This month's contents:
WKSU Interview with Richard Rose (part 2 of 6) | Spiritual Desire by Bob Cergol | The Chief Hang-up by Jim Burns | Urgency & Desperation by Shawn Nevins | Poems by Shawn Nevins | Your Current State by Shawn Nevins | Humor
Sign up for e-mail alerts that will let you know when new issues are published.
Want to meet some of the Forum authors in person? Interested in meeting other Forum readers? Watch for more information about TAT's meeting schedule and programs.
(~ Continued from the November 2000 TAT Forum)
Question: In order for someone to even pick up your philosophy, he has to be willing to question some very long-held traditional thoughts or myths concerning religion?
Rose: Well, we don't get into that very much, because this could go on forever. This would be a theological or a dogmatic quibble. We basically bypass that, and I think that all genuine Zen does also. It just bypasses all individual concepts and goes right back to the thinker—and asks of him, "Why do you believe this? Do you ever examine yourself to see why you believe a particular thing?"
And from this you begin to understand that perhaps you were motivated by something organic or by a particular type of inherited character or nature. And if a person sees this, maybe there's a chance for him to progress from that point.
So we generally just ask the person to question himself, or we will question if he can't think of the questions. "Why are you hung up on whatever it is that you're doing?" Or, "Why do you cleave to this thing that you believe in?" And it's not only religious things; it's also social convictions. These social convictions tie us to what we consider to be inhibitory complexes, which keep us from thinking clearly.
See, I maintain that this is all a matter of thinking clearly. That you do not have to be a holy, ascetic-looking person—you can work in a steel mill. You can live a life like anyone else. You don't have to be a theologian—in fact, you can doubt all the theology that is ever written and still find the truth.
Because as soon as you start putting limitations on it, like saying that you have to have a prayerful attitude, you are doing just that—you're building a door with that limitation that you can't go beyond.
I believe that it is something any man can do. Any layman, with just plain determination and common sense, who can sit down and face himself. But he has to follow it up. Not just say, "Well yes, I agree that I have kind of tricked myself here or my head has outwitted me here." But face himself consistently over a period of let's say meditative sessions or confrontation sessions, in which he attacks and holds these up to view.
He realizes that maybe he has been into twenty-five years of self-delusion, that he's been kidding himself. He puts forth a certain posture to society—first he puts it over on society—he convinces them that he fits in, that he's a nice type of fellow and all that sort of thing. Then he convinces himself that all of his thinking is correct.
Then something happens of course to all of us someday—when we doubt everything that we have ever thought. The day comes when all of us come to doubt. But it's generally too late to do anything about it.
So the majority of people sort of slide along on a kind of egotistical conviction that because the public doesn't complain about their social behavior they must be on the right track on all levels. They pay their taxes, they get along with the fellow next door and they're able to perform their job—this seems to be to them the sign of a good theology. But of course that to me would be the ultimate sign of a successful utilitarian theology.
Question: Do you feel that existing structures which have developed in the religious/political scheme have been done so by those who wanted to control and mold other people?
Rose: This is what I contend has been the downfall of Christianity. I was born and raised in the Christian faith, precisely a Catholic, and I began even as a child to see where I thought they were refusing to answer my questions. That they were refusing to allow the layman to get into deeper levels of thinking, while at the same time trying to control the thinking, by just saying, "You're going to hell if you doubt."
And this is what I say is a common-sense reaction—not just myself alone but many thousands of people have said, "Well, I have had enough of that. I'm surely entitled to think. I'm surely entitled to doubt."
The thing was that because of this attitude of control there was a slump in the dynamism of the Christian church. They had become powerful. They were no longer persecuted, they were left alone, they could build massive cathedrals. And it became a social institution—it became rather sleepy.
They no longer exhorted. The very backbone of any religion is the continuing search for truth—not just collecting funds and building buildings or amassing a big social structure.
Then when these Christian structures were threatened by the rebellion of large segments of the young people, who said many things including that God was dead to them, the church reacted by trying to placate or play politics with humanity. Posing now as a great social institution, wanting to be politically funded, indulging in things that were strictly social problems that had nothing to do with the church or with theology—much less a search for man's definition. (And when I say theology, this doesn't come close to what we are talking about.)
And this is what in my belief every sentient being searches for—his cause. If that is a Creator or if it's an accident, he wants to know it. He certainly doesn't want to be silenced or placated or converted into just a politically or socially oriented group.
Question: So this marriage or mutual relationship between religion and the state became its downfall?
Rose: It seems to me like that. Now I could be wrong on the intentions of all good men—there may be lots of people who are trying to salvage some of this. I read recently of a priest at a meeting down in Florida who had talked quite openly of cosmic consciousness and enlightenment. And from the way he talked about it, he evidently knew what it was about.
But I've never heard of any campaign on his part to bring this to the people. To show them that there is something to look for besides the old concept of a personal god who protrudes from the heavens with an ancient bewhiskered head and looks after his little ones—or damns them forever for not being able to guess what he wants them to do.
When we talk about enlightenment we are talking about the knowledge of ultimates—the knowledge of the absolute state of being. This involves nearly everything in the line of knowledge, and yet it doesn't really involve knowledge. Because when you get to the absolute state of being you are dealing with absolutes, not relative things which we define as knowledge.
So we have to try to bear in mind when we hear this, that we are looking for absolutes with the full knowledge that when we reach that absolute state of knowledge it may not be describable. And consequently all the time that I have been talking to these various groups about enlightenment, I have dodged the word. Because it is undefinable.
Incidentally, of the men I have met who were enlightened, only one was enlightened by virtue of the Zen practice. I have met at least two who were enlightened by the Christian process.
~ Continued in the January 2001 TAT Forum
This 1974 Kent State University WKSU radio interview is printed in The Direct-Mind Experience. © 1985 by Richard Rose. All Rights Reserved.
I think (based on my own experience) so much of spiritual desire, and efforts of working at it, in the final analysis are so much pretense and in fact the means we employ to AVOID the work which is in fact our true spiritual path.
For me, I had to tell myself I was giving it up, in order to stop lying to myself about my doing it or following it. I decided to live my life as an ordinary person. In hindsight, that was when my inertia stopped and I actually started to change or make progress.
For me, what ended up mattering is that I still had the desire, but it wasn't blocked by my pretense of doing something. I acknowledged that I wasn't doing anything—and couldn't, because of my newly chosen circumstances, i.e., marriage and family. In reality, I was still on my inner journey and was no longer blocked. It unfolded of itself—because I still WANTED IT to and didn't resist it. I continued to look within but no longer with the thought that I should, no longer with the thought that I would achieve a result. I looked within because I was compelled to and it was easier once I stopped pretending that I was above the fray, and accepted that I was in fact no different than every other human being—maybe less honest, maybe more egotistical.
So does it all come down to, "What do you desire?" I think every person is doing EXACTLY what they, ultimately, want to do. But there is a "reality gap" between facts of their circumstances plus the extent of their inner life and the story they engage in. This gap defines the lie that each is living.... The "story" which is the idea you have about your path, your goal, etc., is, to a large extent, a "carrier" of the egocentric position. Can you give it up and just face the plain, raw facts? Are you living at odds with yourself? Are you living your life honestly, true to yourself? If you are, if you can, then nothing else matters. You don't need to overlay some drama of spiritual seeking to interpret your life.
What is it that you really want?
When you begin looking at yourself, you are looking at blind feelings. You have been dealing with blind feelings for years because they weren't allowed in the environment you are in, and this is the problem. The point is not to go with your feelings but to understand what is behind them. The last guy that "went with his feelings" is doing life for murder. People are like boiling kettles all the time but become so accustomed to it that they regard it as normal. This is the "shadow side" of a person in Jungian terminology. It is what is trying to get these feelings to the surface.
I don't see Jung's shadow side as being something normal. I don't think there is anything intrinsically negative in the human psyche, but because we don’t know how to answer to it, it gets frustrated....
If there is one single, starting, repeating, endlessly to be learned about function in my description of the reality of the mind, it is that everything you do circles around your chief hang-up....
One of the first things you have to learn to study is how your body responds when you meet somebody. Your body is never wrong.... Also, everything you don't come to terms with is still there, occupying a portion of your conscious energy in circles....
Every habit pattern that you've identified as being repetitive and static is a hammer beating at your consciousness, trying to get you to move forward.... If you want to decide where to start your effort, pick the most repetitive habit you have, that you know is off key. That’s where the most energy is, and where the energy is, is the key to where the problem is.
When you open it up, you won't believe the flood of insight that it will bring.... The minute you knock that wall down and move one inch forward, you’re in a new universe. You have all the energies and drives immediately at hand to open and expand the world that you brought yourself into.
You can't start anywhere else other than where your real problem is. What happens is that you can’t deal with anything else, regardless. Every emphasis that is going on in your mind on the subliminal and subconscious level is related to it. You think you're doing something else, but you're not. If you're not on the right track, you can't get the right answer.
~ Excerpted from At Home with the Inner Self by Jim Burns.
I think the desire for urgency and desperation is largely a myth (and a way we use to make ourselves feel inadequate to the task). No one is going to be sweating blood 24/7. Yet we can always be doing a little more—devoting a few more minutes of the day.
You are not,
Put a bullet in your brain
I offer no hope.
I'm handing you a red-hot iron.
Take a moment to be aware of your current state. Now, imagine that yesterday you died. You are exactly where you are right now, only you are dead. Nothing has changed, except that you are dead. Everything that you do from here on out is the action of a dead person—it means nothing. Try as you might, your actions have no effect. Your touch is that of a ghost, your mightiest efforts like a soft breeze.
Your friends call your name, but as you reach out to them, you see that they too are ghosts. All that you hold dear, is like a storybook—it existed, but was made to be set aside.
In all the universe, there is only you. Utterly powerless to even cast a shadow upon a wall.
You are dead, yet you feel alive. A Light shines through your form, animating your thought. Listen for your ceasing to be, it is calling. Let the ghost cry for the loss of it's self—tears of Truth to set it free.
You died the day you were born. How long will you wait to go Home?
Want to help? Your donation of $5 or more will support the continuation of the Forum and other services that the TAT Foundation provides. TAT is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit educational organization and qualifies to receive tax-deductible contributions. Or, download this .pdf TAT Forum flyer and post it at coffee shops, bookstores, and other meeting places in your town, to let others know about the Forum.