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

TAT Forum

August 2020

TAT August Virtual Gathering: Through the Eyes of a Child. August 15-16, 2020.

August virtual gathering details

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Convictions & Concerns

TAT members share their personal convictions and/or concerns


I was planning to go hiking on a Saturday morning, I also wanted to watch a football match at 12:30 pm, so Friday evening I was a little torn about heading hiking and missing the match. As it happened, I woke up really early at 5 am. I rolled about and tried to get back to sleep but couldn't. Then it dawned on me that why didn't I just get up and go hiking early. I would then also be back in time to watch the match.

I got up and was on the trail by 7:45 am. It was a crappy start to the day, raining and windy. The weather was to break a couple of hours later, so I pushed on. As I headed up the trail, about an hour in, a repeating thought pattern started up, and as usual, I watched the mind.

Now this thought pattern is a familiar one. The mind starts to go off and imagine scenarios about me getting grief or hassle from some people in hiking groups that I don't like. I see them as back stabbers and a bit sad / pathetic in that they attach their level of importance to leading hikes, hiking really fast, etc. … I interpret it as kind of pathetic attempts at ego boosting machismo.

Now, that could all be illusion of my own, but it's how I seem to perceive it, in this context. I also sense that some of them don't like me, as I am the qualified guide; they'd love to see me shown up, making mistakes, etc., and I am pretty sure they say things about me behind my back. I don't know this for certain of course. This is just ultimately a kind of silliness, and I am playing my own part in the projection.

Anyway, back to the thought pattern. Typically, this is an imagined scenario that involves me being in some kind of position where they, typically in a group, are having a go at me in some way that is unjust. I then retort in such a clever and brilliant way that I shame them, usually one main protagonist, into embarrassment. Sometimes, these thoughts even go as far as me thumping one of these people.

All in all, it's a type of fantasy of me being unjustly defamed in a cowardly way, with me responding in righteousness with such brilliance / power that I take out the main protagonist, and all the others cower down in respect and some out of fear. I will call this the 'my righteous triumph over injustice imagined scenario' for ease of reference going forward.

Now, of course when this starts up, I watch it with some element of confusion. This imagined thought pattern scenario happens when I am hiking, usually alone, and there is a great irony in that. Here I am going to the hills for an element of peace and serenity, yet my mind goes off on this tirade of imagined nonsense, effectively ruining any chance of that. The irony is obvious, my mind is agitating any chance of peace in nature by inflicting low level disturbance / suffering.

As this same pattern came up from time to time as I hiked, I noticed again that this is a repeating thought stream scenario that comes up in these conditions, out in the hills. So, I couldn't help but wonder why this same thing repeated ... not for the first time, I hasten to add, as I have seen it run its show before.

I hiked on and the 'my righteous triumph over injustice imagined scenario' came and went from time to time. About two hours later, as I hiked down off my last peak for the day, I headed onto the last trail segment that would take me back to my car. The 'my righteous triumph over injustice imagined scenario' rose up again. As I watched it play out in my mind yet again, I got frustrated with the irony mentioned above, at my effectively disturbing my own peace of mind. However, a kind of opening seemed to occur, and I actually smiled and laughed out loud at the irony of it.

As mentioned above, here I am heading out into the mountains for some element of space, peace and serenity, maybe even with designs on some kind of spiritual reflection and understanding emerging, but instead I am playing this same old fantasy out again and again in my head. This same thought stream regularly repeating in my head is far from spiritual understanding and ruining any chance of peace and serenity in the process. This was amusing, and as I laughed, it seemed like a download of, indeed, understanding happened in a few seconds.

  1. The first thing was that I realized that I play this same scenario out in my head not just when hiking, but with different people and different environments. For example, I could be thinking about work, and I run the same scenario theme through that story, too. The people and surroundings are different, but it is ultimately the same 'my righteous triumph over injustice imagined scenario'. Me getting unfairly challenged by someone I don't like at work, and then, in righteousness, me knocking them back so brilliantly and hard that they back down and they are afraid of me in the future ... and all people know I am righteous, to be respected and not to be messed with. The exact same scenario, just different thoughts to clothe it.
  2. I realized then that I was looking at a belief of some kind. I have always known in self-inquiry to look at 'beliefs' and 'assumptions'. However, this has always been hard to do in practice, as I could never find a belief in a clear and direct way. I couldn't look in my mind and see a belief clearly sitting somewhere in my mind. It was never that straightforward. I knew I had them, and of course, knew and saw some of them to some degree. However, this time I could see that the 'my righteous triumph over injustice imagined scenario' was in fact running in response to some kind of deeply held belief that I hold about this; it was very clear in a strange, indirect way.
  3. For the first time, I was looking at all sides, if you will, of a belief. This is where words start to fail to explain it properly, as I wasn't actually looking at a belief, it was more that I knew where a belief was by the positioning of the thoughts. The way this came to me was that, I saw an empty room of sorts, this was my psyche. (Aside: I had a powerful vision once before of my psyche, thoughts, etc. being a green type of smoke in a dark room, with bits and pieces banging off one another. No solid substance as such.) Anyway, with this, the mind honed in on a large segment of the empty room. I realized I was looking at some kind of strong belief I hold. I could tell where it was, by the orbiting of the thoughts around it.
  4. The next part of the insight that came was that thoughts are nothing in and of themselves. They are just a function that do their own thing based on the content of the scenario, belief, etc. I could see that thoughts were more like clothes, that changed style and colour based on the context and content of something seemingly more fundamental. Like a chameleon they will adapt to the context and content of a scenario or belief, but in and of themselves they were powerless, as such. They function as a scene filler based on something much deeper, e.g. a deeply held belief.
  5. The next part of it then was that as I mentioned, I could see the belief by the orbiting of the thoughts around this space. When I looked at the space, where the belief was, I could see there was nothing there. This of course brought up further questions later, as to whether the message was that beliefs are all false, as they don't really exist. But yet somehow, they have some mysterious gravitational power or pull to them. This pull is powerful enough to generate, spin out and shape thoughts based on the context, content, etc.
  6. And so it goes … and words really struggle now … but I could then see like a mass spiraling out of this process, in ever more seeming complexity and in many directions, from the personal, to intrapersonal, to groups, to a more macro level in larger groups, countries, etc. This makes all the elements seem to work in some kind of very intricate picture show, which in turn makes the story so believable. Back at the root base of the belief though, there was nothing there that could be seen directly; however, there was that seeming gravitational / dark matter force that could somehow set the whole thing in motion and keep it in place.

All of this happened in a few seconds, and trying to put some of it into words is definitely hard, as there was a level of understanding that is tricky to explain in words. I don't have any great sense of what to do with this as such. I am not much interested in the specific belief itself, which must be based on some fear I hold of some kind; it's interesting but seems secondary.

The interesting bit is in the process, I guess. I was thinking that maybe I could sit with the 'beliefs are not real' piece now. Like it's the next stone that the intuition maybe needs to look under. If beliefs are not real, and are empty like the empty space I described, what gives them the power to induce thoughts, etc., to shape and form around them. There seems to be some kind of unseen force at work in that, that I know is there, but I can't see what it is … perhaps I can gain more clarity on it. That seems more like my mind trying to figure out what to do next, though, which may not be useful. Perhaps there is no need for specific understanding of the purpose or next steps at this juncture. The insight may be useful later.


~ Thanks to a TAT member who wishes to remain anonymous.

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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, please email the link on the website.

2020 TAT Meeting Calendar

April 4-5, 2020
June 13-14, 2020
* August 15-16, 2020 *
November 6-8, 2020

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, TAT's August spiritual retreat weekend will be online, with presentations and interactive sessions on Saturday and Sunday, August 15th and 16th. See the August 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, 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.

rose A new self-inquiry group is forming in Dulverton, South West England:
Currently meeting weekly in a backyard and will modify as the COVID situation changes. ~ Please contact for more information.

email icon crystal Update from the email self-inquiry groups:
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.
There are two men's groups currently with 6 participants in each, down from three groups with 19 participants last year. They function like slow-motion self-inquiry confrontation meetings, which has its pros and cons. We alternate by asking each other questions one week then answering them the following week. Participants provide brief updates of highlights from the previous week and optional updates on progress toward objectives that they use the reports for accountability on.
Both the women's and the men's email groups 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.

red clover Update from the self-inquiry group in Hartland, VT:
Previously using TAT videos from past conferences as a primer for discussion, the group is now meeting online. ~ Contact for more information.

An update from the self-inquiry group in Houston, TX:
The backyard patio meetings are now moved to Zoom meetings, which take place at 4 pm on Saturdays. There are 3 active and inspired participants right now. Topics vary from Mr. Rose's writings to “What is on your mind?” ~ 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:
Group confrontation on-line every Wednesday, 8:00 pm via Zoom. Recent topics:
July 1: How do you Pray? Host: Dennis Wilke
July 8: How do you define Sanity?
July 15: What are your Core Beliefs?
July 22: Core Beliefs Part 2 - with further comments by A. Ticknor
July 29: Surrender vs. Survival: the tension between the two
July 31: Invitation to all Meetup members: Ramana Maharshi: How to practice "Who Am I?"
~ All Forum subscribers are welcome to join us. 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

Cell Phones

cell phones

~ Thanks to CoolFunnyQuotes.com

Four Worms and a Lesson

A minister decided that a visual demonstration would add emphasis to his Sunday sermon.

Four worms were placed into four separate jars.

1. The first worm was put into a container of alcohol.
2. The second worm was put into a container of cigarette smoke.
3. The third worm was put into a container of chocolate syrup.
4. The fourth worm was put into a container of good clean soil.

At the conclusion of the sermon, the Minister reported the following results:

1. The first worm in alcohol - Dead
2. The second worm in cigarette smoke - Dead
3. Third worm in chocolate syrup - Dead
4. Fourth worm in good clean soil - Alive!

So the Minister asked the congregation, "What can you learn from this demonstration?"

Little Nancy, sitting in the back, quickly raised her hand and said, "As long as you drink, smoke and eat chocolate, you won't have worms!"

That pretty much ended the service ...

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~ Thanks to Humorous Comebacks Stories from TruthBook.com.

Vintage Humor

Clyde the dog

~ Portrait of Clyde the dog, ca. 1860 Public Domain, from Pinterest.com.

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

Will and Choice?

None of us really knows our future. We may have plans, intentions. We may have fears. But do we ever really examine our relationship with the future? While it's safe to say most of us have our preferences, even those are probably more conditioned than chosen.

It's often said that our free will is demonstrated by the choices we make. But, as Schopenhauer said, “Man can do what he wills but he cannot will what he wills.” Consciously developing, appraising, and selecting an intention requires thought. Leaving aside the question of whether or not they are “our” thoughts, can you truly say that you choose each thought as it arises? Where does it come from? What determines its characteristics? Even modern brain science shows that we often act on our choices before we consciously make them. So what is this thing we call will? Is it the choices we “make”? Is it the actions that implement those choices? Or is it just what we observe taking place and then claim as our own? My body made the moves, so it must have been my will that made it happen. And, by the way, who is this me that has this will?

Have you ever been in a large moving crowd that is packed so tightly that you had no choice but to move with it, like when they first open the doors to a big concert and the crush of the crowd just flows through like one big entity? You could almost pick your feet up off the floor and keep moving! Isn't that what our relationship is with the world around us? Do we really choose anything?

Think of a choice you consciously made of your own “free will”. Now consider what influences determined that choice: Your emotional and psychological state of mind at the time, your education (formal and informal), your social class and access to resources, your relationship with your parents, where and when you were born, your religious or spiritual views, the weather and phase of the moon at the time, your physical health, your circumstances and that of the world around you … obviously one could go on, and on, and on. The factors influencing your “decision” are literally infinite! And the vast majority of those factors are totally beyond your control. How can you say you have chosen anything when the “you” referred to is nothing more than an eddy whirling in the river of life?

Not that that's a bad thing…
If we can come to truly accept that – it becomes Grace.

P.S. – Don't assume this implies we should cease effort. ?


~ Thanks to TAT member Kevin S.


How Teamwork Actually Works:
Accomplishing The Goals We Set

"The philosophy and practice of George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff begins with a simple, but powerful idea: We think we are awake, when in fact we lack a single, unified consciousness. That is, we drift from thought to thought, activity to activity, often without self-awareness. To that extent, Gurdjieff taught, we are asleep, not fully awake. 'The greatest barrier to consciousness,' Gurdjieff student P.D. Ouspensky taught, 'is the belief that one is already conscious.' To the extent that our thoughts and moods can be altered by random events and daydreams, we are no longer fully self-determining: our free will is at best partial. The goal of self-development, from this perspective, is to become more awake, more self-aware, more self-determining and less mechanical."


~ See the May 15, 2020 Forbes article for the rest of the piece by Brett Steenbarger. Thanks to TAT member Mike W.

Do I Really Want to Meet Online?

In the last few weeks, I've taken part in several online sessions associated with both TAT and non-TAT organizations and have come to the conclusion that while novelty is wearing off, these virtual affairs may slowly evolve into either esoteric entertainment or events that I really want to attend, which enrich seeker experiences and enable friendships. What seems to be the chemistry of meaningful online meetings? Thoughtful participation by all involved is the simple answer, but how could that lead to something even more inspiring? One way may be the quiet periods that, although rarely arising, allow people to focus on what's really going on, which in face-to-face meetings can lead to heightened rapport. Of course, on the other hand, there are those who believe that they can "hide" behind an impersonal internet presence and just hang out on the call, maybe even with "video-off" while doing only Maya-knows-what.

The most powerful experiences for me were often the ones with the unexpected silence, like a background of stillness that makes its presence known as if to remind everyone of something present that is even more important than the thoughtful exchange taking place. And it may only take place when something else is present, and that may be the same impetus that causes people to drive or fly hundreds of miles to meet other serious seekers for real-life events. Maybe it's the grueling, expensive and tiring travel endured in order to meet others who suffered similar journeys only to face in-person pilgrims now worthy to experience what was not available from a book, video or occasional phone call. Maybe not the level of pain but rather that level of commitment is one key to making an online meeting a real-life event. In other words, what is the motivation of everyone to be there?

Not to be overlooked in the chemistry is the number of participants, where three may not be enough, or nine be too many? Spending an evening online with one other seeker has been just as inspiring for me as with ten earnest seekers. Besides, even Rose was quoted saying "There's the two of us here!" as being enough. I'll leave that optimum number to maybe a Gurdjieffian or some numbers expert to determine, but I feel that whatever happens will happen with whoever shows up.

Here's an idea that may seem counterintuitive to a newcomer: confrontation of another's thinking and beliefs that may enrich the experience for both people involved. Much has been written about the intentions behind this form of questioning, but quite simply, it shows that one cares.

Sometimes the simplest things can be the biggest insights. I've always been fascinated with one of the main premises of the Society of Friends as being nothing more than a meeting of the like-minded in friendship, awaiting inspiration. It sounds like something that happens automatically, but perhaps it requires a certain nucleus of any meeting, those few who meet regularly in an effort to really make something of the encounter, to create a distinct chemistry and a rapport from which friendship evolves. And it seems that it is that friendship that becomes a chief feature of that group which makes regulars and newcomers alike really, really want to be there.


Thanks to TAT member Gus R.

You Were Never Here Before

Rock of Cashel Doorways

You were never here before
You were never here
You were never
You were


You were
You were never
You were never here
You were never here before


I heard a yoga teacher say the phrase "You were never here before," and it struck me on many levels. The poem tries to convey those levels. The physical miracle that, right now, this moment is completely new -- "You were never here before." Then the implication of that, which rattles down to the core of our being -- "You." If you were never here before, were you ever anywhere, or have you always been arising and falling. Thus the reader and speaker retraverses the ray of this moment, stripping away the structure of the sentence (and of existence) and finds ... what?


~ Thanks to Shawn Nevins. The photo is through the doorways of the Rock of Cashel, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. See the Index of Shawn Nevins's Poetry on the TAT Forum.

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 question for this month is:

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. Responses follow:

From Howdie Mickoski:
Good question, Brett. For me easily the most important thing I have done is the life recapitulation. I got intrigued when I first read about it from Carlos Castaneda [in The Wheel of Time, e.g.], but there was not that much information out there of how exactly to do it. So I took time to ask as many people as I could for advice, then set off. It took me 4 years to complete one complete review of my entire life. And not much came of it while I was doing it—the odd insight here, burst of energy there. It wasn't until I completed the entire pass that things changed. Things that were hidden from my past, about me, about reality, showed in such strong waves I couldn't stop them. I found out that everything I thought was my life, was a mind-created lie. Every time I thought someone was a jerk, it was often me. Or if I thought it was me, it was the other person. I got my first close-up look at parasitic entities and demonic beings that take over our mind and energy and get us to act in a bizarre manner. The life review showed all this and much more.

It was then I learned just how powerful this practice is—but you have to have the courage and commitment to do it, all the way through. Just go half way and there will be little benefit. I have an appendix in my book that discusses everything I did in my life recapitulation in case someone wants to do it themselves. But I don't hold my breath … in 20 years now I have only ever met one other person who has started and fully completed a life review. Sitting with your eyes closed and being in the now is so much more undemanding, so that takes in the masses … but you get out of a practice what you put in. That is another thing 4 long years of life recapitulation showed me.

Editor's comment: TAT Foundation Press publishes Howdie's Falling For Truth: A Spiritual Death And Awakening.

From Mike Gegenheimer:
Persevered in seeking an answer to my deepest questions.

From Tess Hughes:
As a spiritual seeker the most important thing I did was to start taking myself seriously. This meant taking seriously the possibility that I might advance spiritually, even to the end. This "decision" I think was the beginning of the end.

Editor's comment: TAT Foundation Press publishes Tess's This Above All: A Journey of Self-Discovery.

From Julee B.:
God has called me this whole life. Around the age of 5 I got a message: "All roads lead to God." As I left school I wanted to go to bible school – I was in a gospel band and couldn't find enough ways to be as close to God as I knew how, at that point.

The discovery of my otherwise sexuality(I have a same sex partner) as a teenager seemingly put a spoke in the wheel of becoming a lay preacher, and after a year of being with some missionaries in Washington state, USA, I eventually left the fold of the church. It seemed to evict me, not I it.

Of course, God never leaves. He was always with me. University was a time of massive discovery and independence from parents who were heavy to carry. My introversion and dreadful shyness felt easier to cope with, and discovery of "self help" lead me to books that helped a lot, until they didn't.

Some kind of searching began to take me over – the question at the time was "What's going on here?" Something about how life seemed to work didn't stack up. I had a sister who was (and still is) a medium or channel. I used to attend her channeling groups with her, and kept getting pointers to Jesus at every turn.

One day I was in a spiritual bookstore and found a book Spiritual Enlightenment, the Damnedest Thing by Jed McKenna. As I started to read, I knew I'd finally found the question I'd been hunting for. I read that book with a thirst of a person who's been abandoned in the desert without supplies. I read it again and again, and each time layers of meaning seemed to wash over me. Some ideas were shocking. I had no idea what enlightenment was or how to even think about it. Everything seemed to be in the opposite direction to which I was looking.

Finally, honing the question down to "Who or What am I?" has become the laser pointer to determining the nature of Reality as it is, or Truth.

All of the above is the meaning of my life. Walking the road to Truth Realization is the most important thing I've done and will do with this life. At every step, these questions have not only been the direction finder to a home I've been desperate to find, but they've made my life smoother, easier, better, simpler.

Problems never leave. They're the agency upon which I test what I've learned. Addressed from a new vantage point – those that seemed insurmountable are now much easier to manage. Whatever lies ahead is ok. The most important part of the journey (so far) has been facing and walking through fear, at every stage.

The search is not quite over, yet. Finding the TAT foundation, and Anima Pundeer's incisive questions in the weekly women's email confrontation group have been a sledgehammer, a pointer, a direction finder, an inspiration. I know Realization is possible now. I know it. I trust the sense I get from those who've gone ahead of me, that this road is worth walking. To see and talk to others that have done it, makes it possible for me too.

As a teenage gospel singer – the words "I AM the way, the truth, and the light" suggested something that rang true at the time. Never did I know how TRUE, but never did I guess in what fashion.

From Tina N:
The most important thing I've been doing, in retrospect, seems to be showing up consistently to a commitment (and some activities within that commitment changed over time), rain or shine, clear-eyed or groggy-eyed, without conditions. That commitment became a part of living as a matter of course, without question. Like brushing teeth in the morning.

What came up in response to the question surprised me, as I often viewed myself as fickle. But the other side of that coin seems to be a hidden commitment that was there all long, to be revealed by the question.

From Shawn Nevins:
John Davis said, “If I was a man your age, I'd carry two coins in my pocket. One saying the world was made for me and me alone. That is true! It is. It's waitin' just for you. I'm serious! And I'd carry another one that says I'm but dust and ashes. And that's true.”

Let those words sink it. Let the mood of them settle the noise filling your mind and heart. It's related, I promise, to the question.

"The most important thing ... done ... in my life." The mind engages with the question, attempts to weigh and judge. More and more instances of importance sparkle with meaning then fade—so capricious, this mind. I find myself on a beach, watching the glittering sands revealed when a wave rolls out. I look further, seeking those sandy depths exposed for the briefest glimpse before the next wave buries them again. Feeling that glimpse is only a foretaste of something more—even deeper. Self-importance fades, and the brilliance of each meaningless-meaningful moment arises.

Every breath, every look, each gesture, word, opening, and closing, was as important as any other one—or the whole. And the whole was no more important than the absence. I exist, and I am dust.

[See Shawn's new book, Hydroglyphics: Reflections on the Sacred, at www.spiritualteachers.org. -Ed.]

From Mary H:
I have pondered this question for a few days now and am shocked that the answer isn't glaringly obvious to me, which leads to the question, do I think about what I'm doing, do I have a sense of values/priorities, how do I make decisions about what I end up doing. Mostly my life just happened- career, marriage, child, through circumstance, impulse, whatever it was, there was no great plan.

I was reared a Catholic in a rural small farm West of Ireland, so grew up with traditional Catholic values, 10 Commandments, be a good person, do good deeds, avoid sin, be selfless. I strived to be a person of honour and integrity, and to do good. What went on in my head was another story. There wasn't much room for debate or discussion on topics or rules in my home. There was an expectation that I wouldn't let my parents down. Education was important, It was a hardworking simple household, with not much money or excess, but the important things were there, regular healthy warm meals, jobs to contribute, and we said the Rosary every night. We went to Mass on Sundays and observed all of the religious festivals. I took to reading the Bible at night, I wanted to be Holy, be known for my good works and above all, to get into Heaven.

So making decisions was difficult, because I never knew how I felt about things, and there wasn't much opportunity to make decisions as a child. We followed routine and did our best. I used to feel sad as a teenager but never understood why. I hid the tears from everyone. We were isolated in the country, and only met friends during school times.

I went to college and trained as a primary school teacher, and ended up teaching children with disabilities for the majority of my career. I have often thought this was a “good” thing to do. Was it the most important thing? Helping those less able, supporting families.

Now having just recently retired, I wonder what I ever did really. I know I worked very hard, did a lot of additional study, communicated a lot, tried to link in with colleagues, tried to deliver a good service. Under it all was a gnawing feeling of being inadequate, being just at a loss with what was required of me in some very difficult situations, sometimes feeling on top of things, but now would wonder at the appropriateness of decisions I took, advice I gave, was it what the situation really required, would someone else have done it differently, with better results? I didn't handle conflict well, I ended up telling people what I thought they liked to hear, I tried to be everyone's friend. At a time I would have thought the job I did was the most important thing I was doing. In fact I thought I should do more charitable work, like Third World work, and still feel that guilt when I see ads from Trocaire etc. Now that this job is finished, I am astounded that the world can do without me in this role, life goes on, I am no longer needed, a big blow to the ego. I struggle with adapting, with a sense of lack of purpose, being of no further use.

The thing that I think was most important was rearing my son, as a single parent, following separation from his Dad who suffered from a mental illness. As a parent, most of my decisions were based on the needs of my son, where we lived, what school he attended, food we ate, holiday activities, I also did a lot of therapy as a young parent, as I didn't want to pass on my dysfunction to my child. I took his mental well being, his education, his friendships, his relationship with his Father, all very seriously, and I tried to cover all angles to smooth his journey. I was playing God, is that what parents do? Because it was one adult, one child, the relationship was more intense, I felt fully responsible for his future well being, he was my project. I was loving but responsible. I struggled with loneliness, and aloneness, and striving to do it “right”. Now I see that I probably missed important bits, of just being. Deep down I was running from the fear that he had inherited his Father's mental health issues. I have been very slowly looking at the parenting I did, my failures, my regrets, the things I was so certain of at the time, facing demons….

Now he is married with 3 young children. Our relationship is volatile and difficult, I struggle to understand his world, to step back from concern/interference with the 3 beautiful grandchildren, to maintain a relationship with his young wife, to keep connection with the grandkids. I struggle with my expectations, my opinions, my desire to spend time with the kids, I struggle with the hurt feelings of rejection, being pushed away, no longer being of use.

I love and cherish the time I do have with the grandchildren, and feel I can witness and enjoy their childhoods in a way that I was unable to do with my son. Maybe the most important thing that I do with my life is just happening now?

From Brett S:
This question came out of an activity my partner Selena and I did together on a weekend retreat for the New York City Self-Inquiry group. She and I had been watching a series of videos on YouTube called “Strangers Answer.” The segments consists of random people on the street being asked deep questions. Here is an example: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=HUeQ_OtwjNA.

For our retreat, Selena and I came up with questions that were meaningful to us individually. Then we asked people on the street that question. My question was, “What's the most important thing you've done in your life?” I remember one person said “forgive my family.” I think another person talked about a cross-country road-trip. It's intimidating to go up to strangers and ask them if they'll help you with your project by answering the question, but it was fun and fascinating.

Intellectually, there is an idea that each thing that's happened in life was made possible by a previous thing, going all the way back to my childhood, being born, and the origins of the universe :) So it's hard to pick just one thing because “what about the previous thing that led to it?”

Currently, a thing that feels meaningful and therefore important is our local self-inquiry group. We started with just two people, but have had a different people pass through and some become regulars since then. We've graduated from word-of-mouth to a Meetup page, and partner with the New Jersey group for occasional retreats. The group has been a great way for me to evolve as a seeker and as a person, and to meet and connect with other people starting out on their own paths or having figured something out.

From Art Ticknor:
I think of three of the major game-changers in my life. The first was becoming a parent at age 19, which brought a taste of loving someone more than myself. The second was meeting Richard Rose at age 33, which brought a guru's love-in-action into my life. And the third was the small-s self and the large-s Self becoming conscious of each other (to use words from Mr. Rose) at age 59.

From Anonymous:
Celibacy. The tension of celibacy results in good things spiritually, far better than that of not being celibate, and if patient, leads one to an eventual life of subtlety and adroitness with findings that far outweigh anything found from a previous life driven by urges and cleverness.

Next Month

The Reader Commentary question for the September TAT Forum:

What role does religion, a belief in a God or divine principle, play in seeking the truth? Have your thinking or beliefs in this matter changed along the way of your path? Does this align with TAT, its members, or Richard Rose?

~ Thanks to TAT friend Tim H. for the question. Please your responses by the 25th of August 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?

Bedford VA

Bedford, VA. Photo taken after a recent small group retreat. Thanks to Michael R.

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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.

Buddha Nature

The Buddha nature to me is nothing more than the vein of the absolute that's in every human being. But what will it take for it to be conscious, for the person to be conscious of it? What it amounts to basically, I maintain, is that everybody is unconscious; and when a person realizes the Buddha nature then the small-s self and the large-s Self are both conscious of each other for the first time.


From the "Relative and Absolute" talk (part 2) given at Ohio State University in 1978.

orange lily

"I Will Take Leave of You"

I will take leave of you
Not by distinct farewell
But vaguely
As one entering vagueness
For words, symbols of confusion
Would only increase confusion
But silence, seeming to be vagueness,
Shall be my cadence,
Which someday
You will understand.


From Carillon: Poems, Essays, and Philosophy of Richard Rose.

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

Despite the pandemic, work continues at the TAT Center, and there are plans afoot for a very limited attendance, local-only, and invitation-only event which will help serve as a test-run for potential larger events. Fundraising has been relatively quiet, but we've received several thoughtful donations. Additionally, a belated tallying of donations from those of you who attended TAT's April and June events and registered at the "supporting" or "sustaining" levels, shows we are now 27% of the way towards our goal of $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!

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

Did you enjoy the Forum? Then buy the book!
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