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

TAT Forum

May 2021

June 2021 TAT gathering

June spiritual gathering details


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Convictions & Concerns

TAT members share their personal convictions and/or concerns

What Do You Want to Become?

People spend a lifetime answering this question of what to become, and they struggle with the how. Perhaps the best starting point is to ask: "Who wants what?" We do not possess desire, we are possessed by desires, and our thoughts and actions move in their wake as a leaf blown by the wind. So let's explore how you determine what you think you want to become, and what has that to do with finding the absolute?

Most of you do not know yourself—the everyday relative you, let alone the true absolute self. Some of you may think that such relative knowledge is unnecessary, even irrelevant, and that you can sidestep that knowing, and leapfrog over your deepest selfish attachments without ever seeing them, directly to absolute realization of true being and the true realization of life, simply by holding your head a certain way. Or by believing words that are music to your ears. That is not going to work.

Sustained self-inquiry and becoming an inward vector of the attention will work. Becoming a vector means building momentum in a direction, and the direction is inward. Self inquiry. Building momentum requires a focus of your energy and attention, and self inquiry is using that energy and attention to habitually look at your actions, feelings, and yes, thoughts. Because they're all reflections of the desires that move you and blind you to what you truly are....

See the complete presentation.


~ Notes for a presentation that Bob Cergol made at the November 2020 TAT gathering. Its theme was Relative & Absolute, with the focusing questions: What do you want to become? and What are you trying to hold onto?

quill icon

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!

Beyond Mind, Beyond Death II Project Announcement

BMBD cover image TAT Press's Beyond Mind, Beyond Death (BMBD), published in 2008, covers selections from the first seven years of the TAT Forum, from November 2000 to December 2007.

We've had 14 additional years of monthly TAT Forum issues since then. And we're getting ready to launch a project to solicit recommendations from all readers for a 2nd volume of BMBD from the seven years of monthly issues spanning January 2008 to December 2014.

Our approach will be to have a brief, interactive survey each week for participants to rate the items in one issue of the Forum for inclusion in volume II. That will take about 20 months, during which time volunteer co-editors Abhay D. and Michael R. will arrange the selections into chapters and organize the book's contents. Within 2 years BMBD II should be available in paperback and e-book formats.

We'll be e-mailing an invitation to all TAT members and Forum notice subscribers in early May with a sample of the first survey and the option to subscribe for weekly links to the ongoing surveys.

Your participation to any extent practical for you will help the best formulation of Beyond Mind, Beyond Death II.

Random rotation of
TAT Foundation Books & Videos

The Handyman's Guide to Spiritual Seeking by David Weimer

Read more: The Handyman's Guide to Spiritual Seeking by David Weimer

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. We're hoping that it will be feasible to resume in-person meetings later in 2021.

We started 2021 with a one-day virtual gathering on Saturday, February 6th, followed by a virtual gathering on Saturday and Sunday, April 10 and 11. The next gathering will be a virtual gathering on Saturday and Sunday, June 12 and 13. See The Way, The Life and The Truth for details and registration. Questions? 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 are working using two different approaches. The first is 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 is the distribution of a piece in advance for reflection. 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 are meeting online weekly and hope to begin weekly ‘actual reality' meetings sometime in April. ~ 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.
We had two new folks join in February, resulting in two men's groups with 8 participants in each. They (the weekly exchanges, not the participants :-) 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. We're currently 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. ~ 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 Zoom every Monday from 6-8 PM EST. The link is https://us02web.zoom.us/j/3098361863?pwd=anY5OFlMT0pNMld6VXJDb0Z2SjY0UT09. For those joining by phone, the number is +1 929 205 6099 US (New York), with Meeting ID: 309 836 1863, and Passcode: 895478. 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:
We finished The Zen Experience by Thomas Hoover (Kindle) and are moving to alternate Sunday afternoons. Our current book is Richard Rose's Psychology of the Observer: The Path to Reality Through the Self by John Kent. ~ 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:
=> Book review of Be As You Are regarding Ramana Maharshi dialogues: Richard Grizinski will again lead the study every other Monday, May 3 & May 17, at 8 pm. Contact selfinquirer (link below) to receive a Zoom invitation.
=> Online group confrontation and individual contributions every Wednesday, 8:00 pm via Zoom:
- Wed, Apr 28: Shawn Pethel returns to respond to the many questions
- Wed, May 5: Benji H. from the NYC Self-inquiry Group will conduct a group confrontation session
- Wed, May 12: From where is my perspective based? Douglas Harding: "It took me no time at all to notice that this nothing, this hole where a head should have been, was no ordinary vacancy, no mere nothing. On the contrary … I had lost a head and gained a world."
- Wed, May 19: What does it mean to "be asleep"? How would one know if one is asleep, and if asleep, how can a sleeping person awaken himself or herself? What are Gurdjieff's and Rose's concepts of sleep?
- Wed, May 27: "Doing Nothing vs. Being Nothing: The Case of the Forgotten Self" article by Art Ticknor.
~ 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:
Bob Fergeson spent a year as resident teacher before returning to Colorado in March. Mark Wintgens continues as our chief-seeker in residence and invaluable caretaker. He is looking forward to hosting retreats and meetings for local group members as well as all TAT seekers. And TAT is looking forward to the possibility of hosting the August 2021 TAT meeting at the Center. ~ Email for information about the TAT Center.

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.)

Amazon and eBay

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As an Amazon Associate TAT earns from qualifying purchases made through links on our website.

TAT has registered with the eBay Giving Works program. You can list an item there and select TAT to receive a portion of your sale. Or if you use the link and donate 100% of the proceeds to TAT, you won't pay any seller fees when an item sells and eBay will transfer all the funds to TAT for you. Check out our Giving Works page on eBay. Click on the "For sellers" link on the left side of that page for details.

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

TED Talk Takeoff

canine TED talk parody


~ TED talk parody thanks to Peter L. Cartoonist "Lars" may be this Lars. Image from Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.

How Enlightened Are You?

If you can live without caffeine,
If you can be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains,
If you can resist complaining,
If you can understand when your loved ones are too busy to give you any time,
If you can take criticism and blame without resentment,
If you can ignore a friend's limited education and never correct him or her,
If you can resist treating a rich friend better than a poor friend,
If you can face the world without lies and deceit,
If you can conquer tension without medical help,
If you can relax without liquor,
If you can sleep without the aid of drugs,
If you can honestly say that deep in your heart you have no prejudice against creed, color, religion, gender preference, or politics,

See the conclusion.

cherries separator

~ Thanks to enlightened-spirituality.org.

Reality is an illusion, but....

Reality is an illusion, but....

~ Spotted by Rob-In Leeds on the Facebook page of the David Bohm group. Cartoon by Tom Gauld on www.casualoptimist.com. Gauld's new book Department of Mind-Blowing Theories collects his cartoons for New Scientist magazine and is also available on Amazon.

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

Becoming Conscious of Awareness

During the break-out group intensives at the April TAT virtual retreat I was struck by how Bob C. and Mike G. used words that sound like poetic metaphors, and would definitely have sounded so to me previously, but are nearly literal, clinical, technical descriptions of what I saw in an experience now more than 10 years ago. The hairs on my hands nearly stood up! These guys had obviously, at the very least, been there.

I then browsed the TAT Forum archive and saw an article by Art T. describing three steps to Enlightenment. First, intuit that all answers are within. And then the "two-punch-knockout": see what you're looking out from, and accept the implications. Accepting the implications might take a few instances of seeing it, writes Art.

Disclaimers: 1) I am not enlightened, do not know the Truth, and am still a seeker. 2) I do not know how people generally react to this experience. For me it was terrifying, but I was young at the time. For another it might be something else entirely. It's not necessarily "love & light" or bringing obvious and immediate benefits. 3) I have only been to the Door, and have not gone beyond, so I also have no experience, knowledge, not even firm intuition of what might occur should one step "through the door".

I will share how it happened for me (what might work for another) and a bit about it with the intention of inspiring the possibility that something about yourself that is more real and true than your mortal and imperfect individuality CAN be, at the very least, glimpsed/seen.

My conviction is that I saw "what I'm looking out from." Also, I did NOT accept the implications. The only thing I got from the experience is that 1% of me has since been detached, a memory, and a certainty that realized teachers aren't deluded and are dead serious.

I am writing this in the spirit of Rose's "if you can't inspire yourself, inspire someone else" in case someone wants to experience what I believe was revealed as a glimpse of awareness or to revisit the experience.

The message is: miraculously, awareness CAN be seen, and it does not take a spiritual Olympian to see it. You, the reader, as you are, can do it. I am convinced that all it takes is a moment of 100% fully-determined introspection. This cannot be intentionally willed, but, through Grace and the strength of your previous efforts (i.e., your “vector”), will happen to you and as you quite naturally.

Even though I normally inhabit the lower rungs of Rose's Jacob's ladder, I believe that this experience revealed point F on the diagram (individual consciousness of awareness).

I was engaged in intense introspection regarding "who-am-I." The neti-neti approach, not this not that, "I am not what I observe, I am what observes," not world, not body, not feelings, not thoughts, not even any sense of self I might have since it's observable…

Suddenly, I became aware of attention. I'd never been aware of attention before. Attention is what jumps around all those observables from the list above and focuses on something. So now the observable was attention.

The miraculous and unexpected part is that soon the attention started to turn back on itself. This sounds metaphorical and impossible, as it would have to me, but it can apparently happen as an experience.

Attention is normally pointed at various aspects of the world (including the body-mind), but here it started turning in the opposite direction, "inside," "back." It felt slow, labored, like an oil tanker trying to change course.

After the attention turned around by maybe 80%, I saw what seemed to be an indestructible, self-aware, non-individual awareness that was the basis of the self (and all selves/things).

And it was both immediately clear and mind-boggling. It was (very obviously) the final observer, because it was seen (very obviously) that it is self-aware. The problem was that it was seen that it is self-aware and that it is (very obviously) projecting anything I might call "me" and the whole Universe, but I (still) had the impression that I was aware of it.

Accepting that it is not me aware of it, but it being self-aware, looked to the mind like instantly dying—with no idea of what that might imply. That's the part that was terrifying for me. It might not be like that for another, but I honestly don't know.

That's as far as I got—to the Door. Door of what? Door of the death of personal self and seeing what, if anything, would remain of self, body, mind, Universe … and even the awareness.

For someone wanting a similar glimpse, or more, or less, I am convinced that the winning formula is the same as for any other deep question or personal issue: a burning question + belief or intuition that it might be possible for you, now, as you are + simultaneous doubt that it can be done, by anyone + attitude of being perfectly fine with questioning with 100% full determination for 3 million years and the consequences being whatever they may. I believe these offer the highest chances of success, but in practice come in the form of Grace.

Good luck with any question you might have. Wherever you are, and however you are, I am rooting for you!

Yes, my ego is wrapped up in this glimpse even after more than 10 years, but if it's really 1-2-3 like Art wrote, maybe this sharing might be useful to someone sincerely looking for step 2.


~ Thanks to Mario P.

Our Brain Typically Overlooks This Brilliant Problem-Solving Strategy

This Scientific American article by Diana Kwon includes a 6-minute video. The image comes from www.babygearlab.com.


Q: Have you seen evidence of an additive bias in your quest for solving the identity problem?

The Child Within

Good morning, everyone. This morning, if we can, let's put aside all our studies of Truth. Let's put down our theology, doctrine and metaphysics for a time. There is something much simpler and more important I'd like to talk about; something much more basic; something that is absolutely fundamental if we are to go all the way with our spiritual comprehension.

All right? Have we put aside "religion" for the moment? Science? Physics? Our over-concern with those complex things causes us—at least it caused me—to overlook Something Wonderful. That Something Wonderful brings us to understand new things about time and space; to see that we aren't as bound by time as we thought. Are you ready?

Listen gently. There is a Child inside us. It lives. Vigorously. It is as youthful as ever and it hasn't lost a thing to time. What's more, that Child is capable of resurrection and emergence right out here into this world of trials, tribulations, space and time.

Let me say something about this. We all know how much the world wants to know of this wonder—the Child within—unable to find very much said or written about it. The Bible has something to say about "the Child," but the churches don't. The subjective groups don't mention it at all. But the Child I'm talking about is not solely a religious or theological child, but the very kid-we-are that is still deep within each of us, just as it was when we were child-children.

Yes, there is a Child still living in each of us. We've heard this before, but no one has gone into much detail. No one has written the really helpful things. For instance, who has told us that the Child is all that is real about us? Who has told us that all this grown-up, grown-old and grown-tired-of-the-world business isn't true and isn't the way things are? Most mention of this mystical marvel is poetic fluff and stuff that rings true in the heart but isn't sufficiently explained to grasp intellectually and practically. Ah, that's it. The intellect of us doesn't understand about the heart and the Child, so it relegates them to another world.


~ Shawn Nevins read this excerpt from William Samuel's Induction Talk as a meditation to open the 2021 April TAT intensive. It comes from The Child Within Us Lives! A Synthesis of Science, Religion and Metaphysics. Visit the William Samuel website for information on the audio CDs, DVDs and writings of William Samuel, which are available through Amazon.

The Graces

I never regarded the writing of anything as "completing" it—the circle of completion must be made by the reader, in the individual responses of his heart and mind—then and only then is the circle of the Graces—of Giving, Receiving, and Returning—complete.


~ From And How Are You, Dr. Sacks? by Lawrence Weschler. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

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 composite question for the May TAT Forum is:

Do you believe there is such a thing as grace or some form of unseen help on your spiritual path? Do you believe this, or do you know this is the case, and why? If there is help, do you believe you can further attract it?

Thanks to Bill K. for the question. Responses follow:

From Michael R:
I believe that awakening is discontinuous and not "caused” by anything in the traditional sense. This could be called Grace, or it could be called random, spontaneous or accidental. I also believe there are "ways of being" which are correlated to (not causal for) awakening. I think things happen, things are seen, and we react accordingly. Dissatisfaction happens, curiosity happens, insights happen, and we find ourselves reading books and meditating or whatever else. I believe spiritual practices are closer to reactions than causes, that something quite beyond us would be better defined as "causal,” and that the "ways of being which are correlated to awakening” typically happen (perhaps necessarily) not from our "will” or "choosing” but rather from something closer to our defeat or surrender. It seems rather unlikely to experience defeat, to be surrendered, without sincerely trying. There's a certain kind of honest observation that doesn't look to gain or escape anything. This seems to attract . . . seeing. I believe that commitment is the effect of seeing clearly (what matters most) and that this purity of focus can lead to exponential leaps in further clarity. I don't know any of this to be the case for sure . . . it's a blend of experience, intellectual deduction, and possibly this rather nebulous thing called intuition.

Addendum ~ Three days after writing everything above I found myself walking through the woods, suddenly enchanted by the beauty of things after an otherwise difficult week . . . without a second thought I prayed for help and asked God where he was. The mind and heart have different ways of speaking . . . and different ways of seeking.

From Anonymous:
I do feel like ultimately, something else, i.e., not me, holds the cards on what happens and what doesn't. Perhaps that is a force or entity of benevolence. Or perhaps it is "neutral." It's hard to know for sure either way. The good thing is, I tend to believe the things that would attract such a Grace, if it existed, are excellent things to cultivate regardless: gratefulness, sincerity, acceptance, and discernment, which I try hard to do.

From Richard G. ("former Pittsburgh SIG member & current member Pittsburgh SIG Old-timers and of course friend of TAT"):
My initial response is NO, to all three questions.

My reasons are as follows:

The questions sound like conditional statements from geometry, i.e., If X then Y or p then q. For example, if I receive or get grace, then I will attain Self-realization. If I get help, then I can garner more help. If I'm given a a high fastball then I'll hit it out of the park.

The questions seem dualistic, i.e., a thing or entity, named grace and the beneficiary, receiver, or experiencer of it.

It seems as though the questions elicit additional divergent discursive thinking.

However, if the question writer meant that grace or help is the following quote, then we are on the same page. "Grace, Simply" (pg. 167, Beyond Relativity: Transcending the Split Between Knower & Known) by Art Ticknor:

What is Grace, in its simplest form? [From a questioner.]

In the transmission of one-mind, the mirror of I-amness must be held just so for awareness to witness itself beyond time.

Additional resources that may provide insight, direction, and general pointing or "food for the mind" include the following:

The Black Wall - Shawn Nevins.
True Direction - Bob Fergeson.
Nothing of you will remain - Bob Cergol.
Silent Mind - Bernadette Roberts.
Other Reader Feedback response in the January 2019 TAT Forum - Art Ticknor.

From John A:
When I first read the question about grace as unseen help I thought of world religions. In Buddhism karma doesn't come close; in Christianity it's from Christ; in Judaism, Islam, and Hinduism from merit. But all that is doctrine. Doctrine and I parted ways years ago.

Put it this way about doctrine. Our bodies once belonged to fish and our embryos still have the gills to prove it. Out of an Adam fish's rib did God create an Eve fish? You get the picture.

Instead of doctrine I think of a pair of socks. You can't find them and wonder what happened to them but feel they must be around somewhere and one day there they are behind the clothes dryer. Is there any grace in finding the socks behind the clothes dryer? We think of grace for awakening but what if you are only discovering your true nature? Is that grace? Is it grace when you are finally shocked into recognition of the natural? When you finally see something right in front of you?

One day I was shocked to recognize mind is a fantasy. You can call it grace if you want but you can also call it empirical. I finally understood why Buddhism calls mind a sixth sense. Touch can't feel its own sense and neither can mind. Just as touch has no inherent existence mind also has none. I lost my belief in it as home but it was never very comfortable anyway....

See John's complete response.

From L. Fallon:
Yes, absolutely I believe in Grace, and feel like I have experienced it in my life.

In terms of attracting it—prayer can help, asking for guidance and being open to surprises/the unexpected.

Part of it seems to be acknowledging that we can't willfully make things happen, but there is help and assistance always available if we are willing to tune into it.

"Balls are always being thrown over the fence", we just need to pay attention.

From Brian M:
I believe that there is grace and unseen help on my path or anyone's path. I know this from deep dreams, profound books that appear or people that I meet that you can feel a connection with. These things nudge me along the way and keep the ball rolling. I feel that some coincidences are not just coincidences are are there for a reason to help or provide new insights and perspective, thus adding and expanding my view.

I have had many joint issues over the years. In despair, many times, I have often asked for help in prayer or for guidance. I feel that this has always been answered in the form of a person unexpectedly providing help, a video about trying certain exercises appearing or something about trying some food supplements that could be helpful. I really pay attention to this help from "The Little Helpers", it always works!

Maybe these Little Helpers, whoever they are, are contracted to help me in this lifetime; I don't really know.

I remember someone talking about attracting it. They said to "make a date" with the Little Helpers. I thought it was a wonderful idea. It is something that I would like to try. Pick a random place, event or somewhere unusual to the normal routine, turn up and see what happens. Will there be evidence of the Little Helpers?

From Don A:
I would describe prayer as an attempt to position myself to be receptive to something more subtle than what is trying to position itself, an attempt to transcend myself. Grace is that which is received, what one longs for, and I believe one of the best ways to be receptive is to be thankful, grateful and quiet as entering into some covenant with utmost respect for something I could never understand or fully appreciate, but may result in "raising me up." Rose talked about downward forces or emanations that I believe will meet us if we are receptive, and if some part of ourselves is prepared and worthy of such. Can I choose to be receptive to what we cannot understand? Maybe only indirectly, by my state of mind, choice of lifestyle or how I have chosen to use the graces and energies that I have already received. I probably have very little say about grace, except for a longing or desire. Maybe the only effort that could be made is to turn our attention or intention toward where grace seems to come. And like a gift, grace may change something about me. I don't know what graces are, but they are extremely valuable, important to some part of me and greatly needed. Maybe all people are endowed with different graces, but as to being spiritual, the difference is in our receptiveness.

From Art Ticknor:
In one of my favorite dreams, I was standing on the tracks in a railroad station. On the platform, at eye level, Ramana Maharshi was reclining in guru pose. I was complaining about a lack of God's grace. Where I was standing began to fill with water until I was standing on tiptoe to keep my nose above the water. RM said: "You're always up to your nose in grace."

Richard Rose felt that when we make a commitment to help others if we ever find anything for sure, that opens us to unseen help. It became intuitively obvious to me in the final hours before self-realization that some unseen intelligence was lining things up for me in a way that I could never have done. That of course is speculation. I know nothing for sure except that which I am. Surprisingly, knowing what we are solves the big problem of existence.

From Dan G:
There is a lot of work to (let God) do
God knows
What He's doing.
We know this
And even now
      We are leading up to
      Another vision
He got it right.

From Tina N:
I believe there is grace. Grace reminds me of rain and the vats that my parents used to catch rain. I think I can further attract grace by being open to receiving it, paying attention and keeping the vats ready to catch it. Grace as "a short prayer of thanks said before or after a meal," can be a daily practice for me to acknowledge and receive grace.

Another definition of grace that catches my heart: “the free and unmerited favor of God.” While holding this definition in mind, it occurred to me: I could simply ask for grace. The way a hungry child goes to a grownup and says, “I am hungry. Can you make me mac and cheese, please?”

Next Month

The Reader Commentary question for the June TAT Forum is:

What did you get out of or take away from the April 10-11 TAT gathering?

Thanks to Brett S. for this inquiry. Please your responses by the 25th of May 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 Gus R [regarding the Farnam Street blog article "The Feynman Learning Technique" in the 2021 April TAT Forum]:

Here's a synopsis of the article and his technique in a nutshell:

If you're after a way to supercharge your learning and become smarter, the Feynman Technique might just be the best way to learn absolutely anything. Devised by a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, it leverages the power of teaching for better learning.... Information is learned when you can explain it and use it in a wide variety of situations.

The technique:

The central point of Feynman's technique is to gain clarity through first reorganizing, then presenting, my thinking to an imagined 6th grader. For seekers, there is a huge difference between learning and self-knowing, but both seek clarity. We'll diverge from Feynman's attempt to acquire understanding, such as in grasping and organizing knowledge. A seeker on the path of subtraction or deconstruction turns his focus in a different direction: first to also simplify and discern, but then to eliminate. Feynman's technique does address a problem of the mushy thinking often found in self-inquiry and spiritual issues. "It turns out that one of the ways we mask our lack of understanding is by using complicated vocabulary and jargon." As a spiritual seeker, confident manipulation of glib phrases and ambiguous terms are an easy distraction from an otherwise difficult effort to describe that which may truly inspire me. Even the word "spiritual" can be a badge for acceptance, at worst a huge rationalization within which to get stuck. To simplify down to a 12-year-old level isn't an exercise in dumbing down, it is a conscious effort to lay out my thinking in order to spot the gaps and errors in my thinking.

I tried his technique on one reoccurring question for me: "What do I really want in my life?" and found that the Feynman approach falls short as to its use by seekers: If I don't know who I am, and if that is both my motivation and my goal, then how would the 12-year old respond to my presentation no matter how simplified? A shrug? I was at a loss to explain inspiration, motivation, intentions and feelings.

However, Feynman's exercise could lead to something far more exciting, if an aspirant wishes to pursue it.

A little research on Feynman revealed his interest in higher education but not any other references to child-like perception, or interest in investigating one's own childhood—perhaps a professional pose prevented its mention. In Feynman's case I want to believe his intuition led him to an insight to subject his adult thinking to the frank innocence and freedom of a child's scrutiny, free of the prejudice and learning of the educated and experienced adult. A child sitting on a stool in front of him was a nod to child-like simplicity and innocence, but unlike the direction taken by someone like a William Samuel, he failed to turn the exercise around in search of his own Inner Child, or to identify a means to communicate with that inner hidden wisdom. Some who do can reclaim first-hand accounts of their formative years, but the purpose here isn't to gain access to memories or experiences, it's to gain access to clear seeing, the view untethered from bias and expectations gained through adulthood.

For such an exercise, contact with me as I was as a child is the opportunity to see prior to being swept away when all learning and conditioning claimed my senses. This is the unique clarity for which self-inquiry seeks, and not the clear thinking or understanding Feynman advocated. I don't know for sure, but my hunch is that as one investigates one's self as in self-inquiry, he or she realizes a lack of realness of the adult personality and perspective, and with that insight can more easily access a door to the childhood perspective and to other unexpected possibilities.

If you haven't yet gained access to your own Inner Child, has your interest been piqued? I've found Samuel's writings regarding journaling, the recording of sudden glimpses and insights valuable. Artifacts from my youth such as photos or toys involve memories but also feelings, like talismans that connect me to something more important yet, for a time, was forgotten.

A more involved technique is writing with my non-dominant left hand, eliciting responses to questions and challenges submitted to myself. Others have success in simply drawing with the non-dominant hand. It can be a door to this alternate perspective, but one of many that need to be developed.


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?

self-reflective cerebrum by Greg Dunn

Self Reflected cerebrum. From "Between Thought and Expression," with more gorgeous neurological artwork by Greg Dunn.

We like hearing from you! Please your comments, suggestions, inquiries, and submissions.

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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.

Defining Yourself / Jacob's Ladder


From a 1976 talk given in Los Angeles. The transcript is serialized in the TAT Forum beginning with February 2005.

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

April 2021:

  • Tentative plans are to have the August TAT meeting at the TAT Center.
  • Projects nearing completion for 2021:
    • Finishing the interior of the meeting room in preparation for holding our first TAT meeting at the Center
  • Fundraising goal for 2021:
    • Repayment of short-term loans totaling $37,500
    • Repairs to HVAC system: $4,000
  • Here's a recap of all that's happened through early 2021:
    • Created a parking area
    • Upgraded the water system
    • Purchased chairs, tables, beds, and linens for event participants
    • Completed first walking trail
    • Upgraded the internet connectivity
    • Numerous solo retreats held
    • Bob Fergeson spent a year as resident teacher before returning to Colorado in early 2021
    • Mark W had a successful year as our invaluable resident caretaker

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

TAT gathering

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