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I became interested in the transition into and out of sleep as a way to notice the "I Am." I had heard or read that you might be able to catch a more direct glimpse of it as you wake up, and it made sense to me to try to pay attention to the transition into sleep also, partly as a way to set the intent to notice waking up. So I began a kind of sleep practice. I would remind myself of my intent just before going to sleep, and I would try to follow consciousness into sleep.
But I didn't have much luck with noticing the "I Am." Instead, I started to become troubled by what I take for granted: the experience that I go away in deep sleep and that I appear when I wake up. I sense of self, consciousness, all of it come and go daily, automatically. I tend to think that "I go to sleep" and "I wake up," but when I try to look at the transition into or out of sleep, it becomes clear that I don't have anything to do with it (any more than I control my thoughts, for example). It seems more accurate to say that I am turned on and off, "similar to a kitchen appliance" (Beyond Relativity, p. 330). The image that has stuck in my mind is of a light bulb (me) being turned on/off, on/off off.
Why does this image touch a nerve? It's a reminder of death. It makes me question the continuity between the "I" that falls asleep and the "I" that wakes up. It makes me question the sense that I am in charge of or in control of being conscious. What else is it that bothers me so much about the on/off image? What does it say about what I am or what I am not?
Thanks to Mark Seabright, a TAT member since 2014. Mark met Richard Rose in the 1970s. He's now active in the Portland self-inquiry group. Comments? Please the Forum.
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Local Group News
Update from the Columbus, OH self-inquiry group:
The Columbus self-inquiry group at Ohio State University began a series of Monday meetings with the theme "BEYOND MIND, BEYOND DEATH: A SURVEY OF MODERN SPIRITUAL TEACHERS" extending from Sept. 28th to Nov. 9th and combining video clips with discussion. They constructed this eye-catching flyer for it:
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"I Keep Losing Things"
I keep losing the sense of purpose
I keep finding things that look like
~ From Weslea Sidon's debut book, The Fool Sings, a collection of honest poems that reveal the great impact of small moments in life. Weslea lives with her husband on Mount Desert Island, Maine. © 2014 Weslea Sidon. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from Rain Chain Press.
A view of Weslea's yard in Maine.
I don't think I ever read the lyrics to Pink Floyd's "Time." A Wikipedia article on the song states that "Roger Waters got the idea when he realized he was no longer preparing for anything in life, but was right in the middle of it" at the age of 28 or 29. ~ Shawn Nevins
Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain.
So you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it's sinking
Every year is getting shorter never seem to find the time.
Please your thoughts on these items.
A reader wrote that what would make the Forum more interesting would be:
Hearing from people who are searching and have questions instead of those providing endless advice and "answers." What challenges they are facing. What their doubts and questions are. How they perceive their path is going. What they are doing in their lives. Where they think they will end up. Etc. etc.
Can you help make the Forum more interesting?
The Forum staff solicited feedback on TAT Press's ninth book, Images of Essence: The Standing Now, published in 2015 (revised edition). Note: The last we checked, Images of Essence was out of stock on Amazon but in stock on Barnes & Noble's website.
Amazon review by tennesseecatattack12:
Beautiful poetry, beautiful images. Going to order some to give as gifts.
From Catherine M:
Gerard Manley Hopkins was a mid- to late-19th century Jesuit priest and an innovative painter-poet, exceptional for his time and circumstance. Images of Essence calls his work immediately to mind: his poetry is astonishingly visual, exploding with graphic verbal images. As I'm packing books, I came upon my own fragile volume, pages brown and brittle, which I used in college almost 60 years ago. So I looked at Hopkins as I reviewed this book, and resisted the temptation to quote a few lines from "Pied Beauty," "Spring and Fall," or "'As kingfisher's catch fire, dragonflies, draw flame.'"
In Images of Essence, Bob Fergeson and Shawn Nevins, one a photographer, the other a poet, have combined their talents to create a work based on a novel idea. They couple breath-taking images and evocative poetry, thereby, invoking the senses and stilling the mind. Words and photographs, juxtaposed by men of deep self-knowledge, stun, perhaps even confuse, a reader's restless or chattering mind. This evokes the silence and tranquility in which mankind's perennial identity question must arise. Images of Essence invites the profound experience of examining "Who Am I" essentially.
From Tess H:
Do not care for the names of things
or for the particulars.
It is the patterns that call out to you.
For in patterns you find the hand of God
in names, the hand of man.
All you possess are words.
What you are is the play of light
upon the still hand of eternity.
This is one of the poems written by Shawn Nevins which accompanies the images of essence taken by Bob Fergeson. The combination of image and poem, as you turn the pages of this wonderful book, never fail to take you to a place of presence and simplicity. This is a book to leave lying around where you are likely to pick it up, again and again. It is much more than the usual beautiful coffee table book. I love it.
From Corina B:
If you're stuck and need some inspiration, this book will give you just that. The spiritual poetry of Shawn Nevins is reinforced by the graceful photography of Bob Ferguson. And vice versa, the photography finds its 'voice,' a human voice, through the poems. "If ever images could speak" well, this book comes pretty close to saying quite a bit. Also, it dares you to look beyond the surface of everyday things. A tree against a background is simply a tree against a background. Does it become art because of a specific second in the day when the light shone on it just ever so perfectly, and Bob F. was there alert as a tiger on the hunt, and captured that one second? Or is it art because Bob happened to be walking by that tree, and his listening attention caught the scent of the beauty of that ordinary tree, that all others who walked past that tree before ignored? Shawn's poems flow like a river among Bob's photos, a great collaborative work of art.
From Larry I:
As Emerson pointed out, being in nature potentiates our capacity "to perceive the perpetual presence of the sublime" and that God is ever-present. The spectacular images in this book can have the same effect, if allowed. Nevins, the poet, reminds us that "in patterns you find the hand of God in names, the hand of man. All you possess are words." What is unique and wondrous about this book is the remarkable synergy between the poet's words and the photographer's images. Together they can transport you away from the mind's activities into the stillness and silence of Pure Being.
From Leesa W:
A teacher asked me recently what I turned to for inspiration: this book is at the top of my list. Because I've read it so often, it sets a tone of haunting nostalgia and delivers me smack into the doorway of my deepest longing. I read it to my yoga students as they sink into relaxation, I use it as an entry point with my meditation students, I even read a few lines at my father's funeral. I just read through it again a few minutes ago and what jumped out was Shawn's many references to Home and Bob's focus on pathways, roads, stepping stones but what arose wasn't a desire to follow a path to that place called Home; it immobilizes the mind so the story of following a path Home settles into the "Standing Now" a great reminder and a treat for the eyes and the heart.
From Ann I:
This book belongs at your bedside. The last thing you look at before sleep. The pictures seemed so familiar that they felt like they were part of me. I have visited these places many times, maybe not in person but certainly in my being, and felt at home in them. The poetry accompanying each picture added a depth of understanding that was clear and unclear, understandable and illusive, but always beautiful and profound.
From Bob C:
I recently pulled down my copy of Images of Essence, that I'd bought several years ago, from the book shelf where I placed it without having given it more than a cursory look. So I can honestly say I just discovered this treasure. That's a shame, but I'm glad I finally did, and I've been sitting with it each morning during meditation before starting my work day.
This book reminds me of I Am That by Nisargadatta. I would even go as far as to say it is more single-pointed and concentrated in its message. The title is apt. Both the poetry and the photographs convey the same essential message or more accurately they both evoke the same thing That Essence.
I strongly recommend this book as a tool for meditation. Like I Am That, opening this book to any page at random will present a portal to something deep within you. Most books evoke thoughts. The words and images in this book evoke the Grand Silence.
And in that Grand Silence it will feel that the hearing is of a sacred voice, and the vision is of a sacred place until you also notice that place is within you and it is your own voice that wrote the words you hear: "I've been here forever and in another place as well, that holds eternity...." (page 66)
"Where's the Boundary?"
Where's the boundary
Where's the boundary
Is the assumed boundary geographical?
Do space and time parent mind,
Written to a friend, who said he was reading Images of Essence in order to study feeling. ~ Art Ticknor
What book would you say had the biggest
Richard Rose described a spiritual path as living one's life aimed at finding the meaning of that life. Did you find anything relevant to your life or search in this month's Forum issue?
Butterfly photo by Paul Constant
We like hearing from you! Please your comments, suggestions, inquiries, and submissions.
Zen & Death
Part 2 of a talk given by Richard Rose in Washington, DC in September 1977 (continued from the October 2015 TAT Forum):
In evaluating some religious or esoteric movement, we check for the human weakness in the experiment. It's like the margin of error in a chemical analysis or the margin of friction in a physics experiment. And we immediately have to qualify the results or the belief or the faith produced out of that type of thing, unless we're able to develop a whole set of machinery to check ourselves. We look for fatigue, wishful thinking, appetites, wrap them all in. If you like to hunt there will be a happy hunting ground. And then out of this comes a philosophy or a religion.
To be a good spiritual seeker, whether you want to or not, you have to be a psychologist. You have to be a self-psychologist, a self-analyst, and watch yourself – so you don't conceive something, create something, rather than explore and find. And to be a good psychologist you have to be intuitive, because it's not all logic.
There's a sort of combination that we can't separate from: the basis of our religion is largely intuitive; the basis of our psychology has to be likewise intuitive, and the basis of our religion has to be psychological. It has to start with the self, because any external pursuit of an abstract nature is going to be approached not with our body but with our mind. And unless you know something about that mind, the mind will play tricks on you. And everybody here knows that, that your mind plays tricks.
That was one reason when I first went to college I decided I would look into psychology. I started off majoring in chemistry, and thought I'd become a biochemist and analyze matter and find that little kernel inside that would be the life-force or the secret of life. And I gave that up because I realized that it would get into tangential sciences ad infinitum, and I would never be able to complete in one lifetime or in many lifetimes a successful analysis of protoplasm for the discovery of what causes protoplasm to live.
So I went over into psychology, and I got immediately into behavioristic psychology; this is what was being taught at the time. And I found out that it wasn't investigative. Modern psychology as taught in the universities and schools today is not investigative. Well, in some places it might be; I'm not saying there isn't some pioneering being done. But it's basically a sort of struggle to find ways and means of predicting behavior so that the people can be controlled or kept happy.
When you go to a psychiatrist, what does he try to do? Does he say, "Here, let's sit down and discover the truth together, and then we'll know why all this nonsense is going on in your life? Maybe it's bad karma or something." I'm saying that tongue-in-cheek, because I don't presume that we're afflicted with bad karma. But Lord knows there might be a hundred reasons for things happening to us that the psychiatrist doesn't bother to get into. In fact, he's inhibited from getting into a lot of the moral aspects of our nature, things we do in moral content that might affect our thinking.
Like the medical doctor (and of course, a psychiatrist is also a doctor) they're supposed to put patches on and not get into morality. So how can you heal some things, perhaps, unless you get into some of the habits that people do? If a guy's burning his liver out with booze and you weren't allowed to say, "The booze is killing you," he'd continue to burn his liver out. Which of course most of them do anyway.
Now there are other things that will afflict you. But the idea has basically gotten back to patch the character up and put him back into the harness. This is social compatibility. If he can't get along with his wife – well, I could tell you some of the results of people who went to psychiatrists because they were having trouble with their wives. One psychiatrist up in Cleveland, Ohio told the fellow to go to the swingers club and see if he couldn't find a couple other women and try them.
So it doesn't matter what you do, in their book, as long as you go back and start paying taxes again. And be able to afford the psychiatric fee also, that helps. But you're no good to anyone if you're down in the dumps and moping around and not producing. So the point is not to understand the human mind, but to find whatever little twists and torques and gimmicks are necessary to get that guy back into harness, into social compatibility.
Consequently, everything that comes under the banner of psychology is not necessarily designed for the understanding of the mind. I know they're working on that, but they're working more or less on reflexes, like Pavlov's dogs: Let's find some means of predicting, some way that we can get these people to do what we want them to do. And of course B.F. Skinner is an outstanding example of this. He presumes that someone should program the whole human race. That will keep 'em all out of trouble.
We must avoid seizing a postulation that comes easy and putting it out as scientifically discovered truth. This is what we run into a lot in psychology.2 And of course we also come into this concept that mind is somatic. Meaning that there is no mind except what is seen in the body. This is a recurrent theme.
For instance, there are a lot of phenomena that occur that evidently seem to come from outside the body. You can write them off as being hallucinations. We had a case in the movies not too long ago that was very valid, which was the case of The Exorcist, a little fourteen year boy in real life.3 Right here in this area, incidentally, is where it started. I had a friend here in DC who sent me the newspaper clippings in 1949 when it first happened. This boy was in extreme need of psychiatric care but he was never treated by a psychiatrist. Well, the diagnosis would have been schizophrenia. And what do you do for a schizophrenic? Maybe pump him full of pills to a point where he can't jerk, if he's being inhabited.
But the prediction was made by let's say a layman, a psychiatric layman, and the boy was cured by him. The prediction was based upon a possible external invasion of a mentality; a complete mentality invading that person's body. Now there are cases of this down through history. They're trying in the last twenty or thirty years to laugh them off, because they don't have them in the textbooks. But for the last ten thousand years, as long as there have been records, there have been reports of possession and of curing it. Oesterreich put out a good book on this.4, 5 I just got my hands on it recently, and he tells of the different cases of possession and the cures of them down through the ages. It's not limited to just one class of people.
Unfortunately, I'm afraid that there's another thing invading all our thinking. And we have to be careful of this. The reason I'm bringing this up is that if you want to get down to scientific thinking about your self-definition, you've got to be prepared for these things that have been enforced upon humanity, and know that they're going to get in your road, and you'll have to step around them.
We have a disease called democracy that permeates all of our thinking, that people are able to vote on stuff. The normal curve: Sanity is that which most people are. And the way it's going, 52 percent of us will soon be murderers, and you won't dare oppose them, or anything that 52 percent are. There is no such thing of anything being good in itself; everything is defined as that which the most people are, and that is considered sanity.
In regards to this, we have the idea also that "people have decided." They say, "People have decided that God is dead." Well, I've often said that it's possible that we don't get as much action as we read about [in history]. We read books where God was very active. He appeared to one fellow in a burning bush 6 and he sent an angel 7 down to intercede with Gideon. That was in the Old Testament. Then right away God disappeared. He had a son that was being lynched and he didn't send one angel. He let them lynch him.
So you could take this type of argument and run it down and say, "Well, there is no God basically; this was all fiction." But actually, what it amounts to is that people are drifting. They are drifting away. But if 99 percent of the population maintained a belief that God did not exist, that would not mean that God did not exist. Now, I'm saying his stock market would be low, because somehow there's a relationship between the architect and his creations. So his influence might be rather weak. But that would not mean that you can vote and decide.
Now in psychology we're getting into the same thing. We're getting into all the human attributes: what is normal, what the majority of people want to believe is normal, or what you can educate. Another thing going on is "education." We're hearing a lot about the Panama Canal, and one of the politicians got up and said, "The trouble is that we haven't had time to educate the public." Do we want the truth or do we want to be educated? I'm not saying one way or the other which is right. But there's a tendency of people in control – whether they're in control of universities or governments – to educate. Not for the truth but for the convenience of the moment, thinking that they are spirits of the Zeitgeist, prophets of the Zeitgeist, and by their manipulation of the public mind they'll bring people around to the right direction.
So as a result of this, we've taken a vote on what the human mind consists of. Now I think that this is the reason, this confusion about the actual attributes of the human mind, that there are fewer and fewer people able to understand themselves.
I got a cup of coffee this morning at McDonald's across the street from where the boys have their house, and I heard some people arguing about what was wrong with the President and the ex-President, and one was a crook and the other was now a crook also. One man was black and the other man was white, and they were arguing that point also, that one was being deprived and he was hoping for a system in which he wouldn't be deprived. And the thought kept going through my head that these people are missing the point. The real point is that the young people of today have no hope. We have hypnosis, but no hope. I'm gone, but the young people know it. They're more intuitive than the older people.
A baby has a better mind than a thirty-year-old man. And a five-year-old kid has a better mind than a ten-year-old kid. This is not fiction. As a child grows up they see the picture; they know they're thrown into a certain pattern and they evaluate it. And the reason there's no hope is not because the bus is taking the kids to school or not taking the kids to school. It's because society has become like a den of snakes in which there's no way to untangle and find yourself a way – either to become prosperous, if that's all you wish, just a material life, or to have a spiritual life.
Everything has to be chartered by the state, like I said a minute ago. Can you come together and think about Zen or talk about Zen, or anything, unless you're chartered, unless you sign a paper that you are now an organization? You're an entity which can be attacked.
Whether it's just a result of sardine-can living I don't know; whether we're just getting too populous or what. But something, whether it's the manifest crookedness, the manifest controlling of all phases of the individual's life, the ebb and flow of power in which people are caught up – and some get by without getting caught and others get ground up into pieces – it just discourages anyone from trying to get ahead, that's all.
This is the difficulty. And I believe that the young people – I'm talking about children ten years of age – are able to see this. Every kid knows that the cop on the corner is crooked. Everyone who can read a paper knows that the judge is crooked; everyone knows that politicians are crooked. How can this kid come up with a belief that he can hold his head up and live according to Pollyanna, as he's expected to? He doesn't know which way to turn.
I'll give you an example in today's paper. They were fining some chicken growers twenty-some million dollars; they were going to give the money back to the people for fixing the prices of chickens. They were trying to hold the price up against the public. This was in today's paper. On the opposite page was a notice that the government is talking to Pan Am. Pan Am was wanting to drop their prices, and the head of CAB says, "They can go to hell." They're going to stop them from dropping their prices. Here's one fellow that they're going to put in jail for raising his prices. Then they're shouting about inflation. So this guy says, "Ok, let's drop our prices so that people can travel more cheaply." Which might cause a chain reaction and maybe a lot of competition would set in and a lot of things would get cheaper. So how does a child look at this when he reads that in the paper? He's not going into the chicken business, that's for sure.
Then who do we trust? We have to trust our adults. We have to trust our teachers, we have to trust our parents. And our parents have been reduced to dishrags. Frustration has just reduced most people to dishrags, just giving up, saying there's nothing there. I was talking before we started to Mrs. Marsh here, about a boy who I saw that death was approaching him. And I told his father – his father was a doctor – I said, "Your son's going to die." It was strictly an intuitional hunch; the boy was in perfect health. And of course they looked at me like I was a nut, and I felt like a nut for telling them, but I told them anyhow out of compulsion.
He was dead within two weeks. A tractor-trailer ran over him. He was smoking pot and his girlfriend got hurt and he staggered out in front of traffic to try to get help for her and got run over by a tractor-trailer. But when I said this to his father, the father's reaction first of all was one of indignation that this nut would dare to comment on his son's life. And then what he said was, "Well, what have they got to look forward to anyhow?"
We are animals, basically. If we can't be anything else we can be good animals and fight for the kids. Try to keep them alive, try to do something for them. Basically, there is nowhere for these people to turn, in my estimation. So we're in a hopeless, sick condition. And who are the people who are going to pull us out of this? Our psychologists and our psychiatrists, who have the highest suicide rate in the country of any profession.
Well – I look upon Zen as a psychoanalytic system. I don't know how many suicides are in there, but they go about it from that angle.
Of course we have the testimony of people. When you get into the evidence of life after death – who knows? As I've said, we've had case histories for ten thousand years. They were written down in little books in Asia and spiritualistic literature ...
[break in tape.]
... So now the American people are ready to accept the fact that they may have a life after death. They may become exuberant now: there may be something to live for, and that's death. [laughter]
I notice when Kübler-Ross 8 and Moody 9 wrote about this they gave quite a few instances of accounts of life after death, but they didn't bother to catalogue. And a good scientist when he runs through an experiment catalogues the thing a bit.
All of the experiences that we run into by reading accounts, or by our own personal experience, or by talking to people – you'll meet people sometimes who say they were pronounced dead and such and such happened – you'll find they're not all the same. I was in one of the boy's books today and I found a piece of paper where he was complaining that there was no hope for the researcher into life after death because of the fact that all these people had different stories; so consequently you might throw the whole bunch out, that there's no sense in trying to find out anything.
But yet there's a certain definite pattern, and this is what's missed; it was missed completely by Moody and Kübler-Ross, but of course they haven't been in it too long. We can examine these cases and you will get an idea of the pattern, and if you've done any reading in this line you'll find that they correspond to this.
I've talked to people, incidentally – a friend who had a heart attack – he was pronounced dead and he came back. He came up to me asking what I thought would happen after death. And I didn't answer him. I said, "What happened to you? You were out." He said, "Nothing. Oblivion. I remembered absolutely nothing." So this is the first category: oblivion.
The second is what I call earth-bound. In this book by Oesterreich you'll find a lot of cases of possession that are often earth-bound. The case of the boy from DC who was possessed in The Exorcist was supposedly an aunt who bothered him. An aunt the boy knew while she was living; she died and came back; that was the whole thing in a nutshell. But evidently, according to some of the cases, you'll find people wandering around. Some of them are in haunted houses. You hear stories where people go into haunted houses and talk to the spirit. And the spirit says, "I can't leave," you know, "my money's in the cellar." Anyhow, we have the earth-bound category; people who don't seem to sense any heaven. They don't talk of being in heaven when you talk to them. They are hanging around and this seems to be very real and very important, trying to get energy perhaps from a living person like in the case of The Exorcist, tapping the kid.
The third category is people who see scenery only. They will talk about seeing beautiful vistas, beautiful meadows and fields of flowers, but no people. They will very rarely talk about seeing people in this category.
The fourth category is the ones who see people – only people. When they talk they don't mention where they were sitting or where they were standing, and they see mostly relatives. The mother comes to pick them up, an uncle. If they've been orphans it's somebody they knew, a next door neighbor or somebody who died and seemed to be looking after them.
The fifth category is people who see celestial beings. They think that they are men from higher levels of spiritual life, angels if you want to call it that, gods, saviors, etc. But very rarely do the people who claim to see these angels or these shining men ever claim that the beings are God. For instance, Raymond Moody brought it out that for Christians some of the cases talked about seeing Jesus, but the people of Jewish faith didn't see Jesus, they saw an angel. They said they saw a spirit but they just identified it as an angel.10 That was the predominance of the cases examined by Moody.
The sixth category is the people who witness all of humanity. Now this is peculiar to some people who have what I call the cosmic consciousness experience, in which they will see a tremendous panorama of life.
And the seventh category is where they see nothing and everything. Those two have to be spoken together: nothing and everything.
Now where do we get this evidence that we're talking about? Of course, a lot of it as I said is from word of mouth, but a lot of it is from medical records; people as far back as Paracelsus. Paracelsus is supposed to have been the father of medicine; he writes books on spirits and incubi and succubi and encounters he had with entities of that sort.11 Another source is from doing things yourself, like astral projection. Robert Monroe writes a book on astral projection in which he talks of encountering spirits.12 Preferably the lady upstairs. [laughter]
Another method is Spiritualism. The Spiritualists claim that by materialization they can contact and produce spirits. And I have seen these, incidentally. I qualify my opinion as to what they find; but I was in a room one time where about eighteen were materialized, and they were recognizable by people there as being dead relatives.13 I don't want to get into that now, maybe we can talk about it later, but I came to the conclusion that they were not relatives.
Then there are visions: A lot of so-called holy people see visions of previously holy people.
The last category that I found on the sources is direct experience. There was a sage in India a while back who said there was only one way to find out the secrets of life after death and that was to go there. To die. And it's not as difficult as it seems. [laughter]
There was a fellow who wrote a book – I forget the name of it – on his experiences with hashish many years ago.14 He was well known. He had a little quatrain in the front of the book. He was trying to see what would happen to him after death. He took nitrous oxide. He had it fixed so that when he passed out he would fall away from the thing that held the handkerchief over his face; he would fall and then be revived by breathing. He was by himself. So he put a piece of paper there to write, if he could write anything while he was unconscious, about the dynamic findings of this type of experiment. Of course, he fell over and he woke up and he looked on the paper and it said:
Man is polygamous.
Woman is monagamous.15
or something like that. But anyhow, he tried. [laughter]
Categories of Experience
We're getting into the field of direct experience now, or let's say religious experience. I find four major categories of religious experience. This is going to start to explain some of the differences: I believe that the differences in after-death experiences depend upon the differences in pre-death experiences.
I don't know whether you're acquainted with Gurdjieff or not, but he draws a pretty good lineup of the different types of people. He lists four major categories below the enlightenment level. The first is the instinctive, the second is the emotional, the third is the logical, and the fourth is the philosophical.16 Now I find four corresponding states, that some medical people call exaltations,17 or spiritual experiences, and they sort of correspond to these different levels. The first is salvationism. The second is the eureka experience, the equivalent of satori, the wow experience: "Wow, I know it now. I know what x means in algebra." The third is cosmic consciousness; the fourth is enlightenment. Now if you're acquainted with Ramana Maharshi, he catalogues them a little differently. The last two, instead of cosmic consciousness and enlightenment, he calls kevala nirvikalpa samadhi and sahaja nirvikalpa samadhi.
So we go back and look at the instinctive man. The instinctive man is a man who lives to live. The biggest part of his life is taken up just in what he can eat, his sexual experiences, how much he can drink, how much dope he can take or whatever it is. And he thinks sometimes he's enlightened by some of the experiences he has. I've had people walk up to me and tell me they were enlightened. And I've said, "What made you enlightened?" One guy said, "Acid." Before acid it was the hoodles. No man was enlightened until he had the hoodles – that's where you see snakes and monkeys from drinking.
When a man gets tired of his instinctive level, he may search around for religion. Or he may meet a girl, or the woman may meet a man, and she decides that she should go to church or something. They decide to forget their body and concentrate on the love of Jesus, the love of some person or some idea of God. They drop their instinctive self and find a tremendous rapture. In the Pentecostal faith it's called "salvation." There's a loss of ego, and anytime there's a loss of ego there's an immediate soaring of the spiritual potential, because this is what holds us down on the fertilizer level.
Now after we live so long in the emotional level – some of you are old enough to have gone through it, where you've fallen in love with a certain religion or idea – we finally decide that we're kidding ourself, that this is an emotional trip, that you're really in love with something that you don't even know about. Maybe Jesus wasn't that handsome; he might he ugly. So we decide we're going to look into something different; maybe we should use our head now – if we're not too old. A lot of people only get that far. I've known people eighty years of age and they were right around that salvationistic level yet. They believed they were saved and that was it.
So then they start digging with their intellect. They attack – as well as they can, because there's very little to use your intellect on – numerology, kabbalah, astrology, hoping that something will crack the door and a new truth will come in. That maybe there's a way of appraising God through the kabbalah, or sometimes it might become a fundamentalistic thing. Well, the kabbalah is really a type of fundamentalism, you might say. There are different levels in it. It's like a department store: you can buy almost anything you want there: numerological kabbalah and also the spoken and unspoken kabbalah. But it is an exercise, a mental exercise; it begins with that at least.
Well, sometimes we belabor ourselves with this – like Swedenborg 18 – he has a system, too, of interpretation of the Bible. And nothing comes of it for a long time. And then another ego drops; we completely drop the emotional ego and we have a realization that now we've solved the problem, now we've found x. And for a minute everything seems in order. We don't know why, we don't have words to express it, but we think that everything is in order and everything will be taken care of. This experience is very short.
Now I like to distinguish, when we're talking about Zen, the difference between satori and enlightenment. And I'm distinguishing by virtue of the testimony of people who have described these experiences, not as it's defined in some book.
For instance, in Kapleau's 19 book, Three Pillars of Zen,20 we run into people who supposedly experience satori where it was, "Wow! I got it." But it is not "wow" when you die. You don't come back after a death experience for hours, sometimes days. The shock, the trauma of dying is so great. And also the trauma of coming from an absolute condition or mentality back into a relative picture-show, a stage. We're not happy to get back here, and it's trauma. So consequently a tremendous shift has to take place.
I think this is true about a lot of people. If you're ever around a person who thinks they're dying and they pass out and wake up, one of the first things they do is weep, because of the tremendous emotional upset. They had resigned themselves to dying. I know of one doctor when he was dying they brought him to, thumped on his chest and got him back – and he cursed them. He didn't have any hopes of immortality; he wasn't a religious man. He just said, "I've got to do it all over again now. Why didn't you leave me alone?" Consequently, the same thing applies to a deep spiritual experience. You've got to come back and do it all over again. You've got to come back and get your feet down in the mud again and grub like you did before.
So what we've got in this person who takes the logical approach to analyzing things – he's working with a vanity. The logic is vanity. Nothing is ever done by logic in esoteric matters. It's strictly a vanity thing where we can pile little words together and little sentences and say, "Look how clever I am. You can't outwit me." We've got a concept structure built that's impregnable: "You can't destroy this concept structure."
So after a while, as again I say, if we live long enough, we come to the conclusion that the wow experience is not the final experience. And we go back to the drawing board and we start plugging away – in Lord knows what directions. And the ego of being logically capable drops. This self-delight in our own thinking processes drops, and we enter a thing which we call cosmic consciousness.
Incidentally in all three of these first three things we have what I call relative experience, which is bliss. In some of them there are figures that appear, where people actually think they're inspired or they see Jesus. Or they have happiness: they are very happy and they feel refreshed that they've reached this plateau.
If you want to read about cosmic consciousness, there are cases written rather extensively by Richard M. Bucke in his book called Cosmic Consciousness.21 His own experience is a typical one. His description is very similar to what Saint John of the Cross had, in which lights appeared. The scene was lit up. Bucke was looking out over the city 22 and the horizon became rose-colored. This thing permeated his whole being and he realized beyond a shadow of a doubt that the world was perfect; that there was nothing wrong with anything that happened in the world. We were talking earlier about things that were evil and some that were good – and he realized that there was nothing evil; everything was good. And this carried him serenely to the end of his life.
But that's a relative experience. Lights, bliss – you tell people that there's no bliss in after-death experiences and they don't want any part of it. But they're going to die anyhow. The facts are facts. We want facts, not the candy store choice. We're not in a candy store where we can choose bliss. But a lot of people say, "I don't believe that, if you tell me there's no bliss waiting up ahead." As if we've had a lot of fun here and now we're supposed to go up there and get a reward for it.
But regardless, the thing that distinguishes kevala samadhi (cosmic consciousness) from sahaja samadhi (enlightenment) is the fact that in sahaja samadhi there is no bliss. Because you're dealing with an absolute condition. In the cosmic consciousness you're still dealing with a relative condition. You're wide awake, there's no trauma, in fact it's blissful. Whereas preceding enlightenment and coming out of enlightenment, the cases that I have looked into were very traumatic. It's very painful. Because it's death; it's real death, it's not just a vision.
To be continued....
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2. See NY Times, 8/27/2015: "Many Psychology Findings Not as Strong as Claimed, Study Says" http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/28/science/many-social-science-findings-not-as-strong-as-claimed-study-says.html
5. Traugott K. Oesterreich. Possession and Exorcism: Among Primitive Races, in Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and Modern Times, 1974.
6. Moses, Exodus, ch. 3.
7. Judges 6:11-22. Rose says, "a legion of angels."
13. White Lily Chapel. See Rose's report to the Steubenville Psychic Society, Sep. 3, 1958.
15. The quote is from the original. Rose reverses the lines, saying that man is monagamous and woman is polygamous.
17. Richard Bucke uses the term exaltation in Cosmic Consciousness. William James, also a physician, uses the term in Varieties of Religious Experience in his reference to Bucke.
22. Rose incorrectly says Montreal. Bucke lived in Canada but the experience occurred during a visit to London, England. See Cosmic Consciousness p. 7 - 8 in the text version, p. 9 - 10 in the scan.
~ Transcript of a talk given by Richard Rose in Columbus, Ohio in February 1989. Transcription by Steve Harnish. For information on the transcription project .
UPDATE ON THE CHALLENGE: We knocked it out. We crushed it. We raised $8192, which was 146% of our goal.
We met the challenge a month before the deadline and have received the $5600 match. Our total funds in the bank and pledged now total $189,963 which is 76% of the goal of $250,000.
Over seventy people have now invested in this project. It's been wonderful to see the response of old members, new members and even people we've never met! Thank you!
WHAT HAPPENS NOW? Let's get creative and find a home. Besides building from scratch, there may be other organizations willing to co-own a property, sell a portion of their property, or sell outright. Perhaps there are TAT members with property, or you know of property in your area. There are commercial properties as well that could make a home such as small churches and camps. We've even had a friend of TAT with experience designing buildings offer to help with a ground up design of a reasonably priced high-efficiency meeting space. There is a lot of talent and knowledge in our circle if we can tap into it. Please send an email with comments/suggestions; the more specific the better.
Additionally, in the near-term we need a small group willing to look for properties in a coordinated manner. We already have one person who has been helping, but more are needed. We also need people in the PA, VA, MD, NC area willing to look at properties on the ground. Please email if you are interested.
Finally, as we roll into the Christmas season, remember to make your Amazon purchases through our Amazon link. We've raised $511 though Amazon sales so far this year and could double that by year end. You can also donate a portion of eBay sales. Additionally, TAT is also now a listed charity at Benevity.org. There are a number of workplaces that match employee' donations through organizations such as Benevity, so don't overlook that possibility as tax year 2015 draws to a close.
LET'S MAKE THIS HAPPEN: To invest in the "Homing Ground" project, mail a check made out to the TAT Foundation (for instructions on mailing a check, please ).
Or you can use PayPal (though we lose 2.2% of your donation to PayPal fees) by choosing the the "Make a Donation" button below or the Make a Donation button on our Homing Ground page. TAT is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit educational organization and qualifies to receive tax-deductible contributions.
Thanks to each of you who have donated and pledged and look forward to the day we set foot on our new home site.
What is TAT?
The TAT Foundation is a nonprofit, tax-exempt, 100% volunteer organization founded in 1973 with the express purpose of providing a forum and meeting place for inquirers into the mystery of life and ourselves. TAT brings together people from all levels and experiences and welcomes those in search of truth, adventurers of the mind, seekers of knowledge, the self, and the unknown to meet others of like interest.
TAT is non-sectarian and non-denominational; there are no secret oaths, dogmas, or rituals at TAT. Its membership, open to all of serious intent, from all walks of life, is united in the friendship of dialogue and fellowship of human spirit. All are on equal ground at TAT.
TAT believes that you can expedite and intensify your investigation of life's mysteries by working with others who are exploring, perhaps down a different road, so that you may share your discoveries and "compare notes" in order to come to a better understanding of yourself and others.
TAT is not tied to a single teacher. Its model remains in line with that of TAT founder Richard Rose, whose vision included an "umbrella" organization through which many people would exchange ideas. His vision also included "a spot on earth upon which to meet. A homing ground...."
What's This All About?
For over 35 years, the TAT Foundation met on Richard Rose's farm, where he and the members created "a spot on earth upon which to meet. A homing ground...." TAT meetings, group retreats, and solitary retreats were a regular part of life at the ashram. Rose's desire to help others and to bring people together in a meditative surrounding, influenced two generations of spiritual seekers. Rose's farm was a sanctuary for many years, and a crucible. He once said it was like the desertwhere you go to meet God.
In 2011, Rose's heir decided to use the property for another purpose, and TAT's lease was not renewed. We have since rented facilities for our four quarterly meetings. Yet, the desire to provide a greater service has been a frequent topic. Our dream is to create once again a space that encourages honesty, provides a crucible for spiritual development, and produces the next generation of spiritual seekers and finders.
To that end, TAT is raising $250,000 to find a new home. We envision a semi-rural facility, close to a university town, with a meeting hall seating up to 70 participants, kitchen and bath facilities, and a room for a live-in caretaker. Additionally, the facility would have one cabin for solitary retreats. Ideally, the property would border public lands to provide a buffer of quiet and solitude, and have enough acreage to allow for additional cabins, sleeping quarters, and facilities over time. A resident teacher, week-long retreats and intensives, public events and other activities are planned.
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