philosophic inquiry into life and meaning

...if truth were not for man the desire for truth would not be as a burning unrest in his heart...

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april tat 2009

"Look under every rock"

TAT Foundation Weekend Intensive 4/18/09 - 4/19/09 Notes & Quotes

Presentations below are mostly paraphrased, reconstructed from notes and memory. Some topics are hyperlinked for your browsing perusal.

The weekend theme was: Backing into Wisdom - Principles and Practices from the Teachings of Richard Rose.

Heather Saunders served as TAT's meeting host and facilitator.


Update 6/7/09: TAT members have access to another seeker's quotes. He got much of what I missed during the meeting.

His notes. Compare his notes with my notes side by side (recommended but you will need to log into the site to see the other set of notes).


The Quotable Rose: Ten One-Liners That Speak Volumes, presented by Bart Marshall (Sat 4/18)

Bart talked about the ten key strategies in Rose's teaching.


Rose's teaching is not for making better robots.


Extreme spiritual effort is needed for enlightenment.


There is no cause for enlightenment, so why do anything at all? Effort/struggle increases your odds somehow.


Rose said: "Enlightenment is an accident, but you can-and must-work to become accident-prone!"


Now for the top ten one-liners (in David Letterman top 10 countdown fashion, none are prerequisites and they're not in any order).


#10 - Make a decision and carry it out.
Make and keep commitments - that builds a vector.
Follow through on commitments no matter how hard or difficult.
Start slow and make a commitment such as walking around the block every day (and stick to it!)


#9 - Get your house in order
'house' being mental/physical circumstances
Stay healthy and clean and lead a well ordered life.
Arrange your life for clearer thinking.
Move towards simplicity.
Clean up the circumstances of your life.
May have to do some character work, working on your personality to remove the traits that don't help the search.
Simplify your mental landscape.
The mind seeks distractions - so move towards simplicity.
Guard against a hardening of the head. [Don't let yourself get stubborn or stuck in routines.]


#8 - Back away from untruth.
We think we go towards Truth but we don't recognize Truth.
We can recognize untruths and subtract them.
Uncover ignorance inside and outside yourself and remove it.
Neti-neti ( In the Tao, backing away from untruth is the 'something' that falls away.
The core of the esoteric teachings are the same: they have nothing you must believe and don't ask you to wear any special hats.
Belief is the penny that blocks out the sun. - Alfred Pulyan (more on Pulyan).


#7 - Doubt everything.
Rose would say "What do you know for sure?"
The single biggest obstacle is thinking you know what you need to know.
We think we got 95% and just need that last 5% like a cherry on top. [If only I _____ I would be enlightened. Fill in the blank.]
Rose said "You don't know anything until you know Everything."
Doubt everything means EVERYTHING, including your mind senses, and perceptions.
Ask continuously: "What is REALLY going on here?"
Any and all knowledge is sin, original sin.
Stop thinking you know.
Have only questions, not answers.
If you have an answer, question it.
Only an empty cup can be filled.


#6 - Keep your head on it, on the spiritual work.
A "meta-strategy"
Keep yourself connected and opportunities materialize, coincidences happen and things align.


#5 - Look under every rock.
Don't confine yourself to a specific teaching.
Cast a wide net.
Develop a good nose for BS and back away when you get a whiff.
The person you think yourself to be doesn't exist.
Eliminate enhancements of yourself and others (self-help gurus etc).
First understand the world has no substance whatsoever then let the mind fight it out with the mind.


#4 - Retroverse the ray of projection.
Manifested mind - The view before your. Your experience of life.
Unmanifested mind - The boundless emptiness and source of All. It is anterior to the window we look out of.
Manifesting mind - The point nothing becomes everything. "This is what we call 'me'."
Retroversing the ray goes from manifested to the unmanifested mind.
Douglas Harding (more here) from outwards to inwards.
Meditating on the manifesting mind.
You are the portal between source and creation.


#3 - Life gives you all the koans you need.
Koan: an unsolvable riddle, an artificial problem meant to stop the head.
The types of koans like: 'What is the sound of one hand clapping?' are not needed - your daily life will provide the koans.
Don't use spiritual work to hide.
Don't turn your back on a path that's meant for you in favor of an ideal path you think it should be.


#2 - Make your life a prayer.
True prayer is to enter into a relationship with the highest power you can conceive of, trust it, maybe even curse it and let it know what you want.
Make your life a prayer means holding in your heart the highest intention.
Don't waver, hold up your end and your desire will be fulfilled.
Make your whole life a prayer and it will be granted instantly.


#1 - Betweenness.
Rose coined the term betweenness.
Betweenness is a way of holding your head so your desire becomes manifest.
It is a method of transcending a paradigm that doesn't allow creation, a kind of white magic.
Hold your head between two thoughts and you can perform miracles.
Ultimate Betweenness is betweenness used as a method for Self-Realization.
It's not a disconnect from reality - it's an intense unconflicted desire for Reality, for Truth that will 'cause' it to happen.
The four parts to Ultimate Betweenness are, intention, confidence, gratitude, and indifference.
Jesus was a master of Betweenness (the siddhis, spiritual powers are examples).
100% Attention will manifest immediately.
Q: How to make all your desires one (simplify)?
The method for simplifying desires is not easy.
Hold your head on one desire as best as you can 100% and the chips will fall away.
The problem can't be solved from the level of the problem.
Make a habit of self-inquiry and self-honesty. Back away from other things.
Make a list of the answers to the question "What am I asking for?" Satisfaction, happiness, etc.
See if they are in conflict with each other.
Continuously make a list.
Enlightenment is not intellectual it is experiential.
It's not exchanging a philosophy for a better one.
All the questions go away.
Q: Where does no thought fit into the betweenness formula?
Need intention (one of 4 items)
Confidence/faith, desire that it will happen
Gratitude, but if it doesn't happen I'm grateful. I'm in love with what is, that's great anyway.
Indifference, I don't care if desire is fulfilled or not.
No conceptual thought.


Immanence, by Art Ticknor


Life is like a flame that goes out unexpectedly.


Art told the story of Natasha Richardson, an actress who fell while skiing on a bunny slope. She got up, laughed and walked away and then started having headaches an hour later and went to the hospital. Hours later she was dead.


We're living between two voids. Birth - (Living) - Death.


We don't know if death brings oblivion or not.


Before awakening we're sleepwalking/dreaming.


The vast unknown within is what you are?


The knowing mind is like a closed fist.


Are you what's aware?


What are you?


We believe we're a separate awareness but we can't find it.


We're stuck in a land of not seeing is believing.


Art described the analogy of Plato's Cave (see here) and that we're like that.


We think we're flickering shadows on the wall of the cave.


The path to realization climbs the wall of anxiety or dissatisfaction.


"The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time." - Mark Twain


What does it take for you to live like that?


Socrates advised his students to "practice dying."

"Life is a prolonged funeral for the self." - Art Ticknor


"At heart, we all want the same thing, whether we call it 'enlightenment,' 'happiness' or 'love.' Too many people spend their lives waiting for that something to arrive - and that's not the Zen way. Zen is always on the side of action, always on the side of doing what is necessary and right." - Chuck Norris


Rose said Zen is:
1) Subjective (see Socrates story about Athens and subjective thinking from the book Myth of Alzheimer's here).
2) Subtractive.
3) Immanent.
4) Designed for immediate change.


Experience is subjective, why is that?


We don't learn the Truth about ourselves, we become aware of what we really are.


Art mentioned an excerpt from an article in the Dana Foundation Newsletter called, "In Search of the God Neuron."


[Where is consciousness and how do you know you are aware?]


Art told of Ramana Maharshi, who at age 17, lay down and "died."


"I am the Spirit transcending the body. The body dies but the spirit transcending it cannot be touched by death. That means I am the deathless Spirit." - Ramana Maharshi


Gates and Stages of enlightenment
1) Disciples Gate - Intuitive gate, aha!, oh the answers are within. 1 in 72?
2) Apostles Gate - Connected to something bigger than myself. I'm still connected to my source, the mental umbilical cord. Art's natural koan: "What is the source of my awareness?" 1 in 6
3) End of Procrastination Gate - Don't want to live this way, want to know for sure and right now! 1 in 1,000,000


The first stage is thinking "I'm a person who..." or "I'm a personality." It's a mask.


The second stage is: "I'm a separate something..."


The third stage is: All your definitions have gotten down to zero. Becoming.


The first thing to do is to notice what you're looking at and look at it hard enough and long enough and will be become intuitively obvious whether it's what you're looking for (or not).


Immanence is from the root word Immanent. Not to be confused with these similar words.


Eminent, adj. Standing out or prominent. Source.
Imminent, adj. Ready to occur, sudden, possibly threatening as in "imminent danger." Source.
Immanant, n. Mathematical term. See here: Source.


Immanent, adj. Indwelling, inherent, being within the limits of possible experience or knowledge. From the Latin: in manere - "to remain within." Source 1 Source 2


Immanent is what you really are or where you really are.


Ask 'who am I?' once, then shut up and listen for the answer. (Ramana Maharshi?)


Nisargadatta acted on the belief 'you are the supreme deity' by meditation on identity.


Existence is holographic (a projection) like a flickering picture show.


Closer than close analogy: It is so close, It's closer than your:
thoughts and feelings,
and closer than the sense of 'I am' and 'I am-ness.'


What could possibly separate your from what you are?


Mind has intense resistance to what it sees.


Mind is in love with it's projections.


Huang Po talks of the Treasure-house within, the place of precious things. Where is it?


"That which is called the Place of Precious Things is the real Mind, the original Buddha-Essence, the treasure of our own real Nature.... Where is the Place of Precious Things? It is a place to which no directions can be given.... All we can say is that it is close by." - Huang Po


Immediate change and becoming. You are either aware of what you are or not. There is no 10% or 25% self-aware.


Goes from knowing to unknowing. are on your deathbed (and not doped up or unconscious)...


Art gave a statistic about the death-rate (8.23 people per thousand per year die.) Source


Meditation is for taking care of unfinished business.


"Every day, therefore, should be regulated as if it were the one that brings up the rear, the one that rounds out and completes our lives." - Seneca (Roman philosopher and statesman)


Two questions for you:

1) Do you have unfinished business with yourself?
2) Does it make sense to put it off?


Self-consciousness - Nisargadatta called it the "scorpion's sting."


Art mentioned Douglas Harding's book The Little Book of Life and Death The art of living is to die before one dies.


"Action is not turning your head away from the conflict going on." - Art Ticknor


Are you looking for a path or way to more adventure? Or a door to peace and perfection?


The doorway to Self is always right behind you and always open.


Not serious about what do I know for sure.
Not acting cause I don't know.
Looking at distractions.
Trying to be more disciplined.
Depression, hopelessness, giving up.
Have to do something else first.


Do you think the willingness to do anything necessary for enlightenment activates the lever (spiritual help)?


Is your pride preventing a spiritual leap of faith?


Art recommends My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor.


Rapport Sitting, led by Bob Cergol


We had a rapport sitting and then Bob read Transitions a poem by Richard Rose (from Carillon).


Bob related the story of his father dying on his deathbed.


Two I senses: the I/me sense of self and the sense of being behind it all.


Discussion on studying the mind with the mind, led by Anima Pundeer


How well do you know yourself?


"Man is a machine, but a very peculiar machine. He is a machine which, in right circumstances, and with right treatment, can know that he is a machine, and having fully realized this, he may find the ways to cease to be a machine. First of all, what man must know is that he is not one; he is many. He has not one permanent and unchangeable 'I' or Ego. He is always different. One moment he is one, another moment he is another, the third moment he is a third, and so on, almost without end." - P.D. Ouspensky


Are you a robot?


Mind is the greatest enemy. We need to kill the mind, exhaust the thought processes.


"A man must awaken first, before he can die aright. And if he awakens first, and dies in the right way to himself, he may be re-born if there is anything worthwhile and sufficiently strong and real in him." - Maurice Nicoll, Psychological Commentaries on the Teaching of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky


"Our little consciousness hides the big Consciousness like a penny hides the Sun." - Alfred Pulyan. [Mind is the penny that hides the sun.]


We need to get behind our thinking. What does that mean?


If you're observing your self, then what you're observing is not you.


Mind observes itself, a split conundrum and it cycles.


"Watch out for thinking too much - it's taking me away from seeing something. Thinking may be a tool used against you." - Bob Cergol


"Find a way out of thoughts that spin. Find stable (mental) ground. Look past verbal thought (turn head away from the observable)." - Shawn Nevins


"Just by simple looking. That was my path. Self-honesty and earnestness" - Anima Pundeer.


How do you know you're observing?


No Religion Is Greater Than Friendship, by Paul Constant. (Sun 4/19)


"The history of the most eminent sages is one of men who never stopped working, if for no other reason than to amplify their vector by helping others."


"There is no religion greater than human friendship." - Richard Rose, The Albigen Papers


Paul read two poems.


The first was Sangsara and Nirvana by Franklin Merrell-Wolff. I believe only the first part, Sangsara, was read.




Thou monster, spawned of Ignorance impregnated by human ideation;
Appearing glamorous, promising all,
Yet deceiving ever, rewarding fidelity with empty cups.
Like a beautiful lake thou appearest,
Offering rest and refreshment to the traveler weary;
But a mirage thou art, ever receding,
Leading on and on to desert barrenness.
Appearing again as multi-colored rainbow,
Promising the gold never to be found.
Intriguing with a seeming joy and victory,
Jeering at thy victims as they,
Compounding sorrow and defeat, die disillusioned.
Empty art thou, void of all value,
Ghost of that which might have been;
Beguiling all onward till, caught in thy web,
They struggle, helpless and forlorn;
Demanding full loyalty, rewarding with illusion's drug,
Dream-stuff, turning to ashes on the morrow of waking.
Binding in ceaseless travail thy victims,
Draining the substance of the soul,
Leaving ever poorer and poorer and poorer.
Thee, I challenge to mortal combat,
To a war that knows no quarter,
Thou vampire, draining the life of this Great Orphan.
In that battle may there be no truce,
No end, until the Day of Victory Absolute.
Thou reduced shalt be, to a dream utterly forgotten.
Then man, once more Free,
Shall journey to his Destiny.




FELT DIMLY in the soul, by world-man unconceived;
Unknown Goal of all yearning;
The Fullness that fills the inner void,
Completing the half-forms of outer life;
The Eternal Beloved, veiled in the objects of human desire;
Undying, Timeless, Everlasting;
Old as Infinity, yet ever new as upspringing youth;
Pearl beyond price, Peace all-enveloping;
Divinity spreading through all.
"Blown-out" in the grand conflagration of Eternity,
Death destroyed as a dream no longer remembered.
Life below but a living death,
Nirvana the ever-living Reality.
Divine Elixir, the Breath of all creatures;
The Bliss of full Satisfaction;
Uncreated, though ceaseless Creativeness;
Ecstasy of ecstasies, thrilling through and through,
Freed from the price of ignoble pleasure;
The Rest of immeasurable refreshment,
Sustaining the labors embodied;
The one Meaning giving worth to all effort;
Balancing the emptiness of living death,
With values beyond conceiving.
The Goal of all searching, little understood,
By few yet attained, though free to all.
Sought afar, but never found,
For closer IT lies than all possession;
Closer than home, country or race,
Closer than friend, companion, or Guide,
Closer than the body, feeling, or thought,
For closest of all IT lies,
Thine own true SELF.


The second was Friendship by Richard Rose.




I passed through a deep crevice at twilight,
And I saw a narrow vista of trees,
Magical in the mists--
Vocal to the hush of meaning,
Whispering to the wisdom of shades,--
Of degrees,--
Before the backdrop of eternity. . . .
And I had a friend. . .
Whose dust with mine was not the bond,
Whose love with mine was not the bond,
Whose teaching with me was not the bond,
Both of us had been to this same place,
To the twilight in the narrow crevice,
And because of this place, we are eternal.


Question our beliefs.
Part of the selfish/selfless path.
Helping should be natural.
Threefold path, not one or two fold path.
Law of the ladder.
Law of extra-proportional returns (contractor's law).
Spiritual, mental, physical help (in that order).
Ladder work accelerates the spiritual vector.


Paul talked about how he found TAT through book stuffers (paper flyers inside books advertising other books that readers might like).


What can new people do? - Form a group is one suggestion.


Rose said he didn't get anywhere until he helped others.


If building a shed it's a good idea to get advice from a carpenter.


What does it mean to help others?


How do I get past selfishness?


How do we get past using a teacher as a crutch?


Paul recommended Shawn Nevins Seeker's List of Things to Do.


Realize that you want to help others.


Paul mentioned he did an exercise year ago of writing a letter of a summary of what you know to the teacher to summarize what you've learned.


What did you get form the spiritual path or TAT?


Paul read an excerpt of the practical approach from Psychology of the Observer by Richard Rose.


We then broke out into small groups for an exercise. Here's what we did.


One person in the group (volunteer) was to explain a problem to the other members (about 5 people to a group total) and the others were there to try to help solve the problem.


The person with the problem should be watching their thoughts during the exercise.


The people helping should also watch their thoughts while helping.


Watch how you receive help and how you help.


Q1 To the person being helped: What was the most difficult aspect of accepting help?


Q2 To those offering help: What was the most difficult aspect of offering help?


One response to Q2, Feeling of pride, my reactions, not listening deeply enough and not having enough perspective myself to offer advice.


The Technique of Confrontation, led by Mike Gegenheimer


Mike talked about confrontation and how it can be useful to have another serve as a mirror for us. Then he went around the room and asked questions confrontation style to several participants and a general discussion ensued.


Shawn Nevin's definition of confrontation: "Rose considered confrontation one of the cornerstones of spiritual work. Basically, it is a group discussion in which members look for inconsistencies, rationalizations, and blind beliefs in one another. It easily devolves into ego-based debate and defense without a skilled moderator."


Open discussion, led by Shawn Nevins


We had a rapport sitting and Shawn Read a poem.


"Everywhere Electric" by Shawn Nevins


A calm wind scales the wall of my self
A slow chill tightens restful arms
closing around the body.
Hair rises, whispering on the nape of the neck.
Everywhere electric.
Everywhere more and more.
Every leaf vein, every knot of driftwood,
every flower draped over rock edge,
every fallen leaf, seed, bark, insect.
Every moment picture is crying
whispering, shouting, intoning
that it exists and that it does not.
It is up to you
to kiss and never hold again this life.


The group talked about how do you know what to do, intuition, letting go "effortless meditation" and trusting the universe knows how to run itself.