The TAT Forum: a spiritual magazine of essays, 
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April 2021 / More

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Convictions & Concerns

TAT members share their personal convictions and/or concerns


It just dawned on me that journaling is how I explain stuff to myself. I was tuning into a felt sense that unfolded through images, body sensations, and dialogues. The journaling was a recording of the unfolding, which started out in a stream of consciousness form, then morphed into a mini play script.

Listening to someone sharing how she talks to God throughout the day, sensing that through the fortunes/misfortunes in her life, God is leaving his signature, not in some arrogant way of, “I am so great, I did this!” but in the way of saying, “Hey buddy, I'm right here with you!” The signature is reminiscent of how you recognize a musician by their style, the artist by a peculiar brush stroke, or a loved one by their annoying quirk of leaving half-eaten potato chip bags open!

The moment comes when you feel old and gray, heavy of heart, weary of body. And quite unexpectedly, you happen upon such signature. And a faint smile begins on your lips, a quiet gladness in your heart, and the thought crosses your mind, “That son of a gun was here,” and you hear yourself softly chuckle. And you realize that the music you thought you'd never hear again, the peculiar brush stroke you had forgotten, the friend you thought had left long ago, is here, always here.

And as you look around, you see snippets of music scrawled on crinkled chocolate foil wrappings, inside jokes scribbled in the creases of opened potato chip bags, doodles of hearts on walls, asking, “Why so glum, chum?” And you start to weep because all this time you had missed the kisses blown your way while you were busy running your supposed life.

Soon the tears dry and you realize the only job you ever need to do, that you can't help but do, is to love your friend back, with all your heart. And you remember Professor Martin from long ago asking, “If you are hiking and suddenly come upon a magnificent vista, and you go, ‘Wow!' Does that wow last forever?”

Play: Little Boy and the Real King

BOY sits on a giant throne, obviously too big for his size. He has a Burger King cardboard hat on his head. He is playing a video game, eyes glued to the giant HDTV screen. After a while, BOY notices that the video game is playing on its own, whether his hands are on the video game controller or not. BOY averts his eyes from the HDTV screen, and looks about the room.


CHORUS: Here comes REAL KING. His rightful throne restored. Rejoice! The Real Player is here! He is taking back the reign of the video game!

When BOY sees REAL KING, BOY scoots out of the throne, and puts the video game controller down. BOY takes off his Burger King cardboard hat and bows to REAL KING.

REAL KING sits on the throne, picks up the video game controller and starts to play. BOY plops in REAL KING's lap. BOY's eyes shift from the HDTV screen to REAL KING's hands deftly maneuvering the control buttons. BOY is awestruck.

BOY: Wow! You're really good at this!
REAL KING: Would you like to learn to play like me?
BOY: No.
REAL KING: Why not?
BOY: Because that's your job.
REAL KING: What's your job then?
BOY: (turns his head around and gazes up at REAL KING for a long time. BOY's mouth drops open as the answer comes to him): my job is … to adore you … forever ….

REAL KING smiles.

BOY: Now I know why carolers sing “O come, let us adore Him.” And why people and animals gather at the Nativity scene! And why it's said when you die, you get to sit by God and adore Him forevermore!
REAL KING: Do you think you died?
BOY: (looks to the video game playing on the HDTV screen) Game over for me.
REAL KING: What happened?
BOY: I found out I didn't have control of the game.
REAL KING: How does that make you feel?
BOY: I was mad at first. But just now, I realize I could just sit back in your lap and enjoy watching you play. It's more fun!
REAL KING: Than what?
BOY: Than watching the video games. I got bored because the games are like Tom & Jerry chasing each other in cartoons. I am a big boy now. And big boys don't care for silly cartoons.
REAL KING: I'm a big ol' boy and I like silly cartoons.
BOY: Maybe when I get to be old like you, I'll like cartoons again. But right now, I'm kinda bored of them.
REAL KING: Well, even big boys have to eat and poop and study and play. You can't sit here adoring me forever, can you?
BOY: (closes his eyes as if to check something): I can still adore you even if I don't see you. So I can do all the things big boys do and still adore you.
REAL KING: What makes you so sure?
BOY: (hands on his heart): Because I feel you in my heart. (Suddenly opens his eyes as though a light bulb went on in his head) And I see your hands playing the video games!
REAL KING: So if big boys don't watch silly cartoons, what do they do then?
BOY: (ponders for a while) They do what you tell them to do.

REAL KING slaps his thighs and laughs. His laughter shakes the video games, the room, the whole kingdom.


~ Thanks to TAT member Tina N.

quill icon

Would you like to share your impressions or questions with other TAT Forum readers? Please email your comments to the .

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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 April 2021 TAT Forum.


"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

Man Who Orders Three Beers

An Irishman moves into a tiny hamlet in County Kerry in Western Ireland, and he walks into the local pub and promptly orders three beers. The bartender raises his eyebrows, but serves the man three beers, which he drinks quietly at a table, alone.

An hour later, the man has finished the three beers and he orders three more beers. This happens one more time, before the man then leaves for home. The next evening the man again orders and drinks three beers at a time (and again for several times). Soon the entire town is whispering about the Man Who Orders Three Beers.

Finally, a week later, the bartender broaches the subject on behalf of the town. "I don't mean to pry, but folks around here are wondering why you always order three beers."

"Tis odd, isn't it?" the man replies. "You see, I have two brothers, and one went to America, and the other went to Australia. We promised each other that we would always order an extra two beers whenever we drank, simply as a way of keeping up the family bond."

The bartender and the whole town were pleased with this answer, and soon the Man Who Orders Three Beers became a local celebrity and source of pride to the hamlet, even to the extent that out-of-town people would come to watch him drink.

Then, one day, the man comes in and orders only two beers. The bartender pours them with a heavy heart. This continues for the rest of the evening. He only orders two beers. The word flies around town. Prayers are offered for the soul of one of the brothers who obviously must have died.

The next day, when the man enters the pub, the bartender says to the man, "Folks around here, me first of all, want to offer condolences to you for the death of your brother. You know-the two beers and all.

The man looks puzzled for a moment, and then replies, "You'll be happy to hear that my two brothers are alive and well. It's just that I, meself, have decided that during Lent, I probably should give up drinking."

Slaintè, John

cherries separator

~ Thanks to Rob-In Leeds, from an Irish American cousin, who lives in NJ.

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Inspiration & Irritation

Irritation moves us; inspiration provides a direction

The Hen Turkey Story

wild hen turkey

It was April 25, 2002. Clearly the Saudi ruler was not happy with Ariel Sharon.

Ever since President Franklin Roosevelt met with Saudi Arabia's founder, King Abdul Aziz, aboard the USS Quincy in 1945, America's relationship with the kingdom had been one of our most critical. The Saudi Arabian nation sits on a fifth of the world's oil and has tremendous influence among the Muslims as the guardian of the hold mosques at Mecca and Medina.

I had invited Crown Prince Abdullah—one of Abdul Aziz's thirty-six sons—to our ranch in Crawford as a way to strengthen our personal relationship. In anticipation of the March 2002 Arab League summit in Beirut, the crown prince showed strong leadership by announcing a new peace plan. Under his vision, Israel would return territory to the Palestinians, who would create an independent state that rejected terror and recognized Israel's right to exist. There were many details to negotiate, but the concept was one I could support.

The evening of the Arab League summit, a Hamas suicide bomber walked into a hotel dining room filled with people celebrating Passover in the Israeli city of Netanya. "Suddenly it was hell," one guest said. "There was the smell of smoke and dust in my mouth and a ringing in my ears." One of the bloodiest attacks of the Second Intifada, the bombing killed 30 Israelis and wounded 140.

In response, Prime Minister Sharon ordered a sweeping Israeli offensive into the West Bank. Israeli forces picked up hundreds of suspected militants and surrounded Yasser Arafat in his Ramallah office. Sharon announced he would build a security barrier separating Israeli communities from the Palestinians in the West Bank. The fence was widely condemned. I hoped it would provide the security Israelis needed to make hard choices for peace.

I urged Sharon privately to end the offensive, which had become counterproductive. Arafat held a TV interview by candlelight and was looking like a martyr. Sharon forged ahead. I gave a Rose Garden speech publicly calling on him to begin withdrawal. "Enough is enough." I said. Still, Sharon wouldn't budge.

By the time Crown Prince Abdullah arrived at our ranch, his peace plan had been shelved. He was angered by the violence, furious with Sharon, and—I soon learned—frustrated with me.

The crown prince is a gentle, modest, almost shy man. He speaks softly, doesn't drink alcohol, and prays five time a day. In eight years, I never saw him without his traditional robes.

After a brief discussion, Abdullah asked for time alone with his foreign minister and ambassador. A few minutes later, State Department interpreter Gamal Helal came to me with a stricken look on his face. "Mr. President," he said, "I think the Saudis are getting ready to leave."

I was surprised. I thought the meeting had been going fine. But Gamal explained that the Saudis had expected me to persuade Sharon to withdraw from Ramallah before the crown prince arrived. Now they were insisting that I call the Israeli prime minister on the spot. I wasn't going to conduct diplomacy that way. I sent Colin [Powell, Secretary of State] into the living room to see what was going on. He confirmed that our guests were headed for the door. America's pivotal relationship with Saudi Arabia was about to be seriously ruptured.

I walked into the living room with Gamal and asked for a moment alone with the crown prince. I had read two interesting things about him in a background briefing. One was that he was a devout religious believer. The other was that he loved his farm.

"Your Royal Highness," I said. "I would like to discuss religion with you." I talked about my belief in Christianity and the role religion played in my life. I hoped he would reciprocate by talking about his faith. He wasn't in a sharing mood.

In a last-gasp effort, I said: "Before you leave, may I show you my ranch?" He nodded. A few minutes later, the crown prince, flowing robes and all, was climbing into a Ford F-250 pickup. Then he, Gamal, and I took off for a tour of the property. I pointed out the different kinds of hardwood trees, the native prairie grasses that Laura had planted, and the grazing cattle. The crown prince sat silently. I wasn't making much headway.

Then we reached a remote part of the property. A lone hen turkey was standing in the road. I stopped the truck. The bird stayed put.

"What is that?" the crown prince asked.

I told him it was a turkey. "Benjamin Franklin loved the turkey so much he wanted it to be America's national bird," I said.

Suddenly I felt the crown prince's hand grab my arm. "My brother," he said. "It is a sign from Allah. This is a good omen."

I've never fully understood the significance of the bird, but I felt the tension begin to melt. When we got back to the house, our aides were surprised to hear us say we were ready for lunch. The next day, I got a call from Mother and Dad. The crown prince had stopped in Houston to visit them. Mother said he had tears in his eyes as he recounted the time in Crawford and talked about what we could achieve together. For the rest of my presidency, my relationship to the crown prince—soon to be king—was extremely close. I had never seen a hen turkey on that part of the property before, and I haven't seen one since.


~ From Decision Points, by George W. Bush.

=> What happened there? Something about the bird in the road apparently triggered a strong rapport between the two men.

Please your thoughts on the above items.

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