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

TAT Forum

August 2021

TAT August In-Person Gathering: Love, Friendship, and the Return Home. August 13-15, 2021.

August in-person spiritual gathering details


Receive new-Forum notifications each month
Not getting your notifications?

Let your voice be heard
Enjoy the benefits of TAT membership
Become a TAT member
Help support TAT; become a member today

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

Convictions & Concerns

TAT members share their personal convictions and/or concerns

The Mind: Friend or Foe?

.... So about 2 weeks ago I wanted to open an old zip file that I had password protected a few years back. This zip file contained a retrieval pass phrase (consisting of about 42 words in sequence) which I could use to retrieve a hardware crypto wallet if I ever got locked out. I was trying to set up the hardware wallet on a new laptop (my old laptop was kaput, and I had left it a long time to set the wallet up again on my new laptop), so I needed to pass various layers of security to get it operational.

At one point in the set-up process, I was given an option to enter my pass phrase to proceed. It seemed that the set-up may not be going as smoothly as I had hoped, so it was looking like I may need the 42-word retrieval passphrase in the password protected zip file, which I couldn’t access, to get it set-up.

I knew that the password I had used on the zip file was the same password that was used on the zip files on the old reports when I was in the email accountability group, but I had stopped participating in the group maybe 18 months ago, so I hadn't used that password in a long time. 

When I tried to remember the password to open the zip, I had a vague recollection of the structure: I thought it consisted of two words in some form. As I pondered on this, I remembered what I thought was the first word, but I struggled with the second word. I could see the mind processing very quickly trying to recall it and then bits started to come in....

See the complete essay.

quill icon

Editor's note: Thanks to Colm H. for sharing this experience and his thoughts about it. We've used his ending question as the Reader Commentary question for next month. 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!

Project: Beyond Mind, Beyond Death II

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.

Your participation to any extent practical for you will help the best formulation of Beyond Mind, Beyond Death II. If you haven't opted-in for participation notices, you can sign up at BMBD_II.htm, where you also can find links to all active surveys.

TAT Foundation Press's latest publication: Always Right Behind You: Parables & Poems of Love & Completion

Always Right Behind You: Parables & Poems of Love & Completion by Anima Pundeer and Art Ticknor is now available in paperback ... and soon in Kindle e-book format.

"Forged in friendship, and written from an intimate understanding of the human dilemma, Always Right Behind You is an open window on higher wisdom." ~ Bob Fergeson, author of The Listening Attention, Dark Zen: A Guru on the Bayou, and contributing author of Beyond Mind, Beyond Death.

"Woven between the threads of Art and Anima’s friendship and spiritual journeys are snippets of wisdom, provocative questions and honest stories, all in the name of sharing this most profound and rewarding aspect of life. What a lovely book!" ~ Tess Hughes, author of This Above All: A Journey of Self-Discovery.

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

Random rotation of
TAT Foundation Books & Videos

2021 TAT Meeting Calendar

February 6, 2021
April 10-11, 2021
June 12-13, 2021
* August 13-15, 2021 *
November 5-7, 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 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. Our next gathering was a virtual gathering on Saturday and Sunday, June 12 and 13.

We will be reverting back to in-person weekend gatherings with our August meeting. See Love, Friendship, and the Return Home for details and registration.

We're planning to have another online gathering in February 2022. Comments or 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

Amsterdam coat of arms 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:
In a change from our regular meeting format, our group invited a guest to work with us on the topic of “poems which inspire us.” Our guest, Abhay D, had each member read their poem, and helped the member inquire more deeply into themselves, through follow-up questions. A productive meeting!
      Some of the poems shared: “Friendship” by Richard Rose; “If,” Rudyard Kipling; “Nirvana Shatakam,” Shankara; “O me! O Life!” by Walt Whitman; “A Psalm of Life,” Longfellow.
      Abhay shared poems “How I became a Warrior” by Jeff Foster and also some amazing poems written by his own hand. Thank you Abhay!
      We hold regular Zoom meetings on Friday evenings. ~ Contact: www.facebook.com/groups/429437321740752.

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:
At the end of June, Art Ticknor kindly agreed to attend our usual meeting. We started with the usual confrontation using a piece from Art's book Solid Ground of Being, called 'Seeing Something New, recapped'. It was great to have Art join, and he provided a valuable injection of insight and inspiration to the meeting. Everyone got a lot from his visit. We are currently thinking that we will try and aim to invite a TAT teacher / finder to our meeting, every 3 to 6 months. So, our normal meetings will continue with work between seekers only, but the quarterly / half yearly visit from a teacher should provide some useful and helpful inspiration to proceedings.
      Another thing we tried differently in July was that we had a kind of unplanned open discussion meeting. It started as an open confrontation session, so there was no specific material to work with, but no one had a lot to share in that format on that evening. What developed was a full meeting of discussion about various spiritual topics, things people were experiencing, etc. It ended up being a very useful meeting for everyone, so we may add that in as a periodic format to use going forward.
      Finally, we had the third transatlantic meeting with the Pittsburgh group on Sunday July 25th. The piece for the meeting was the poem 'The Tavern' by Rumi. It provided a good basis for a lot of interesting confrontation, as there were quite different interpretations of what the poem was aiming to communicate. ~ 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?

The Gainesville self-inquiry group is planning a five-day intensive retreat at the new TAT center in Hurdle Mills, NC on Sunday-Friday, Aug. 8–13 preceding the Aug. 13–15 TAT gathering. The theme will be "The Return Home":
      "All day I think about it, then at night I say it. Where did I come from, and what am I supposed to be doing? I have no idea. My soul is from elsewhere, I'm sure of that, And I intend to end up there...." [Rumi, "The Tavern"]. ~ E-mail for more information.

Update from Galway, Ireland:
Tess Hughes is currently working with seekers one-to-one and holding occasional group self-inquiry retreats. Anyone who's interested in self-inquiry activity in Ireland is welcome to contact .

   TAT Press publishes Tess's easy to read, profound This Above All, the story of her journey of Self-Discovery.

Update from the newly listed GMT Support Group for Seekers:
We meet every Sunday gmt 17.30, live on Google Meet. Rapport and confrontation, talk and exchange. Someone mostly brings a theme, like a text, poem or whatever to set the mood. Then 10 minutes of silent rapport after which everyone gets their turn on the "hot seat" for 10-15 minutes—the group listens to what the person has to say about the theme then asks friendly questions—depending on how many participants we are. The questioning is aimed at providing material for self-inquiry. There have been sessions in which we just chatted, but that is more the exception. ~ Contact

Update from the Greensburg, PA self-inquiry group:
I am meeting every Saturday morning with three of my former Greensburg SIG group participants who are into non-dualist paths, such as Adyashanti and Mooji. There is also another participant, a professional psychologist who is interested in eastern philosphy and who wasn't in my SIG group but makes a great addition to our proceedings. These fellows are sincere seekers. We spend our time discussing our respective paths and comparing notes. Our new venue is a place called the White Rabbit Cafe in Greensburg. I'm hoping that the lull here has ended and that we're ready to be more dynamic again. ~ Contact if interested in local self-inquiry meetings.

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:
The book club is meeting weekly to discuss previous TAT Forums as they are the focus for the Beyond Mind Beyond Death II project. It’s also meeting monthly on Richard Rose's Psychology of the Observer: The Path to Reality Through the Self by John Kent and will sync up with the new ProBoard book club discussion board on the Kent publication. ~ For more information on book club participation, see the meeting website (link above). TAT Forum readers are welcome to drop in any time.

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 Zoom. The goal of the group is to practice confrontation/group self-inquiry. ~ If you're interested, email or .

   Isaac and AJ interviewed Art Ticknor on their Plant Cunning Podcast series, where they "invite herbalists, ethnobotanists, farmers, mages, fungi experts, community organizers and all kinds of other interesting people to the microphone to share their wisdom and experiences with us": Self Realization with Art Ticknor.

Update from the Pittsburgh, PA self-inquiry group:
=> Book discussion of Be As You Are Ramana Maharshi dialogues: Richard Grizinski leads the Monday study group, continuing on Aug 9th with Ch 15: "Visions and Psychic Powers" & Ch 16 "Problems & Experiences"; Aug 23 Ch 17: "Creation and Reality" & Ch 18: "Reincarnation." Email selfinquirer (link below) to receive an on-going Zoom invitation for Monday meetings.
=> Online group confrontation and individual contributions every Wednesday, 8:00 pm via Zoom:
- Wed, Aug 4: The article "The Life Behind Things" by B. Cergol (Forum Nov 2002) and question "Is there something way down deep that's eternal about every human being?" from "Something Eternal" by Mike R. (Forum June 2020).
- Wed, Aug 11: Guest presenter to be announced.
- Wed, Aug 18: "Story of a Kite" Forum Feb 2021: "You have to throw yourself up and catch the breeze" and Wm Samuel article on catching glimpses.
=> Sun, Aug 22, 3 pm EST: "Dublin, Ireland and the Americas" joint confrontation meeting: "What is the single most important thing you do that furthers your spiritual path?" from B. Cergol's workshop notes (Forum Oct 2014).
- Wed, Aug 25: Guest presenter to be announced.
=> 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

Let your Amazon purchases and eBay sales raise money for TAT!

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

Old Farmer's Advice

H.R. Warner

Forgive your enemies; it messes up their heads.


~ Advice from A Time to Laugh. Author unknown. 86-year-old North Carolina farmer H.R. Wilson looks like he might have had a good sense of humor. 1940 photo thanks to Wikimedia Commons.

Where's Waldo?

Zen version of where's Waldo?

Cartoon by Dan Piraro. See more of his work at Bizarro.com.

Don't Read Jed McKenna! It Will Destroy Your SELF!


~ Thanks to Brett S., who commented: This mock/spoof of non-duality and Jed McKenna has a refreshingly honest ending.

Q: What's your view of the Jed McKenna books?

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

Liberated from Yourself


You will not be able to reason your way "through" to liberation. At best, you'll just be able to keep your mind busy until you can come around to accepting just what the intimations about life and yourself you've been experiencing imply about where you stand in all this—and that you cannot now accept.

You want liberation for you. Perhaps liberation comes when you are liberated from yourself. You cannot be liberated. You are the very experience of attachment—to everything in the field of consciousness. Something which has no life of its own cannot be liberated.

~ Bob Cergol, excerpt from correspondence (see the rest in the Jan. 2009 TAT Forum). Photo from an interesting article on Atman and Brahman in The New Indian Express.

Problems on the Path

Reminds me of when Dan McLaughlin once said to me “a beaver is only an issue if you believe you’re a tree.”


~ Thanks to Michael R.

Walking on Air?

Conan O'Brien

Conan O'Brien: At this point in my career, I could go out with a grand, 21-gun salute, and climb into a rocket and the entire Supreme Court walks out and they jointly press a button, I’m shot up into the air and there’s an explosion and it’s orange and it spells, “Good night and God love.” In this culture? Two years later, it’s going to be, who’s Conan? This is going to sound grim, but eventually, all our graves go unattended.

Interviewer: You’re right, that does sound grim.

Conan O'Brien: Sorry. Calvin Coolidge was a pretty popular president. I’ve been to his grave in Vermont. It has the presidential seal on it. Nobody was there. And by the way, I’m the only late-night host that has been to Calvin Coolidge’s grave. I think’s that what separates me from the other hosts.

I had a great conversation with Albert Brooks once. When I met him for the first time, I was kind of stammering. I said, you make movies, they live on forever. I just do these late-night shows, they get lost, they’re never seen again and who cares? And he looked at me and he said, [Albert Brooks voice] “What are you talking about? None of it matters.” None of it matters? “No, that’s the secret. In 1940, people said Clark Gable is the face of the 20th Century. Who [expletive] thinks about Clark Gable? It doesn’t matter. You’ll be forgotten. I’ll be forgotten. We’ll all be forgotten.” It’s so funny because you’d think that would depress me. I was walking on air after that.

~ Thanks to Brett S., who commented: I read this interview with Conan O'Brien a few years ago I think and it came to mind again recently. I really like how he puts it: "eventually, all our graves will go unattended." I was thinking how all my mental experience (thoughts, memories, ideas) will probably be lost forever once I die. It's so much! It won't exist anywhere else as far as I know. I thought Conan did a good job putting it in perspective. I also like what he says at the end about how this knowledge left him feeling like he was "walking on air." Sounds like a wise reaction to a tough truth.

The Road Home


[Verse 1]
Tell me, where is the road
I can call my own
That I left, that I lost
So long ago
All these years I have wandered
Oh, when will I know
There's a way, there's a road
That will lead me home


[Verse 2]
After wind, after rain
When the dark is done
As I wake from a dream
In the gold of day
Through the air there's a calling
From far away
There's a voice I can hear
That will lead me home


[Verse 3]
Rise up, follow me
Come away, is the call
With the love in your heart
As the only song
There is no such beauty
As where you belong
Rise up, follow me
I will lead you home


~ "'The Road Home' is based on a pentatonic folk tune 'Propsect' from the 1835 publication 'The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion.'" Thanks to Ikeh. Lyrics and info about the composer, Stephen Paulus.

Please your thoughts on the above items.


Reader Commentary

Encouraging interactive readership among TAT members and friends

A reader wrote that what would make the Forum more interesting would be:

Hearing from people who are searching – and have questions instead of those providing endless advice and "answers." What challenges they are facing. What their doubts and questions are. How they perceive their path is going. What they are doing in their lives. Where they think they will end up. Etc. etc.

Can you help make the Forum more interesting?

The Reader Commentary question for the August TAT Forum is:

What's your "desert island" book? The one book you would take with you.

Responses follow:

From MT:
I might be there awhile so I need two "desert island" books - both stories of adventure and enlightenment: Ending the Search: From Spiritual Ambition to the Heart of Awareness by Dorothy Hunt and In Love with the World: A Monk's Journey Through the Bardos of Living and Dying by Yongey Mingur Rinpoche with Helen Tworkov.

From Christian O'Neil:
My desert island book would unquestionably be The Undefended Self: Living the Pathwork by Susan Thesenga (based on the Pathwork material brought forth by Eva Pierrakos). I'm on the last few pages now. I've spent over a year reading/studying it. It's like scripture to me.

From Tess Hughes:
On the assumption that I am going to a desert island sometime soon I'd bring Anima Pundeer and Art Ticknor's recently published book Always Right Behind You: Parables & Poems of Love & Completion. I am looking forward to what these two have to share. Otherwise, or also, I'd bring a big anthology of poetry.


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

From Tyler T:
That is easy! My desert island book is The Zen Teaching of Huang Po: On the Transmission of Mind. If anyone is interested in the culminating realization of Mahayana Zen—that book right there points at it with relentless clarity.

From Shawn Nevins:
For many years, my desert island book was Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi. For one, it's a big book, so it would provide plenty of reading material. Two, I either didn't understand what I was reading, or I had a different understanding each time I read it, so there was a lifetime of material to study!

These days, if the ship was floundering and I had to grab one book off the shelf, it would be Beyond Mind, Beyond Death. While not as many pages as Talks, it offers such a variety of views on the conundrum at hand (defining the self) that there's once again a lifetime of pondering in its pages. Like the murmuring waters of a spring, there are unique organic notes all arising from the same source. What more could I need until either rescue or death freed me?


Editor's comment: TAT Foundation Press publishes Shawn's Hydroglyphics: Reflections on the Sacred with photos by Phaedra Greenwood, Subtraction: The Simple Math of Enlightenment, and The Celibate Seeker. He also authors the SpiritualTeachers.org website featuring recommendations of teachers, movies and books along with The Journals of Spiritual Discovery podcasts.

From Brett S:
Sometimes I hear really devout people say things like, “the Bible covers every topic you need to know in life.” I’d never felt that way about a book until I read After the Absolute by David Gold and Bart Marshall. The book’s descriptions of Richard Rose gripped me like nothing before, and forced me to look at my life. And just like those devotees, I’ve found the Richard Rose portrayed in that book to be a source of almost endless inspiration for some of the most important topics in my life. Since I never met Mr. Rose while he was living, my ideas about him extrapolated from the book may or may not be accurate. But it had a profound affect on me by introducing me to a spiritual teacher whose life and philosophy I’ve found myself returning to again and again ever since.

From Michael R:
My desert island book would be Beyond Mind, Beyond Death. The mix of perspectives and voices, all seemingly pointing at the same thing, is an invaluable tool for continued direction on the path amongst shifting moods and states of mind. If I’m in hardcore self-inquiry mode, there are sections for that. Feeling more devotional and like the only thing that makes sense is a desperate prayer? That’s there too. Poetry to speak to something perhaps beyond the mind? Plenty of that as well. Practical advice to integrate this esoteric pursuit with life in general? Yep. No matter where I am, something in that book has always hit home for me, and I’d be lucky to have its pages weathered by sand and island salt water.

From Sheri R:
Interesting question!

It was easy enough to narrow this challenge down to two books, Shantaram and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society; considerably more difficult to choose between them! In the end however, TGLAPPS is the companion I'd prefer simply because the characters that fill up this story are the type of people I'd want to be on the island with.

They are people with deep resilience who are not unaware of the cruelty and hardship that can arise in life. In spite of this they remain gentle with one another, kind, and supportive in all ways. They are quirky and laugh with each other at their quirks. They work hard and love tenderly.

My spirit simply feels lifted, light and joyful when spending time with the people that comprise this story. Yes, these are definitely the people I'd take with me!

From Art Ticknor:
As a seeker, my two desert-island books (which I took on solitary retreats) were Psychology of the Observer and Carillon: Poems, Essays, and Philosophy by Richard Rose. These days I would probably take Carillon as it appeals strongly to nostalgia.

From Rob-In Leeds:
My Dessert Island Book would be a hardcover journal of the sort I was given on my birthday in 1991: Inner Voyager: A Journal for Intuitive and Spiritual Discovery compiled and edited by Deborah Bergman.

The first entry was made mid 1991 and the last direct entry made to fill the last page 1999. I still treasure it and refer back to it even now over twenty years since the last entry. There have been numerous occasions when mood, nostalgia or inspiration or a desire to check memory have prompted perusal of the pages of said journal.

Another feature in the journal were structured review sections which are in the form of twelve cycles of discovery; today I would use the term Self-Inquiry. But ultimately it all shows forms of self-observation to consider until the Self is rediscovered.

Maybe now a journal of blank pages would suffice, but either way there would need to be a sufficient supply of pencils and sharpeners or writing instruments to create, drawings, prose, poetry and a record to describe loved ones and keep one's memory and sanity.

From Don A:
Psychology of the Observer.
There are books that, for some reason, we continually return to hover over, as if intuitively knowing there is something there we repeatedly miss but need to find. And for this book, I think I finally found it, a real gem, like a single little light. It is the kind of thing that when you "get it," everything you thought you understood about the book unravels a little bit—as if that something revealed is a far more relevant underpinning to everything else.

It's in the very first page. Rose wrote a short tale as a prologue, that when God created the robot, he placed in it a curiosity about its creator. I realized that it is this innate curiosity that could be for me, too, the connection, the thread back to my Source, to God. Such a simple explanation was obvious, so clear, and that it's always been there and if given our attention, will further emphasize itself, attracting further the gifts of passion, commitment, determination and relentlessness.

I've compiled a lot of notes over the decades on this book, as an attempt to understanding, as each pass results in just more notes. But my latest read was so different, with a book as if entirely new to me, an adventure, possibly a real one for me this time. Rather than stimulate new thoughts, it inspired in another so very obvious way: curiosity further piqued. And better appreciation for the ever-stimulating gift of uncertainty. And I have no idea what this book could yet open me to.

From Patrick K:
There are a lot of good books from TAT Press and Richard Rose's recommended books list. For me right now, the one that is actually beside me is Beyond Relativity. I haven't even read it cover to cover, I just tend to dip in and out; it is a question and answer format. A lot of seekers' questions. And a background to Art's journey. It's a pretty cool book. It has a proper zen front cover as well, which I like. This book format suits me, too, because I am not looking to read a book cover to cover; I read a passage and then reflect on what is said. It covers a lot of topics a seeker has. Also I'm pretty sure the answers are all there if I could just be tuned to the appropriate frequency to be a receiver of those answers (this is a paraphrase from the book).

From Bill R:
I have been rolling this question around in my head for two days now, and I continue to find it fascinating. Let’s unpack this: What do we mean by, “desert island”? The first thought that came to my mind was, being castaway, being marooned on an island, through some tragic event, and having to fend for my life with little more than my physical traits and my ingenuity. Is this what we are saying? Immediately, my thoughts ran to: Is this a tropical island, where there are likely plenty of things to eat but, also very likely, plenty of things that want to eat me? Or perhaps one of the Outer Hebrides, where the relentless North Atlantic gale forces have driven out every attempt at settlement across dozens of centuries, where the major resources are rocks, grasses and wind? Is it a volcanic island where I must be cognizant to stay upwind of the gasses and ashes that are daily expectorants of the mound? An Aleutian Island, where I may have to shape ice in my hands, into a lens, to focus sunlight on dry moss and lichen, for fire? Well, let’s set those particulars aside and consider the broader context of the question, but with the premise that I have been castaway and am in dire straits …

Without a doubt, in such a situation, I would hope to have the book Tom Brown’s Field Guide To Wilderness Survival. Although I am fairly knowledgeable of “bush craft” and survival skills, this book is a treasure trove of information about how to make stone tools, cordage, snares, and other means of wresting life from the uncivilized world.

But then, of course, maybe that is not what was imagined when the question was posed. After all, the premise is, I have “taken” a book with me, and certainly, that would mean a book carried in preparation for some event (am I living in a constant state of anticipating a crisis?). So, perhaps what is imagined is, I am going into isolation, and my “desert island” is prepared with shelter and resources. In which case, my mind wanders down a completely different path of consideration: are we allowing that I am 66 years old, and have spent 48 years actively pursuing Self-awareness, and that I have read scores of books directed at such a path? Forty years ago, my answer would likely have been The Albigen Papers, a book I read cover-to-cover three times in my twenties, and consulted many times over the years. It was my guide book for explorations into my own mind, and the minds of others.

Another possibility is Henry Miller’s Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch. Written in his sixties, it is a brilliant work of literature, a heartfelt missive to his reader, in which he describes his life in a primitive cabin in the forested mountains, and reflects upon life’s beauty and wonders, and its tragedies and trials. This book is why I say Henry Miller is my favorite author, and I re-read it every few years.

There is so much to suppose in trying to answer the question, “What is my ‘desert island’ book?” But let us grant this setting: I have the means to live adequately, and, therefore, the leisure to possess a single book that is NOT a technical resource. The one book that keeps coming to mind is, Love Poems From God: Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West, by Daniel Ladinsky (compiler, translator). This is a collection of poems by Rabia, St. Francis of Assisi, Rumi, Meister Eckhart, St. Thomas Aquinas, Hafiz, St. Catherine of Sienna, Kabir, Mira, St. Theresa of Avilla, St. John of The Cross, and Tukaram. These poems are personal communications to God: God as friend, God as lover, God as provocateur, God as Self. And I find they speak to the heart of my own experience and awareness. Yes, I think this …

From Anima Pundeer:
Song of the Avadhuta, author unknown. I discovered this skinny book in a small book store in Pune. The book is written in a poetry style where the author is speaking from the perspective of the Absolute. The author writes of the Ultimate Reality, realized as I.

To me, it is like a love song. It has the power to change your state of awareness. The words are simple and direct. The author is not trying to convince or have an argument but sharing the ultimate Knowledge that can only come from a direct experience.

The book was probably written in the same time period as The Upanishads, around 3500 years ago. The author clearly is self-realized, completely established in his ultimate Identity, Self.

This is the book I would like to read on my dying day.

From Dan G:
In the Online Self-Inquiry Book Club we read Joel Morwood's The Way of Selflessness and I was impressed at its comprehensiveness. It covers both a Bhakti path and an Inquiry path in a bare bones way that seemed to help make sense of how my path intersects both, as well as to give actual steps to take without religious baggage. It contains quotes from different backgrounds that would also be nice on a desert island to contemplate more deeply. It's accessible to a beginner, but useful to any seeker who's getting a sense they can't complete themselves, rather they need freedom from the shackles of an incomplete self.

Next Month

The Reader Commentary question for the September TAT Forum refers to the article on The Mind: Friend or Foe? in this month's Convictions & Concerns section and is:

What are your thoughts / feeling on this: Is your mind a friend or a foe in your search for self-definition?

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

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

Q: What are your thoughts on this month's reader commentary? Please your feedback.

Richard Rose described a spiritual path as living one's life aimed at finding the meaning of that life. Did you find anything relevant to your life or search in this month's TAT Forum?

Connemara wild orchid photo by Tess Hughes

Connemara wild orchid. Photo by Tess Hughes.

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

Sign up for notices of TAT's four annual events and free monthly Forums by email on our .


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.

Chasms of the Mind

A man named Porto dreamed of his father at least once a week. His father, Dr. Porto, had been dead for years, but in the dreams he conversed with his son and gave him detailed advice which the son tested and found very useful—and at times—accurate.

And Porto became an authority on dreams, and counseled many hundreds of people to practice dreaming. Porto became very famous because thousands of people found that they had no trouble dreaming. And Porto and all his followers were convinced that they had found a secret bridge across the chasm of death.

And Porto died and went to that which he thought was heaven. And he met that which he thought was his father. To test to determine if this was really his father, he asked Dr. Porto to corroborate some of the advice that Porto had received in his dreams.

And Dr. Porto replied that the only contact that he had with those he left behind were dreams, some vague, and some so real that he was convinced that he was communicating with children still on earth. But neither had any memory of the dreams which the other experienced.

In frustration Porto said to his father, "Are not all people in heaven capable of knowing that which goes on, on earth?"

And his father replied, "There are people here who believed that they lived before ... but others do not believe that this place exists."


~ From Shawn Nevins: "It's been 20 years since this was in the TAT Forum (Dec. 2001). It's worth sharing again in the context of beliefs and what do we know for sure. Even the title is awesome: do we truly understand the labyrinth the mind weaves?"

First published in the TAT Journal No. 14. © 1986 by Richard Rose. All Rights Reserved.

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

August 2021:

  • We could give an update this month, but better yet go to the August TAT meeting and check it out yourself! You'll meet good people and dip into the profound. You'll see all that's been accomplished at the Center and all that remains to be done.
  • If you're so inspired, send a little cash to support the Center using the donate button below and help keep it all happening.

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 3402
Roxboro, NC 27573

Big checks, little checks, all are welcome. Or use the PayPal link above (though we lose 2.2% of your donation to PayPal fees).

* See photos and more on the Homing Ground page. *

In friendship,
Shawn Nevins
on behalf of the TAT Trustees

TAT gathering

Did you enjoy the Forum? Then buy the book!
Readers' favorite selections from seven years of issues.
Beyond Mind, Beyond Death is available at Amazon.com.

TAT Foundation on Facebook TAT Foundation channel on YouTube TAT Foundation on Instagram


Keep informed of TAT events and receive our free monthly Forum filled with inspiring essays, poems and images.

Email & Social Media Marketing by VerticalResponse

© 2000-2021 TAT Foundation. All rights reserved.

View Full Site Back to Top


TAT Foundation logo