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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"The trick is to know exactly what you want." Jim Burns


TAT Foundation Meeting 6/13/08 - 6/15/08 Notes & Quotes

Presentations below are mostly paraphrased, reconstructed from notes and memory

The weekend theme was: Are you who you want to be? Luke Roberts served as TAT's meeting host and facilitator.


Where have you been, where are you going? Led by Dan Garmat (Fri 6/13)


Dan Garmat gave four questions to everyone:

1. What have you been doing in spiritual work since you came (from the last meeting or recently if new)?
2. Why did you come to the weekend?
3. What is it you want to discover, see or know from being here?
4. Where is your spiritual ark (trajectory/vector/aim) pointing to?


Then we took turns answering those questions.


The following quotes were from Jim Burns (Jim Burns wrote At Home with the Inner Self which can be found here

"Sit down, Shut up, and listen."


"You have to get past the dead silence."


"You were trained to look outward."


Become as a little child.


Polarity: ambition + letting go.


If you earn a living or, God help you, raise kids, you don't have a chance of getting anywhere spiritually except by a chance of grace.


"The trick is to know exactly what you want."


You think you think or know what you want. (But that may not be the truth of the moment)


Start simple: What do I want? Intuit what you truly want at that moment.


"You have to learn to houseclean your own mind."


"There is something your Inner Self wants your consciousness to be conscious of right now."


Never lose that sense of wonder (that a child has). That's the real road.


I am exactly the equal of anything I have to deal with.


If it came by some means, and went away, it went away by some means.


You start out in a good state then you're distracted away from it.


Jim related parts of his story: He didn't feel worthy trained to feel useless, worthless, and hopeless. "Get in your place in the ditch and shut up."

You feel you don't deserve any better.

"Nothing succeeds like success and nothing fails like failure."

It was like an emotional roller coaster ride what's that all about?


"The fulfillment of Self is a high beyond comprehension."



Now that I'm in isolation, what do I do with all this time? An interactive book review of Sylvia Boorstein's Don't Just Do Something, Sit There with Heidi Munn and Corina Bardasuc. (Sat 6/14)



The idea of this session was inspired by Art Ticknor after he read the book How Doctors Think by Jerome Groopman. The phrase "Don't just do something, sit there" was quoted in the book.


Sylvia Boorstein wrote a book about "Don't just Do Something, Sit There"

Isolation: from the Latin for "island."


Heidi Munn read an excerpt from Shawn Nevins 2002 TAT article on isolation retreats which is found here:

Two hands outs were then given out with questions about isolation, one for those who have already done an isolation and another for those who have not. "What inspired you or why would you like to do an isolation?" was a type of question. Inspirations were from other TAT members, books people have read, doing too much, wanting to get away from it all, enjoying quiet time, etc. Other questions were about logistics, how you felt about it, what to do with the free time, etc. Then those who have not done an isolation grouped up with those who have and shared the questions and feedback from the exercise.


If you can't get away from home (because of all the distractions from work and life) then you can have a retreat at home. Plan for 3 days, ignore diversions, unplug the phone, put up retreat signs.


An example of a retreat might be, get what you need, take care of the environment, etc. Then alternate sitting periods of an hour with walking periods of an hour.


Why do a retreat? No diversions, no place to hide. We will know ourselves better than we did before.


The mind finds diversions when there are none around it such s stories or fantasies of the past or future.


Remember "Stop me if you've heard this one before." Tell that to your thoughts. Thoughts are usually repetitive patterns.


If you decide to do a practice, stick to it. Results won't come initially.


Our lives are like snow globes that are always snowing. When the snow settles we can see the snowman inside.


Chase away the inner critic. Make the inner critic run for cover.


Stick with retreat positive reinforcement.


Doubt can hold you back don't let doubt stop you.


Mind chatter situation and solution and how to handle those:


Acknowledging a mind state will reduce its power.


Repressing something will make it stronger.


Being with it, acknowledging it will make it go away.


Work with different mind state like low energy grumpiness, sleepy mind etc. Watch the beginning and end of each breath.


Metaphor of watching a tape then after about ten minutes realizing you seen it before. But instead of pressing eject, we keep watching it. We do this with thoughts. Why don't we say to our "rerun thoughts" I've seen this before and switch them off? Especially when the whole tape is nothing but coming attractions?


If you see a story about to start say to it and self "not now." Will attend to sometime but "not now."
If it stays then name it and catalog it and think about it later but "not now."

Meditation mental noting is quiet labeling of current situation. I am sitting or just sitting aware of body sitting. Noting keeps attention focused. May be a realization of temporality.


Pay attention to sitting, standing, lying down or moving.


Labeling is not mindfulness but can be an aid that leads to mindfulness.


Participants joined in a 10 minute meditation of the labeling/noting and then shared with the group.



What do you want out of life? Richard Rose began the August 1985 Chautauqua with this question. After jotting down the attendees' responses, he noted that it was evident that none of them had arrived at their chief aim and discussed why. Augie Monge revisits this question and some of Mr. Rose's other observations and insights from this Chautauqua, which was captured on five 90-minute cassette tapes.


What's your chief aim in life?


Augie asked everyone this question and wrote down the responses.


Permanently eliminate unhappiness
Have something of absolute value
To actualize my potential
To get out alive
To know the self
Become the truth
Unconditional love
Final realization
Know the meaning of life/to be life
Get to the bottom line truth + source of it all
To know (for sure)
To Be.


On the back of Richard Rose's book The Albigen Papers, Spencer Darrah wrote: "If ten percent of the world were required to read Richard Rose's papers, we would have a spiritual evolution/revolution brought about by the one-percent that did think on and understand his writings."


O Cromwell, Cromwell!
Had I but served my God with half the zeal
I served my king, he would not in mine age
Have left me naked to mine enemies.
- William Shakespeare,
The Life of King Henry the Eighth
(Wolsey at IV, i)


Richard Rose: "It's too easy to get into tangents"


We fool ourselves with desires etc.


Richard Rose's lecture of questions:


Does a man own a house or does the house own him?


Does a man have power or is he overpowered?


Does a man enjoy or is he consumed?


Does a man really reason... or is it all a complex rationalization?


Does a man rationalize... or is he so programmed?


Can a man learn... that which he really wishes to... by himself alone?


Can a man become?


How shall he know what he should become?


For more see here:

No one likes having a finger poked in your eyes.


We have to question our thinking or we'll find out it may be too late.


Augie mentioned that Rose would talk about the 4 faculties of the mind.


1. Perception
2. Remembering
3. Reacting.


Can you guess what the fourth one is?














.....................(it's Forgetting, the curse of the mind).


How does forgetting manifest in our lives?


States of mind change and will pull you by default.


You can carry an item with you so you remember to remember. An index card or a stone may do. Write something on the card or remember what the stone is meant to help you remember. A string around the finger can help.


What would you put on an index card that you would carry around all day that you would want to remember?


Actions <-> Priorities
Race against time
None of this matters
What was never lost will never be found.
You are not the mind
Picture show will come to an end turn back
Of what are you aware?
What desires have been in play today?
You are not in control here
Remember to breathe and release holding
Don't make a big deal out of this.
Remember to remember (the longing)
Remember you forget
You do nothing
Your clock is ticking
Be focused be serious now
What is going on right now?
What is watching it?
Be my own authority.
I want to go Home
I can't do it alone.
Abide as the Self
Memento mori
Awareness is everything


A'ness is the "other end" of home. :) (Jim B.'s remark on Augie's abbreviation of the word awareness.)


Augie told the story of one of Mr. Rose's daughters when she was young was just singing and picking flowers carefree and how we as adults may feel inhibited to act like little children.


What holds you back?


Have forgotten as adults to act like children


Children have free reign of imagination


Brain changes as we age
We become goal oriented
Fear of consequences
Taking myself too seriously
Wanting to be right instead of happy


Rose on worldly success: "We're just a door for children" Children don't think the parents are that important.


Salesmen get into a trap by believing their own talk, buying their own lines. We're like that we believe our own crap.


When Rose asked What do you want out of life so some people in 1985 some responses were:
Balance (to which Rose responded that person had a fear of making decisions or wanted too many things)
Peace of mind serenity, floating along, no ripples, no movement, stagnation, no growth. Opposite: trauma will lead to growth.


Desire either see past it or go after it. What you're left with after desire is exhausted is the desire for Enlightenment.


We're kidding ourselves about our deepest desire are.


Key try it you'll get nothing out of it. Our ideal might not be Truth.


Talk is not as valuable as remembering what your questions are.


Trauma is nothing compared to the mind outwitting itself.


Jim Burns: Free association is a trick for knowing what your questions are. There are no answerable "why" questions.



Seeing who you really are. Douglas Harding exercises, with Chris Papadopoulos.



We've been operating from our own narrative/story.


The exercises were some from D. Harding and some from other TAT members.


Is Truth something that we can know or acquire?


Subject of knowing the knower:
If something is in the viewer it is not the viewer.


Am I the body?


What is I?


Pointing exercise: Point at something outside of yourself across the room. Then point 90 degrees. Each time describe what you see on present evidence. Then point out of what you're looking out of.


Mirror exercise, hold mirror at arm's length then move closer and state what you see in the mirror. Have someone else hold the mirror so you see their head on theirs. Ask the person in the mirror questions as if you were asking your real self and the person holding the mirror replies to those questions.


Watching attention exercise. We were instructed to close our eyes and relax more and more as each number was counted off. Counted 1-10. Relaxing more on 2 than on 1, more on 3 than on 2 etc. Mid way through a loud noise went off and we were to see how our attention moved from the numbers/relaxing to the loud sound suddenly.


Paper bag tube exercise. Paper bag with bottom cut out and breathing holes cut into sides. Both people hold up and put their heads into the bag. Questions are asked by the moderator such as "How many head are in the bag?" "Do you see one face or two?" "Are you face to face or face to space?" etc


No-head circle exercise. Four people put arms around each other and look down so there is no head. That is what the other person sees out of. It is the same for them as it is for you.


For more on Douglas Harding Exercises see:

A Talking Stick. A round-robin discussion with Art Ticknor

Main rule of this workshop was no one was to speak unless they were in possession of the stick. We went around the circle and the person who had the stick could talk or pass it to the next person. If you spoke you had to keep the topic about yourself. The "seed" question was: How do you feel about yourself?


Some responses:


More happy
Not too good
OK with myself
Want to escape
Missing something
Thinking too much
Crossroads of direction
Angry/Pissed off


Another Question What bothers you the most or troubles you more than anything else? What hinders you from obtaining the fullness that you crave? What's your feeling about it?


Don't have the final answer.
Not acting on that feeling.
Time squandered
Not being able to stay focused.
Hard to find certainty/clear directions
Not as good a father as I would like to be.
No solutions.
Lack of consistency and patience in spiritual matters.
Emotional reactions to questions like these.
Feeling want to know Truth and What's life about
Obsessive behaviors
Not sure
My own little problems
No reference point/shifting sand
Not enough courage
Nothing except my own motivation
Threatened by the very thing that wants most
Fear of losing self
Hold onto life
Feel could do more/guilt/shame
Haven't caught the small fish
Issues too big to deal with right now/patience
Echoes of everything/Satisfied
Not completely straight with myself/dishonest
Not able/I feel fooled
Fear of failure
Vector of commitment


A confrontation session led by Art was next. The purpose was for others to be a mirror to you and not to inject their opinion or ideas but to help the speaker clarify whatever was on their mind.



Observations and opportunity for sharing from participants moderated by Ricky Cobb (Sun 6/15)



Recap of weekend:
Why are you here?
Maybe you feel you don't deserve happiness or Truth or whatever?
Is that story holding you back?
Are you watching your mind?
Stop me if you've heard this one before.
What do you want out of life?
An end to something?
A gaining of something?
To know something?
To be something?
The clock is ticking.
Can you remember to remember?
"What was never lost will never be found" " Gary Harmon
How many heads are there in the grocery bag?
How do you feel about yourself?


Recap of common hang-ups:
Rules                           Frustrations
Distractions                 Uncertainty
Inhibitions                   Powerlessness
Loss of imagination    Doubt
Goals                           Pride


Broke up into small groups and discussed these questions with each other:


1. During the Harding exercises, What did you see?
The No-head Circle exercise seemed to be everyone's favorite.
"Feeling a part of something bigger"
Aware of attention turning.


2. What did you get out of this?
Feedback from others


3. How will your path change? AND 4. What do you plan to do?


More disciplined. More group work. Isolation(s).


We then came back as a group for anything anyone wanted to share.


The topic of several students who became realized only after they encountered both Rose and Harding's teachings was brought up. Rose and Harding both seemed to point beyond the known but in vastly different ways.


The more something is wrong the more you should talk about it. Shine the light of day on it (bring it to the front burner).