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

TAT Forum

July 2020

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

Eternal Perfection

Consider that what you are is eternal perfection.

Taking that as a hypothesis, and considering what you may feel are your imperfections, what does it tell you about faulty beliefs you may have about your true identity?

Consider that eternal perfection is anterior to time and space.

Taking that as a hypothesis, and considering what you may feel are your limitations in time and space, what does it tell you about faulty beliefs you may have about your true identity?

"Who or what am I?"

The nondualist may say: You don't exist. The self doesn't exist. Existence Is.

The realist may say: The you that you believe yourself to be, the you of the body-mind, does exist. The word exist comes from Latin ex + sistere, to stand outside of. That you is like the hand at the end of a ray from the sun in the Egyptian aten symbol. It stands outside of its source, the center or essence. Existence seems; being Is.

Abraham, who lived about 2,000 years before Jesus, is considered the first patriarch of the Jewish people. As Jesus reportedly said to Scribes and Pharisees who were questioning his teaching, "Before Abraham was, I am."

Before Jesus was, you are. It doesn't solve the problem of existence to believe whatever we may believe about what we are. We have to die before we die to find our essential identity.

Golden Gate Bridge drawing

A participant in an email self-inquiry group wrote: This is getting harder to find the right questions for each person now!

Let's go back to basics: Why are we doing self-inquiry?

My view (conclusion, belief, interpretation, etc.): It's the search for solid ground, for certainty.

Your view:


Where can we find certainty?

My view: Within. Our identity is the only true certainty, the absolute point of reference.

Richard Rose's view: Nothing can be known for sure until the knower is known.

Your view:


How can we find certainty?

My view: By seeing, and admitting to ourselves, that our current views are shaky, that we really know nothing for sure about what we are. When the arch of self-beliefs is loosened, then life can challenge the keystone in the arch. When the arch falls, we find ourselves back Home.

Your view:


Richard Rose: Another term for self-inquiry is self-definition.

My view: That's a brilliant inference. To define is to "state or describe exactly the nature, scope, or meaning of," to "mark out the boundary or limits of." It comes from the Latin verb definire, "set bounds to" or "bring to an end."

Your view:


Richard Rose: Definition requires comparison.

My view: That's another ingenious conclusion. We back our way through the maze of the mind, the labyrinth of relativity, by having our self-beliefs challenged. For those challenges to occur, we have to encounter contrasting views that are equally convincing.

Your view:


Where do we find the "right questions" to challenge ourselves or others?

My view: Notice what inspires or irritates us. Inspiration (literally, breathing in) inflates us, encourages us to act, to acquire or accomplish something that will increase our happiness/satisfaction or decrease our unhappiness/dissatisfaction. Irritation encourages us to act in order to eliminate the disturbance. Inspiration and irritation will reveal underlying self-beliefs if we look for them.

Your view:


Why do we run out of questions to ask ourselves or others?

My view: Lack of curiosity. Why? Complacency: We think we've seen what's there and that our interpretations of what we've seen are as good as they're going to get. Pride (although as sophisticated seekers we're often identified with the flip side of the coin: depression, gloom, melancholy, misery, pain, sadness, sorrow, trouble, unhappiness, etc.). Exhaustion (from depression, gloom, melancholy, etc.).

Your view:


What can we do about it?

My view: Ask ourselves or others what our view/conclusion/belief/conviction/interpretation is of any topic that inspires or irritates us. Then probe for underlying self-beliefs.

Your view:


Reminder: Definition requires comparison. If someone else's view agrees with ours, we may get a clue as to compatible self-beliefs. If their view differs from ours, we may get a clue as to incompatible self-beliefs.

Agree? Disagree?


Koan: Your best friend is a question that feels relevant to you and that you don't yet have an answer to.

Agree? Disagree?


~ Richard Rose student and TAT member Art Ticknor.

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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

Webmaster Position

With thanks to Ram S. for his many years of support as TAT's Webmaster, TAT is seeking a new Webmaster! The Webmaster helps support the current website and presents a great opportunity to volunteer with TAT and help craft the "look" and improve the functionality of our website. At a minimum, the role requires basic knowledge of HTML/CSS, as the current TAT website is hand coded rather than using a platform like Wordpress (though there is interest in migrating to Wordpress). The time commitment averages 1-2 hours per week. If interested, TAT.

In Memoriam

Dan Panchura

Many of the older members of the TAT Foundation will remember Dan Panchura. We learned very recently that Dan passed away March 26, 2019. Dan was active as a member of the Pittsburgh group, known as the Pyramid Zen Society, from roughly 1973 to 1976, and eventually moved to the Wheeling area during that time.

Dan was an affable and insightful friend on the path, participating in many public meetings and rapport sessions in Pittsburgh, quarterly TAT meetings at the Rose farm, TAT Chautauquas, and summer intensives on the Rose farm. He is someone with whom I personally shared a close bond of enduring friendship from sitting in some remarkable rapport sessions for several years with Dan and another mutual close friend, Frank Mascara.

Dan evidenced a dynamic energy, and his sense of humor and twinkle in his eye reflected his fun-loving nature. This was balanced with a deep seriousness, typified by an oft-repeated refrain, "We're living a lie." His sincere interest in finding an answer to life's deepest questions are also reflected in a few emails he exchanged with friends after leaving the Wheeling area.

Dan is mentioned several times in the book, "After the Absolute," and was a part of the TAT group during the early period when numerous people worked with Richard Rose described in the book. Dan left active involvement with the group in 1976, and eventually settled with his wife, Linda, in Maryland where he raised two sons, and enjoyed his 7 grandchildren.

While Dan was absent from the TAT group for a long time, Dan was a friend on the path for many of those who were active students of Richard Rose in the early to mid-1970s. It is sad to hear of his passing. – Mike Gegenheimer


Someone with whom I was friends with going back to the early 70s when Richard Rose founded the TAT Foundation sent me several boxes of old files a couple years ago. I placed them alongside other file cabinets that I've kept for countless years, thinking one day I'll start sorting through it all. When I learned that another TAT friend from the early 70s, Dan Panchura, had passed away, it prompted me to search through these files. I found a few random bits of writing intermingled with others that included notes that appeared to be from Dan. Since I didn't know Dan very well, even though the time period of our residing at Rose's house and farm overlapped, I was quite surprised by some of these bits of writing.

I remember feeling the eternal in that kitchen, and I eventually rationalized it as:  Reality was outside in the back yard,  through that screen door. If I stay in here with Him, I will be safe... but what was safe? My ability to remain relative!

… Last year I suddenly felt one with all men and felt that there was a Love which bound us all….

… And what more can I say except ... those around you (close to you) will one day (one life?) have a feeling of nostalgia about you, never able to quite put their finger on this feeling, but never the less will want so much to somehow know the One in you. They will not be able to verbalize it quite correct, but they will "know somehow" they must, above all, try to find "it."  Your fact status is the reason the sleepers will one day awaken. It is the only gold you can leave them ... not so bad is it!

Rest in peace old friend, and peace to the wanderers. – Bob Cergol

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 August spiritual retreat weekend is scheduled tentatively for TAT's new retreat center in North Carolina but may be held online again. We will post more details as plans develop. See the events page for descriptions of the past four weekend events.


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, Ohio self-inquiry group, now known as the Central Ohio Non-Duality Group, has continued to meet virtually on Tuesday evenings at 6:30PM during the Coronavirus pandemic. Please email one of the people's names below if you wish to get a link to the meeting. Meeting format involves discussion of 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 look forward to the easing of restrictions to the point where we feel comfortable meeting again in person. ~ 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 are still suspended while the library remains closed. In the meantime, the regular participants are saying hello to each other via email every Sunday, sharing whatever is on our minds. ~ 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.

A new self-inquiry group is forming in Houston, TX:
Currently meeting weekly on a backyard patio. ~ 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 7pm - 8:30pm, online, via zoom. Norio Kushi, Paul Rezendes, and Bob Harwood are consistent guests. We've also had some other interesting characters show up from time to time. Topics come from readings or questions brought up by our members. These are sent out, along with the zoom invitation each week. Recently we posted some "considerations" for joining our group:
** Try to frame your comments as questions to Norio, Paul, or Bob. Draw these questions from you own experience rather than generalities. Maintain attention and discussion on the question rather than philosophical musings.
** Question other participants, in the spirit of group-assisted self inquiry, but without attempting to lead them to any particular conclusion or bring attention to yourself.
**Allow for and attend to the silence and the space that is always present. When you aren't speaking, see that as your role - to hold that space.
**Question, in yourself, the use of personal story-telling and quoting others - though sometimes both are helpful and appropriate.
**Consider the way in which you are listening. Does it have a quality of acquisitiveness or openness?
**Continue to question your own intention for coming to this meeting and let that guide any comments/questions/discussion.
~ Please contact or if you're interested in being on the email list.

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 are starting the The Way of Selflessness by Joel Morwood. Our open meeting to discuss the whole book will be on September 6th. The book club also includes an optional weekly call-in and Slack channel to talk about the content of the book with other seekers along the way. Anyone can attend and contribute conversation mid-book. If wanting to get a sense of Joel Morwood, Shawn Nevins recently interviewed him for the Journals of Spiritual Discovery Joel also mentions the book on his Center for Sacred Sciences website. ~ 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:
We have continued to meet for group confrontation on-line every Wednesday of June, 8pm via Zoom. We invited our Meetup group (link above) of 200 some members to discuss and confront our personal existence on one Sunday evening, but turnout was meager (ah, zero). We'll try a couple more invitationals to see if there is anyone alive on Meetup, perhaps with topics from teachers such as Ramana Maharshi or Eckhart Tolle. Also, we were invited to return to meet at the local Friends Meeting House but have decided to decline for the time-being.
All Forum subscribers are welcome to join us. If interested in participating, please email for weekly topics and invitations.

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. ~ 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

Easily Entertained?

dog chased his tail

~ Thanks to Michael R.

Terry Pratchett 3+

I'll be more enthusiastic about encouraging thinking outside the box when there's evidence of any thinking going on inside it.

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God does not play dice with the universe; He plays an ineffable game of His own devising, which might be compared, from the perspective of any of the other players [i.e. everybody], to being involved in an obscure and complex variant of poker in a pitch-dark room, with blank cards, for infinite stakes, with a Dealer who won't tell you the rules, and who smiles all the time.

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Albert: "Oh, yes, sir. But alcohol sort of compensates for not getting them."

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

Guru U

become a guru

~ From Sankalpa Yoga, thanks to Tim H.

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

A Letter to My Younger Self

Hello anima,

I understand that you are at that point in life where any hope of finding happiness ever again seems unlikely. Life has become a burden. Even the slightest ray of 'hope' right now feels painful. You just want to disappear forever. Not having to wake up tomorrow seems like a respite-full idea.

Life happens. You have seen how temporary and impermanent this life-charade is. No matter how much you want any happy experience to continue, it doesn't. Maybe it is a good thing. Because it means the not so happy moment will also get over at some point. Though painful times always feel much longer, all beginnings have an end.

This acute dissatisfaction, within, which you had thought would go away with this new relationship, job, place, or cool toy, seems to be a state that you can't get rid of. No matter what you do. It gets harder to distract yourself from this inner void. I know often you think of ending this all for good by simply killing yourself. This will probably be a way of showing Life that you are not a victim. You do not have to tolerate this pain anymore. A few extra pills and then the peaceful sleep forever.

But what if this nightmare does not end. What if, just like everything else, this peaceful, permanent sleep that you so much want right now, is also temporary. You know from experience that there is nothing permanent about this reality. As you understand yourself better, you realize that all this pain and suffering you had thought was coming from outside is really within. Outside is only mirroring inside.

Buddha said that suffering is the essential fire that burns the impurities of the gold for it to become pure. I know right now you can't appreciate the fact that if you weren't in this prison of life, you would have no interest in wanting Freedom. Or if this all means anything at all. I know you smirk when you read advice from Ramana to put your baggage down when traveling on a train. Your precious baggage of unmet expectations, punctured projections, unfulfilled desires, unsaid words, hurtful words, humiliations, broken pride. Do you realize you are addicted to your story of suffering? This story is who you are. This is your identity. Expecting you to be able to see that anything could be outside of this prison would not be fair. But you do have the desire to become Free. If you are expecting that the path that you are seriously contemplating to take will lead you to freedom, then, my friend, you may be wrong. Such dying may not be the answer.

I do not know what will happen to you if you decide to sleep tonite, but my suspicion is that the dream, if the dreamer doesn't Wake up, will continue. And what do you expect the next turn in the dream will be? What I am saying to you, idiot-me, is listen to that tiny inner voice. This might be your opportunity to become Freedom, to become Absolute, to become Love. There is a reason why life is unfolding for you the way it is. What do you feel it is trying to teach you? What is the direction it is making you go?

Now the good news: Hitting rock bottom, if survived, you become serious about really finding the Absolute Answer to ALL your problems. You know that nothing short of the complete Answer can cure you of this pain. The little voice inside is saying that this season will pass also. Thank god impermanence is the nature of this existence. Once that inner decision about what your purpose in life is made, you will realize that universe aligns itself to assist you towards the final end of your journey.

If you are on this forum and reading this, then I assume you know what I am talking about. Characters might be different, but the screenplay is more or less the same. I have found that the mind is an amazing gift that you have been given. Learn to use it wisely or else it can cause unrepairable damage. Don't become a victim of sheer physiology. Your mind will find the Answer to the Question you ask. What question are you asking?

When all feels dark, just remember Me....

I want to be able to write this letter to you, so don't deprive me of this opportunity. And please be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle (Plato).



~ A friend and fellow-seeker, who had been active in TAT and in the Pittsburgh self-inquiry group in the middle years of the previous decade along with several of us still active in TAT, committed suicide in April. That event prompted Anima Pundeer to write the above letter to any seekers who find themselves contemplating an intentional ending of their life.


Spilling Over


when i am little
practicing piano

Dad sits by me
a whip besides his thigh

close enough
to keep me
from running off

long enough
'til music
the whip

"What Some Friends Say Upon Parting"

in the time of COVID-19
i get to accompany
Dad and his friends
stumble our way
to a Zoom gathering
to say goodbye
to a departing friend

what do these friends say
upon parting?
i wish you courage
i wish you peace
i wish you strength

i pray for you
i thank you
i love you

i'll always remember
puerto rico
the spicy crab dish you made
that time you slapped me

i'll miss you

the sound struck




~ Thanks to TAT member Tina N., who made a moving presentation in the 2020 June virtual TAT gathering. She commented on the above: "Some poems on discipline and friendship have been swirling in my heart, and they are spilling over."

3 Mental Blocks That Keep You From Doing What You Say You Want to Do

Daniella Balarezo, a Media Fellow at TEDx and a writer and comedian based in NYC, outlines the phenomenon that New York City cognitive psychologist and coach Amanda Crowell labels as defensive failure and how to beat it in this TED Ideas post.

Here's a 17-minute TEDx presentation by Amanda Crowell:


Q: Do you share any of the 3 primary blocks that Crowell identifies? Other?

This Is Your Brain on Silence

Contrary to popular belief, peace and quiet is all about the noise in your head.

"Freedom from noise and goal-directed tasks, it appears, unites the quiet without and within, allowing our conscious workspace to do its thing, to weave ourselves into the world, to discover where we fit in. That's the power of silence.

"Noora Vikman, an ethnomusicologist, and a consultant on silence for Finland's marketers, knows that power well. She lives in the eastern part of Finland, an area blanketed with quiet lakes and forests. In a remote and quiet place, Vikman says, she discovers thoughts and feelings that aren't audible in her busy daily life. 'If you want to know yourself you have to be with yourself, and discuss with yourself, be able to talk with yourself.'"

~ Thanks to this Nautilus article by Daniel A. Gross, a freelance journalist and public radio producer who writes about history and science.


Q: Are there thoughts and feelings that aren't audible in your normal daily life?
Q: What have you found that helps you "be with yourself and know yourself"?

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?

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 this month is:

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

~ Thanks to TAT member B.H. for the question.

From RS:
In my experience I've never come to understand what feelings or thoughts to trust. It looks like all the thoughts and feelings that arise have a relationship with the past. In other words, my feelings and thoughts are conditioned by my past experience. I do have one strong intuition though. That intuition is that something is wrong with the world - it's sort of unreal but not exactly unreal. And there is a firm conviction that that intuition is very trustworthy.

From Patrick K:
For me it comes down to direction. A person does not know what is good, bad or otherwise if he doesn't have direction. I read that in Ouspensky's The Fourth Way. It makes sense to me. Like how could a person know right or wrong if they have no direction? If you have direction, a goal pulling you forward, you get to know what is right. You get to know what is wrong, which is anything that impedes the overall goal. I think then the onus is on finding out your intentions and motivations for everything you do. Do they support or do they detract from your direction. All feelings, thoughts and intuitions will then be serving your number-one purpose. Well that's what came to mind when I saw this question. And I think that the trust is proportional to the commitment you make. Like if you have a half-assed approach, it is hard to trust anything. I know this because I have experience of it, and I suppose that experience helps too.

From Tyler T:
This is a practical and most important question. It is, of course, only relative to consciousness identifying as a separate doer that feels the constant burden that it might get it wrong and miss out on Realization, Liberation, etc. Since you aren't a separate doer and ALL your thoughts, intuitions, and feelings are in fact your true Self always and already showing up exactly as those thoughts, feelings, and intuitions -- you can't get it wrong and are in fact free right now. But . . . that isn't helpful, is it? You don't see that, and more importantly feel that, and therefore need something to hang onto. A compass to trust. A guide to follow. I understand all too well!

What I saw for myself is that in everyday relative experience there is such a guide. We could call this guide the "heart" or "Johnny" - it makes no difference. This guide is closer to you than your own breath. Getting onto true fidelity with this guide (as opposed to the appearing world in its many facets) is a beautiful thing and the start of a unique "grail quest." But it is far from easy.

Being kinesthetically orientated, my guide showed up for me as the subtle, quiet, and calm feeling of "yes." It never really used words or visualizations like it might for someone else. Just the simple and everyday feeling of "yes." As in "yes" it just feels right to read that book, or to ask that person on a date, or to take that job. This "yes" never showed up with an agenda and never was focused deep into the future. It was only a "yes" relative to the next small step right in front of me (appearing in life or on the spiritual path).

To be honest, getting onto this "yes" was a real battle for a long time for me. Because although there was sometimes a subtle tinge of joy and excitement accompanying that "yes" often it was just the opposite and this "yes" was counseling me to take a step the conditioned mind really didn't want to take. The doubts, confusion, and fear-driven thinking would often drown out this "yes" and I would lose touch with it. But eventually I got adept with it. And slowly but surely I learned to trust it because I saw that when I went with the "yes" things seemed to work out, and every time I gave into the fear of the conditioned mind it only led to more fear and confusion down the road. Fear/doubts beget fear/doubts. "Yes begets "Yes."

In retrospect, I think anyone can get onto their "guide," their "heart," their "yes." And anyone can learn to follow it. It just takes courage, patience, and sincerity. A lot of it! Because if your life is anything like mine has been, that "yes" will ask you to do many, many things your conditioned mind is not at all comfortable with and sometimes even terrified of. Coming into communion with that "yes" felt like walking on the razor's edge for years and like I could get sliced and diced at any moment. I don't want to sugarcoat it. And yet, I can tell you this: I wouldn't trade the years spent really learning to trust that "yes" for absolutely anything else -- all satoris/awakenings included.

From Michael R:
What seems important here is to recognize what feelings, thoughts, and intuitions are in the first place . . . as much as we can, that is. Where do they come from and what do they reflect? Perhaps equally important, where do our beliefs about what feelings, thoughts, and intuitions are come from . . . and are they accurate? Feeling and intuition in particular often take an exalted role in spiritual seeking. So long as we've convinced ourselves that it was intuition that led to our decision, well then it's basically like a message from God.

While I'm open to the idea that intuition may serve a more mystical role, my personal experience with intuition is that it's simply the subconscious processing of information and the "gut feeling" we get about things in response to that processing. The subconscious mind can process much more information than the conscious mind, so intuition deserves special attention, especially since it can be overlooked by comparatively louder (and potentially less reliable) emotions and thoughts. But this doesn't mean intuition is perfect, and from what I can see it (and our ability to hear and correctly interpret it) grows and evolves over time.

We want to find a magic rule to stand on, like if we can just know for certain what voice to trust we can surrender to it all the way Home, at least that's something I've hoped for at times along the way. It's difficult to stand in the middle of uncertainty and doubt every tool you have. Difficult, and I'd say necessary. Doubt them all, use one to check the other, and understand where they all come from. Hold everything tentatively, but don't let that paralyze movement. Move with what seems most true in the moment and learn as you go. These are a few personal insights I've found helpful along the way.

From Tess Hughes:
I'm going to hone in on one particular aspect of this question; intuition.

Never was there a word with more interpretations, descriptions, associations and so on, than this word. Every major religion in the world and philosopher and psychologist has had something to say about it....

See Tess's complete response.

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

From MT:
The feelings, thoughts, intuitions feel correct at a gut level. The message...it just seems right and trustworthy. Life experience resulting from action taken often verifies the correctness of the feeling and knowing. From my perspective at my present level of consciousness...it seems the will and the energy involved is where this gut level is working from even though intuition and heart intelligence may be at work also. I worked for 20 years with an organization doing scientific research on heart intelligence, developing intuition and achieving emotional coherence, and following the heart was part of the philosophy involved in helping people achieve coherence and emotional intelligence. A person was coached in noticing their negative emotions and using the heart's intelligence...one was taught to change those negative stressful emotions to more positive emotions. I even heard from one of my clients that the method kept him from committing suicide. While this method is very good at helping people achieve a more balanced and healthy state...I have since come to realize that at a deeper level...the method does not address why I am experiencing the negative emotions in the first place. While some negative emotions are useless...I notice that others such as fear and a sense of discomfort are often messages alerting me to look deeper. All these thoughts, emotions, feelings, and intuitions make up my self. So if I follow my heart, where at a deeper level are the instructions coming from...an immature will/ego/self with its worldly desires or a self surrendering its life and being to the Divine?

From Shawn Nevins:
I assume Harari only refers to the phrasing (rather than the idea) "follow your heart" as a product of 19th and 20th century myths. Certainly the Greeks distinguished between intuitive and empirical cognition. In the modern-day Clairvision school, there is a distinction between feeling and emotion which I find helpful to establish a language to answer the question "How do you know which feelings, thoughts, intuitions to trust?" "Emotion" is defined as reactions having a quality of grasping that ultimately stems from a traumatic experience, while "feeling" is a reaction that stems from a connection to a higher self. Feel free to debate the details, but what's key to understand is that a feeling can be directly perceived, or a feeling can trigger an emotion which then covers the feeling. In that case, it is only the emotion which is perceived. That "the heart is a double agent" is true -- to a degree. The messages from the heart are influenced and overlaid by our fears, desires, hopes, dreams, traumas, preconceptions, biases, etc. For example, one need only think of motherly love which becomes stifling....

See Shawn's complete response.

Shawn Nevins (http://www.spiritualteachers.org/)

From Anonymous:
When I hear "Follow your heart," it usually falls flat. I get more of a handle on one's heart being in the right place, which connotes a ready state of care, humbleness, and outgoing love. "Follow your heart" has become a big tent of presumed consensus, just as following your intuition, or even common sense, often gets a pass without being examined. You hear of uncommon sense, or of something being counter-intuitive. When it comes to feelings, some of us are the of the enthusiast type, who go through life body surfing these waves. Who prefer to navigate by the feel of things. And what is deeply felt may be of a real nature, but the feeling itself is susceptible to volatility and misrepresentation, so that we act away from it; impulsively, inconsistently, running hot and cold, never seeming to wise up.

As one of these enthusiasts, I can't really trust my feelings and their thoughts when I'm in the center of them, so it behooves me to wait until I have quieted down. Sometimes this happens spontaneously during the day, when something poignant takes hold of me. This brings a subdued intensity, and a certain depth of sensitivity is possible not normally available. Sometimes I'll find myself in a state where the slightest, most ordinary things suddenly bring tears, which I see as a sign that some resistance in me is on the verge of giving way. And other times, I need certain conditions to enhance receptivity to gnosis. Solitary retreats used to be ideal for this. And fasts have almost always opened up a subtle dimension of the mind, sense, and being. What is subtle has a distinct flavor of impression, and isn't difficult to recognize when you've loosened up or changed up your everyday default mode. I trust with great confidence these subtle cues and messages because they come unsolicited, and quietly, unforcefully so.

I can tell you there is one almost foolproof indication that I am being guided or pointed in the right direction, and that is when a series of synchronicities occur in a concentrated period of time. Whenever this is going on, I'm usually in a charged condition due to a singular question, problem, or heightened mood occupying my attention, and I feel it's imperative to really start taking notice.

From Robert W:
Looking back on my life as a seeker, it started with a lack of trust in my thoughts, feelings and intuition. Furthermore, I cannot say that there was an active project or goal to develop an intuition or a trust in feelings or thoughts. For me there was study of various teachings ranging across many paths, but starting primarily with the Indian vedantic nondual tradition, then after many other explorations including the most recent with TAT, I have arrived not with a trust, or an intuition to trust, but with a Knowledge based on a seeing or recognizing of what was and is deathless and Undeniable.

This knowledge may be said to have arisen from a deep intuition but there certainly no sense of having to decide to trust it. When the vision is seen there is no question of trusting it. There is however an element of trusting it, when later old thoughts or psychological complexes or memories return to the scene. But the knowledge itself seem to be the result of hearing a teaching with an open mind so that what is true is implanted and then gradually first intellectually consented to through self-examination, and then the vision becomes a way of being.

From ks:
This is an interesting combination of prompts to write about the heart. But first let me answer the basic question.

For most of my adult life I have noticed certain tells. If a decision is involved, even one of significant consequence, the lower my anxiety level, the more confidently I can trust my intuition. When I can truly let go and act from a totally detached place, then I know all will be well. Put another way, when I am honestly OK with whatever outcome may result – the issue seems to always turn out for the best. I sense a similarity here with the between-ness spoken of by Richard Rose and Bart Marshall. On the other hand, if I am feeling very indecisive, there is a good chance I am relying too much on my emotionally clouded mind. Intuition always involves clarity and is very different from emotions. Paradoxically, because of their effects on the body, emotions can be used to shift into that state of clarity where we can better access our intuition. I'll say more about that below.

I have not read the book Sapiens by Yuval Harari, but based solely on the above quote, I take exception to what seems to me a limited and outdated view of the role the heart plays in our conscious life.

Research in the last few decades has shown that the role the heart plays is much greater than previously believed in accessing not only decision making effectiveness, but other high level functions such as flow (referred to by athletes as being "in the zone"), improved cognitive function, management of anger and other emotions, stress reduction, and effective communication. There are ganglia in the heart (and the gut) that are the same as brain cells. The heart actually sends more information to the brain than the brain sends to the heart. Following your heart can actually be a very effective strategy if you learn the techniques – and they are very straightforward, involving heart focused breathing and an emotional shift – for enhancing the coherence of these communications between the heart and the brain. There are also biofeedback devices to reinforce the learning process. The nonprofit HeartMath Institute has been researching this area and providing training since the early 1990's. I taught the HeartMath tools for over three years to women coming out of prison, for reducing test anxiety and improving emotional management. (We raised the GED test pass rate from 63% to 89%.) I suggest that there may be more to "following your heart" than the romantic and consumerist myths Harari refers to. Whether we simply notice it or have consciously brought it about, the mind works best when integrated with the wisdom of the heart.


‡ Research has shown that the heart communicates to the brain in four major ways: neurologically (through the transmission of nerve impulses), biochemically (via hormones and neurotransmitters), biophysically (through pressure waves) and energetically (through electromagnetic field interactions).

From Brett S:
Two ideas: 1) Investigating the bodily needs underlying thoughts and feelings, and 2) developing the intuition through the communication channel of spiritual action (whatever "spiritual action" means to you). Returning to the question, I looked up the word "know" and saw one of the definitions is "recognize the nature of." Can I recognize the nature of the motives or agendas behind any particular feeling or thought? With feelings and thoughts, I've noticed that a lot of what they want is about fulfilling the needs of the body. "Eat this, sleep now, look at her, stand up, sit down." I assume the question comes from a concern with more conceptual things, like, "should I quit my job?" or "should I go on an isolation retreat?" I think the thoughts and feelings that come up in response to those questions can also be motivated by the body (including a desire for immortality). My theory is that, with some exceptions, thoughts and feelings generally try to answer the question, "is this good for the body?" For intuition, which I may have heard Art describe as a "probability calculator," I have a totally different theory. The intuition is like a metaphorical genie that predicts what action is most likely to grant me my wish. It's predictive power isn't perfect, and it doesn't explain its reasoning. Most importantly, it notices what I care about—what I put my time and energy into—and guides me in that direction regardless of whether it aligns with a mental story about what I say I want, or claim is my true desire, etc. I see spiritual activities as a way to communicate with my inner genie about what I want most of all. When conscious mind and unconscious mind are on the same page, the intuitive genie becomes more powerful. Developing that power through spiritual action can increase its trustworthiness.

From James S:
If I bring my attention to a feeling, thought, or intuition, then do I see my situation in a new light? If I do, then I try to identify the source of this feeling, thought, or intuition. If I can imagine something of value being brought to fruition from this source, then I do my best to trust this feeling, thought, or intuition. I also think I place too much trust in short-lived feelings and thoughts and not not enough trust in the mysterious and unpredictable revelations of life.

From Jeroen V:
I don't know which thoughts, feelings or intuitions to trust. The question seems to have a false presupposition, namely that if I make the right decision, everything will be ok. And also that I will know what "ok" constitutes. In that case life would only be a challenge to find out what the right decision is and which voice is telling me about it. I lived a long time with this set of beliefs and it is very restricting. Nowadays I think those beliefs are false. The decision-maker doesn't know what is in his best interest and wildly efforting to avoid bad choices usually gets me deeper in the hole I'm in.

Still, life demands decisions, so currently this is my approach: I use my feelings to check on my thoughts and I use my thoughts to check on my feelings. I used to be big on intuition and trained it all the time, but I hit a dead end with it. I was using intuition for mundane things like buying shoes, but I didn't get any intuitions that were helpful for Self-Realization. So I let go of chasing intuition and refused to apply it for mundane things and just waited for anything worthwile to come up. That was 4 or 5 years ago, but so far no luck when it comes to clear, helpful advice. Sometimes there is a vague sense of something that could be spiritually beneficial and sometimes I follow up on it. But I lost much of my investment in the outcome. So in short, I don't think there is consistent relative truth in any of the three modalities (actually I think there are 4: there is also psychic communication. I seem to resonate with the I Ching for example). In practice I use every modality and just muddle through.

From Mark S:
I find this a fascinating question. Feelings, thoughts, and intuitions show up, and then some of them become trusted or strongly held whereas others are discounted or rejected. How does this occur? As Franklin Merrill-Wolff states in The Induction, "Am I this body of thoughts in my mind? No. One gets a little closer to his thoughts than to anything else, and it's a little harder to untangle this. But if he watches and studies closely enough, the thoughts come to me. I accept or reject them. That which accepts or rejects them is different from the thought."

When I first read this, I thought that what accepts or rejects thoughts is "more me" in some kind of way, but I question that now. It might feel different from the original thought – more under my control, for example – but it seems to be an automatic process involving memory and conditioning. My impression is that feelings or thoughts that arise generate associations, automatically and usually unconsciously, and it's the result of this process that determines their overall believability. A thought that has a lot of confirming associations is trusted, whereas one that has more disconfirming associations isn't. The assessment of trustworthiness, then, is the outcome of this automatic process rather than something actively determined.

It seems that intuitions, though, can show up a bit differently and this can affect their believability. They can appear out of the blue, seemingly disconnected from prior feelings and thoughts, and they can have an initial impression of certainty or undeniability. From my experience, this sometimes leads to a mixed reaction: strongly trusting an intuition on a gut or feeling level, but not understanding it or knowing what to make of it on an intellectual level.

From Gus R:
Asked another way, what can I really depend on, what can be guaranteed? Does one mean 'trust' as tentatively or decisively? Is a need for trust a misplaced desire for my own honesty and ability to recognize when I'm being misled?

Perhaps a more meaningful approach could be, do I realize when I'm being deceived, and do I have some sense to be able to avoid it?

Perhaps a more selfless purpose is less inclined to be misled, as our own self is that what will most likely distort and misrepresent.

If I commit to seek, face and live the truth, then perhaps I will attract what is true, even if I can discern only what isn't. And a lifestyle oriented around honest seeking maybe the best way to develop this discernment.

Seeking trust for any purpose equates to a need of certainty, assuredness, factual content upon which to rely. But can I as a 'seeker' expect that asking, seeking, knocking will ever result in any guarantees?

As difficult as it may be to a mind that wants assurances, the path to attracting answers may require an attitude of not knowing, surrender and an ability to listen.

Next Month

The Reader Commentary question for the August TAT Forum:

As a spiritual seeker or as a person, what do you feel is the most important thing you've done in your life?

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

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

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?

The Latigo Ranch in Kremmling, Colorado. Thanks to Bob Fergeson.

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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.

Ashram Code of Conduct

The Ashram Code of Agreement

THAT none shall coerce other members mentally or physically.

THAT none shall disturb.

THAT effort be more spontaneous than obligatory.

THAT the mechanism for economic reciprocity and aid be automatic as far as the Group is concerned, and voluntary as for relation one with the other.

THAT none shall become a burden economically to the Group or to the other individuals.

THAT alcohol shall not be brought into the communal grounds to be used for indulgence.

THAT all members, while on the grounds, shall abstain from any activity considered illegal - meaning activities that might bring about public condemnation of the Group. This is not intended to limit opinion, for any member should say privately or publicly that which he wishes to say, regardless of his personal liability with the Outside, and shall be still respected by the Group.


Those words were framed and hanging in the farmhouse on Richard Rose's farm when that was the group meeting place and esoteric center of the TAT Foundation, and then later in the Community Building on the farm, when that was built. Now it hangs in TAT's new home.

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 mid-project photo of the meeting room addition exterior:

expanded meeting room exterior

There's progress on the meeting room expansion since our last update (see photo above). As might be expected with the current Coronavirus challenges, fundraising has been quiet. 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 meeting room expansion is nearing completion!

We still need to raise around $50,000, to:
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

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