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Kent State University
Question: First off Mr. Rose, how did your group develop, and could you give us a little of your background?
Rose: It developed actually as a result of a whole life's work. This is a result of spiritual diggings I had done over a lifetime, but had failed to record or describe in writing. Since the number of people that you can contact personally is limited I decided finally to put it down in writing. Prior to that I had no idea of coming to the public with it, but after I wrote The Albigen Papers the group formed.
Question: Could we have a definition of what the Zen group is?
Rose: Well, it is a brotherhood, an esoteric group that is aimed at enlightenment. Of course you'll have to define the word enlightenment. But I want to point out in the beginning that the group is not necessarily closed to any esoteric or religious system that would bring about that same result. A lot of people will think when they hear the word Zen used in the group that we are strictly of Asiatic origin and maybe addicted totally to oriental procedures or oriental Zen procedures.
It isn't that. The word Zen was involved because it indicates a direct system that is more explainable than any of the literature that we have about the same result, in any other major religion. So we use the word Zen, and of course, Zen techniques are used. But this does not rule out the fact that we do look into and even use certain mechanisms from other esoteric systems.
Question: Through your interest in spiritual development I'm sure you have probably studied the major religions, and found them deficient?
Rose: In my lifetime I have had my nose in nearly every religion that I could either visit personally or read about. And I found that Zen indicates a method of approaching the mind directly with the mind, rather than approaching spiritual values through emotional reading or emotional living. Emotional or devotional, we might say the two are tied together. Most religions encourage an emotional-devotional thing to find a spiritual value.
Whereas, I maintain that this same end can be reached by a very pragmatic common sense approach to truth. Through self-definition. And if I didn't believe that this method is more propitious, I wouldn't use it in the group.
Question: Do you consider the Catholic and Protestant religions to be of the devotional type of religion?
Rose: Well, yes, I would say at least for the layman. There have been Christian mystics, but they were not even always encouraged by their own church. They were treated similarly to the way Galileo was, although I'm not saying that I think Galileo was an enlightened man.
For instance, St. John of the Cross was a Christian mystic whom the church put in jail, because they thought he was stepping outside of the things they wanted the public to hear. He went outside the pale of the teachings that were prescribed for the layman, and he was put in prison for it.
The general teachings of all the Christian faiths are appealing, let's say, to the emotional part of the person. They prescribe faith. I have a note in my book on the inadequacy of Christian teachings. It was designed for medieval Christian peasantry whose minds at that time were both uneducated and uncomplicated. So faith was the natural answer.
Since people have emerged from the uneducated class in the last couple hundred years they have naturally become dissatisfied with just accepting things because somebody tells them, "You have to believe this." And this is the reason in my estimation that a tremendous percentage of European and American people, particularly the youth, are turning in other directions. Listening with an ear to some other country or some other religion, to find something that has more of a tone of common sense to it.
Now unfortunately, some of these new directions that they turn to are also emotional and devotional movements.
Question: So religion becomes an evolutionary process—the old religion is too uncomplicated for modern man?
Rose: No, I don't quite agree with that because I think that in those days there were people who thought more deeply, whose minds were more complicated. But they manifestly held no hope for the masses of the peasantry. There was an exoteric teaching to more or less keep the masses from doing damage. To keep them socially compatible, while placating them or soothing their fears about life after death or whatever the question was.
But there was also an esoteric teaching—this is where the word esoteric comes from. We find by some of the literature that is manifest down through the ages, from men like Pythagoras even before Christianity, that there was deep thinking. There were minds that had evolved.
And we still have minds today that will only, no matter which religion they go to, gravitate toward an emotional type of religion, rather than to what we might call the attempt at logical thinking, or the common sense approach to definitions.
Question: So is it okay then, for these individuals who perhaps haven't developed their minds to a great extent—is it satisfactory for their state—to stick with the emotional kind of religion?
Rose: They have no choice. There is a categorization that we read in Gurdjieff, of the different types of people. He mentions four different levels or categories. The first is instinctive, the second emotional, the third intellectual and the fourth philosophic.
For example, the people who are on the instinctive level doubt and very seldom pick up or understand the emotional motivations of those people who are so to speak a step above them. And the people on each of these levels have a religion that suits their level. So there is a purpose for every sincere religion—it answers the demand of quite a few people on a certain level.
We say that the spiritual evolution of man has a broad base of people on the instinctive and emotional levels, narrowing down then to the intellectual level. When it sorts down to the philosophic level, where a person uses direct experience to find his answers, there are very few people left. And this is the top of the pyramid.
So our group would not be too distressed if it did not have a large number of members, because we're appealing to these few people. We are trying to find things through direct experience—mind to mind investigation—rather than through reading, believing, or employing what I call gimmicks. We don't use physical gimmicks, prayer wheels, beads, or whatever, in attempting to arrive at a spiritual or transcendental end.
~ Continued in the December 2000 TAT Forum
This 1974 Kent State University WKSU radio interview is printed in The Direct-Mind Experience. © 1985 by Richard Rose. All Rights Reserved.
They express whispers:
You are like a dust storm in the Desert. The Still Air—everywhere is Awareness. The visible evidence of the storm—the swirling dust funnel—is identity. This swirling phenomenon is now aware of division between it and the surrounding air—individuality—such is the power of Awareness! The dust funnel "looks out" and sees everything spinning. Dazed and forgetful, the dust funnel knows nothing of the Air and becomes convinced that it is the dust and can only see that which is spinning around and making contact with its dust. And all the while the Air is watching the dust funnel and witnessing the dust funnel's experience of individuality. You are as a dust storm in the desert—but you are also the desert Air.
When direct awareness of experience occurs, ego is seen as "out there" with the rest of experience, with all other phenomena. This awareness, at the core of our being, is beyond personal thought and memory.
These forms are like peep-holes,
Through which the Absolute gazes-back into itself.
In that process, these forms become animated,
And the thought arises that the form is the self.
In reality that form is nothing more than a vision—
For only the Source itself is. Nothing else is.
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