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

February 2021 / More

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TAT Foundation News

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

Downloadable/rental versions of the Mister Rose video and of April TAT talks Remembering Your True Desire:

"You don't know anything until you know Everything...."

Mister Rose is an intimate look at a West Virginia native many people called a Zen Master because of the depth of his wisdom and the spiritual system he conveyed to his students. Profound and profane, Richard Rose was not the kind of man most people picture when they think of mystics or spiritual teachers. Yet, he was the truest of teachers, one who had "been there," one who had the cataclysmic experience of spiritual enlightenment.

Filmed in the spring of 1991, the extraordinary documentary follows Mr. Rose from a radio interview, to a university lecture and back to his farm, as he talks about his experience, his philosophy and the details of his life.

Whether you find him charming or offensive, fatherly or fearsome, you will not forget him, and never again will you think about yourself, reality, or life after death in quite the same way.

3+ hours total. Rent or buy at tatfoundation.vhx.tv/.

2012 April TAT Meeting – Remembering Your True Desire

Includes all the speakers from the April 2012 TAT meeting: Art Ticknor, Bob Fergeson, Shawn Nevins and Heather Saunders.

1) Remembering Your True Desire ... and Acting on It, by Art Ticknor
Spiritual action is like diving for the Pearl beyond Price. What do you do when you don't know what to do or how to do it? An informal discussion centered around the question: "What prevents effective spiritual action?"

2) Swimming in the Inner Ocean: Trips to the Beach, by Bob Fergeson
A discussion of the varied ways we can use in order to hear the voice of our inner ocean, the heart of our true desires.

3) A Wider and Wilder Vision, by Shawn Nevins
Notes on assumptions, beliefs, and perspectives that bind and free us.

4) Make Your Whole Life a Prayer, by Heather Saunders
An intriguing look into a feeling-oriented approach to life.

5+ hours total. Rent or buy at tatfoundation.vhx.tv/.

Return to the main page of the February 2021 TAT Forum.


Reader Commentary

Encouraging interactive readership among TAT members and friends

"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 in last month's Forum).

The Reader Commentary 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?

The complete response from William R:
What is sin? I remember Richard Rose once saying, “I don't believe in sin. We are not smart enough to sin.” Well, we might say, to sin is to willfully cause others to suffer when it is unwarranted and unnecessary. But, with examination and reflection, we see that every individual who brings injury upon another has a justification, a rationalization. Even the most malicious, malevolent and nefarious will argue the righteousness of their actions, and the truly heinous and demonic will proclaim, “I couldn't help it, I could not resist the urge.” And in the crime of passion, it is understood that one is temporarily overwhelmed and seized by a venomous force heedless of any moderating or tempering voice.

In order to understand, to make sense of, that which we may label “sin”, we must see that each and every one of us is driven by the same root ego: the imperative to be, the urging to self-empowerment, the insatiable appetite for invigoration. The sinner may be driven by the most base and infantile of resentments: “How dare he be more successful than me? How dare he be more admired!” “How dare she be more beautiful and accomplished than I!” The sinner may be driven by self-absorption, oblivious to, and unconcerned by, the consequences of his or her actions that undermine the well-being of another.

The sinner may be driven by self-confirming rationalizations: “The fact that I am king demonstrates that it is God's will that I am king, and my judgments and decrees, no matter how seemingly arbitrary and frivolous, are righteous, as I am God's appointee and the vehicle of His will.”

The sinner may be driven by psychological wounds, by confusion and pain. The sinner may be driven by possession and obsession. In order to make sense of his or her own experience, the sinner may de-humanize and demonize the other, and thereby justify the most horrific deeds, the most villainous atrocities. Are our drives and passions attributes we possess, or are they dramatic devices, programs, by which we are possessed?

As for low aim, Richard Rose observed, “I have limited time and energy to reach those who are ABLE to hear what I have to say, and to act.” Should we expect he who is unable, to do? Why does one choose the path of mindfulness? What entices one to seek the path of Enlightenment? Is it not as simple as, there is something within oneself that is at odds with convention, an awareness that says, “There is something not right with me and the ways of the world,” and an intuitive urge to find balance and harmony? How, then, will we project onto others what they should seek, and how should we measure their efforts? Perhaps we should concern ourselves with becoming The Light before presuming to know the minds, or judge the efforts, of others.

It is not sin we must confront in our quest for The Light, for that would assume that anyone has the mindfulness, the awareness and knowledge, to know what sin is, and the discernment to choose whether to sin or not. Rather, if we are to become Truth, we must confront ignorance, confusion, fear, illusion, disorientation, conditioning, supposition, self-indulgence, vulgarity, venality, obstinacy, projection, covetousness, lethargy, rationalization, envy, resentment, nonchalance and vainglory.

How will you know what sin is, how will you know what Truth is, before you know the Absolute Essence of the one who presumes to make such judgments?

Return to the main page of the February 2021 TAT Forum.

The complete message from Chitra D:
It is indeed a tragedy, both in the worldly realm and the spiritual one, when we don't have a goal to strive for. Without a goal, no growth is possible, except perhaps by accident.

I'll focus on how this applies to my life on the spiritual path. Without a spiritual goal that motivated me, that burned inside me, making me uncomfortable and dissatisfied and downright distressed and wanting nothing else because nothing else was worth it, I would not have moved beyond looking for success and happiness in my everyday life, or being satisfied with distracting myself when bored. My goal of Self Realization forced me to examine my life, my mind, and my thoughts and beliefs (to whatever extent I have been able to do this—it is a work in progress). My determination to prioritize this goal helped me to focus my energies on it and do whatever I could. I tried many things: from prayer, reading and meditation to watching the mind/ self inquiry/confrontation/trying to be in the Present moment. Some worked; some didn't. Some may be working deep inside but I can't tell.

But there's another side to this. Did I really even create my goal? I'm no longer sure.

As I focus more and more on examining myself, I begin to see some things that perhaps contradict my earlier beliefs. I see that I, Chitra, the ego-entity, really don't make things happen. Thoughts rise by themselves—including thoughts about the importance of Awakening. Some of the thoughts that rise are grasped by the mind and translated into actions. Their results are outside my control. I see also that there is some kind of impetus (quite separate from the ego) that pushes (pulls?) me to continue the search. And though I still am focused on the goal of Self Realization, I feel, more and more, that this ego will never make it happen. And that Awakening doesn't happen to the ego anyway. Yet the paradox is that I (ego) MUST keep trying.

Will there be success? Will there be failure? That part isn't in my hands, and I've come to terms with it. I can only try, as best as possible, to keep my attention on the quest, to have a single Intention, and to be the best reverse vector I know how to be.

The word "sin" doesn't resonate with me. So I will end by saying that "low aim" is a waste. A waste of the potential of this amazing human existence.

Return to the main page of the February 2021 TAT Forum.

The complete message from Mary H:
Does the tragedy of life mean not having a goal? Does anyone not have a goal? I have always had goals, purpose, jobs to do, things to improve about myself, things I enjoyed doing, Many were self-serving, like a healthy lifestyle, so that I feel better. Many had unconscious motives of pleasing others, so that they would like me, and I would then feel good about myself. So is this also a tragedy, a misguided aim? Isn't sin also about being off the mark, misguided?

My Catholic moral goals were all very outward focused, rule bound, someone else was going to do my tally at the end, and reward me. Little did I think that actually uncovering the humble authentic inner child/self had anything to do with spiritual life, and that many of the roles I took on were more to do with my survival mechanism, belief systems, conditioning and life experience and very little to do with God. More to do with MY Will than Thy Will!

One of these survival mechanisms has been to keep a low profile. I live with taking the back seat, not the hot seat. So my goals were to feel safe and that I belonged, so I created a very agreeable, hard working personality. Who wouldn't want me? It was honourable to have no needs. It was desirable to fly under the radar. In addition to this, in our Irish Catholic culture aiming high was not admired. I didn't want to be “having notions about myself, or rising above my station.”

I think having personal goals is a more American thing, certainly talking openly about them is. Strange for me to think this might be a positive thing. “Showing off, Big head, who do you think you are?” are phrases that come to mind.

So I was quietly working to be as skilled as I could possibly be in work, to do the best job, to be liked. On another level I was going to make a difference in the world, change the course of some vulnerable kids' lives, be the best, most loving parent ever, in adverse circumstances. The idea of finding myself got lost, as the demands of the world and the role I was playing expanded. I was surviving and keeping a lot of balls in the air.

You could say I was aiming high, but it was all very surface. So I don't think not having goals is the sin, or tragedy, but not knowing your true, inner, authentic self, and hearing the desires of your heart. As poet Mary Oliver says “saving the only life you can save….”

Return to the main page of the February 2021 TAT Forum.

Did you enjoy the Forum? Then buy the book! Beyond Mind, Beyond Death is available at Amazon.com.

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