Richard Rose / TAT Foundation
Richard Rose created the TAT Foundation in the early 1970s to encourage people who were looking for answers to the big questions of life to work together. His ideal for such an organization was a circle of friends with no head, no bureaucracy.
He saw the Foundation as an umbrella group to bring together people with a wide variety of interests and at various rungs on the ladder, as a matrix to accelerate their progress up the ladder and to provide the base for the small number of seekers who were getting close to self-realization.
Up to the time when Alzheimer's disease disrupted Rose's ability to function in the mid-1990s, none of his students had made the final breakthrough to self-realization. But that changed in 1999, when it was too late for Rose to appreciate the results of his work. Late in that year two of his students had profound self-realizations, followed by another in the winter of 2000. And since then there have been a few more. Vignettes of their breakthroughs are included in the download section of SearchWithin.org, and you can read their essays and poetry in the monthly issues of the TAT Forum. These "finders" are friends whom I've known for many years, and I'd like to try to convey my impressions of the first three mentioned above:
Ongoing Work of Richard Rose's Students
I've known Bob Cergol since the late 1970s. He was the student of Rose's whom I thought had the best chance of making a breakthrough, so it was no great shock to me when that occurred in October of 1999. We'd been participating with about a dozen other folks in an online confrontation (questioning) group, and a line from a letter that Alfred Pulyan had written to Richard Rose in the 1950s was the catalyst that triggered Bob's awakening.
To give you a feeling for Bob's personality, here is the progression of points he put together for his session ("Elevating the Doubt Sensation") of the September 2006 TAT workshop:
What fills your attention: right now? other times?
Whatever it is, it's avoidance of facing oneself directly. There's something else there, always present other than what you focus on.
Stop this nutty assumption that you know anything about spiritual work.
Face yourself as if you had no teacher, no group, no book-knowledge, no possibility of acquiring some imagined quality that will relieve you of your problems and bestow happiness on you.
A few days before the meeting, Bob realized he wasn't going to be able to make it. In his e-mail, he conveyed this message: "I'll be there in Silence, and whoever in silence can completely ignore the experience of self that fills the attention will be in rapport with me."
I met Shawn Nevins in the early 1990s when he became a student of Rose. His awakening in December 1999 came as more of a shock to me, not because he hadn't been wholeheartedly dedicating his life to the search for truth but because he had a mentality I felt was more like mine more intellectual than intuitional and Rose had always stressed the necessity of perfecting the intuition.
Shawn hadn't heard about Bob's breakthrough. He was reading the transcript of an attempt by Franklin Merrell-Wolff to bring a group of students in Phoenix, Arizona to the doorway of nirvana (The Induction) when: "Somewhere in the ninth or tenth page, tears started to pour down my face. A pain gripped my head, like an intense headache. It felt like someone was trying to ram something into my head that wouldn't fit. I felt on the verge of something, on the verge of Truth and it was agonizing. The pain was so intense that I fell to the floor. I felt I was dying."
His mind struggled to contain the end of polarity a losing battle and he was catapulted beyond the mind to a realization of his essence, which he described as: "Nothing, but yet Everything ... Everything undifferentiated."
Shawn is typically a man of few words, which may explain why the prose and poetry he writes is succinct. The power of it, though, can only be explained by the depth of his perspective. An essay titled "Your Current State," may give you a feeling for it:
Take a moment to be aware of your current state. Now, imagine that yesterday you died. You are exactly where you are right now, only you are dead. Nothing has changed, except that you are dead. Everything that you do from here on out is the action of a dead person it means nothing. Try as you might, your actions have no effect. Your touch is that of a ghost, your mightiest efforts like a soft breeze.
Your friends call your name, but as you reach out to them, you see that they too are ghosts. All that you hold dear, is like a storybook it existed, but was made to be set aside.
In all the universe, there is only you. Utterly powerless to even cast a shadow upon a wall.
You are dead, yet you feel alive. A Light shines through your form, animating your thought. Listen for your ceasing to be, it is calling. Let the ghost cry for the loss of it's self tears of Truth to set it free.
You died the day you were born. How long will you wait to go Home?
See Shawn's Poetry in Motion Films website for his work as a filmmaker and for contact information.
Bob Fergeson attended his first TAT gathering in the early 1990s, although he'd seen a photo of Rose in a Rocky Mountain News article in the early 1980s and had corresponded with him a few times.
Bob was one of the participants in the online confrontation group that triggered Bob Cergol's breakthrough and that was instrumental in his own realization a few months later:
A period of despair had thankfully passed, in which I had mostly given up hope of ever finding anything more than a little peace of mind, and perhaps something to do to pass the years. The online group helped provide the tension needed to push my spiritual interest back to the forefront.
I had been getting glimpses of how the mind works in dividing the personality into opposites, such as the parent/child, ego1/ego2, and God/Charlie Brown, and was determined to somehow transcend this trap. One of the members of the group artfully confronted me, suggesting that something I should look at was how I was in love with my self, the very thing I was trying to separate from. Realizing I was being fooled again, trapped in yet another duality, I came to a dead end. I can't remember the details of the exchange, but it dropped like a depth charge into my mind. Acting as a catalyst, it soon caused a change. This change was something I could not have foreseen, for it was a total change in being, rather than in thought....
In hindsight, I cannot say I know how all this happened, except to say that I had a bit of luck, a few good friends, and could not rest until I knew what I was and had some real understanding of what was going on in terms of life and death. I had a mantra that expressed the inner angst I felt at not being defined: "I don't know what's going on, but I'm going to find out." I also cannot express the gratitude I feel to several persons who were part of this. Nothing in the search is more valuable than those whose honest concern for your long-term peace takes precedence over the pettiness of your ego. As the years go by, I still find that my home is in the Place of No Concern, as is yours....
Bob wrote a periodic newsletter for several years, The Mystic Missal, which included a column titled "Tricks and Traps." Here's an example: