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

TAT Forum

June 2020

June 2020 TAT gathering

June spiritual retreat details

Homing Ground Update

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

Hurdle Mills new home for TAT

See the TAT Homing Ground Update section below for how you can help prepare our new home for future TAT meeting. We need more action from Forum readers!


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Convictions & Concerns

TAT members share their personal convictions and/or concerns

Something Eternal

Leesa shared a question that Art gave everyone during a retreat in November. Here's the question and my answer to it.

Our Earthly Identity

"The stage manager in 'Our Town' says of the recently deceased, 'They're waiting for somethin' that they feel is comin' ... waitin' for the "earth" part of 'em to burn itself out and the eternal part to come out in them clear....'

"Our earthly identity is all that is separating us from God—and it is the thinnest of veils, a manufactured fiction, which we cling to as if not only our existence, but the existence of God himself, depended on it." ~ Bob Cergol, "The Life Behind Things"

> Is there something "way down deep that's eternal about every human being," as the stage manager in Wilder's play also says?

Q: Is there something deep down in everyone that's eternal, and if so how do you get at it?

Recognize, as fully as possible, that the desire for the Eternal is under EVERYTHING else you think will satisfy you, and notice the difference between simple bodily needs and the the existential longing for satisfaction—including how the two can become confused.
Recognize, as fully as possible, that anything other than the eternal (essential) will always feel empty, because it literally is, it does not inherently exist.
Recognize, as fully as possible, that what is eternal in time is also eternal in space (ultimately beyond both)—Eternal/Absolute has no other.
Remind yourself of these and other insights when you find yourself interested in the non-eternal. Meditate on these insights. Let them really sink in and transform your inner orientation.
Notice what comes and goes in your experience, and become disinterested.
Notice what isn't everywhere, and become disinterested.
Notice your resistance to disregarding the non-eternal, notice how it feels like a threat, like death. Notice these feelings as just another non-eternal happening, occurring within the context of a relative perspective, and become disinterested. That which is Real cannot be threatened, that which is Real in you is not what's threatened. Give yourself to God.
Ask, when everything relative, everything that comes and goes has been put aside—what remains? Don't stop until you Know.


~ Thanks to TAT member Michael R.

quill icon

Would you like to share your impressions or questions with other TAT Forum readers? (Comments and questions may be selected for future Reader Commentary inclusions, identified with first name and first letter of last name or other attribution of your choice.) Please email your impressions/questions to the .


TAT Foundation News

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

TAT Press's latest publication: cover of Hydroglyphics: Reflections on the Sacred, by Shawn Nevins (poetry) and Phaedra Greenwood (photographs)

Hydroglyphics: Reflections on the Sacred by Shawn Nevins (poetry) and Phaedra Greenwood (photographs), is available in paperback and in Kindle e-book format.

In this second collection of spiritual poetry and photography from the TAT Foundation Press, Shawn Nevins teams with Taos, New Mexico-based photographer Phaedra Greenwood to present a breathtaking volume that immerses the reader in the sacred, reflective spaces of water. Available to order from Amazon or your favorite bookstore.

Or check out more details, where you can get a signed copy from Shawn, at SpiritualTeachers.org.

Please add your review to the Amazon listing. It makes a difference!

2020 TAT Meeting Calendar

April 4-5, 2020
* June 13-14, 2020 *
August 14-16, 2020
November 6-8, 2020

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, TAT's June spiritual retreat weekend will be online, with presentations and interactive sessions on Saturday and Sunday, June 13th and 14th. See the June spiritual retreat page for details and registration.


The following video recordings of presentations from a previous April TAT meeting are available on YouTube:

Richard Rose spent his life searching for the Truth, finding it, and teaching others to find their Way. Although not well known to the public, he touched the lives of thousands of spiritual seekers through his books and lectures and through personal contacts with local study groups that continue to work with his teachings today. Meet Richard Rose is a 34-minute audio recording of an audiovisual presentation by Michael Whitely at the August 2017 TAT meeting that explores the arc of Richard Rose's life as seeker, finder, family man, and teacher.

Downloadable/rental versions of the Mister Rose video and of April TAT talks Remembering Your True Desire (details).

Local Group News

Update for the Amsterdam, NL Self-Inquiry Group:
The group is not holding meetings currently, but email for information.

Update from the Central New Jersey Group:
Recently our local inquiry group moved from in-person, to a virtual meeting format, using zoom. At our first virtual meeting on March 20, we had 7 participants. There were minor technical issues –for example the free version of zoom terminates at 45 minutes - however the meeting was productive. Participants were asked to share what has been coming up for them in recent days, specifically with respect to feeling of personal control; noticing moods, etc. We would like to encourage our fellow inquiry groups, to try a virtual meeting, to keep their group work going. ~ 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.
     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 Update from the Dublin, Ireland self-inquiry group:
We've currently meeting online using Zoom. ~ 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:
Our meetings at the Alachua County library on alternate Sundays have been suspended until April 30th. ~ 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 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 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:
The New York City Self-Inquiry group has continued to meet. We meet every Monday via a free conference call phone number. An advantage to the current format is that it's allowed people to join who live outside of New York City, including people living in Connecticut, Maryland, and Texas. More details, as well as our weekly discussion topics, can be be found on our MeetUp page (link above).

The recently listed Online Self Inquiry Book Club:
This online Self Inquiry Book Club meets Sunday afternoons. We just finished The Triune Self by Mike Snider and are starting Living Nonduality by Robert Wolfe. ~ For more information, see the meeting website (link above).

Update from the recently listed Online Video Confrontation Group:
The Monday Night Online Confrontation Group is going strong with a core group of participants and room for a few more. We meet at 7 pm EST, using the online video conference platform from "Jitsi.org" which works best with the Chrome browser. The goal of the group is to practice confrontation/group self-inquiry. ~ If you're interested, email or .

Update from the Pittsburgh, PA self-inquiry group:
During the current national health crisis, we will continue to meet on-line on the 1st & 3rd Wednesdays of June, 8-9:30 pm via Zoom. In May, Bob Harwood was our special guest for two meetings. On our Meetup group page (link above) we invite new-comers to email us to discuss their interests before being invited to an additional introductory meeting. We also meet on other days each month based on interests and by invitation only. All Forum subscribers are welcome to join us.
All Forum subscribers are welcome to join us. If interested in participating, please email for more details.

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 group is starting up again after a hiatus, now with Zoom online meetings. ~ Email for details.

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 teacher-in-residence Bob Fergeson, the defunct Raleigh area group will have a new beginning. ~ Email for information about future meetings and events.

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 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.

Update from the Washington DC Area Self-Inquiry Discussion Group:
[This group was previously listed as the Rockville, MD self-inquiry group.] We've been meeting monthly at Rockville, MD Memorial Library. While the library is closed for public health reasons, we're participating more in a weekly online book club. Forum readers are welcome to participate. We're currently reading The Triune Self by Mike Snider. ~ For more information, please email or see the website http://firstknowthyself.org/virtual/.

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

Experience What You Really Really Really Really Want

reality goggles

~ Thanks to Brett S., who wrote: Here's a picture of a cereal box I saw in the grocery store today. I recall that it was Reese's Peanut Butter Puffs. Which was my favorite cereal as a kid. :) It says "actual reality goggles." Amazingly, it says "experience what you really really really really want." I wonder about the person who made this ... a philosophical cereal marketer?

An I for an I

When two egotists meet, it's an I for an I.

bike separator

If you don't pay your exorcist, you get repossessed.

bike separator

You feel stuck with your debt if you can't budge it.

bike separator

Every calendar's days are numbered.

bike separator

Bakers trade bread recipes on a kneed-to-know basis...

bike separator

A lot of money is tainted – It taint yours and it taint mine.

bike separator

A plateau is a high form of flattery.

~ Thanks to Bob Cergol for more For Those Who Enjoy Language (or Severe Distortions Thereof).

What Am I?

the beginning of everything

~ From a tweet by Bret Turner, an elementary school teacher from the the San Francisco Bay area.

We enjoy presenting humor here from TAT members and friends. 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

Dancing Ship

Dancing Ship, photo by Phaedra Greenwood

A photon's long journey from the sun
is equal parts effort and grace,
which is not that hard to imagine,
for a creature both here and not here,
particle and wave.

I imagine the meeting of these qualities
like the scalloped turns
of pure reflection in this photo,
and like the curve of meaning
as these words form in your mind.

I imagine the bond of effort and grace,
being-ness and non-being-ness,
looks and sounds like this holy moment,
creeping up the back of your spine,
unrolling before your vision,
inhabiting the intersection of turn within turn.

When we cross paths like this,
on our long journey from the Sun,
there's no more imagining.


Photo by Phaedra Greenwood and poem by Shawn Nevins, in Hydroglyphics: Reflections on the Sacred, © Phaedra Greenwood and Shawn Nevins.

This is such fine work. The images are stunning. The play of light and water, waves of words open worlds simply sublime! – Sean Murphy, Zen teacher and author of One Bird, One Stone: 108 Contemporary Zen Stories.

See more about Hydroglyphics on Shawn's website.


Reality Yardstick

Thoughts and notes from an intensive group self-inquiry retreat at Horseshoe Lake, Florida, February 28 – March 04, 2020:

What's your yardstick for a reality check?

Everyone is the only one here?

Doing = consciousness of happening?

What's the purpose of your life?

A feeling is like a message.

What the organism has to work with is DNA and life experience.

The more we pay attention to something, the more we get from it.

50 years from now, how do you see your life unfold?

For a seeker: do I want anything to be different tomorrow?

What we love is what we're identified with. What we think we can't live without. This keeps us at the center of the universe.

What if every experience in life is/was instructional?

The highest relationship is friendship with a shared goal.

Our complaints are one of the best ways to find out what's going on with ourselves.

How am I deluding myself?

The organism is not programmed to accept its death.

Are you doing whatever you can to the best of your ability?

What do you see within you that could be an obstacle?

Unless your love for truth/Absolute/God becomes greater than your love for self, you'll always be looking for excuses.

What gets in the way of your absolute "Do or Die Trying" commitment?

What's the nature of your current commitment?

Have you ever talked to yourself about what your commitment is?

We lose power when we don't do what we tell ourselves we're going to do.

I didn't make myself the way I am.

The mind wants to have certainty.


~ Thanks to Brett S.

Is our future set in stone?

organic remains of a former world

The laws of physics suggest the future is predetermined, leading some physicists to say that it is impossible for free will to exist. A 13-minute BBC video, part two of a three part series on free will, by Melissa Hogenboom and Pierangelo Pirak.


Thanks to Colm H.

Q: Does the determinism of general relativity hold, and is free will an illusion? What about the indeterminism of quantum mechanics, where "the central issue is that quantum mechanics appears to allow for statistical effects that are instantaneous despite being distant from their causes? Or the block universe theory, where the future already exists although we haven't yet experienced it?

Precious Memories

Mike L. writes: I was watching a TV show with my girlfriend Monday night when this song came on. It had such a strong feeling of nostalgia for me. "It's here, in the stillness (when everybody's gone), of the midnight, echoes, echoes from, the past Somewhere...."

~ Thanks, Mike. [There's also a four-part YouTube video series on the Sister Rosetta Tharpe story beginning with part one. - Editor]

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 questions for this month's TAT Forum:

To what extent do you shape your own destiny, and how much is down to fate?

~ Thanks to OperationMeditation.com for the question.

From Tess Hughes:
This is one of those unanswerable questions, if what you thought was, that the purpose of a question was to generate a definitive answer.
There is a perspective from which we can see that we have no control over our destiny. No one chooses accidents. There is another equally convincing perspective from which we feel we are the directors of our own destiny. We make choices every day. It's a paradox.
Christian theology debates this in terms of predestination versus the paradox of will, 'my will' versus God's Will.
A "good" question, like this one, provokes us into a different dimension. It prompts us to rise above an either/or mentality and to find a place that can incorporate both perspectives, loosely. It's a perspective beyond debate, beyond right and wrong, beyond knowing and unknowing.
This I think was what Richard Rose was aiming for with his teaching on Betweenness.
Life cannot be fitted into mental constructs. Learning to live beyond mental constructs means learning to adopt a 'not-knowing,' or 'loose attachment to beliefs, ideas,' state of mind. It's about becoming comfortable with unknowing, loosening ourselves from the false security on definitive answers and beliefs while at the same time being loosely guided by ideas. It's like dancing lightly between or on top of ideas and beliefs. We don't allow ourselves to land heavily on any one position.

This pandemic has thrown the whole world into a state of not-knowing or betweenness. We are learning to dance between the notions of a vaccine being found, or drugs to treat the symptoms, or antibodies being harvested from those who have recovered, or an antiviral drug being found, or having to adopt a whole new long-term lifestyle of social distancing. It's all up in the air!
Life is always "up in the air" but we tend to forget or deny this. We tend towards a static position in the false belief that it is secure.

"Uncertainty is an uncomfortable position. But certainty is an absurd one." - Voltaire

From John J:
It seems to me that the question "To what extent do you shape your own destiny, and how much is down to fate?" assumes that there is a "I" that exists separately from the forces of fate. I do not experience myself this way. I experience myself as my entire physical body that is connected [to] the rest of the physical universe in myriad ways. As part of nature, I think I am subject to exactly the same laws of nature as everything else, participating in the inevitable flow of natural events that some people call fate. Yes, I am certainly shaping the direction of my life, my destiny, but not independently of all the other events around me with which I interact.

From Tim H:
When I first learned about spirituality and seeking I felt immediately this is what I was supposed to do. The Path energized efforts, motivations, strengths and talents to a degree I'd not seen in myself until then. The opportunity felt given to me but the effort to succeed seems to be my doing.

From Shawn Nevins:
The oozlum bird answers, "If I shaped my own destiny would it then be called fate?"

Coincidentally, Aimée and I were discussing this topic of will and destiny over coffee this morning. She made the fine point that people look at external circumstances and, feeling like a victim, call that "fate." They may neglect, however, to ask how the past 10, 20, 30 years of their thoughts and feelings have led to those external circumstances manifesting. However, the little "s" self takes that line of thinking and extrapolates that it's responsible for everything from the price of potatoes to world peace. "I should be able to work magic," it thinks, "and create whatever I want."

We must act as if we have the ability to shape our destiny, until we know otherwise. On a practical level, that's what we all do regardless of debate. Even the fatalist makes an effort to get out of bed, make a grocery list, and to take action in the world that leads to a desired outcome, however tiny that desire and action may be.

Yet the spiritual path demands massive action. To do that requires connection with a source of massive energy (i.e. massive desire). Thus we must find our desire (i.e. "fate" and "destiny"). While at the same time a tiny voice whispers that it all may be out of "our" hands. What is that tiny voice but the whisper of intuition pointing at the self which believes in a "self."

So we act as if we have free will, as if we create our destiny, while looking for the source of desire/self/will/thought. Then somewhere between the effort of our run and leap into the air, and the landing, is the truth.

Shawn Nevins (http://www.spiritualteachers.org/shawn-nevins/)

From Colm H:
Lol :-) ... this been a question that has come up a lot for me over the last year or two. My short answer is that logic, rationale and even some science tells me that I probably don't have a lot of influence in shaping my destiny, so fate holds the cards ... however, I still feel like I have input into the process.

From Art Ticknor:
The forces I think are at work:
    1. The life-force animating the body-mind.
    2. DNA influencing the organism's reactions.
    3. Mental processes influencing actions.
    4. Inputs to the mind, which the body-mind reacts to:
        a) Involving the 5 senses.
        b) And a 6th sense.
    5. Memories, which the organism processes and reacts to.

Did I cover everything?

What is destiny? I think of it as the summation of what we "become" or accomplish before death. There's an ultimate destiny or potential for an organism. For an acorn, which is the product of sexual reproduction, including DNA from a male and a female parent, but has no neurons or neural network, it's an oak tree, male or female, which carries on the perpetuation of its species. For the human being, it's enlightenment: becoming conscious of its source (the same as the acorn's source) and true identity, which is eternal perfection . . . that which is, was, and ever will be.

To what extent does the acorn or the human being shape its own destiny? It reacts to the life-force, which may be universally the same, that's animating it—influenced by DNA and other factors mentioned above. If conditions are right, the acorn or human organism reaches its full potential. Who or what determines the conditions that unfold? Who or what determines whether the acorn becomes an oak tree or the human organism realizes its unconditioned identity?

We humans are the hands at the end of the Aten's rays:

Egyptian Aten

Before self-realization, we're the penny blocking the sun (in Alfred Pulyan's terms: https://tatfoundation.org/forum2004-10.htm#6). We are what we do until we realize otherwise, per Richard Rose. We are the bowman, the arrow, and the target. We determine our own destiny 100 percent. The unfolding may be 100 percent random, or it may be fully determined by the initial conditions, as in the mathematics of chaos theory (of which I have no understanding). There's great evidence of intelligence involved, yet it's not evident back at Home, the source of all.

Could things have turned out any way other than they have? Good question.

Since we can't know anything absolutely other than our true identity / our Real Self, even the more we see that the mind is a reaction machine, we can't discount the possibility that there's wiggle room for the organism to affect the future. One way of doing that may be to encourage the longing that we feel for the eternally sacred to guide our life.

From Riley Holland:
The first thought that offers itself up in response to that question is this: I shape my own destiny completely, and yet the "I" that shapes that destiny is completely shaped by my destiny. I'm not trying to be cute or clever there, just attempting to articulate a difficult point. I've noticed that when I try to tell people that I experience myself as having no free will, they get the wrong idea, and assume I mean that I'm shaped by outside forces like other people, government, society, etc., whereas I could have free will if circumstances were otherwise. So that's the first part of my statement: I shape my own destiny completely in the relative sense, in the sense of having personal sovereignty as an individual among other individual and institutions. At the very least, having that attitude seems to be the healthiest relative perspective to have. It took me a long time to get to that place before even suspecting the existence of something like nonduality.

With that said, the individual that has that total sovereignty is not at all a product of "me." It's a product of countless influences that the sense of "I" had nothing to do with, and so the choices it makes are entirely "choiceless," merely the consequence of a long chain of events from the beginning of time. I may have taken responsibility for my relative fate, but that choice itself is itself a consequence of my destiny. In that broader sense, there is no free will, but no possibility of free will, either, only destiny. Separating those two aspects of this question (relative versus ultimate), especially as I try to make my sense of it articulable to others, has helped me gain more clarity as I try to get a handle on this particular issue during my continued process of self inquiry.

From Julia O:
It is my sense that we do not shape our own destiny. In those clear moments when the mind sits off to one side it appears to me that something far more expansive is running the show. In my darkest moments when caught in the clutches of my mind and I have yearned for release and the courage to surrender control, it somehow didn't or doesn't seem to work this way. Control seems to get surrendered and I, my mind or small self has nothing to do with it. It runs contrary to the mind's very existence.

I can still fall under the illusion that I do or can control my own destiny but it is clear to me that nothing in my life could have been different. A gradual relinquishing of control and an opening to surrender happens, not to anything or any higher being. There is simply "surrender". There opens a wee chink in the armour and LOVE awaits.

What I have written would suggest that much is down to fate. If there is anything we can do to change fate it may be in the little ways that we can try to invoke more discipline, e.g. do a walking meditation to thwart the desire for a glass of wine, face into mental discomfort rather than resist it. It 'appears' that there are ways we can help ourselves but deep down I sense that this is already our destiny.

From Ikeh:
My actions show that I believe what I do has an effect, and I'm not just an inert thing whose life trajectory is shaped by fate. It's more like a tango dance than captaining my own ship, though. In tango dancing we have a leader and follower, but it's not so much a hierarchy as it is a partnership. The follower has to practice reading the movements of the leader in order to respond and follow well. The leader has to practice giving clear cues to his or her partner. And then we switch roles; the leader become a follower, and vice versa. I think this is what's happening in my life. There are longings, stirrings, pulls here and there, sometimes conflicting with one another, and I practice discerning what to follow, interpreting the longing into a concrete pursuit or way of living. Sometimes, the mere act of saying yes to a particular call opens a concrete path to follow where previously I saw none. And sometimes, owning the feeling of desperation about being stuck in a particular situation yields a commitment, a willingness, to do anything to get out of the situation. What I notice so far, something in the universe seems to respond to such a desperate commitment/prayer, providing help and ways to follow.

From Mike Gegenheimer:
We are shadows which appear drawn together by fate and appear separated by destiny. The creation into which the shadows are cast appears to include rules of the game wherein the shadows are heavily programmed. But the wheels of the creation also turn in response to the desire and prayer to be whole, and a determination greater than death to know Truth.

So that a shadow may determine to know its Nature at all costs, may become a vector backing away from untruth and may, beyond all appearance and belief, realize all is "not two" - no shadows, no fate, no destiny.

From Tara S:
I have no idea… and I suspect it's possible there is no way to know if we have any control or not until we actually reach that "destiny" or "fate." But it seems to me the underlying question is that of free will. So I will reiterate what another person brought up in last month's forum, which was also the answer given to me by a TAT teacher one time when I was wrestling with the concept. The response was basically that we may not have free will, but we should probably act as though we do. And I see that as a prerequisite for survival. If we do, indeed, have some amount of free will, then we'd better behave in ways that at least appear to be in our own best interest according the highest ideal we can come up with, or it could get a lot uglier than it needs to be. Another take on it might be, when operating in the dark, it may be best to proceed with care, somewhat systematically, and yet to keep moving with a degree of fearlessness. That way, you have a better chance of maneuvering obstacles without harm while, at the same time, avoiding paralysis.

From Ann P:
In his expanded version of notes on 'Ultimate Between-ness', Bart Marshall wrote that there is a certain way of holding your head so that your desires become manifest in your life experience...destiny: "Richard Rose referred to this as between-ness.... Rose sometimes spoke of between-ness as living 'without fear of failure or hope of gain'. Between-ness can be used to get anything a person wants in life.... He also taught that between-ness could and should be employed as a means to Self-realization."

Shawn Nevins wrote, in a personal journal, about Richard Rose: "He implied that you bump into things, you don't make them happen."

A Course in Miracles: "The desire and the willingness to let it (TRUTH) come precede it coming ...prepare the mind only to the extent of recognizing that you want it above all else...realize you cannot do more.

Personally, I struggle with a wavering willingness, the false self doesn't know it does not exist.

From Gus R:
It seems to me that I have a choice, and I plan to continue to act as if I do. Anyway, I can't think how I would behave differently if all was choice or if all was predetermined. Can I choose to search, or is it that I am destined to search? Either way, I search. Besides, how could I determine if I caused something or if it just happens? My egoic position always sees itself as a determining factor. However, I know I did not choose to be who I am now, an incredible balancing act of conscious and unconscious forces, and physical and possible spiritual factors involved. The world is too complicated for me to decide let alone accomplish anything based on my limited perception, ability or knowledge. But I can observe and perhaps direct that attention.

From Brett S:
I didn't choose when to be born. I didn't choose my parents. I didn't choose which country, etc. All of these things are out of my control, and have shaped my destiny more than I can even fathom. Even given the parameters of this life, these circumstances, I don't think my thoughts and feelings determine "what happens next." I think I do whatever I seem to do because it's a habit (conditioning) or because something has intervened that has created new habits (often something I could never have expected). I think if I shaped my own destiny, I'd rarely be surprised by what happens in life. Most of the time, and even if the events themselves are predictable, my reactions to them and what comes next are complete surprises. "I was alone, I took a ride, I didn't know what I would find there." -The Beatles

From Anima Pundeer:
Do I create my thoughts? Am I choosing my desires? I have found that I am not the creator of my thoughts. Nor do I choose my desires. The organism acts based on the thoughts and desires that have taken the driving seat. Life starts to unfold in a particular direction.

I am a complete fatalist. I don't think even a leaf moves without the will of the Absolute. However, if I observe how I live my life, do I accept everything as God's gift, or do I complain if the situation is not to my liking. I complain. The nature of life is such that sooner or later it brings a man to his knees, where he finds no other choice but to surrender his will. Thought of surrender wouldn't even occur out of choice. It is hard to accept that you are not in charge.

In spite of having no control over thoughts and desires, I feel a human being can shape its destiny. This happens because he/she has 'self-awareness'. As Ouspensky said, a man starts to wake up only when he realizes how asleep he is. There was a movie, Her, where an operating system's intelligence sort of evolves with its experiences and eventually disappears into Awareness. I thought it was quite a philosophical and profound movie.

If I reflect back on my life, I am not really sure if I was destined to be where I am or if the organism evolved into its present state. In the story of Gautama Buddha, the prediction when he was born was that he would either be a great king or a great monk.

Sometimes I wonder if the Creator knows exactly what note it wants to play or is it spontaneous. I am happy to be the flute.

Next Month

Sapiens by Yuval Harari is a pop-science book about how human cognition has fueled our evolution, civilization, etc. His angle is more about how humans construct societies, but since he's talking about how our minds function, it has a lot of crossover to self-inquiry in general. In the book he says:

[People] often tell each other 'follow your heart'. But the heart is a double agent that usually takes its instructions from the dominant myths of the day, and the very recommendation to 'follow your heart' was implanted in our minds by a combination of 19th century Romantic myths and 20th century consumerist myths.

The Reader Commentary question for the July TAT Forum:

How do you know which feelings, thoughts, intuitions to trust?


~ Thanks to TAT member B.H. for the question. Please your responses by the 25th of June and indicate your preferred identification (the default is your first name and the initial letter of your last name).

PS: What question(s) would you like to ask other TAT Forum readers?

Other Reader Feedback

From Joe Blazenski in response to a question in the email announcements that the new month's Forum is online:

The following question really got my attention!

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?

I could not answer this question after a couple of hours of typing, deleting and typing again. I decided not to answer the questions of the reader as I don't fall into the category (step on the ladder) of "searching and have questions" anymore and focus on "finding and completing". I can readily answer the specific questions about my journey as an individual that were asked by the reader, but that is not my personal "interest" anymore. The specific question that TAT asked "Can I (You) help make the forum more "interesting"" is something I don't have enough information to help with since I don't know WHO will be reading the Forum.

A "how to" on "more interesting" requires that I know WHO is requesting the "more interesting". This specific reader seems to clearly know and express what would be interesting to them, yet that reader is not the only person reading the Forum. I can be interesting with "help" when I have knowledge of the interests of who, specifically, I am "helping". I cannot generically "help" "the Forum" as there are multiple readers with varying "interests."

I agree with the reader that "endless advice and answers" are not necessarily interesting because of the distance between the reader's and contributor's currently occupied step.

TAT's tagline [for the TAT Foundation News section of the Forum] is:

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

I am interested in becoming fully enlightened "in this very lifetime" and I find the answers and advice extremely interesting AND helpful for that specific interest.

Perhaps the full "Jacob's ladder" diagram would be helpful to include in every issue of the forum. It's won't take up much real estate and would perhaps give context to where posts fit in relationship to the step being addressed. That will not make the forum more "interesting" to a reader, but it will give context to where their personal interests might be met.

"Better not to begin. Once begun, better to finish." [Mastering the Core Teaching of the Buddha by Daniel Ingram.]

Thanks for proving a question that isn't generically answerable! It brought me back to examining which step I might occupying on the ladder. My "interests" are a "helpful" indicator for determining that.


Thanks for the thoughtful response and request, Joe. Actually the "ladder work" in the tag line refers to helping bring seekers on the rung below us up to our rung of the ladder extending from "earth" to "heaven." The diagram of that Jacob's Ladder that Richard Rose drew is an attempt to show the generic path of the seeker on that climb or "going within."

We'll display the Jacob's Ladder diagram at the end of the Founder's Wisdom section below in the Forum. - Editor.

From Don A. [referencing the questions following the How to Enjoy Studying article in last month's TAT Forum]:

Q: Does this approach apply to a self-inquiry / meditation practice as well?
"Becoming curious" and "learning how to play" are childhood characteristics, an innocent sponge-like openness that welcomes and embraces what catches the attention. Such openness guided by an intuition may be a best practice.

Q: Are there puzzles in front of you that you could challenge yourself to try to solve?
To become like that child again, open, curious and innocent.

Q: Can we study the mind by becoming curious about how it works?
Curiosity is the capturing of one's attention in such a way that attention is then compelled to continue facing that direction. Curiosity can get us to face the mind, to ask questions, but it seems something else needs to guide us past the mind in order to see the mind from some clearer viewpoint.

From Brett S. [also referencing the questions following the How to Enjoy Studying article in last month's TAT Forum]:

"Human beings learn through play. The more your study becomes play, the more you'll enjoy it, but also the more you'll learn."
Q: Does this approach apply to a self-inquiry / meditation practice as well?

I think if I don't learn to love something, I can't make it the focus of my life. That applies to self-inquiry. Loving something doesn't mean it makes me happy all the time. I think of professional athletes and professional musicians. Most love what they do, I think, but that doesn't mean there aren't long days on the road or hours of practice that can feel grueling or worse. Love can lead to commitment. In fact, it's hard for me to imagine making a commitment to anything I don't love. Playing can create an openness. When there's no resistance to the activity, new perspectives can come in because I'm not focused on forcing myself to do something.

From Bill [referencing the question following the When I Die: Lessons from the Death Zone video in last month's TAT Forum]:

Q: Do you feel that cognitive reframing would solve the Damocles Sword of death for you?
From what I know, reframing is about trading or changing a negative belief in order to create a healthy attitude. I feel that the purpose of life is to recognize some permanent existence, and certainly not search for beliefs to buy us time and peace until death.

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?

Amish barn moving. ~ Thanks to Amish Cheer Cards.

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 4 of a talk given at Ohio State University in 1978
(continued from the March 2020 TAT Forum), the April 2020 TAT Forum and the May 2020 TAT Forum):

I go back to this little story that I got into when I was studying theology: "The finite mind will never perceive the infinite." And when you start talking with people about philosophy they'll say, "I'm going where everybody else goes." They think everybody is equally stupid, everybody is equally limited, everybody is going to die and have exactly the same experience. But now we're getting books like Moody's which show that everybody doesn't die and have the same experience. So some of these minds must be different.

Process observer

Now the process observer is the first inkling of an intuition. The process observer may find that there's something inhibiting the thinking. For instance, I had a daughter who was hypothyroid: she couldn't think and she couldn't help herself, she couldn't clear up her thinking. I saw her standing in a daze one time for about two hours and I gave her hell for it. She started weeping and said, "'I can't think." And we took her to the doctor and he pumped her full of something, some hormone, and then she was able to think. Consequently, sometimes you can't help yourself. But once she got that balance in her thyroid, then she became functional. Then she could think and say, "I'd better remember to take these pills, to keep myself on track." And this is the same.

There are things that can get out of whack. I talked about physical pride and taking care of yourself. There are certain improper balances in nutrition that will make it more difficult for you to stay awake and think properly. There's a lot about this that you can learn. But I think this comes basically from the process observer; he's watching the differences in your systems of thinking, and then he feeds this into the umpire. So this becomes another factor: the vitamin pill, the thyroid shot, the cold shower, whatever it is to make your thinking change, or to hold your state of mind to get the thought. Most of us can't keep a state of mind long enough to solve a problem. And these are great problems to solve....

See the complete final part of "Relative and Absolute"

~ Thanks to Steve Harnish for the annotated transcription. for information on the transcription project.

Jacob's Ladder (Richard Rose diagram)

Jacob's Ladder © 2001 Richard Rose. Transcript of a talk on the topic by Rose.

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

And the beginnings of an expanded meeting room!:

the beginnings of an expanded meeting room

The Homing Ground is relatively quiet at the moment, though Bob and Mark are busy improving the grounds and have added a walking trail.  As might be expected with the current Coronavirus challenges, our fundraising is quiet as well.  We still need a boost from all you Forum readers, but take care of yourselves first! We are 23% of the way to raising $70,000. Note that for 2020, the U.S. CARES act will allow many people to easily deduct charitable contributions of $300 per taxpayer ($600 for a married couple). Read more at https://info.pgcalc.com/cares-act and check with your tax advisor.

The gravel parking area is ready!
The water system has been upgraded!
Beds and chairs are in place!
The meeting room expansion is in progress!

We still need to raise around $50,000, to:
Finish the meeting room
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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Beyond Mind, Beyond Death is available at Amazon.com.

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