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

TAT Forum

January 2021

TAT February 6, 2021 Spiritual Retreat Banner

Attend TAT's February Spiritual Retreat Day—In Thought, Word and Deed


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Convictions & Concerns

TAT members share their personal convictions and/or concerns

Getting your house in order:
Preparing Relative Mind for the Absolute

From a November 2020 TAT presentation

Someone asked me if my house was in order at one of the initial Self-inquiry meetings I attended in Pittsburgh. This felt like an alien concept to my ears. None of the spiritual circles I had come across ever pointed out to me that I need to get my act together as a spiritual seeker.

Here are the top ten essentials to get my house in order:

1. Body: Bring your body under control.
“It is good for us to remember that the pursuit of health is adductive to spiritual progress and discovery. We have to be healthy to live long enough to crack the cosmic egg. We cannot have a realization in five minutes and, even if you could, you would need to take care of your health to survive the shock of realization, and to readjust to the rat-race.” - Mr. Rose
Exercise: Don't even question this … put it on autopilot on your daily maintenance schedule and just do whatever is your way of getting your body to move. It affects your brain, your mood, and just keeps the physical body functioning optimally. Also, you will be less fidgety when you want to meditate.
TAT members organized work weekends, chopped wood, went to the spring to get water, built their own cabins. Doing physical work was considered really important.

2. Financial Stability.
“There is a certain lifestyle, a certain way of living that develops your intuition.” - Mr. Rose
Humans are programmed to worry about their nest egg and if they will have enough. Not to be obsessed with wealth but having stability enough to not have to worry about paying your bills. Gurdjieff recommended to his students that they should try to earn their living where they only need to use their left foot.
As a seeker you try to have free time and mental space for reading, meditating, and contemplating.
Create a conducive home environment for your search.
“Plan for tranquility and security.” - Mr. Rose

3. Get your emotions under control.
Emotions are addictive. If you thrive on emotional roller coasters, you will remain sucked into the drama. Emotions also come with a sense of entitlement. Do you need to express whatever emotions and feelings come up, or is there a window of opportunity when you can observe without reacting?

4. Learn to deal with your thoughts.
Are you your thoughts, or are you the observer of your thoughts? Is it possible to sidestep the thought vortexes which may just be time/energy draining, bad mental habits?
“Implement regular, periodic, mental exercises with directed meditation.” - Mr. Rose

5. Get to know your mind: Your mind is your sharp sword. Keep it sharp.
You can only use it to your advantage if you know and understand it well. When you give a clear objective to your mind, it works relentlessly to find a solution to the problem. No matter what the problem is.
Learn to turn your head away from wandering thoughts that get you stuck in daydreams.
Better to think of nothing than tolerate rambling thoughts.

6. Be frugal and miserly with your time, energy and your attention.
Drugs and social media have ‘users'… don't become one. Even spiritual lectures, talks, TED talks, books: are they making you take some action or simply keeping you occupied, procrastinating.

7. Become brutally honest with yourself.
Become aware of your underlying motives in your actions.
What does your heart really want? What gets your attention? Ask if it is really true or your wishful thinking? Are you deluding yourself?
If you are a seeker of Truth, then love truth in all things “Tell the truth in all things relative.” - Mr. Rose
“Doubt everything except your ability to doubt.” - Mr. Rose

8. Find a practice that is in alignment with what your goal is.
If you have gone through emotional trauma, then maybe your meditation or your practice could be directed towards healing. Guided meditations, visualizations, affirmations, Reiki, etc., may help.
If your goal is to Wake Up, then you may want to figure out a practice that would not keep you sedated.

9. “It requires a Selfish man, an individualist not afraid of the annihilation of individualism, a fearless man not afraid of powers within him that are much greater than himself, and a man of suicidal relentlessness once his commitment is given.” - Mr. Rose.
Become the most selfish, self-centric man. Do not settle for anything less than reaching the highest potential that you already are.
Let potential become reality.

10. All seeking starts with looking for Love and completion and ends with becoming Love.
“Law of Love: The proper application of the Law should be in the direction of the friends upon the path, those on our rung and two adjacent rungs. This love can be expressed as friendship of the most unselfish type….” Mr. Rose


~ Thanks to Anima Pundeer. Anima works both with a local group in Houston, an online group, and an email confrontation group (see contact information below). Also watch for a new TAT Press book, Always Right Behind You: Parables & Poems of Love & Completion, with co-author Art Ticknor, which should be out early in 2021.

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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

Call To Action For TAT Forum Readers

With the intention of increasing awareness of TAT's meetings, books, and Forum among younger serious seekers, the TAT Foundation is now on Instagram (@tatfoundation).

You can help! A volunteer is producing shareable text-quote and video content of Richard Rose and TAT-adjacent teachers. We need your suggestions for short, provocative 1-3 sentence quotes or 1 minute or less video clips of people like Rose, Art Ticknor, Bob Fergeson, Tess Hughes, Bob Cergol, Bart Marshall, Shawn Nevins, Anima Pundeer, Norio Kushi, Paul Rezendes, Paul Constant, & other favorites. (See below for an example).

Please send favorite inspiring/irritating quotes—from books you have by those authors, from the TAT Forum, or any other place—to . If you have favorite parts of longer videos (ex: from a talk at a past TAT meeting), please email a link to the video and a timestamp.

Thank you!

RR quote on Instagram

TAT Foundation Press's latest publication: cover of Sense of Self: The Source of All Existential Suffering?

Sense of Self: The Source of All Existential Suffering? by Art Ticknor is now available in paperback and in Kindle e-book format.

This is Art's third book published by the TAT Press. Others are Solid Ground of Being: A Personal Story of the Impersonal and Beyond Relativity: Transcending the Split Between Knower & Known. All are available to order from Amazon or your favorite bookstore.

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

Also, check out Shawn Nevins's recent interview, audio and video, of Art.

2021 TAT Meeting Calendar

* February 6, 2021 *
April 10-11, 2021
June 12-13, 2021
August 14-15, 2021
November 6-7, 2021

Until 2020, TAT held four in-person meetings each year: one in April, one in November, and two in the months between April and November. With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, all four meetings for 2020 were held online. See the events page for descriptions of the past four weekend events. We're hoping that it will be feasible to resume in-person meetings in 2021.

We're starting 2021 with a one-day virtual gathering on Saturday, February 6th. See the February spiritual retreat page for details and registration. For additional information, please email .


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).

door on TAT Community Building 2010

See TAT's Facebook page.
Photo of TAT's open door by Phil Franta.

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:
At the end of July, the New York City and the Central Jersey Self Inquiry Groups co-sponsored a 3-hour inquiry meeting using the Zoom platform. The inquiry meeting (the third event organized by both groups) attracted 11 participants. The meeting schedule: Welcome; Byron Katie inquiry exercise (led by a NJ member); "I statements" exercise (led by a NY member), and a feedback session, to collect ideas for future retreats. Organizers feel that organizing an event with another group, is a good way to "find your fellows" as Richard Rose once advised.
      We hold regular Zoom meetings on Friday evenings. ~ 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 meet every second Wednesday on Zoom. We were working with Tess Hughes's list of confrontation questions, but we have exhausted them for the time being and will revisit them at a later date. For the last two meetings we tried two different approaches. The first was the standard confrontation approach of people giving an update on what was coming for them in the previous period, in terms of their path. The second was the distribution of a piece in advance for reflection. In the last meeting the Richard Rose quote from the November 2020 Forum was shared with participants in advance, along with a few questions to reflect and respond on in the meeting. Then we proceeded with confrontation based on the response. We will continue in this vein for the time being, using either a general update or a piece for reflection shared in advance. ~ Contact for more information.

rose Update from the Dulverton, South West England self-inquiry group:
‘We continue to stay in touch but meetings have been suspended for the time being due to a second lockdown. We have a quorum of three and two other interested in joining when guidelines permit. ~ 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. 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. Recently we started trying to keep it to each of us asking just one question to each participant--switching from a shotgun to a rifle approach. 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. We're looking into starting a Zoom or other online meeting. Please let us know if you're interested. ~ Email or for more information.

   TAT Press publishes three of Art's books: Solid Ground of Being: A Personal Story of the Impersonal, Beyond Relativity: Transcending the Split Between Knower & Known and Sense of Self: The Source of All Existential Suffering?

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.

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.

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.

   See the 2020/11/28 post: Four-day isolation retreat at TAT Center, with photos and YouTube clips.

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 meets by conference call line (no video) every Monday from 6-8 PM EST. The phone number is (425)436-6381 and the passcode is 889361#. More details, as well as our weekly discussion topics, are available on our MeetUp page (link above) and via email at .

Update for the Online Self-Inquiry Book Club:
This online Self-Inquiry Book Club meets Sunday afternoons. Our book for November will be Sense of Self: The Source of All Existential Suffering? by Art Ticknor. In conjunction with TAT Foundation Press's publication of the book, see Shawn Nevins's recent interview of Art—audio and video versions available. ~ For more information on book club participation, 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. Now meeting at 7:30 pm EST (previously at 7 pm), 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 and individual contributions online every Wednesday, 8:00 pm via Zoom.
- Wed, Dec 30: Is prayer a part of Self-inquiry? What is prayer, to whom do you pray & how?
- Wed, Jan 6: "Conflicting Identities." We have a different identity at any one time, and expected boundaries: spouse, parent, sibling, employee, expert, patient. Where does your role as spiritual seeker fit and where does it conflict?
- Wed, Jan 13: How does love fit into your spiritual search? What is your definition, what is your experience of love, of feeling?
- Wed, Jan 20: "How do we Recognize our Deficiencies?" How would we know if we didn't have a "sixth sense," feelings, or if one couldn't love, intuit or get into rapport with others? How could I know if there is an "Inner Self"? What perspective comes with finding anything that was previously beyond me?
- Wed, Jan 27: "What do we see/receive through our Wounds?" Does a life-time of emotional and mental scarring inhibit, enrich or mature your search; if a younger seeker, does opportunity, grace or reluctance come through your emotional and mental wounds?
~ All Forum subscribers are welcome to join us. Email to receive weekly topics with preparatory notes and Zoom 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.

Update for the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area TAT Center:
The new TAT Center in Hurdle Mills, NC recently hosted its first event: an open house for folks in the Raleigh and Lynchburg areas. With the successful opening of the center, teacher-in-residence Bob Fergeson and caretaker Mark Wintgens are looking forward to hosting retreats and meetings for local group members as well as all TAT seekers. ~ Email for information about future meetings and events.

   TAT Press publishes Bob's gateway to within, The Listening Attention, as well as Images of Essence: The Standing Now, which features poems by Shawn Nevins accompanied by Bob's photos.

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.

   TAT Press publishes Shawn's Images of Essence: The Standing Now, which features his poems with photos by Bob Fergeson, The Celibate Seeker: An Exploration of Celibacy as a Modern Spiritual Practice, Subtraction: The Simple Math of Enlightenment, and Hydroglyphics: Reflections on the Sacred, which features his poems with photos by Phaedra Greenwood.

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

Who's a Good Boy?

What if I never find out....

~ Thanks to Brett S.

Arrogance Rewarded

A DEA officer stopped at a ranch in Texas, and talked with an old rancher. He told the rancher, "I need to inspect your ranch for illegally grown drugs."

The rancher said, "Okay, but don't go in that field over there," as he pointed out a distant location.

The DEA officer verbally exploded, saying, "Mister, I have the authority of the Federal Government with me!"

Reaching into his rear pants pocket, he removed his badge and proudly displayed it to the rancher.

"See this badge? This badge means I am allowed to go wherever I wish...on ANY land! No questions asked or answers given! Have I made myself clear...do you understand??"

The rancher nodded politely, apologized, and went about his chores.

A short time later, the old rancher heard loud screams, looked up and saw the DEA officer running for his life, being chased by the rancher's enormous Santa Gertrudis bull.

With every step the bull was gaining ground on the officer, and it seemed likely that the officer would be gruesomely gored before he reached safety. The man was clearly terrified.

The rancher threw down his tools, ran to the fence and yelled at the top of his lungs:

"Your badge...show him your BADGE!"

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~ Thanks to Humorous Comeback Stories.

Zen Birthday Card

Zen birthday card

~ Thanks to Dan Piraro. See more of his work at Bizarro.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

Psychology and Truth

Notes from a November 2020 TAT presentation of material from Richard Rose's The Albigen Papers by TAT member Vince L:

The Albigen Papers “The path to truth begins with the self.” So begins Richard Rose's second paper in The Albigen Papers. Some, especially those who spent years of schooling in order to be certified as experts, will say it is simplistic. But as one reads through this devastating overview of orthodox modern psychology, it will become apparent that the certified professionals, who, with their legal franchise comprise its exclusive priesthood, turn out to be the real over-simplifiers. For the approved methods and practices employed by contemporary psychologists deal only with the mechanics of the human robot, and not with those matters related to the robot's origin.

The problem of man's origin, his essence, and his real self, is a crucial one. Rose shows how woefully deficient modern psychology is in addressing these problems. Indeed, most psychologists ignore them, or even declare that attempting to seek their solution betrays a pathological mind. In contrast to the prevailing psychological methods, Rose boldly states that the only true psychologist is one who enters his own mind. This is the route to self-definition....

See the complete presentation.


More to Reality Than We Know

These are notes from a November 2020 TAT presentation of material from Richard Rose's Energy Transmutation, Between-ness and Transmission by TAT member Isaac H:

Energy Transmutation, Between-ness and Transmission Rose starts off this book by poking at the materialist paradigm: “Materialism and agnosticism come easy. It is less difficult to surrender to fatalism than it is to try to enhance your own consciousness.” He skewers the idea that science will ever explain the whole cosmos, and he suggests that a materialistic worldview leaves out a lot of phenomena that don't fit in with the paradigm. This idea is important to understand, in order to understand the rest of the book.

I believe the basic points of this book are that 1) there is a lot more to reality than we know, and 2) by the law of progression, we can presume that there are beings on more subtle planes who utilize the subtle energy that humans produce. “By Law of Progression, is here meant that any series of events or circumstances that indicates consistent direction, also indicates a possible continuance of that direction beyond the series presently witness able.” 3) By conserving our energy, we can transmute it and utilize it ourselves for our own spiritual goals. 4) Tension is the key to producing and transmuting energy....

See the complete notes.

Afflictions to the Sense of Self

Notes from a November 2020 TAT presentation of material from Richard Rose's Carillon by TAT member Michael R:

Richard Rose was full of priceless advice for seekers, which often took the form of more mental or logical approaches to the search. He was also a poet. Today I’ll share one of those poems and talk briefly about how it has affected me.

"The Dawn Breaks"

Carillon: Poems, Essays and Philosophy of Richard Rose The dawn breaks because another day and night have died,
But the sky was there through all.
The butterfly floats a moment and then
His dalliance is only an eternal picture.
The breast flows with milk and is
Dry forever
And the lullaby of life and the ear
That hear it weaken and cease.

Nothing is happening. Nothing is done.
The sun rises in glory and the lover
Stretches his shoulders with ambition,
The sunset is forever, and the lover
Drinks of beauty,
And beauty drinks of the lover
And life loses its pride in death....

See the complete presentation notes.

The Tragedy of Life

It must be borne in mind that the tragedy of life doesn't lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goal to reach. It isn't a calamity to die with dreams unfulfilled, but it is a calamity not to dream. It is not a disaster to be unable to capture your ideal, but it is a disaster to have no ideal to capture. It is not a disgrace not to reach the stars, but it is a disgrace to have no stars to reach for. Not failure, but low aim is sin. ~ Benjamin E Mays

"Only Just a Minute"
Benjamin E Mays

I have only just a minute,
Only sixty seconds in it.
Forced upon me, can't refuse it.
Didn't seek it, didn't choose it.
But it's up to me
to use it.
I must suffer if I lose it.
Give account if I abuse it.
Just a tiny little minute,
but eternity is in it.


~ Dr. Benjamin E. Mays, a pioneering civil rights leader, was the president of Morehouse College during Martin Luther King Jr.'s education there. King cited Mays as one of his great influences. Mays gave the eulogy at King's funeral after his assassination in 1968.

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?

"I crave my wife's approval more than anyone else's." - wrote one of November's Reader Commentary respondents. The Reader Commentary question for the January TAT Forum is:

Whose approval do you crave, and what does that get you?


~ Thanks to Tess Hughes for the question. Responses follow:

From Brett S:
I was recently writing in my online confrontation group about a fear that I won't be able to justify my life decisions to the people whose opinions I care about. One thing I've noticed is that I probably can't please everyone, like the song says. People may want and expect different and conflicting things from me. Another thing I think I've noticed is that craving other people's approval creates confusion about what I really want. Do I really want "x," or do I just want the approval I think I will get by doing "x"? Approval might feel particularly important for me as an oldest child, and "acceptance" is one of Benoit's values that feels most true of my personality (with the resulting compensation of needing to be loved--if someone doesn't like me it feels like a problem that needs to be fixed!). So whose approval do I crave? My family, my friends, my partner, my spiritual teachers, my coworkers... And what does it get me? When the craving is strong, it brings confusion about the direction I want for my life. It also prevents me from appreciating things and being grateful, because it labels life as it is "not good enough." It also can lead to self-centeredness, by making other people's approval OF ME seem like the most important thing in the universe. It keeps me trapped in evaluating, manipulating, and trying to control life instead of possibly observing, maybe maturing, and hopefully letting myself be changed by it.

From Tess:
Whose approval do you seek? When I was around forty, I was attending a therapist who asked me what I most would like to happen in my life. I said that I wanted my mothers approval, I wanted her to accept me as I am.

After unpacking the story between us: that my mother was a deeply pious Catholic who had raised a big family under very trying conditions, that her total identity and sense of worth came from these conditions, and that I and my lifestyle were a challenge to this, it became clear that she could not approve of me and maintain her sense of worth intact simultaneously.

I could not adapt myself to fit into a mould that was acceptable to her without losing my sense of self or what I called my integrity. It was a very painful situation which lasted for the rest of her life. We both did our best to transcend the awkwardness that was always palpable but our love also remained.

I learned a lot from this situation. One: that seeking the approval of another raises the question of the beliefs and values of both parties. Two: it raises the question of how honest we can be in our relationships with those with whom we do not agree. Three: It raises the question of how far you are willing to override your own values in order to get someone else's approval. With this last one, it gives you the opportunity to clarify your own values.

Also, maybe your approval-seeking is not about the whole of you but certain aspects. You might simply be looking for approval for certain things, such as your career or partner or how you dress or your taste in music. The question is always why and how would this person's approval benefit you? Is there an element of ego enhancement in it?

All children are dependent on the approval of their parents/caregivers and so we are programmed for approval seeking. But, we need to grow out of this dependence, which is what teenagers do, in order to become mature adults. In maturity we need to exercise discernment about approval issues and to develop the courage to live our conscious values without imposing them on others.

I'll sum up what I am trying to say here by another question that gave me plenty of food for inquiry in the past: Whose life are you leading, your own or someone else's?

From Anonymous:
I have a strong emotional reaction if something could trigger the approval/disapproval from someone from my childhood life, even though I'm aware not to have this reaction affect me or my decisions.

From Jane C., Wicklow, Ireland:
I'm in the latter stages of life now and I don't crave approval anything like I did in the past. But as a younger lesbian ‘coming out' in the Ireland of the early 1980's, I felt the wound of disapproval very acutely. It was the genesis of my early learning and was the crucible of painful and distorted images of self.

When I was in my early thirties, my brother got married in New York and invited the whole family to the wedding apart from my girlfriend at the time. The reason? I was gay. It was hard for him to own that he had a lesbian sister, never mind that she would be at his wedding with her same sex partner! I stayed at home in Ireland and never went to the wedding. Of course I would have loved his approval, but staying true to who I was felt more important.

I'm now in my mid sixties and a lot of healing and acceptance has taken place since then, and I am ‘godmother' to one of his children. But there is still a hankering after his approval, and it may well have to do with his standing as the oldest member of the family, very well off, and a person of authority in the world.

When I move from the specific to the general, I see that I seek the approval of other authority figures, and that is because I haven't quite taken them off their pedestals and/or realised my own intrinsic worth. My mother was a strong, powerful woman and I was afraid of her. Instead of standing up to her, I would run away. I never really learned to hold my own.

For years and years I would look for approval from teachers, friends and family. My self image was very caught up in this, and I would make myself as attractive as I could, firstly to gain attention, and then approval. This behaviour was more important than being true to myself. After an evening out with friends, I'd agonise over what I'd said or hadn't said to someone at the gathering. Eventually over time this has faded and I no longer need to be so popular or even liked. It's a huge relief not to care so much about how others see me.

In group settings, I still have the urge to say something I consider clever or important, and if I'm not heard or don't get the chance to express, I can have a range of feelings from ‘Oh no, I really wanted to say that - it was so important', to ‘It's ok that I didn't get to speak', to ‘Actually it feels good that I had to contain and not express', because it's taught me that it wasn't so important, and I can let go of the strong ego drive behind it.

In my intimate relationship I have found that there are so many ways I've healed in relation to ‘getting and giving approval'. I still look for ‘It' when I feel a lack, or conversely if I've done a lot and don't feel appreciated! This is an old thorny issue of mine to want to be noticed /approved of /praised. I think it stems from getting recognition from my parents as a child when I did something meritorious. On the flip side of the coin, I was never encouraged to discuss negative or difficult feelings, which may have compounded my need for approval even more.

I'm getting better at spotting the need when it arises and giving it lots of room without reacting. It's amazing where it still pops up ... when my friend Kristin died recently, I noticed that I was looking for approval from other friends that I mattered to her. I knew deep down that I mattered to her, yet I still wanted the recognition from others. It was about belonging and taking my place in the community of grief ... but also there was some ego involved around being seen as ‘special'.

Lastly, I want to mention an occasion where I forged a document and got caught. I had the experience of major disapproval when I contravened the law and met the full force of authority. This process evoked a lot of inner shame and remorse; it was a humbling experience and I learnt a lot about myself in the process.

In conclusion, dealing with the need for approval is an ongoing work in progress, and I remind myself to be kind yet firm when facing what it evokes in me.

From NV:
Whose approval do you crave, and what does that get you?

I grew up as the proverbial dutiful daughter/student. I sought approval from authority figures, parents, elders and teachers. I saw myself reflected through the feedback I got from them. It gave me a sense of stability, informed me about whether I was doing the “right thing” and gave me the pride of esteem. At this stage things that would get me approval were in line with things I wanted for myself. When what I wanted was different, or there was a conflict between 2 authority figures and I had to decide what to do, it rocked my boat and produced a moderate bit of internal conflict. Almost like a rinse-repeat formula I found myself in many situations where I had to have difficult conversations and articulate what I wanted. Once I had to tell a thesis advisor I was done and wanted to leave. I knew he wouldn't agree, I gave myself a lot of anxiety imagining how this confrontation would go. In the end, there was really no drama to it, after I stated what I wanted, knowing I had reached the end and had absolutely nothing to lose, allowed me to listen to even intimidation with an “okay” for a response. There is still a lingering desire to be a “nice person” or some stress about how to do the “decent thing”. It seems to me there is self-doubt when there is a desire for validation through the eyes of another. A person at work has been turning in some very sloppy work and I grumbled at having to fix it for them, but still wasn't sure how to tell them my complaint. In this case my doubt was "Am I being heavy handed?" A fellow co-worker, who was also involved, sent them an email with specific issues with their work. I thought that was something to learn from, for me, to know how to politely state my problem. Knowing that I have articulated my concerns with sincerity would take care of the sense of conflict in giving someone feedback.

From Gus R:
I long for acceptance by the Powers to Be: by the Nature of all things, by the Truth of my existence, by the Inner Self, by Divine Plan, that "downward emanation" on the right side, Divine Providence, Shawn, Tess, Bob, Paul and all those guys, Ramana, Maharaj, Shankara and the rest, love, God the Father, Reality, timelessness, Truth, the Now... or maybe it is to become finally one with each and all of these that until now, I seem not. Maybe what draws any and all seekers is that pain of separation from where we belong.

From Art Ticknor:
It became obvious to me maybe 15 years into my quest that I was motivated more by trying to please Richard Rose than I was by self-realization/ becoming the Truth. I suppose that motivation provided an easy answer to the question of "right action"--i.e., trying to do what I felt that Mr. Rose would see as productive--rather than going within for direction. It was the progression of a long pattern of trying to please parents, then teachers, then my wife and kids as what Hubert Benoit termed compensatory images, to construct in my mind a universe with me at the center.

From CJ:
I don't mean to say that I don't crave approval from others. Of course I do. But I think by far the one I want approval from the most desperately is myself. From this massively judging apparent self with its insanely complex and sometimes shifting filters of opinions and beliefs and criteria for rightness and wrongness. Sometimes it seems to use “me” as the standard, such as with opinions and certain deliberate choices (mine = right, therefore good/approved, therefore clung to desperately). And other times decidedly not. So many behaviors, characteristics, feelings that seem to be part of “me” are harshly judged. They do not align with some personally perceived standard of rightness. “I” do not approve.

I want to be who and what I approve of. But when I look, that's not what I see. In judgment I am something much smaller and uglier.

So what do I get from this craving for approval – sometimes received and often not? Possibly a spur – to change, to improve. (That's what “it” seems to say.) It's better to be someone trying to improve and discard all those flaws and recurrences of un-approvable behavior, isn't it? I am so terribly flawed, but maybe, maybe if I want to be and struggle to be different, I will somehow be redeemed even if I cannot be transformed – right? I can approve effort, if not results.

Or possibly what I get is just pain, and maybe the pain is asking me to look, so I look. Looking at the judging and judgment instead of the judged. Maybe to put it down, and keep looking, beyond, if anything is there.

From Anima Pundeer:
When I was in school, I made an effort to please my parents and my teachers. I tried my best to be a good student. Tried hard to not repeat the same mistake that would lead to some sort of punishment. As I got to middle school, I realized that no matter how hard I try, I can't get approval from all these authority figures in my life. Trying to come up to perceived expectations was a constant struggle. And then one day, the inner switch got flicked in the other direction. From being a compliant child, I became a rebellious teenager. At times I felt I would just argue to annoy my parents.

But then I realized that doing the ‘right thing', whatever that meant in a particular situation, always felt much easier than doing the opposite of it. For instance, I realized that making excuses is much harder than just speaking the truth about why homework was not done.

Looking back, I can see that people I truly loved and respected, I never felt the need to seek their approval. My failures were as acceptable to them as my wins.

Next Month

"It must be borne in mind that the tragedy of life doesn't lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goal to reach. It isn't a calamity to die with dreams unfulfilled, but it is a calamity not to dream. It is not a disaster to be unable to capture your ideal, but it is a disaster to have no ideal to capture. It is not a disgrace not to reach the stars, but it is a disgrace to have no stars to reach for. Not failure, but low aim is sin." ~ per Benjamin E Mays (see The Tragedy of Life above).

The Reader Commentary composite question for the February TAT Forum is:

Does the tragedy of life lie in not having a goal to reach? Is sin not failure but low aim?

Please your responses by the 25th of January and indicate your preferred identification (the default is your first name and the initial letter of your last name).

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

Other Reader Feedback

From Don A.:

In response to November's Forum Reader Commentary question "How do you know when you are being honest with yourself?", Art Ticknor responded [in the December issue] with several items including these:

For these three, I question how honesty has anything to do with it if I don't sense any of them already, but believe that I really want to.

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?


Orchid photo by Tina N.

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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.


I'm amazed that we ever find anything to say about a system that is not a system. About something that leads to nowhere. At least, simultaneously nowhere and everywhere. Generally after I give a lecture I follow up with an informal talk. Tonight I'll give a few facts about the system we work with, or at least the system of thinking that we're involved in. And I prefer to have you ask questions because we get to the heart of the matter much more quickly that way. We get to what you want to know, while I could talk for two days and never hit the point of understanding for you.

This I consider a unique system or unique group. It has to do with self-definition. Some systems seem to be geared strictly to utility. To improve your business or serve as an anesthetic if your thinking becomes too traumatic. Regardless, we are searchers after the truth. And you may immediately say, “Well, what do you consider the truth?” We don't. I don't ask you to consider what is the truth. I ask you to try to find inconsistencies and retreat from those inconsistencies....


~ From the beginning of a talk on obstacles by Richard Rose in Cleveland, Ohio in 1974. This is a replay from the Nov. 2010 TAT Forum.

Definition of Terms

cherries separator

Index of many of the key terms and principles in Rose's work, with brief definitions, from Richard Rose's Psychology of the Observer: The Path to Reality Through the Self by John Kent.

Jacob's Ladder (Richard Rose diagram)

Jacob's Ladder © 2001 Richard Rose. See this 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

We're looking forward to in-person events at the TAT Center in 2021 and will keep you posted. Until then, people continue to use the Center for solitary retreats, and there are rumblings and rumors about potential construction of a retreat cabin. In the meantime, we still need your help. We've raised 60% of the funds needed to clear the TAT Center of the outstanding loans and secure its financial future, so please consider a donation today.

expanded meeting room exterior finished


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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