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

September 2021 / More

Free Subscription Notices


If you're not seeing your TAT Forum new-issue email notices in your in-box, check your spam folder and other folders that your email client may be putting mail into. Gmail, for instance, now automatically places emails from Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn into the Social tab, while most email marketing campaigns find their way into the Promotions category.

When you whitelist an email address in Gmail, this ensures the email shows up in your Primary Inbox rather than other tabs. You'll also get a notification on your device or desktop when you receive an email in your Primary Inbox, unlike emails that go into the Promotions category.

Whitelist an email sender in Gmail
1) Login to Gmail, click on the gear icon and select "Settings"
2) Select "Filters and blocked addresses"
3) Scroll past all your existing filters and select "Create a new filter"
4) Add (webmaster at tatfoundation dot org) to the "From" field and check "never send to spam."

Primary inbox vs. Social, Promotions, etc.
1) Login to Gmail, click on the gear icon and select "Settings"
2) Select "Inbox"
3) Adjust "Categories"
4) Click on "Save Changes"

=> [I don't use Outlook or Yahoo mail, but here's what I've read about whitelisting with them. Please let me know if any of these examples are incorrect or outdated – Ed.]

Whitelist an email sender in Outlook:
To do this, choose Settings, then Options. In the left pane, choose Junk Email, then Safe Senders. In the box, enter the (webmaster at tatfoundation dot org) email sender or the (tatfoundation dot org) domain, and select the Add button. Click Save, and you're all set.

Whitelist an email sender in Yahoo mail:
1) Navigate to "Settings" icon, then click "More Settings" from the Yahoo Mail menu.
2) Select "Filters" and hit "Add" to enter the (tatfoundation dot org) domain name or (webmaster at tatfoundation dot org) sender.

TAT Foundation News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2012 April TAT Meeting – Remembering Your True Desire

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Inspiration & Irritation

Irritation moves us; inspiration provides a direction

Your Mind: Friend or Foe?

Often our minds are looked upon as a maladaptive entity which we must get rid of. This notion runs particularly rampant in some spiritual circles but just as equally rears its head in many different facets of society. At the heart of our minds is the notion that ego must be gotten rid of because the belief is it is the source of all our troubles. Ego seems to get a bad rap and sometimes it's well-deserved, but at other times the bad rap does not fit at all. As I hope to demonstrate, ego and in turn mind is neither good nor bad, but before I do that, let's try and get an idea of what I mean by the term ego.

The way I define ego is as the identification with the self – it's the formation and maintenance of an identity. Therefore, the question of whether your mind is a friend or foe in the search for self-definition should consider the role of ego – at least I think so.

An identity and therefore ego's functions can be both unconscious and conscious and includes emotions and bodily sensations. Therefore, ego is not solely the domain of thoughts and beliefs. It would be prudent to note that definitions of ego can vary greatly in the literature – for example Jung used a different definition. I think it is useful to have a definition irrespective of what the definition is, as it can provide a grounding point when someone is attempting to work with ego and in turn mind. Let's look at the distinction between unconscious and conscious identification by first looking at the latter.

What we are conscious of is more readily identified as belonging to ego. For instance, if I believe I am a good uncle to my nephews and nieces then a good argument can be made that's the province of ego, since it's an identification with the role of an uncle. In truth, each of us is consciously identified with ego in a myriad of ways through the day. I can identify as a therapist, a son, an uncle, a cook, a writer, a brother, a diabetic, a gamer just to name a few. Each of these is a role which is played, and if we easily float between roles without over attachment then these types of identifications are not problematic. It's worth noting that when people are rigid in the roles they play or have too few, that's when ego becomes problematic and in turn the mind becomes a foe.

Many people don't associate the unconscious as identifying with self, but it does occur there as well. For example, when someone has been traumatized it is a common occurrence for a person to be hypervigilant and constantly be on the lookout for threats. When this becomes ingrained enough it begins to operate under the threshold of consciousness. It is still part of mind, and it affects our behaviors, often in destructive ways. We may not even be conscious that some trauma has occurred yet nearly all aspects of identity are influenced by the trauma.

A way to decipher if an unconscious process is occurring is if there is a mismatch between what we intend for ourselves and what transpires. For instance, if someone desires a good relationship but keeps getting involved in bad relationships, then it's likely that the unconscious is at play. Here we can make a case that mind is a foe and is interfering with our sense of identity in a manner which is destructive.

But that is not the whole story; if we become masterful with working the conscious and the unconscious then mind can become a wonderful friend which helps us progress towards the goal of self-definition. An example might be when we decide to sleep on a decision and wake up in the middle of the night or early in the morning with the answer – the dream realm has found the solution. Sometimes we stress and fret over a problem, then decide to take a break and go for a walk. It's not uncommon to find the solution at these times. In these instances, it's the getting your mind off the problem that does the trick. We could also consider altered states of consciousness, like hypnosis, meditation, dreams, and the hypnagogic state, as providing solutions when our conscious minds do not. At these times your mind and all its wonders seem to be like your best friend.

It seems that at times our minds can be either a foe or a friend. If that holds water for the reader then we might play with the initial question a little and ask, How do I leverage my mind to be a friend? The answer is complex and is beyond the scope of this article, but there are a few tips that come in handy.

If someone is having difficulty on the search for self-definition and are experiencing anxiety, frustration etc., the task at hand is to get into a calm and composed state. Literally relax – things will work much better in this state. Though it can be the initial impetus for an inquiry into the nature of self, you do not need to suffer for the search. What is required is discipline and persistence, and these attributes work much better when we are calm and composed.

By the way, think of a time when you felt most like yourself. I am referring to the contents of mind/ego here. Usually when we feel most like ourselves, characteristics such as calmness, composure and being grounded are at the fore. It's often when creativity and wisdom seem to flow. Hence, the job at hand is to continually use this same state of being to propel ourselves forward.

Most people make important decisions with mediocre results at best when they are stressed. It seems that being stressed is a default operating mode of mind for many people. The mind becomes the enemy because it is a mind that is stressed and that has negative neurological and physiological consequences for us which are then expressed in unwanted ways. In case it's still not clear, learn to take a chill pill multiple times a day. This doesn't mean doing nothing, it just means doing things in a relaxed manner. That is the single best thing to do when trying to master mind and turn it into your friend.

Ego or mind has three main ways it can get us into trouble. In no special order, these are:

  1. How controlling we are.
  2. How judgmental we are.
  3. How special we take ourselves to be.

There are many ways our minds can turn out to be foes, but I think the three outlined above take the lion's share of adding to our woes.

When it comes to control, our minds are notorious for always wanting to be in control. While there definitely are times when we want to be in control, these are not as frequent as we would like to believe. What can help turn mind into our friends is learning when to let go and when not to. Most of the time we should be looking to let go of control. The figures I sometimes use are as in nine times out of ten or even ninety-nine times out of a hundred. Being overly controlling in our lives hinders our capacity to be at peace with ourselves. The world has a way of showing us repeatedly that we are far less in control than we would like to think we are. So act accordingly and the world will tend to be easier to navigate, often in surprising ways.

Most people have a penchant for being judgmental either of themselves or others but mostly a combination of both. When we are judgmental, we are particularly prone to negativity bias. If we do it often enough, we literally are training our minds to be negative. Guess where that ends up?

Another way that often gets in the way of searching for self is the perception that, somehow, we are special. Many people looking for enlightenment, truth-realization, awakening etc. have an unconscious belief that they are special in some way. Sometimes it might be that being on the search is perceived to be special itself. This perception gets in the way simply because its disproportionality inflates our sense of self, ergo – ego. The reality is we are no more special than a pebble; we can argue that we are different to a pebble and yes, we are, but it doesn't make us more special than a pebble.

This same specialness can apply to others. For instance, we might look at a particular spiritual teacher or guru as special – after all they are enlightened, right? When someone does that it takes away the responsibility for the search for self-definition and places it onto someone else. People hang on a guru's words or behaviors as if they are special and will help them get self-realized. Most of the time they are just trying to use spirituality to bypass their own troubles with themselves and the world.

I sometimes call these three qualities the three faces of ego, but that is only so that it helps us to remember the qualities. Ego or/and mind has many faces, some of which are helpful to our search for self-definition and some that are not. It's our task to find the faces / aspects of mind which are helpful and to let go of the ones which are not. Naturally that's easier said than done.


~ Thanks to TAT friend Eddie T. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

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


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.

Core Albigen System Principles
(in no particular order)

Part 1 of 3:

1. Law of the Reverse Vector. Retreating from error, backing away from untruth, an erosion of ignorance, a system of becoming.

“The Law of the Reversed Vector states that you cannot approach the Truth. You must become (a vector), but you cannot learn the absolute Truth. We must back into the Truth by backing away from untruth.” ~ Richard Rose, The Albigen Papers

“You are basically a vector. You are what you do. Every man is what he does.” ~ Richard Rose, from a 1977 lecture in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

“This whole process is a retreat from error, not a planting of a postulation and then massing all of our forces to prove that postulation. It is taking zero, and building from zero. When we ask ourselves, ‘Who am I?’ we are taking an initial step. We do not begin by saying I am this or that.” ~ Richard Rose, Psychology of the Observer

“…if you train yourself to avoid the untrue, to reject and reject and reject as you find stuff absurd, you can only go in the opposite direction. Your intuition [is] going to be skilled or directed or trained to move into a computation that is valid as opposed to something that you’d just like to believe because you’re tired.” ~ Richard Rose, from a 1977 lecture titled Zen and Common Sense at Kent State University

“We find that there is only one way, and that is to first build of ourselves a very determined person—a vector. We cut off tangential dissipaters of energy and ball up this energy for the work ahead.” ~ Richard Rose, The Albigen Papers

2. Studying the mind with the mind. Becoming a watcher of thoughts and feelings, a watcher of the rational and intuitive nature of the mind. [see Rose’s Jacob’s Ladder diagram below]

Jacob's Ladder (Richard Rose diagram)

Jacob's Ladder © 2001 Richard Rose.

“The Process Observer (E) cannot study itself. We may become aware of observing processes, and the polar point F becomes awareness. It is for this reason that the observation position does not go on indefinitely in regards to the mind’s observing itself. The Process Observer is the mind in its maximum ability to observe the individual and its complexities. It constitutes the all of the mind, with all of the abilities of that mind in all dimensions. ~ Richard Rose, Psychology of the Observer

“The Process Observer is the mind watching the mind from behind the clouds of delusion in consciousness. Everything within its view is of the mind, as by this point, it is realized that one’s entire experience of life—sensations, perceptions, thoughts, feelings, memories, egos, etc.—is a mental experience, and not external...” ~ John Kent, Richard Rose’s Psychology of the Observer: The Path to Reality Through the Self

“Until the Process Observer is defined from another plane of reference, it continues to make a major mistake. It works incessantly at trying to define the mind with the mind.... So the Process Observer proudly watches the mind from and with the mind and gets nowhere until an accident occurs, and the individual conceives new variables to be considered as to the cause and nature of the mind itself.” ~ Richard Rose, Psychology of the Observer

“The Process Observer—in its seemingly infinite problems, comparisons and ramifications—finds, accidentally, a means to explore the mind on all levels. It can be said another way. By accident our awareness transcends the mind.” ~ Richard Rose, Psychology of the Observer

3. The spiritual search is a top priority. Relentless determination. Commitment.

“The formula is very basic. Make a commitment, make a contract with yourself to be honest. Don’t kid yourself. This is basically the study of truth, going to the truth of all things.” ~ Richard Rose, from an interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, November 19, 1977

“And strangely enough I was protected. And I want to say this very sincerely. I believe that once the commitment is made to find your Truth at all costs, some interior or anterior self sets up protection. It may even set up the whole path. You can call it God, or the guardian angel, or a spiritual alliance, if you wish. Something sets up protection. Now I do not want you to feel too secure, because uncertainty and despair are part of the formula, it seems, for finding the final door or breakthrough. The despair is necessary to pop the head, after the long ordeal of running between raindrops.” ~ Richard Rose, from lectures given at universities in 1977 and 1978, as transcribed in Psychology of the Observer

“If you want to do something—if you want to be successful—you make a total expenditure of energy to the greatest ability. You put your whole being into it. You don’t do it two hours a day. You make a total commitment to that, and this involves all levels.” ~ Richard Rose, from a 1983 lecture titled Are We Complete?

“Results are directly proportional to energy applied. If you’re only going to work with half your effort, if you’re going to be half-hearted, you’re only going to get half-hearted results. You may wind up with half-hearted rationalizations. Whereas if you make a total commitment and a total determination, say to become a millionaire, chances are you’ll become a millionaire, given average intelligence. And I apply the same thing to spiritual work. It’s just as sensible to me.”

4. Milk from thorns. Using nature’s implants, such as curiosity and desire, by turning these drives toward the spiritual search.

“It’s what I call ‘milk from thorns.’ You’re setting up a new type of process. If you get obstacles, those very obstacles can be used to accelerate your growth into an understanding of yourself.” ~ Richard Rose, from the 1983 lecture in Denver, Colorado

“Part of the system that I advise in The Albigen Papers is that we make milk from thorns. These very things which are negative can be turned, the energy taken from them, and this energy used in progression—in finding goals faster.” ~ Richard Rose, from a 1975 lecture at Boston College University, as transcribed in The Direct-Mind Experience

“There are still many compulsions coming from body habits. Perhaps you are doing this [meditation] when you would ordinarily be at work, or taking your daily walk. Habits set little alarms in the computer and they go off with regularity, if the habit had regularity. So in order to harvest milk from thorns in this instance, it is a good idea to set aside a certain time for meditation, for every day, and encourage the habit.” ~ Richard Rose, Psychology of the Observer

5. Friendship. Fellow seekers serving as mirrors. A system of confrontation. Law of the Ladder and Law of Extra-Proportional Returns. Rapport.

“We come now to a very important conclusion. There is no religion greater than human friendship. Now this conclusion should not be quoted out of context. It does not mean that people are greater than truth. It does not mean that we should worship humanity or individuals. In fact, I strongly oppose getting the idea of love and friendship mixed in deciding the attitude of the student toward the teacher, especially if the student cannot discriminate between physical love and platonic devotion.” ~ Richard Rose, The Albigen Papers

“We need to live in a truthful manner in order to be consistent with ourselves and with our friends—because these are the mirrors of ourselves, even if we’re going the trip alone.” ~ Richard Rose, from a 1976 lecture at Kent State University

“We need to trust any man whom we accept as a teacher, because he holds in trust our hopes for salvation or enlightenment, as well as our sanity, which, until we make the final jump, is the only true communication with our essence or absolute being.” ~ Richard Rose, The Albigen Papers

“By his commitment, the teacher reaches down to help the helpless. The helpless, before receiving help, should make the commitment that when they succeed in any degree, they will act in a sincere desire to help their fellows. Before the helpless become (reach the Absolute), they have thus made a commitment that will set in motion at least their minds and physical bodies in the direction of teaching and helping others, and even setting an example...” ~ Richard Rose, "The Threefold Path: The Way, the Life & the Truth. Chart of the Detailed Steps."

Law of the Ladder: “We do not visualize a single man upon each rung, reaching down, pulling up the man below. We find that the ladder is ‘A’ shaped, pyramid in form, for one thing. There are less people on the higher rungs than on the lower rungs. We will be lucky if we can find one man who can help us, but we should be working with six or more on the rung below. We also find a new meaning for the brotherhood now. The man above may be pulling up the man below,&mdashbut they are pushing him a bit, at the same time.” ~ Richard Rose, The Albigen Papers

“The Law of Extra Proportional Returns can be effected only with the cooperation of friends. The Law … infers an unexpected increment. To draw an analogy, two factors (human) working together will accomplish more results together, than will either of the two factors in twice as much time. This is also known as the Contractor’s Law. If this law did not exist, no contractor would hire men. It would all be done by individuals working alone. We apply the same principle to spiritual work. We must work in groups, in other words. You can call them brotherhoods or societies, or you can work in groups without a name.” ~ Richard Rose, The Albigen Papers


Thanks to Paul Constant for putting this material together. The document is available in pdf form at https://www.searchwithin.org/download/core_albigen_system_principles.pdf.

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

Did you enjoy the Forum? Then buy the book! 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