This month's contents:
WKSU Interview with Richard Rose (part 3 of 6) | "Who Am I?" by Shawn Nevins | Poems by Shawn Nevins | The Woman's Path by Cecy Rose | There is No Death by Bob Cergol | Depression & Acceptance by Bob Cergol
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(~ Continued from the December 2000 TAT Forum)
One of the most amazing cases was a man who was enlightened from Christian meditation. And he was not a Catholic monk—he was a hell-raising drunk before he reached this. But he was sincere. Part of his drinking was almost a furious dissatisfaction with himself, coupled with a desire to find something out. And all through his despair and struggling and everything he continued to pray and read the Bible. And eventually something cracked.
The obstructions gave way, and he reached a state in which he was aware of the true state of everything. I talked to this man right close to here, in Akron in fact—he had come up from Texas to visit a friend of mine, and I was quite convinced that this experience was genuine. So it convinced me that the Christian procedures do have something to offer—if they want to take care of this fractional element of people who want to go this far in mysticism.
The average layman doesn't want to go this far. The average layman wants to go to church, he wants to be in a social institution, he wants utilitarian religion—something that will improve his business, that will keep his kids in line so they don't go to jail, and that will keep his wife at home. And he doesn't look for too much beyond that.
Then besides this he humanizes heaven, as the Christian faith does a good bit. As if God is a personal being and heaven a physical place. And he just thinks, "Well, by virtue of democracy we're all going to the same place. By virtue of human concepts of divine justice God is going to take us all there. He has to. He would be embarrassed if he didn't take us all there. So I'll just sit back and ride in to my capital 'S' Self-realization on the tide of humanity."
This is the majority. This is the base of the pyramid. And so this is what the churches cater to. Nearly all of your religions cater to these people. Richard Bucke wrote a book on cosmic consciousness—he was a Christian mystic, incidentally—and he states that only one in a million are able to reach this. This is the top of the pyramid.
The rest have no desire to even comprehend that there is an ultimate state, a state beyond the relative, that a person can experience. Not know, but experience. And of course he arrives at this not by a state of education so much, but a process of noneducation. Dis-education. Plus becoming.
Question: Of the million people who don't make it—in this universal order it seems that they should have more than one chance. Does the concept of reincarnation fit in with the Zen philosophy?
Rose: Of the two Zen teachers that I knew, I have never heard them discuss the question of reincarnation. The question would be put to them, but they would refuse to answer it. They would say, "If we told you that you had another chance, you wouldn't even try this time." This is one reason. The other thing is that you should answer your own questions. As soon as I would tell you that there is such a thing as reincarnation, I institute a dogma.
You will probably notice that I more or less say that things should be retreated from. For instance, that we should get away from this emotionalism in religion if we're wanting to become philosophers, or philosophic esotericists. But I will very seldom say, "We believe in this concept."
We believe that man is largely helpless, that he must become strengthened. These are things which we believe. But when you get into the business of reincarnation and so forth, these are strictly speculative. And—I believe that every man should answer for himself.
I will say this—that as an explanation of the inequities that you see in society and in human suffering, the idea of reincarnation would be a more easily digestible system to the human intellect than would this thing of one chance and then down to hell forever. But regardless, just because it is more easily digestible means that it could also more easily have been created out of the wishful mind of mankind.
Question: Are you familiar with Edgar Cayce?
Question: He speaks of reaching the book of universal knowledge. Is this an allusion to what perfection might be, or enlightenment?
Rose: I think so. You run into this reference in many of the books that you find today. Even in Carlos Castaneda's books there is a vague reference to total knowledge. Knowledge that is beyond the world, that is. The knowledge that appears when the world disappears, or something of that sort. Of course, those are vague references.
I did quite a bit of study and research into Edgar Cayce when I was in my twenties. I visited his place, in fact. Of course, I consider that Edgar Cayce was primarily a healer and secondly a prophet. A man of talents that he could not explain himself. I failed to see a real dogma that he ever expounded, although I understand from later writings that he did believe in reincarnation and some of these concepts of lost continents and so on. But I never quite placed him in the category of esoteric philosopher.
Question: What about Atlantis—supposedly a well developed race or society, dispersing and becoming like gods to the people on other continents.
Rose: This is what I was referring to. I have never tinkered with the idea too much because I could never see any great significance to it. Basically I am not a historian, although I do look for and compare a lot of common denominators. But it never occurred to me that this would be significant.
However, I have heard that concept, not only in regard to Atlantis but also in a story in India which Blavatsky refers to. The Hindus believe that they were once a race of rather primitive people that were invaded from the skies by a race of blue people, who were super, so to speak. This was the descent of people like Krishna—these were the avatars.
Now—I wonder how much of this is just a bit of nice thinking. It makes...
Question: Good fiction.
Rose: Yes. It's like we hear now of the study of flying saucers and the marvelous things that might have resulted from their coming into Mexico, leaving artifacts.
I believe this about all these phenomena-I've got quite a little scrapbook of clippings of these things—but I don't get into it except to just look for common denominators. Because we only have so many years in our life. And after you're on the path a little while you realize that it's impossible to sift all of the phenomenal data that has cropped up.
~ Continued in the February 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.
You don't have to spend your days asking, "Who am I, who am I, who am I,..." Everything you do and everything that happens to you is asking that question for you. It's like the little kid who exasperates his parents by continually asking "why"—"why is the sky blue, why is the grass green, why are we going here?" You are an immensely mysterious creature and a little curiosity about why you do the things you do, will carry you a long way on the spiritual path.
Did you ever watch yourself make a decision? I mean really watch what is going on in your mind. Let us say you don't know what to eat tonight. You think of some options, suddenly a decision is made. Did you decide or did a decision present itself? Were you just the observer of a process?
Did you ever try to catch the first thought of the morning? If you wake up slowly, you will find your mind quite silent. Suddenly there is a thought. Where did it come from? Did you decide it was time to start thinking, or did a process begin without your consent?
Some of our thoughts are obviously automatic. We might say, "It is hot," when the temperature is over 90 degrees. Other thoughts are equally reactive, but harder to trace. For example, we drive to the grocery to buy a chocolate bar when we are depressed, not because we really want it, but because the sugar gives us pleasure that counteracts the mood. Some people may enter relationships with the opposite sex for the same reasons as buying a candy bar, yet be just as unaware of the real reasons for their so-called decisions.
By examining the reasons for your actions, you are asking, "who am I." By watching your mind to see where decisions occur or thoughts arise, you are asking, "who am I." By simply being curious about your personality and wondering why you have certain likes and dislikes, you are asking, "who am I."
By becoming a watcher of your self, you are engaging in serious spiritual work. You are not that which is observed. You are the observer. If you are truly curious and diligent, you will find you can observe your observing. Here you run into a roadblock—the mind watching the mind.
The mind continues to watch decisions being made, thoughts occurring, and at times watches itself watching. And perhaps, in watching the watching, a great doubt descends as we realize we are watching all that we know, yet feel a hint of something more—beyond our knowing. Beyond knowing, where words fail, where our self fails, where we lose all to become All.
No movement, but still an "I."
Dead, but aware.
The steady snow
For almost 25 years I've been involved with the TAT Foundation. My first introduction to the Albigen System was when I was a graduate painting student in Providence, RI and was encouraged by a friend to attend a lecture on Zen by a fellow named Richard Rose, who ended up becoming my husband, as providence would have it. So my circumstances have provided me with some very personal insights into the workings of the system, and the one factor that became immediately obvious was that woman's path is different from the man's.
You may argue that men and women are created equal when it comes to spiritual work, but I don't wish to indulge in argument. I'm pointing to the process of arriving at Self-Realization and how each of us works within that. I lived in a houseful of women, some married, some single, for about 7 years and discovered that to apply the principles of the Albigen System, certain pre-requisites were in order, that didn’t apply to the men. The first was to keep track of the monthly cycle. This may sound like nonsense to the average socio-politically correct person, but common sense will tell you that we are biological creatures as well as spiritual ones, and the two are inseparable as long as we're in this relative existence we call living. There's a book called Brain Sex that lays it out very clearly.
So, what does keeping track of the monthly cycle have to do with spiritual work? Just ask yourself if you're the same person (or if you think you're the same person) every day. We all go through moods, but when you start to pick out a pattern, you know there's something going on in a consistent manner that has nothing to do with how someone looked at you or what kind of day you had at work. If a woman has a fairly consistent (regular) cycle, the tracking is a piece of cake—well, seemingly. As I got into this practice of watching myself from day to day, I realized that some days were more conducive to meditation, where others made it nearly impossible to concentrate. Rather than beating myself up over the fact that I was having a bad meditation, I could chalk it up to the day of the month and accept the fact that this too would pass and maybe that day could be better used for something else, like housecleaning.
Once you get the pattern identified, it is important to look back from month to month to prepare for what is to come—and it is interesting how consistent it really is. Some days are very intuitive, some very philosophical, some very physical, some very psychic, others downright frustrating. But by being able to become an observer there is a lot less identification with the body rhythm and more harmony with it. Instead of PMS being the enemy, it can be used as a time for intense discernment. Instead of being "the curse," menstruation becomes a gift of intuitive/psychic insights. Women, in general, have the advantage of being more intuitive so that the head banging logical approach can be avoided altogether. Sorry, guys.
I’m not saying that the Albigen System excludes women—it just requires us to take extra measures to insure that we get the maximum results. Milk from thorns, as is pointed out in The Albigen Papers, is a good example of how women can reap the benefit of a clear perspective by watching their daily changing mood.
There is no death—because there is nothing to die. But we don't accept this because we want this identity to live—to be real. Accepting that there is nothing to die is acknowledging that the "we" we take as us is not—and the reality of that, we perceive as death!
~ In response to an inquiry regarding depression.
I wonder if your depression is related to your realization that no refinement of your self-understanding, which by definition is intellectual, is going to "solve the problem." So where does this leave you—assuming you really accept this as fact—and not just a temporary, undesirable possibility.
I wonder what might happen if you put down any judgment about the feeling of depression or the feeling of lethargy and actually tried to dive into the feeling itself. Naturally we react to such feelings negatively. We take responsibility for them. We must be causing the depression through our own failings. Perhaps the depression is just another defense mechanism of the body-mind-persona contraption. It's the emergency measure. It says we'd better focus outward and do something to correct the problem and neutralize it. This outward focus includes the supposedly internal focus of mental analysis.
Regarding accepting everything about oneself: I am not talking about observing behavior or personality defects and accepting them for the sake of ego gratification! The kind of acceptance I am talking about is not self-serving.
It is a willingness to accept—whatever IS—which is required. The problem is that the ego preemptively strikes. A precondition is set up. Certain things cannot be accepted because it would not conform to the self that the ego wants to pretend to be. Accepting them would be exposing this ego, possibly leading to its death.
For example a person may realize that they are a bully and might decide that it's okay to live their life as a bully. They might even use esoteric concepts to rationalize their behavior. While being a bully may not matter on a non-relative plane, this is not the sort of acceptance that will lead to realization of the true Self. This is ego burying the truth about the ego-self. This rationalized ego-based acceptance does not unmask the self that feels the need to live as a bully. In fact it cements identification with that false self.
On the other hand if a person has an image of themselves which is at odds with reality—I'm speaking about mundane reality—then that ego-pretense might block them from seeing that they behave as a bully towards others. They could not admit to themselves that they are a bully because it would be too painful. Painful because it would falsify the self-image they hold themselves to be. Painful, because in essence it would be the death of this false ego. In order to see that they are not this body-mind-persona they have to be open to seeing the persona is a bully. The unwillingness to accept that truth keeps the eyes closed and maintains the identification with this false self.
So a willingness to accept everything about oneself, the good, the bad and the ugly is a way of doing an "end-run" around ego self which could break the identification with the body-mind-persona. But it's as though the two occur simultaneously. You can't see clearly so long as you would reject that which you might see. As soon as you come to a point of willing acceptance you see clearly.
Getting to this point of acceptance involves surrender. You can't decide to surrender, but you can get to this point by counter-balancing the intellectual side of self-inquiry with what the Hindus refer to as bhakti. A heartfelt, remembrance that a higher power, albeit unknown, is running this show opens one to the "grace of God." As Rumi says, "Whoever brought me here will have to take me home."
My Catholic upbringing instilled this sense of devotion in me to an unseen something, which was beyond me. Through all the years of philosophy and psychological musings it was never absent. Over the years I would say the Lord's prayer and try to discern its true meaning and I used to make up my own prayers:
"Father, Bless me that I might see clearly. Grace me that I might understand. Strengthen me that I might live my understanding."
I think we all have this bhakti side in us but we become cut off from it—through pain. Perhaps the source of this side in us all is the affinity that the real part of us has to the "Father." I think the "wordless internal longing" you mention is a good description and a manifestation of this. I also believe that celibacy allows this to get through to the "outer man." Experience is binding. Attachment to it displaces this longing—substituting a faint echo of it in this dream world.
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