Hydroglyphics: Reflections on the Sacred

Is all water sacred?
To me this feels powerful and true–water is sacred.
Water is life.
“La vida es sagrada,” Hispanos also say. Life is sacred.

TAT Press’ latest publication is an inspired collaboration between Phaedra Greenwood and Shawn Nevins mixing photography and poetry.  If you enjoyed The Ten Thousand Things by Robert Saltzman, you’ll find Hydroglyphics equally profound.  The abstractions and reflections of Greenwood’s images pull the reader into silent spaces where grace becomes apparent.  Combined with the, at turns, haunting and celebratory poems of Nevins yields a nondual tour de force of which any Zen master would approve.

Everyone should keep a copy at hand so they may open it daily to imbibe the images and thoughts of two people who understand the necessity of beauty and love to help us maintain our reasons for being.


Our latest spiritual book is Subtraction: The Simple Math of Enlightenment

It’s been a long time coming, but this outstanding spiritual memoir is now available.

A subtractive , deconstructive process is the surest way to successful conclusion of a spiritual path. It was the main piece of the shortcut that Richard Rose said existed. But just what in the world does subtraction on a spiritual path really mean?  How could it translate into a viable spiritual practice? How does on follow a subtractive path?  That is precisely what this book is about….

Get your copy on Amazon now!

This Above All: A Journey of Self-Discovery is now available

Happy to report that Tess Hughes’ spiritual memoir This Above All is now available on Amazon or by order from your local bookseller.  It is a compelling read and, frankly, I am glad to add a woman’s voice to our slate of authors.  Though, as Tess says, “spiritual evolution is beyond gender,” she also points out that “the way women wrote made the possibility seem more accessible for me.”

Tess recounts a woman’s spiritual journey with an honesty and openness that is refreshing and informative, sharing the essential crossroads and practices that ultimately culminated in a spiritual awakening.

Judge this book by its cover.  It is beautiful.

woman's spiritual journey

“This Above All” – upcoming spiritual memoir from Tess Hughes

We are hard at work on the cover design and pre-publication marketing for Tess Hughes’ book This Above All.  Focusing on the “gritty reality” and the “inescapable relevance of our daily lives,”  Tess’ spiritual path is sure to inspire and inform all who read it.

At the end of the day, this is all about coming to the end of suffering, the healing of our existential angst, which is the root cause of all our suffering: our anxiety, our insecurities, our lack of love, our lack of self-acceptance. It’s about coming to know our true identity, our identity beyond that of being a creature of the world. This possibility exists for everyone, but we have to work for it. The work we have to do is to be willing to look deep into our own minds and emotions and experiences and see what is really going on. The Dali Lama says “Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.” We have to take responsibility for our own lives; that’s the first step. Nobody else is to blame, no matter how attached we are to such a story.

Planned release by April 2016.  Sign up for our mailing list and receive all the details when the book is ready.

Madness and Insight

A book review by Catherine Morrison

At Home with the Inner Self by James J. Burns III is an immediately appealing work, perhaps, especially appealing to a psychotherapist, like myself, whose path has been entwined with those of seekers along the entire diagnostic continuum from madness to mental health, augmented by a study of Christian mystics, and by a seeker’s attraction to the wisdom of sages, from India to West Virginia.

An early lesson on madness and insight: As a young clinician at the Beth Israel Hospital’s outpatient psychiatric clinic, I was assigned the psychiatric evaluation of a middle-aged man who spoke of his auditory and visual hallucinations, inaudible and invisible to others, but a fixed aspect of his reality. One example was to become seared in my memory forever.

It was the early fall of 1963 and John Fitzgerald Kennedy had given his vastly gratifying American University Speech, now called “the speech that cost him his life,” but, then, especially in his home state of Massachusetts, a heroic statement of his personal and political transformation, against the advice of all his generals at the Pentagon, from cold warrior to a radical new commitment to nuclear disarmament, cessation of nuclear testing, and to an end of the cold war with the Soviet Union.

My client told me that this popular, vigorous, young leader would be dead within the year, felled by an assassins’ bullet somewhere in the southern United States, where hatred for Catholicism, civil rights and disarmament ran high. This man knew that I knew this last part to be true as my southern accent gave me away, but he also saw that that I disbelieved his dire prediction. He told me I would come to see that he was right, and on November 22, 1963, I did see, and my insight included an understanding of “mental illness” (and, in particular, paranoid schizophrenia) as inhabiting a mysterious realm, inaccessible to me, of intuitive knowledge, where Freudian dreams and Jungian spirits enlivened and enhanced otherwise the concrete, mundane view of reality held by most of us. I recognized this as the same source from which my favorite artists and poets (as well as our outstanding innovative scientists like Albert Einstein) drew their inspiration.

Mass externalization of internal stress….” (J. J. Burns III) Burns mentions this phenomenon in the introduction to his book. It is a well-phrased truth to which we all bear witness. If the few found their way off busy Brookline Avenue into the Beth Israel Psychiatric Clinic, the many speed by on their way to the shopping complex in Chestnut Hill, or to Fenway Park, and the restaurants and movie theaters in Kenmore Square, where side streets and alleys were not safe to walk at night and where tales of “abusive wealth” (J. J. Burns III) could already be traced to the growth of corporate power, in an era when real estate prices especially in places like Cambridge and Martha’s Vineyard were out of sight. Society was clearly already a mess. But, I did not know why nor how. Was it simply a natural consequence and an inevitable component of civil progress?

We now it is not a natural consequence of progress, but one orchestrated by the few who stood to benefit. We have learned about the secret meeting held at J. P. Morgan’s private estate on Jekyll Island, S. C. in November 1910. While others were occupied with holiday plans, 6 men who represented an estimated one-fourth of the total wealth of the entire world, boarded a private car, at night, in an almost deserted New Jersey railway station, and traveled together, careful not to use each others names in the presence of servants, and they transacted their business far from the halls of power, in NYC and Washington where they might have attracted unwanted attention. The 6 were: Senator Nelson W. Aldrich, Republican “whip” in the Senate, Chairman of the National Monetary Commission, business associate of J. P. Morgan, father-in-law to John D. Rockefeller, Jr.; Assistant Secretary of the U. S. Treasury Department A. Piatt Andrew and 4 of the countries leading financiers: Frank A. Vanderlip, Henry P. Davidson, Benjamin Strong and Paul Warburg, representing the Morgan group and the Rockefeller group, but not the European consolidation of wealth which had coalesced into the Rothschild group and the Warburg group, with whom they were, however, associated, but not physically present on Jekyll Island. There they discussed monetary policy and, specifically, the creation of a U. S. central bank. They drafted documentation for the Federal Reserve Central Bank enacted, with almost no revision, into law in 1913 as Federal Reserve Act.

The Federal Reserve, a privately owned entity with the authority to print (paper) money not backed by silver or gold, to support fractional lending, [as money lenders had done since paper money was first introduced as receipts for gold kept in their vaults, paper receipts being more practical than gold for use in the market place.

The “money lenders” soon discovered they could lend out more money than they held in their vaults. Because not everyone took out their gold at the same time, they could issue their paper notes of credit at will, charging interest to anyone without a gold deposit. In this way, they could lend, the same “gold” multiple times, collecting interest all the while and creating large fortunes for themselves as they became “richer as the poor got poorer,” making “slaves by another name” of families (and, later, with the industrial revolution, workers who “owed their souls to the company store”).

The Federal Reserve institutionalized this age-old banking practice, and so it’s “owners” controlled the availability of money, orchestrating “business cycles,” of booms and busts, during which wealthy “lenders” could earn outrageous fortunes, buying cheap and selling dear, entering and exiting the stock market at the just the right moments, and lending, not only to individuals, but also to governments, at no-risk to themselves, as the loans were guaranteed by taxes. [The Internal Revenue Service being created, ironically a very short while after Reserve System was in place.] Like the money lenders before them, the new owners of the Federal Reserve, loaned their paper money, the same “dollars” lent out time and time again. [The classic and well-documented source for skeptics on this subject is Griffin, G. Edward, The Creature from Jekyll Island: A Second Look at the Federal Reserve, (38th printing 2014 September, American Media). See especially Chapter 11, “The Rothschild Formula,’ pp.217-234.]

There is a process going on—we are only at the beginning.” (J. J. Burns III) Despite the dismal history of money and the egoistic quest for power [See Flowers for Hitler by Leonard Cohen, who wrote on his title page, “A while ago this book would have been called Sunshine for Napoleon and earlier still it would have been called Walls for Genghis Khan.”], a collective evolution of consciousness is perceptible. A photograph in the November 2014 issue of “The Economist” shows an Iranian, sitting cross legged on a traditional Persian rug talking on his cell phone. The caption underneath says, “Even the Ayatollah can’t stop this.”

The key….lies in [the] spring of endless guidance and information within every human being…. [A] still and quiet mind….is perfectly attuned to the potential of expanding your total consciousness to its absolute maximun. It is designed to do this. It can’t stop doing it. The fountainhead lies totally within.” (J. J. Burns III) This insight much repeated by the enlightened of every age and circumstance is the Truth which trumps the ego. It is unstoppable and can be seen today in the advance of science. More powerful than cell phone technology is the new, but not yet mainstream, science of the electric nature of the universe. A new group of scientists from many scientific disciplines, using data collected by satellites in space, but misinterpreted, still, by established science (which, as one person facetiously remarked, “is still looking through the wrong end of a telescope describing what it expects to see”). Gravitational  theory leaves us with an oxymoronic view of “lonely planets” in an “infinitely expanding” space which (infinity) “began” with a big bang some time ago, and will burn itself out at some [infinite?] future date. While children question the implications of magnetic spacial theory, only Nobel Laureates can discuss it, and, clearly, “the emperor wears no clothes.”

The new scientists, using the new paradigm which applies electrical instead of gravitational principles to their understanding of datum gives accurate predictive assessments and clear explanatory answers to planetary events (all of which can be scaled down and repeated in laboratory experiments on earth).

The new science already integrates various branches of science under the umbrella of Cosmology, the Queen of the Sciences which addressed the “big questions.” Their work has vast implications, even, for understanding the nature of consciousness itself. [See YouTube site “Thunderbolts of the Gods” (official movie)]

To bring this all full circle with Jim Burns, one of these new cosmologists, is David Wilcock, a New Age lecturer, author and filmmaker who claims to be the reincarnation of Edgar Cayce, the founder of the A. R. E. (the organization to which Jim Burns was directed, at a time when he needed colleagues to support and encourage him along his way. Later, someone from A. R. E. connected Burns with Richard Rose and TAT).

Wilcock coproduced a movie entitled “The Reincarnation of Edgar Cayce.” Later, at the beginning of his best selling book, The Synchronicity Key (Plume, 2013), Wilcock writes, “This book is dedicated to you—the one Infinite Creator—the author of consciousness, energy, matter, biology, space, and the great cycles of time—now reading these words in your temporary human form.”

The paragraphs above: I wrote the paragraphs above before I read Burns’ book. Notice all my quotations come from the Introduction. Naturally, there were several reason for strange “book review”. The only copy I could get was a Kindle download version, and I am new at using Kindle. The book kept disappearing and was difficult to call up again. I spent hours with Amazon Customer Service.

They did not seem to understand what was happening to my disappearing book much better than I did. Finally, I was referred to someone in their technical department who actually apologized to me and said that my problem was due to their lacking the proper something-or-other on their system, but they were in the process of adding it and would send me an email when it was available. Imagine that! The introduction was fascinating. Finally, I was able to get the book to stay on my screen, by never leaving the screen and writing my review with paper and pencil.

When I finally did get to the main body of the book, I had not gotten far when I began to cry tears of read only a few pages when tears of remembrance of my own life experiences and tears of recognition of work still left undone for me. I could see that I can’t finish this book and the work it lays out for me for some time to come. I will work my way through it, slowly, and will meet no deadline in the near future.

I’m especially entranced with Jim Burns’ description of the two ego voices. Bob Fergeson also mentioned this and it intrigued me then, but Jim Burns’description opened some space in my heart, known in the East as the 4th or heart chakra, not a system I’ve ever worked with, but the dual ego aspect described by Fergeson and Burns, brought to mind a painful and poignant story which I heard quite recently.

This is the story. It is about a man I do not know, but it made a deep impression on me. This is a 95+ year-old gentleman, so near physical death that his mind is grossly affected. He speaks aloud to himself, unaware that anyone is listening, although, at his bedside, his family takes turns caring for him physically, and they report their grief, their helplessness, their horror as each, in turn, hears his internal argument.

A first small voice asks for an end to suffering. It pleads and complains: Give it up. The pain! A shell. Dead. Kill it.

A second voice answers, with a passion not seen in this man for a good 3 years. This voice fairly shouts an answer to the first: “Murderer!” it says. Then it catalogues a list of unresolved problems, unreleased attachments, and unforgiven sins, specifying: the house, the bills, the will. It asks, “Where is she? (his deceased wife).” “Still angry? (his estranged daughter).” It repeats its major preoccupation, first demanding, then pleading: “Forgiveness!”

I, too, am horrified, when a relative tells me the story. This man is a stranger to me, but his plight speaks to me of unspeakable disaster, and it is so in contrast with the good deaths I’ve heard about from hospice workers and others. Who would not give anything to escape such a fate?

It evokes my own life review. Recently, I spent 6 weeks devoting myself to a project I found most helpful, as I carefully reviewed the major episodes of my spiritual journey for the TAT seeker/speaker talks given in June 2015 at Claymont. I’ve been on this path for a very long time and, as I’m not at the end yet, I know there is some part of me, just as there is in this old man, which resists letting go of my own suffering. Why would anyone resist knowing “what it means to light your whole body up with insight…to make that your highest goal, to have the experience of overwhelming insight and comprehension of the whole realm of human experience….”? (James J. Burns III) But, Burns adds that this goal or direction is held by “by maybe one hundredth of one percent of the total….” number of people on the planet.

I’m one of them, and I hope I can resolve my own internal argument, whatever it is that holds me back, before I run out of time and repeat the death agony of that old man, and of who knows how many others of us, described by his agony. At Home with the Inner Self has become my Bible.

So, I thank Jim Burns, for the brilliant portrayal of his own path, and I thank TAT for bringing it to my attention, and for providing a community of support as I continue my own essential and most critically urgent journey.


Zen Photography

In the exhibition “A Hidden Wholeness: The Zen Photography of Thomas Merton,” Merton’s striving to communicate the glorious in the ordinary shines through each stark photograph.  Similarly, photographer Bob Fergeson pushes the bounds of what the still image can contain in his “Zen photography.”  Take the still majesty of this spiritual photography and pair it with words that slice the unbroken noise of our minds into the ever-arising “now,” and you get… Images of Essence.

First published in 2008, Images of Essence should find a place on the bookshelf or coffee table of every lover of truth.  It opens with a quote from the 6th century philosopher Boethius, “The passing now makes time, the standing now makes eternity.”  What is this standing now, and how does it relate to our everyday life?  Through alternating photographs with poetry, each page presents you with a moment in time, captured by a still image or briefly held by words which arise and draw you into that same silence.  Wave after wave, these photographs and poems wash over your awareness, yielding a book best enjoyed slowly, like a sunset.

Previously only available in a limited edition, the TAT Foundation is pleased to present Images of Essence in an affordable softcover now available from online and local booksellers.

Zen photography

The Nonduality book naming conundrum

Looking through a list of 47 prominent nonduality book titles on Amazon today, judging a book by it cover might lead one to suspect nonduality teachings are slipping into the realm of New Age panaceas; especially as a generation of seekers grows older and more interested in soothing thoughts than dynamic action. I promise not to name the next TAT Press title The Simple Awareness of the Ever-Present Abiding Oneness: awakening to the dream — your true nature of bliss, peace, presence and absence.

nonduality book titles