020

TAT April 3-5, 2020 Spiritual Retreat Weekend Banner

Attend TAT's April Spiritual Retreat Weekend—New Beginnings

Homing Ground Update

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

Hurdle Mills new home for TAT

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Convictions & Concerns

TAT members share their personal convictions and/or concerns

The Greater or the Lesser Game of Life – Which Choose You?

A question I often hear seekers bring up is to do with the idea of getting some detachment from life. We become so absorbed in the day-to-day business of survival that is it hard to get a bit of distance from it. I thought that using the analogy of seeing life as a game might help.

Games are an intrinsic aspect of human life. Children start to play games as young as two years old. Every culture has its games. Online gaming is a huge aspect of internet activity. It could be said that the human being is made for gaming.

"And what game is more complicated than life?" asks Casey Cromwell in an article titled "Chess: A Metaphor for Life".

I see life itself as the great game, albeit played unconsciously. It's the game of survival in the world. Everyone has their game, or games, but few people are aware of the game they are playing. It is usually not obvious to the player that it is one game because we have many minor games, or sub-games, that contribute to the main game.

Indeed, few would refer to their life as a game. We often see our lives as a series of challenges and obstacles. We do not consider it a game when we consider the outcome to be non-optional. The possibility of failure is abhorrent to us, yet failure is the inevitable outcome of every relative life. We all die.
Most games serve to shield us from this fact. They keep us distracted from the big question of death.
But there are those who cannot turn their heads away from the big question and they become embroiled in what I'll refer to as the game of spiritual seeking.

"The only reason a game is fun is because it causes you to engage yourself in it. Whether this be poker, Scrabble or a video game, games are only fun when they challenge you. Remove all the challenges in a game and it becomes a pointless activity." writes Scott H. Young in his article "Life as a Game".

In the game of life we become absorbed in challenges such as improving our circumstances, outdoing the competition, controlling some thing or person or situation, creating or generating some different situation, or work of art, and so on. There are as many variations on the game as there are individuals. The lesser games can and do change over the course of a lifetime, but the main game stays the same. We each have our own variation, our preferred games. All these various efforts or games have the underlying aim of enhancing us in some way, guaranteeing our individuality, prolonging our stay or name on earth, but by being lost in these lesser games we forget about or avoid facing the bigger challenge—the question of what or who we really are. What can be more engrossing than the search for Self?

A number of philosophers have looked at the phenomenon of gaming as a human activity and come up with various definitions of it....

See the complete essay.


~ Thanks to TAT member and teacher Tess Hughes. Tess is the author of This Above All: A Journey of Self-Discovery. Anyone who's interested in self-inquiry activity in Ireland is welcome to contact her 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

2020 TAT Meeting Calendar

* April 3-5, 2020 *
June 12-14, 2020
August 14-16, 2020
November 6-8, 2020

April spiritual gathering details and registration
2020 TAT Gatherings will be in our New Home!

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.

On February 2, the New York City and Central Jersey Self Inquiry Groups held a 1-day retreat. The inquiry retreat was held at the Heart of Art Studio in Hamilton, New Jersey, with 11 participants. Workshops included: self-inquiry questions selected at random from a paper bag; an "I and the You" exercise based on the voice therapy of Dr Robert W Firestone; physical stretching with prompts to gauge our physical and emotional reactions; a "2 chairs in the middle"/fishbowl session (that included questions from Richard Rose's "Lecture of Questions"); a workshop/discussion on nostalgia using the music of Pink Floyd; and a wrap-up session with participant feedback. Organizers feel that designing and carrying out a retreat with another group, is a great way to shake up one's mindset, and get re-inspired.

See the agenda and a group photo.

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.
     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 began a 4-day retreat in Citra, FL on the evening of Feb. 28th that continues through noon on March 3rd. We're pressing the limits of the small facility with 19 participants, but it's going well.
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:
I am meeting every Saturday morning with three of my former Greensburg SIG group participants who are into non-dualist paths, such as Adyashanti and Mooji. There is also another participant, a professional psychologist who is interested in eastern philosphy and who wasn't in my SIG group but makes a great addition to our proceedings. These fellows are sincere seekers. We spend our time discussing our respective paths and comparing notes. Our new venue is a place called the White Rabbit Cafe in Greensburg. I'm hoping that the lull here has ended and that we're ready to be more dynamic again. ~ 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 a recent 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 have been meeting on Thursday evenings from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the home of one of the group members. Our meeting format is generally 20 minutes of meditation followed by an hour of group self-inquiry.
     Our group held an on-line meeting via the Zoom website between several seekers and Norio Kushi and Paul Rezendes recently. Zoom platform is fairly user-friendly and inexpensive, and might be a useful avenue for future "virtual" meetings, especially for those folks who live far away from physical SI groups.
     As several of the group members will be traveling during the month of January, they will continue to meet with Norio and Paul via Zoom. Regular meetings will begin again on Monday, February 3, 2020. ~ Please contact or if you're interested.

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 Philadelphia Daytime Nonduality Group:
We meet on the 2nd Saturday of the month at 10:30 am at Melalani Cafe Mt. Airy. ~ Email for more information.

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). 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. There is nothing to join, nothing to buy, meetings are free, and there is nothing to believe in. (Both locations ADA accessible.)
- Wed, Mar 4: Richard Rose "The highest form of spiritual work is the realization of the essence of man...." "You never learn the answer; you can only become the answer."
- Wed, Mar 18: Ramana Maharshi "The body does not say 'I am,' it is you who says 'I am the body.' Find out who this 'I' is. In seeking it's source it will vanish."
- Wed, Apr 1: A Course in Miracles A 365-lesson long course designed to undo the illusion that you are separate in any way from God or your fellow humans and that the greatest "miracle" is the act of simply gaining a full "awareness of love's presence" (this is not a solicitation).
~ 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.

A new self-inquiry group is forming in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area:
With the opening of the new TAT center in Hurdle Mills, NC, and impending residence of teacher Bob Fergeson, the defunct Raleigh area group will have a new beginning. ~ Email for information about future meetings and events.

   TAT Press publishes Bob's unique approach in The Listening Attention.

Update from the Richmond Self Inquiry Group:
There isn't a Richmond self inquiry group at the moment…it never really got off the ground. I'm considering a few different approaches for round three, but it'll be at least a few months away before that takes form. ~ Email for information about future 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.)

Amazon and eBay

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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

Henri 9 – "Blight of Spring"

Spring begins in the northern hemisphere on the equinox that comes in March. Apologies to readers in the southern hemisphere, whose vernal equinox will occur in September.


~ Thanks to TAT member Leesa W. Don't be alarmed if you hear a French monologue; Henri is un chat français, but there are English captions. :-)

Marriage I

By all means marry. If you get a good wife, you'll be happy. If you get a bad one, you'll become a philosopher... And that is a good thing for any man. --Socrates, d.399 BCE

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A good marriage would be between a blind wife and a deaf husband. --Michel de Montaigne, d.1592

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Marriage is a three-ring circus: engagement ring, wedding ring, and suffering. --Anonymous

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It may be just coincidence, but man's best friend (the dog) cannot talk. --Anonymous

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The whole pleasure of marriage is that it is a perpetual crisis. --G.K. Chesterton, d.1936

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Marriage is a duel to the death which no man of honour should decline. --G.K. Chesterton

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In olden times, sacrifices were made at the altar, a practice that still continues. --Helen Rowland

~ Thanks to Enlightened-Spirituality.org compiled by Timothy Conway.

I said hippie!

~ From Funnies by Viv H, thanks to TAT member Colm H.

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

My Grandfather

My grandfather sent me some poems he wrote. I was surprised by a few lines:

I am all
that is,
and ever
will be;
the observer,
and the observed.

I've never heard him refer to the "observer" and "observed," which sounds like something we'd discuss in TAT.

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we can
reach God
by simply
turning around

This reminds me of Douglas Harding's "looking back at what we're looking out from." I've never heard my grandfather discuss this concept of "turning around."

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a part of me
that feels

When asked about Self-Definition, my grandfather says "I am God" with great conviction. I think "certainty" is one of the defining characteristics of his personality. So these feelings surprised me.


~ Thanks to TAT member Brett S. See more of his grandfather's poetry at BarryFishman.com.


"Resentment is like drinking poison
and waiting for the other person to die."

St. Augustine

~ Quote attributed to St. Augustine. Thanks to Wikimedia Commons for the St. Augustine portrait by Sandro Botticelli circa 1480.

Let Go and Love

It has eluded you,
The happiness, the joy, the peace,
And you've railed fiercely against your loss,
Not understanding, not seeing.

You find some comfort in pushing harder,
In continuing to fight,
Believing that effort is the answer,
Caught, like so many, in the romance of the struggle.

Teachers, books, and family say they have your answer,
And the advice flows fast,
They tell you your solution is earnestness and practices—in change,
And so you dig ever deeper into this world.

But after awhile you grow weary,
The hollow winds of your striving having died down,
You know you must rest,
You sense you are losing your unbearable war with Time.

One morning you awake to a snowstorm outside,
Your plans for the day, the organization of your life, once again ruined,
It finally and cleanly breaks you,
The choice now gone, you succumb completely to yourself.

It is quiet as the snow falls,
The flakes settle gently on the scenery just as they do,
You take it in through your window as you lie on your bed,
The beauty, the peace, is surprisingly unmistakable.

But through your resting you intuit the peace is not outside,
It is not a gift of the poetry playing itself out,
It is not the result of effort or even good deeds,
It is you.

It was there all the while,
Stolid to your worries, your fears, your worldly choices,
It was simply waiting to be called forth,
Waiting for you to do nothing more than let go and love.


~ Thanks to TAT friend Tyler T., who noted the following: "I found something I wrote years ago and I am feeling inspired to share it. I wrote this the first time the essence of the poem was made clear to me. What I didn't know then is no matter how many times I had to keep relearning it, my entire path was the essence of these words -- no more, no less. Year after year after year."

Princeton Baby Lab

Baby and adult brains "sync up" during play

A team of researchers has conducted the first study of how baby and adult brains interact during natural play, and they found measurable connections in their neural activity. In other words, baby and adult brain activity rose and fell together as they shared toys and eye contact.

When the adult and infant were turned away from each other and engaging with other people, the coupling between them disappeared.

That fit with researchers' expectations, but the data also had surprises in store. For example, the strongest coupling occurred in the prefrontal cortex, which is involved in learning, planning and executive functioning and was previously thought to be quite underdeveloped during infancy.

"We were also surprised to find that the infant brain was often 'leading' the adult brain by a few seconds, suggesting that babies do not just passively receive input but may guide adults toward the next thing they're going to focus on: which toy to pick up, which words to say," said Lew-Williams, who is a co-director of the Princeton Baby Lab.


~ From Princeton.edu/news, thanks to TAT member and Richard Rose student Mark Wintgens.

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 Reader Commentary composite question for the March Forum:

What differentiates a "serious seeker" from a "seeker"? Which one are you?

From Sergio F:
I would define a "serious seeker" as one that honestly puts finding Truth above all other goals. If I use the terms from Robert de Ropp's book The Master Game, it would be the person who's playing the master game (maybe also any "meta game"; check www.selfdiscoveryportal.com/arMasterGame.htm) and doesn't believe anymore that other games can bring him a lasting satisfaction.
A "seeker" who's not so serious would still believe that playing games different than the master game can bring him something absolutely desirable, or maybe he hasn't yet examined very well what are the results of some of the games he's still playing.
With this definition I'd say I'm a serious seeker.

From Tess Hughes:
A serious seeker has acquired some attributes that the general seeker has not yet acquired.
There is development in the following areas.

One; A fairly clear understanding of what the problem is and the ability to apply it to oneself.

Two; A trust that this final resolution is possible for oneself.

Three; The determination and perseverance to do the necessary work.

Four; An inner flexibility that allows for self-determination and focus, coupled with the openness to guidance from a teacher.

From Andreas H:
It seems to me a serious seeker should have a good grasp of why he/she is seeking. That there has been an honest and solid scrutiny of the reasons and motivations behind the drive to seek.

For a serious seeker that investigation is, up to a point. ongoing.
I think that one of the marks of a 'true' seeker is that that individual cannot help but to do it. The calling comes from a level that goes beyond what the person might expect to gain or acquire from the process.

I still question the degree of intent and fervor with which I seek, more or less every day. I suppose doubt is part of it all, and should not discourage one from moving on.
I suspect that I've reached a point where I've realized that something else is calling the shots in this whole matter, and I've accepted that fact. Maybe that qualifies me as a serious seeker, not sure.

From Shane M:
This is a question I've asked myself numerous times. It always amazed me how I can seem to go from one to the other so frequently. I can recall numerous instances where I have been reduced to a blubbering wreck by a sudden insight, on fire with determination and promising God/the Universe/my higher Self with every cell in my being that I will stop at NOTHING until I find the answer to the question who am I? And looking back I know I meant it absolutely.

And then (usually the next morning) the world returns to 'normal', the fire is out and I'm back to being everyday mundane me with my usual everyday concerns and petty superficial thought patters. I meditate and there's little depth. Where did the certainty, the passion go?

I'm tempted to answer the subject question by saying that a serious seeker is one who is on fire with the question ALL the time whereas a 'seeker' exists in a kind of melange of dimly heard intuition, intellectual understanding, ego and the odd moment of burning insight. But I don't think that's a right or fair answer....

See Shane's complete response.

From Saima Y:
A "seeker" in my personal experience is one who is window shopping for different teachings & experiences on a path to "liberation" (which tends to become an attachment)!
A "serious seeker" has been through the wringer a few times, confronting some difficult demons. Yet, has gotten back up, ready for more humbling jabs, intuitively feeling a call to find out the Truth. Even in the humdrum of day-to-day life, the serious seeker remembers to ask, "Who Am I?" And this question becomes a top priority.
I feel I am much more of a serious seeker at this point in my life.

From MC:
Serious implies intensity beyond what might be considered normal engagement or attitude toward a task or occupation. For example, consider the idea of a collector, say of cars. A fellow I know has a brother with ten cars, so he's a collector. Then there's Jay Leno in California, who has as of today, two hundred eighty-six cars in his collection. It's fair to say Mr. Leno is a "serious" collector of automobiles.

So too then in spirituality and the idea of seeking that is generally associated with it. To seek means to attempt to find, to desire, obtain or achieve something, or, to ask for something from someone. That pretty well sums it up. So put the two terms together into "serious seeker" and the result is a particular kind of person, one might suppose. But what kind? It would seem the kind of person who dives deep into the quest as he or she interprets it in daily life. For one it might be reciting a hundred thousand repetitions of a mantra, another, it might be accepting a traumatic situation or chronic condition. The universe, big or deep as it is, somehow manages to confront every single commitment any person makes at any time, to see just how serious that person is. A test of capacity if nothing else, and that's often enough. Take the story of Christ, for instance.

If seeking involves busting down one's ego (that's a funny expression—do we actually own the ego, does it belong to us? More likely we belong to it) then some suffering is part of the formula for most, though not all, spiritual seekers. So the question becomes how much suffering does it take to melt an ego, any particular ego, on any given day. What's intense to one is a cake-walk to another. It's how we handle adversity that determines our degree of seriousness, or sincerity. If we quit too soon, we miss the chance for growth. If we continue too long, we get stuck in a rut. The serious seeker keeps an eye on this, while another might spend years recovering from a few moments of inattention that grew into a habitual way of thinking, believing and acting.

A serious seeker is willing to go on when everything seems hopeless, which it almost always does at one point or another. And when the final moment of despair appears on the horizon, the last test as it were, well, I'd say the serious seeker says "I'm in," meaning "I'm not too proud to surrender to something greater than myself." Everyone goes though their own particular crucifixion, and some, a Resurrection. Those we could consider as having been serious seekers, because they "found" something. But now we get into the realm where all words are misleading. No one knows the depth of another's pain, or the height of another's ecstasy, but for a pointing of words, and a similar experience. Someone may appear to be a serious student of truth, while dipping in the till at work for office supplies, for instance. Make your own judgment, while keeping in mind those who judge will be judged too.

At this point I'm going to reverse my original direction, since it's becoming apparent that all seekers are serious seekers, when compared to who they were prior to the moment they began seeking with intention, definition and Truth. Jay Leno be damned! (pardon the expression). It's all good when it comes to being a seeker.

From Paul Constant:


Serious Seeker

Primarily looks for answers externally

Primarily introspective

Fundamental goal is to acquire knowledge and special personal qualities (additive approach)

Fundamental goal is to study and tease apart the small "s" self (subtractive approach)

Primarily driven by selfish gain

Desires to help others simply for the joy of helping

Seeking is motivated by a "personal improvement project"

Seeking is motivated by a desire to relieve a profound heartache

Seeking is an occasional interest

A deep curiosity and strong desire for Truth underlie the seeker's life

Applies some attention and energy towards finding Truth

Applies a significant amount of attention and life's energy towards Truth

Seeking is on the periphery of life

Seeking takes on the gravity of life



From a spiritual investor:
"A serious investor," [Benjamin] Graham [author of The Intelligent Investor and Warren Buffett mentor] wrote, "is not likely to believe that the day-to-day or even month-to-month fluctuations of the stock market make him richer or poorer." He's right, but how many serious investors are there if we define serious as meaning immune to their own irrational impulses? Not many.

One solution Graham suggests is "some kind of mechanical method of varying the proportion of bonds to stocks in the investor's portfolio." If the market rises, the investor should "make sales out of his stockholdings, putting the proceeds into bonds; as it declines, he will reverse the process." Graham advocates this strategy because it will give the investor "something to do" [Graham's italics], that is, it will "provide some outlet for his otherwise too pent-up energies." ~ From James K. Glassman's "Street Smart" column in the March 2020 Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine: Benjamin Graham's Timeless Advice.

From Shawn Nevins:
The serious seeker asks how to fit their life into seeking rather than fit seeking into their life.

From Mark W:
I used to think that a serious seeker was someone who adhered to a set of demanding disciplines – especially celibacy – for the purpose of finding one's true self. Though that may hold true for some, as in many respects it does for me, there are two connected qualities that I think play a more central role in the life of a serious seeker. The first quality is a willingness to have one's self-beliefs questioned. Whether it's during self-inquiry meetings, self-confrontation while meditating or responding to a serious question during an informal conversation, these all offer the possibility to see something new about ourselves or trigger further questioning and insights. Such is the value of confrontation.

The second quality, self-honesty, is a necessary follow-up to any form of confrontation because without it, or an effort to foster it, one can expect few insights or little impact from the best confrontation. If one is so easily and consistently fooled by procrastination, rationalization or distraction, as we all are, but to the extent that he fails to look at and face his self-dishonesty, how can anything new be seen from any questions or confrontation? This is why I think a willingness to have one's self-beliefs questioned and the self-honesty to look at such self-beliefs, repeatedly if necessary, is the hallmark of a serious seeker. And, yes, I believe I am a serious seeker.

From Anima Pundeer:
Ever since I can remember, I have always been a seeker. I sought toys, approval, love, but most of all happiness. More I looked for it in my little world, less hopeful I got of ever finding it. I realized momentary candies are not going to cut for me. Meditation also came along as an option. Out of all the other pursuits, this seemed to hold the best promise as a remedy for my inner unrest.

Pretty soon I became a seeker who read spiritual/philosophical books, meditated, attended retreats, listened to discourses. I found my self having 'deep' conversations with other seekers regarding Enlightenment, Krishna's teachings, how the universe evolved … whatever. You get the picture.

In my opinion, I was a really serious seeker. After all, I was spending most of time and energy seeking Moksha (Liberation). The term for what I sought had changed from wanting to be happy to Enlightenment. I had no idea what the word meant but I pretended to say something if someone asked. And then one day I realized that all this seeking for me was simply a favorite hobby. Something that takes my attention away from whatever thorn is making me limp. Meditation could not be 20 min. morning/evening practice. Somehow, it had to become a way of life. Of course, this was triggered at one of the PSI meetings in Pittsburgh.

At one of the other meetings, someone asked me what Self-Inquiry meant to me. It was shocking when I realized that all this while my inquiry had been about 'my-self'. My complete attention was on 'ME' and my life story. The center of all my seeking, my practices, my inquiry was about 'anima'. God/Source, though I thought I was seriously seeking, were just empty words. Did not occur at all in my inner dialogue which was just full of me-thoughts. It was a very disappointing moment. My self-image of what a serious seeker I was severely got damaged.

This shift in attention from 'self' to 'Self', even when you don't have any idea of what it is, to me is a sign when you get serious.

From Mark C:
I consider myself to be a serious seeker, and when I contemplate this question, I think of 2 elements that are important to me: 1) A Longing or a Vector and 2) Time and Energy directed. The longing is the first and foremost component to the search, or as my friend, Art, would say: "What do you really want?" If I don't have a longing, or if I am not on fire with my desire for seeking Truth, then I will end up stumbling down the path blindly and likely bouncing off the next, new and improved thing in the spiritual marketplace. This reminds me of the Napoleon Hill book, Think and Get Rich, as I have to use this longing as a navigational beacon for myself. I started implementing prayer into my routine a few months ago to serve as a daily reminder of my vector. Prayer also helps me in keeping my heart involved as I have proven myself to be the more analytic type in the past.

Secondly, there is the time and energy component in seeking. If I am not devoting my time and energy to spiritual practice then I feel there is a deficit of some kind, at least for me. When my time becomes "crunched," my spiritual practice can be integrated more strongly into my usual daily activities by increasing my attention and or awareness on whatever activity that I am engaged in, but this takes additional effort and energy. For me, the trap is that I will continue to hurtle on in an adrenaline sort of lifestyle that will place me in a position to get lost in habits, routine, or a robot-like auto pilot. There has to be a point of withdrawal for reflection and silence built into my daily life. I have recently found that getting adequate sleep allows me to be able to devote the energy that is necessary for this path. I also value getting to meet with like-minded others when I can as this helps me to increase the tension without overloading the circuitry.

From Leesa Williams:
Someone jokingly said that a serious seeker had transcended their sense of humor – I thought, yeah, and the ability to laugh, and have fun, to play and read fiction and watch non-spiritual movies, to go on non-retreat vacations. The list got really long. Most of all I stopped really caring for others – there was just no room at the inn – I was so self-involved. The advantage to being a serious seeker is the head of steam that's built up – the head gets 'fattened' as Rose used to say – I guess it becomes a bigger target - there's a better chance of having it knocked off, or at the very least, SEEN.

From Chris B2:
I've noticed two inversely correlated movements as I've gotten more serious.
To visualize this imagine a graph showing two trend lines.
Line 1 starts high on the left and trends downward as it goes to the right across the graph.
Line 2 starts low and trends upward as it goes left-to-right.
At some point in the middle they cross each other.

Over the years I've noticed I'm less and less satisfied with "stories" – that's Line 1 trending downward.
Line 2 trending upwards represents Looking, Watching, Noticing...Openness, Acceptance, Surrender.

The two have been inversely correlated as they've moved along....

Chris B2's complete response.

From Author unknown:
"Living a life based on understanding that life" was a simple statement by Richard Rose that recently had a profound affect on me. There is a line one crosses when becoming a brick-layer, a doctor or an Indian chief, the demonstration of skill and ability judged by the results obtained. One is not a seeker due to any accomplishment, books written or verse composed. There is no utility or even a result to be expected, but rather a direction and an intensity pursued. Only the seeker himself might recognize when he has been moved across a line, but his is not one of ego but rather a line where there is no return to forgetfulness. Instead of making a living from a profession, one could live his life as a passion. Me? It's a line unrecognized.

From Mike G:
Everyone from a religious believer to a scientist has a belief that they are seriously "seeking" the truth. They share a common trait of earnestness, attention and energy applied to the questions that drive them.

What differentiates their efforts is the focus of their attention and the priority given to it. Seekers who pursue the question of life and death, nature of man, self-definition – however they phrase it – have or develop a direction of seeking that involves rigorous self-examination, subjecting everything to examination, meditating in some form, and developing an inward vector of attention. Serious seekers on this inward path invest their time and energy to the question as their top priority with increasing intensity. The attention is not on a stated, pre-supposed outcome, but on discerning what is not true about the self. While ultimately finding one's true nature may be said to be an act of grace, such effort appears to precede realization.

My own search was a long path. There were periods when I was both a serious seeker, and a serious-minded but not committed seeker with multiple priorities. I do not recommend that form of personal torture!

A period of intensity in my late teens to early twenties during which the search emerged as the top priority, was followed by a period of drifting into the dream of life for over twenty years. Fortunately, the questions about life and death and self-identity were always that to which my mind returned – like a resting place of the mind. In my mid-forties I began to pursue those questions again with the intent to find an answer. There were repeated efforts and repeated failures as my time, attention and energy were split between priorities of family, job and the questions that drove me. This eventually led to an increasing level of commitment and energy applied during my fifties and early sixties. A period of greater intensity and seriousness occurred in a six to eight-month period in my mid-sixties before my questions were answered.

From Maria T:
A "serious seeker" is willing to sacrifice everything is their search for the Truth while a "seeker" has reservations. I'm not sure where I'm at these days. Compared to five years ago, much more of my time and energy are in seek- or work-mode. A lot of useless baggage has gone by the wayside. I find it hard to be entertained, things that interested me before now seem a waste of time. Still........much seems to fog the view through the window. Perhaps persistence is the key, and intuition. I find seeing what needs to be sacrificed as challenging as the actually giving up. Old habits die hard and it's easy to fool myself. Basically it is myself and all this entails that I have to sacrifice and work to keep chipping away bit by bit everyday. May the Divine help us all to become empty that we may be filled with Life and Love.

From Bob C:
I've heard it said that all men are seekers ("men" as in humankind). That notion doesn't seem to correlate much with this other saying: "By their actions you shall know them," since, judging by such actions, very few people appear to be seeking much more than comfort, pleasure and affirmation.

Perhaps the observable actions of others don't fully reveal their inner experiences or the "witches brew" of their motivations. Perhaps deep in their inner experience is that singular, empty feeling expressed by Francis Thompson in The Hound of Heaven: "All things betrayest thee, who betrayest Me."

There often does seem to be a disconnect between what someone declares are their goals and priorities and the details of how they live their life. For many, if not most, life seems to be on autopilot to a very high degree, with a corresponding low level of self-awareness. People are lost in any given moment, too busy living in and experiencing that moment, to clearly see the trajectory of their own lives, and that disconnect between what they think and what they do, between what they imagine, and what is fact.

A serious seeker must therefore be someone who:

I was that seeker. My path can be summed up as: the direction of my attention became inwardly focused and of sufficient momentum that, when faced with seeing my own mortality, I could not look away, to external experience, to define who and what I was and thus betray myself by such external looking.

Next Month

The Reader Commentary composite question for the April TAT Forum:

A question regarding the following quote from January's "Founder's Wisdom" item Developing the Intuition and Reason:

"The seeker gradually grows indifferent to the objects of his appetites, continues to move, even though those objects are the only motivation for other people." ~ The Albigen Papers

As a seeker, should I develop some other appetite instead, or must I replace "appetites" with something else? If not, why don't I need to fill the void that appetites once occupied?

Thanks to a reader who wishes to remain anonymous. Please your responses by the 25th of March 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. in response to the February TAT Forum:

First, this was a VERY wide ranging Forum with lots of insightful and useful articles.

Now the one that jumped off the page at me:

Richard Rose's shirt cardboard sign ... about dying ... along with a prior post about "Forces Of Adversity." For the past year or more, in my journaling with my inner "writer," the tag line "Die Before You Die" has been written forcefully and regularly. I have spent many, many hours working on this inner command to me. This is a common theme in many Buddhist practices as well....

See Joe's complete message.


From Anonymous [referencing the "Reader Commentary" in last month's TAT Forum]:

Among the responses to Our Town's "way down deep" was Bob Fergeson's comment "learn to say no." This grabbed me as the essence of last November's TAT Weekend and preceding intensive theme of "Closing Doors." There is a boldness to saying "No," like standing on a huge boulder in mid-stream to emphasize my position, immovable as all excuses and adversity swirl around—if I could only be so defiant when I know the score. We've all been told that phrase so many times in our youth and now as if numb to any wisdom that it might convey: they wanted me to taste the beer—"Just say NO!"; they wanted me to puff that cigarette—"Just say NO!"; they wanted me to try this...—"Just say NO!" Maybe back then, there was never a good enough reason for me to say NO.


From Guy R., in response to the questions concerning the quote on "Negative Capability" by John Keats in last month's TAT Forum:

The beautiful, simple yet elegant verse by Rose "I will take leave of you ... But vaguely, as one entering vagueness, for words, symbols of confusion would only increase confusion...." suggests the allure of the entropy, the acceptance of ineffable ambiguity, brilliantly stated as a challenge like no other.

Mind, self, ego can't enter what it sees as hopeless chaos. If it could be entered, maybe all mind processes would need to end, and what guides us could be seen for what it is, without corporal, temporal and authoritarian influences. Maybe the guidance of some Grand Desire, Love or the Truth could finally be seen and would lead us unfettered.


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?

Sanur Beach, Bali

Sanur Beach, Bali. Thanks to TAT member Ikeh.

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.

Relative and Absolute

Part 1 of a talk given at Ohio State University in 1978

I have no specific topic for tonight. In the last series I have opened the lectures more to questions from the audience. Some of my talks had been maybe an attempt to be too scientific, or too much into the Zen system, and a lot of people are not acquainted with Zen. Or maybe we get people who are well versed in Zen, and they don't want to hear tedious descriptions of ways and means to arrive at an experience. Other talks may have been too shallow. And I concluded that I get more across if I just answer questions, or if I get on a vein that is popular in a particular place. But I feel that nearly all of you have had some experience, or you've done some reading, or you're spiritual people, and you'd like to find out what there is to know about spiritual movements – so you've got an angle that you're coming from. So I'll give you a brief outline and then let you ask anything you want.

However, I will not argue. I mean, these points are not arguable. Because in matters that have to do with abstractions, such as an absolute condition, an absolute state of mind, or a final answer which is an ultimate that may not be expressible in relative terms, it's a real folly to argue because you're going to argue in relative terms. Even people who have been in the group maybe three or four years will sometimes say, "What is that [world] out there?" And I'll say, "There's nothing out there; what you see is largely illusion." A fellow wrote me a letter from the Los Angeles group the other day and he said, "Why all this suffering, all this travail?" And I said, "That suffering is in your head."

And I can see that the aim of attending a talk such as this is, number one, to find a formula, a system of buttons that a person can push to reach a certain mental exaltation. And another is to find all the answers to the universe: why the black holes exist in space, and where is God in relation to the black hole, etc. And I'll tell you frankly that I don't even have an opinion on the matter. Because what you discover is something beyond the mental dimension. All of these things exist pretty much as our mind's response to physical observations, and in the final analysis the mind does not exist. I'm throwing out some statements that would upset a psychologist, perhaps, whose whole career is based upon the existence of the mind....

See the complete part 1 of "Relative and Absolute"

... To be continued.

Homing Ground Update

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

Hurdle Mills new home for TAT

We're making slow progress, but could really use a boost from all you Forum readers! We are 9.5% of the way to raising $70,000 to:

  • Clear, grade, and gravel a parking area for up to forty cars
  • Make a major upgrade to the water system so there is adequate pressure for large groups (i.e. so people can take showers!)
  • Purchase yard equipment and tools to keep those 15 acres in shape
  • Repay the short-term loan

Let's bring this to life! "The job is upon us," Richard Rose said, "and it is worthwhile." To contribute to the TAT Center, mail a check made out to the TAT Foundation to:

TAT Foundation
PO Box 873
Mechanicsburg, PA 17055

Big checks, little checks, all are welcome. Or use the PayPal link above (though we lose 2.2% of your donation to PayPal fees). See photos and more on the Homing Ground page.

In friendship,
Shawn Nevins
on behalf of the TAT Trustees

TAT gathering

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Readers' favorite selections from seven years of issues.
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