The Forum for Awareness
Full Index of Issues 1 thru 14
Volume 1, Number 1
Mr. Kerrick lives in Philadelphia and is the author of a book, Is There A Way Out?
The TAT Foundation is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization formed to provide a forum for philosophical and spiritual inquiry on all levels based on the principle that cooperation and interaction with fellow inquirers can expedite one's own investigation. The TAT Foundation was set up to fund and encourage workshops, intensives, Chautauquas, study groups and related services. This magazine is one of those services. The intent of the TAT Journal is to promote the ideas of the TAT Foundation by being a readers' forum and exchange.
Editor: Paul Cramer
Assoc. Ed.: Louis Khourey
The TAT Journal is published bi-monthly by the TAT Foundation, 1686 Marshall St., Benwood, West Virginia 26031
© 1977 TAT Foundation. All rights reserved.
Dostoyevsky's "idiot," Prince Myshkin, was a solitary idealist, his sincere and compassionate search for truth and meaning leading to tragedy in the face of society's juggernaut respecting only possessions and position. As compelling and fascinating was Myshkin, the fictional character, his life of conflict and dismay is not humanly desirable and the individual who looks beyond materialistic mass values for satisfaction should not be condemned to play the role of a tragic hero in some existentialist or absurdist drama.
This TAT Journal is initiated as a means of communication between people seeking honest answers to the mystery of Life. It is directed to those who are not satisfied with the conventional wisdom which only half-answers or, yet worse, ignores the fundamental questions that very few even ask. The emphasis in these pages will be questions and proposals, not on authoritative systems or assumptions; the interchange of ideas to be promoted will, hopefully, encourage readers in the recognition that doubt is not a personality born of maladjustment, but a pearl of great price.
Articles like Joseph Kerrick's "New Age, Old Age and In-Between," featured in this issue, will be presented not to foster belief in some re-upholstered cosmology nor to solicit memberships in a spanking clean Utopia to which TAT will affix its version of the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. Rather, we hope to provide perspectives of value to those seeking their way in the confusingly subjective forest of philosophical, psychological and esoteric research. This desire is based on the belief that the only discoveries of real worth to the individual are those made by the individual. Our Forum will be devoted to these discoveries as described by readers, and we solicit your contributions concerning such subjects as life after death, evidence of ancient cultures, health and healing, astrology, philosophical and psychological insights.
What this project can accomplish will be limited only by our curiosity and determination. Dissatisfaction with our present conditions of knowledge and being need not damn us to futility and despair. It may propel us into a genuine activity that could lead to real wisdom, the ancient ideal that some have managed to keep alive.
The TAT Foundation is a membership organization and your participation is invited. Membership in TAT is $15.00 for the first year and $10.00 per year thereafter. This will entitle the member to attend the four quarterly TAT Foundation Meetings each year held at the TAT Farm in West Virginia as well as receiving half fare admission to the annual TAT Summer Chautauquas.
New Age, Old Age and In-Between
by Joseph Kerrick
The powers and forces that rule the earth seem to have become intent, over the past several decades, on refashioning human destiny in such a way that a certain category of people can feel more at home in the world, can live out their fantasies about a less brutal, more humane rearrangement of the human condition. The general idea seems to be to take the edge off human suffering, to blunt the sword of slaughter, to move a tiny bit closer to a state which could justly be called true civilization, as opposed to our present half-barbaric status. It would probably border on intellectual nihilism to critique such a goal, on grounds either of its ultimate desirability or attainability; and the only thing we're concerned with here, in fact, is the effect of this particular cultural notion on the individual's search for spiritual knowledge.
The New Age syndrome seems to be a peculiarity of the Western psyche, with its propensity for viewing time and history as a straight line, as opposed to the traditional Eastern vision which sees human and cosmic events moving in a circle of cyclical recurrence. So it is that in Christendom, spontaneous mystical experiences or spiritual awakenings are often followed by the subject explaining his vision as heralding the imminent coming of a New Jerusalem, in which the whole world will be transformed. This phenomenon is called by the term chiliasm.
There was a mass outbreak of chiliasm in the 1960's, as LSD was soaked up by thousands of immature minds, and people huddled in their communes waiting for Armageddon to be declared by the military-industrial complex, or for Kesey's merry pranksters to find a way to dose the world's water supply with the magic chemical and bring about Eden overnight.
One of the fortunate things about chiliasm is that its effects tend to wear off over a period of time, as the victim observes that despite mankind's apparent tottering on the point of critical mass, the world somehow manages to keep rolling along. It takes the mind of a charismatic master manipulator, like St. Paul, to keep a group of people in breathless anticipation of an imminent apocalypse year after year.
To the surprise of many, 1970 arrived on schedule, unaccompanied by avenging angels or fireballs from heaven - or by the conquest of the world by Love. Many dealt with the disappointment by early retirement into mental institutions, by suicide, or by returning, somewhat jaded, to the mainstream of middle-class life. Those who rejected these options were faced with the apparent need to get serious about this New World thing - obviously it wasn't going to happen automatically after all; we would have to take a hand in the matter ourselves.
These refugees from the debris of Woodstock Nation mostly settled into one of two courses. Some discovered that the thought of starting up a New World wasn't their own brilliant, newly-hatched idea, but went back at least a hundred years or so to a man named Marx. Overawed by the sophomoric rhetoric of socialism and communism, they dutifully set off to organize the proletariat in order to overthrow the wicked capitalists - who, it seems, were found to be the villains responsible for Original Sin.
The other trend was to conceptualize the objective in terms of a New Age. This was (and mostly still is) a hodge-podge of utopian fantasies, compounded of diverse notions about improved methods of human interrelating, political and economic reform, ecological planning, and individual self-improvement. This last category is society's present pigeon-hole for the whole gamut of mystical and occult teachings, esoteric religions, and the spiritual quest.
The thesis I'd like to offer here is that the New Age, in whatever form it may take, will function the same as all the "old ages" in relation to spiritual Truth. Namely, it will be the stage on which the play takes place, the background scenery, the props, the vehicle of physical survival, the primordial jungle in which a few furtive man-things hide in the brush and try to pass on some precious items of knowledge to their progeny.
Five hundred years ago, Martin Luther and Ulrich Zwingli announced the dawning of the Kingdom of Heaven upon the earth. Society, they said, could be Christianized, by which they meant that the human condition could be gradually elevated to a point of Christ-like perfection. A sect arose called the Anabaptists, made up of people interested in pursuing perfection, but who couldn't swallow the above vision. They pointed out that "the world remains the world" no matter what sort of idealistic improvements are introduced, and that any seeker who tied his star to the hope of a heavenly kingdom on earth was in fact digging his own grave. The Protestant leaders took such exception to this simple observation that they got together with the hated Church of Rome, and arranged for a mass slaughter of the Anabaptists.
The situation hasn't changed much in the last five centuries, except that for the time being there's no necessity for Truth-seekers to become paranoid about state purges - unless they live in a country ruled by a heretic-hating national Church, like the Soviet Union or China. The eternal verity here, though, is that there is something about the nature of the search for Truth which precludes its being found in any sort of rearrangement of humanity's collective lifestyle.
The problem seems to be metaphysical rather than political, epistemological rather than semantic. Or to put it simply: the reason we can't systematize Truth into our lives is not just because our systems are so lousy, but because Truth can't be systematized. This is not to say that Truth cannot be approached in a systematic, or at least a determined, way; rather, it's an aspect of a phenomenon which Richard Rose has called "between-ness", and which Charles Fort labeled "Intermediateness".
Fort's point of departure was an emotion-charged critique of the implicit claim to omnipotence by turn-of-the-century Science. In The Book of the Damned he gleefully laid out excerpts from the mountains of data he had collected, of events and phenomena unexplainable by scientific dogma; and in between accounts of red and black rains and strange lights in the sky, he explicated a quite remarkable philosophy. It holds that nothing can be truly said to exist, outside of the Absolute. Any creature's claim to absolute entity is nullified by a similar claim made by other creatures. All apparent being is simply the dynamic flux of the relative, eternally striving to become non-relative, unconditioned; and the reason we perceive things as having being in themselves is simply because we, too, are caught up in the vast shadow-show of Intermediateness between chaos and equilibrium.
In order to attain Being we have to cease Becoming. Phrases like this have become clichés in the New Age enlightenment industry. How much chance is there, I wonder, that here and there a few people will actually penetrate to their real meaning?
There is presently a proliferation of groups, schools, and experimental communities claiming (with varying degrees of validity) to base them selves on the teachings of Gurdjieff and his chief interpreter, Ouspensky. The pinnacle of enlightenment in the Gurdjieffian system, the goal of the spiritual quest, is to become an entity called Man Number Seven. This is the prospectus offered to starry-eyed seekers anxious to get their personal evolution in gear. But applying Fort's dictum, and a little intuition, we can see the illusoriness of this objective. Even a (presumably) fully-evolved creature like Man #7 is not a finished product - even his lofty state of being has no tangible, metaphysical, existential reality. Manifesting on higher levels of being is, like human consciousness itself, simply the state of dynamic tension produced by the tug-of-war between the upward-beckoning pull of the Absolute and the sluggish inertia of purely carnal life. It might not be too inaccurate to say that the higher the level of being, the closer the person is to an intimate, permanent relationship with the Absolute. But if full permanence - total, final absorption - is ever achieved, it's the end of manifestation, the ceasing not only of human life but of all relative existence. Contrary to Gurdjieff's allusions, a Man #7 would not be a full embodiment of the Absolute crystallized on the human level. Rather, if there is, or ever was, a Man #7, then that which makes him what he is can be likened to a candle flame, which has no substance in itself but is merely the visible excrescence of the paraffin and other material, being shot on its way to an invisible state of existence in the upper atmosphere.
If Man #7, or 8, 9, or 10, were the ultimate fruit of the spiritual search, then these highly-numbered humans could presumably interrelate amongst themselves in a perfect utopia, a truly new New Age; yea, even a New Jerusalem. The real situation, however, is quite otherwise.
Since the true objective must ever remain intangible to even the most enlightened of incarnate humans (or superhumans), the urge to set up an enlightened (or Liberated) society will always function as a distraction to the search.
It's true, meanwhile, that a community of enlightened men would evidence certain superiorities over the common social grouping, just as the atmosphere of Athens was more conducive to humane conduct than was that of Sparta. Such an atmosphere can't be generated as an end in itself; it's simply the offshoot, a relatively unimportant side-effect, of the thing that really counts. Finally, we must ask: what might the consequences really be if the New Age, as envisioned by its present devotees, actually came into existence? There's a symbolic concept in Tibetan Buddhist lore which may help us stretch our imaginations in this regard, a place called Kuru, the Northern Continent. A description of the lifestyle of Kuru (in Rebirth - the Tibetan Game of Liberation by Mark Tatz and Jody Kent) reads like the ultimate New Age fantasy fulfilled: the people lead a communal existence, there's no private property or marriage, children are raised in common, little work is required for subsistence, the average lifespan is a thousand years.
Perfection? Of society, perhaps. But we read further that: "Nonetheless, this idyllic sort of existence is said to be not conducive to the paths to liberation... No saint develops here, for (the people) never come to understand the initial postulate of the Dharma: life is basically suffering. Their faculties are dulled by their uneventful lives, and they are incapable of difficult meditations. In short, they create no bad karma, but neither do they make progress toward liberation from samsara."
I think this makes the point pretty clearly: even if utopia were presently realizable, it would not change the nature of what I've called the spiritual search, or quest; ironically, it could even make it more difficult. No matter how far that search advances, even after we've found what we're looking for, we must still live out our lives caught between realities. All human endeavor is of this nature, and always will be. Every succeeding age is new, and becomes old after awhile. There's only one change worth making, and that's the transition from between-ness to the Absolute.
Or as Charles Fort put it: "A seeker of Truth. He will never find it. But the dimmest of possibilities - he may himself become Truth."
The TAT Forum is a reader's exchange and correspondence column. One is invited to write to this column and offer comments or pose questions concerning the articles or letters published in this magazine or let others know about your investigations, discoveries or resources that you may have come across in your own search.
Dear TAT Forum,
While preparing myself for my recent trip to the Soviet Union, I was reading Robert G. Kaiser's book, Russia, The People and the Power and I found the following interesting passage, p. 316.
"There was once a tiger in the circus, I think her name was Alma, she was very intelligent, very well trained. But every time her trainer turned his back to her she wanted to eat him. So the trainer's wife stood outside the cage, and whenever her husband did turn his back, the wife would say, 'All right, Alma, quiet, Alma,' and the tiger knew she was being watched, so she didn't jump. But the trainer wanted to find a better solution to the problem. For a long time he thought about how to convince the tiger that she didn't want to eat him.
"He thought of a brilliant idea. He realized that Alma was very comfortable sitting on her round platform in the cage. So he gave her a new platform that was much smaller - so small that she could only put three feet on it at one time. There wasn't room for all four paws, so she had to concentrate on keeping her balance. All her thoughts were directed toward staying on the platform. She no longer had time to think about eating the trainer.
"It seems to me that Soviet man is exactly the same. Like the tiger, he has to balance himself on a small platform. He's always standing in lines, always trying to buy something, always worrying about idiotic little problems. He has no time to worry about the big things - about freedom, or happiness, or changing the government. The government doesn't give you a chance to think - there's no time to think. If you get a chance to do a little thinking, you have to realize that life isn't too good.
"But nobody has time to think about eating the trainer."
With respect to finding our self-definition and penetrating our world of illusions, we are in much the same situation as the tiger and the Soviet citizen. The exigencies of the moment keep us from apprehending the true nature of the problems facing us. The Soviet citizen is more tightly controlled that we are for he must actively struggle with a bureaucracy for the very essentials of existence. Our prison walls are perhaps more subtly distracting, consisting of a superabundance of those same essentials. So deeply are we immured in things that, as the phrase has it, we are owned by our possessions.
All of the great teachers tell us to detach ourselves from material ties so that we may concentrate on the core problem. We cannot eat the trainer, overthrow an oppressive regime, or see through the illusions of this life while we are putting most of our creative energies into the maddening cycle of material distractions.
Where listed, the TAT Society is a group of individuals who meet informally and periodically for study and investigation. Guest lecturers often speak at these meetings. Speakers and topics are listed when possible. If there is no listing for a specific date, call the local number for information. These meetings are free and all are invited to attend.
TAT Society meets:
Unity Church, 1075 W. Market St., Akron. Information: call 434-2498 (Akron) 477-0272 (Canton)
Nov. 6: Mike Casari leads workshop on "Colors and Personality"
TAT Workshop - Symposium,
"Prediction, Definition, Survival"
Unity Church, 1075 W. Market St., Akron
Sat. and Sun., Nov. 12 and Nov. 13
Sat., 1:00 - 6:00 PM - "Values Exploration Workshop," "Mental Potentials"
Sun., 1:30 - 6:30 PM - "Astrology," "Nutrition"
TAT Workshop - Symposium
Unity Church, McMillan St., Cincinnati. Information: call 513-241-3920
Dec.3 and Dec. 4
TAT Society meets:
Unitarian Church, Hilliard Rd., Rocky River. Information: call 231-3824
Nov.6, 7:30 PM
Nov. 20, 7:30 PM
Dec. 4, 7:30 PM
Dec.18, 7:30 PM
TAT Society meets:
Ohio State Federal Savings And Loan, 5633 North High St., Worthington. Information: call 291-4221
Nov. 6, 7:30 PM - Dr. David Dillahunt speaks on "Shifting Paradigms"
Nov. 20, 7:30 PM
Dec. 4, 7:30 PM
Dec. 18, 7:30 PM
TAT Society meets:
University and City Ministry, 4401 5th Ave., Oakland. Information: call 687-1983
Nov. 8, 7:30 PM - Jim Cornie will speak on "Science of the First Person"
TAT Workshop - Symposium
Sat. and Sun., Nov. 19 and Nov. 20 in areas of Astrology, Nutrition and Values Exploration. Dr. Wm. Tellin, Chiropractor in Pittsburgh area, will speak on "Interferences of the Life Force." Information: call 412-687-1983
Quarterly TAT Foundation Meeting (TAT members only) held at the TAT Farm.
Nov. 26 and Nov. 27
Information: write TAT Foundation, 1686 Marshall St.. Benwood, W.Va. 26031
If for one moment
I could follow what I'm hiding
My feet would be flying in churned emotion,
My heart would pound,
A scream I would sound.
I would make my way quickly to the window,
Diving like Superman into shattered glass,
But fall I would not
Scrattles on my body
All covered with thought.
I would soar far and high,
My own jet stream trailing
Above the tops of the pines
This moment would truly be mine.
The roofs below and the worn-out world
Would make me laugh
In a way that speaks to the sun
In a way that makes many turn to one.
And we all would laugh.
Sleepy giant quiet paws at rest
We left your thoughts for a new quest
Lately stirring in the minds of the best
We're now entering the final test
Children's desires one muddled in the hay
We watch the rivers decay with the day
People all inside seem to stay
Afraid their prayers will be answered if they pray
Close behind you and yet far away
The doors are all shut in each one's way
Closed because they did it themselves
Fear from what's hidden and hiding from what they fear
Wouldn't it be funny if it was all turned around
That we went into the womb instead of the ground
Or is it really that different its really the same
Said the timeless man with his daily claim
Sleepy giant quiet paws at best
We left your thoughts for a new test
Lately stirring in the minds they quest
We are now entering the final rest
© 1977 TAT Foundation. All rights reserved.