This month's contents:
The Path (part 4) by Richard Rose | What Are You Looking For? by Bob Cergol | Both by Thought and Feeling by Franklin Merrell-Wolff | The Boundless Empty Field by Gary Harmon | Words... or Experience? by Bob Fergeson | Poems by Shawn Nevins | The Ultimate Career by Shawn Nevins | Humor | Reader Commentary
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 January 2003 TAT Forum)
Questioner: What happens when everybody sees the ultimate truth?
Rose: It would be a nice situation, I presume, but the nature, the present statistics—Richard Bucke wrote a book called Cosmic Consciousness, and he predicted one in a million would see it. So if we can raise those odds a little, it would be nice, but we're not going to get too great a probability in that respect.
Q: When one reaches ultimate reality, he understands that human beings work against themselves.
R: They work for their natural selves, but against their spiritual unfolding—let's put it that way.
Q: We're smart enough to invent atomic bombs to destroy the world, but we don't seem to be smart enough to eliminate starvation, to guarantee human beings' survival....
R: Did you ever stop to think, is it necessary for them to survive? Which is worse: starving babies or polluting their minds in our educational processes?
Q: ... Because it isn't sin that's the problem. It is money. It is the fear of starvation that in turn creates sin.
R: No, I don't believe that there is such a thing as sin. I don't accept the idea of sin at all. We're too damn stupid to sin.
Q: In order to survive, we must work, and for every action that we do there is a reaction....
R: That's true. That part is true. I agree with you that there are reactions, and these reactions are looked upon as good and evil. But of course, I don't choose to judge. I don't know what's good and what's bad.
We had a talk up in Akron, Ohio one time, and that came up, and I said that sometimes I don't know which is worse, to bring a baby into this world to suffer and go through a tremendous amount of misery, or to give an old man who's dying of cancer a pill and let him end it very quickly. They call it "pulling the plug" you know. One is considered murder. But I think sometimes the worse crime is to bring the baby in.
Both of them are doing things we don't understand. We're manipulating nature in a way that we don't understand, and that's the crime. It isn't the idea of taking a life; you might put the man in heaven. You put the baby in hell. But the very concept that having babies is bad—nobody wants to hear that.
So you can't tell what is good and what is evil. We do know that people react. We get reactions for doing certain things.
Q: Can you elaborate on what you were saying about the finite mind?
R: Well, for instance, when you get into meditation, the first thing you're going to realize is the fact that you have no control over your mind.
In other words, the mere fact that a person sits down and studies for two hours on calculus or something like that doesn't mean you control your mind. You're pressed, you're forced by virtue of the economy. You realize you have to do a certain thing in order to get a certain job in order to eat. So you're pressed. But even then, it's hard to keep the mind on calculus. And there are times when your mind rejects it.
We have a girl in the group, for instance, who had one little course, one little paper to do to graduate, to get her degree. And her mind shut off and said, "No." This is the finite mind. The mind that is unpredictable, willful, that wearies with fatigue. When the oxygen leaves, it goes to sleep. When temptation goes by, it changes its direction. It builds a heaven to suit its appetites. So everything it does is colored by forces that it can't control.
So, in other words, it's finite. It's limited to the perceptions that come in and the voices that come in to dictate the messages. The thing is colored. We see the world through rose-colored glasses too often.
Q: Okay, do you think that once we find Truth or determine Truth that the mind is no longer finite?
Q: Okay, then if the Truth is always there and we have just to find it, then will....
R: No. What I think and what you know are two different things. You must never dare to believe that the Truth is always there. See, the ultimate Truth from your vantage point does not exist.
Q: Then why do you bother, why does....?
R: No, no. Now wait. I'm not saying it doesn't exist for me. I'm saying that the only truth that you can have is what you postulate. You can aim for it. But nobody can aim—we went through this before, some while back—you do not aim at the Truth. It's impossible to aim at the Truth, the final Truth. It's impossible to aim at God. It's impossible to aim at the knowledge of Everything. The only thing you can do is retreat from the opposite, the untruth. You cannot go toward Truth. We don't know where it is.
Q: Okay, we don't know where it is, but in order to retreat, we must know that we're going toward something.
R: No. We don't know that we're going toward anything. The only thing we know is that we're just avoiding garbage. I say that we avoid what is manifestly ludicrous or ridiculous. And accepting tentatively things less ridiculous. Rejecting from those. Accepting the plausible and rejecting the things that are less plausible. Until we narrow it down. Until we're dealing with one or two things or abstract concepts that are possible and, just tentatively, more real than the whole mess of stuff that we rejected. This is the only way to approach a philosophic truth.
There's no such thing as saying, "Well, I'm going to presume that X equals 25 and then after I presume it, I'll prove it." No. We don't know what X is.
Q: So then "retreating from" means getting away from....
R: We become the Truth by simply—quit lying. First of all, we do everything imaginable to be truthful. We quit lying. And then we find that we don't lie to other people—it's easy to quit lying to other people, it's hard to quit lying to yourself. And after a while you realize you lie to yourself, so you quit that.
Then you go into—if you've started to school your mind intuitively with this type of training—then you apply that to a book of philosophy or theology or something of that sort, or some method of finding yourself. And then you pick the garbage from that. You reject the isms or the cults or the religions or gimmicks by virtue of your view of them as being either plausible or not plausible. And then you pick again.
The only thing you've got to work with is the choice of the absurd and the less absurd.
Q: But why is "God" used as "Truth" if you don't know that it exists?
R: Well, you've got to use something, and I say that we use the word "God" also, but as soon as you use it say you realize that you're postulating. And as long as you do that, as long as you recognize that you're postulating—it's just like saying "X." I might say I don't know what X is, and you could say, "Why use X until you know what it is?"
Q: Do you have your own definition for Truth?
R: Yes, I have a definition for Truth that I can't convey to you.
Q: Why can't you convey it?
R: Well, because the way I arrived at it was by a change of state of being, not by an adaptation of vocabulary.
Q: Does that change of state of being entail knowing what is right and wrong....?
R: No, you don't know. The change of state of being involves not-knowing. Not-knowing. It's a process of being. Becoming one with. They don't say, "I know the Father"—they say, "I and the Father are one." And, "No man knows the Father unless he come unto Him." These are little hints that signify that you have to become one with the Father. Again, "Father" represents God, or Truth, or whatever. I translate that to mean a change of being.
Q: [Referring to Zen and the Art of Archery] ... I understand the idea of the potter becoming one with the pot. But what is the lesson, what is the real value that I feel I'm missing?
R: I don't know. I never read it.
Q: Do you understand the idea of the potter becoming one with the pot....?
R: Yes, I understand it, but I don't understand.... See, what you have—and this is what's happened in a lot of Zen books—I believe that some people who have had realizations try to write it down. And these things they said were recognizable to other people, and even recognizable to the mundane mind. It's like the business that Alan Watts used to bring up in so many of his books, this idea of no-mind. No one knows what no-mind is until they reach no-mind. You can't put that in a book and convey it. And it was babbled about by authors and individuals who knew nothing about what no-mind really was.
So—it's not conveyable. Even I think some of the masters in Japan, because they chattered too much about it—people in the street were chattering about "This certain Master has acquired no-mind." How did they know he had acquired it? The only way they would know he had acquired no-mind would be if they acquired no-mind.
The idea would be that this acquisition or this state you arrive at is not what it sounds like. It sound like you lose your head. And in one sense you do—but not in the sense that people take it, that you go insane or that you'd be completely lost, or something of that sort.
But basically this idea of the potter being the same as the pot is the same as the Atman and the Brahman in the Brahmanistic concept. There's a relation in all the major religions. The experience is there; people have had experiences in the Brahmanistic or Christian form of religion the same as they have in Zen. And they express that. The Atman finds himself one with the Brahman. He becomes the Brahman. And the Brahman expresses Himself through him. But just saying that may not convey to you what really happens. Because those are words, and how can you conceive of Atman becoming Brahman?
Q: What do you mean by meditating on the sound currents?
R: The Radha Soami sect, and many of these sects that come out of India, have what I call a gimmick that they build their group around. For instance, Yogananda introduced the Kriya Yoga technique, concentration on the third eye. The Radha Soami doctrine centered mostly around what they call the Shabd, and you were supposed to listen with your right ear, and not with your left ear, and you would pick up noises.
Now in the initiation ceremony they gave you corresponding noises, the conch shell, silver bells, and so on, which after you die you would be able to identify with the sound current. Consequently there was quite a little religion built up around that. Straining all your life to learn to pick up certain sound currents. Well, the result was some people imagined they heard things. Some people imagined they heard voices.
Q: Okay, what about something you would call a control, that would give you messages?
R: Well, I would check it out pretty thoroughly before I allowed it to influence my actions.
Q: How do you check it out?
R: Well—you can check things out.
Q: Do you know exactly where it comes from?
R: I have an idea that you've heard something, yes, and you're wanting to know if it's valid or if it's something that upsets you.
First of all, there are formulas that you go by to keep yourself from being bothered. Then, if you're bothered, you're pretty well assured that it's not harmful. But there are a lot of things that have happened to people as a result of mixing sex and drugs that have resulted in voices—that have resulted in possession, actually. So consequently I don't know what category your things fall in.
Now lots of times there are premonitions that come to people who have never taken drugs or never been into anything, and sometimes these are very valid. For instance, a close relative dying at a distance—you'll hear their voice speaking or they call for help or something, and you check your clock, and you find out they died at exactly that time. That may sound like a voice in your ear, and it may be valid. Whereas a lot of other things may be the business of some entity tormenting you for some purpose or other.
~ Continued in the March 2003 TAT Forum
© 1976 Richard Rose. All Rights Reserved.
~ Comments on Richard Rose's teaching,
including meditation and maximum reversal
Part 1 of a correspondence between Bob Cergol and "J," who was making a general inquiry about Richard Rose. The excerpts from J's correspondence are shown in italic font.
Richard Rose had a system for searching which amounted to recognizing the common denominators in systems which aimed at a change of being. But he himself also said the path was individual and that there was no precise generic formula he would prescribe to every individual.
What struck me as unique when I first encountered him, and which I find is still uniquely emphasized among all the other writings one typically encounters today are:
1) The individual's capacity for self-delusion.
2) The need to change, i.e. to become, versus learning.
3) Not postulating that which you should or will become, i.e. the path is subtractive.
4) Conservation of energy as a technique to build intuition and momentum.
I dislike intellectual discourse. I find that it makes sense to discuss such topics only in the specific context of an individual's circumstances, attitudes, past experience and expectations of the search.
What is it you are looking for?
What I am searching for and feel will satisfy my soul is UNDERSTANDING! I don't want joy, happiness, or peace of mind, I had found a lot of that in drug abuse, even though it was only temporary. I want to understand WHY. Why did I say what I said, why did I react the way I did, why do I feel the way I do, believe what I believe, see things the way I do. I want to know who I am before I die.
I came to the conclusion when I was in my 20's that to understand, one first had to see clearly, and to see clearly, one had to know that which was seeing. To know that which is seeing, one must know one's own self. You seem to recognize this in the questions you say you want to answer before you die.
That is one of the things which attracted me to Rose and which I find is unique in his teachings. There is an emphasis on self-definition and the fact that people universally suffer from self-delusion. This implies a dichotomy. Some part of the self is deluding some other part. The mechanisms behind this dictate a negative approach since to "see" is to see that which is, while to believe is to weave—and according to what? Desire and fear.
I am not asking for help. I'm just interested in clarification of some of Mr. Rose's material. For example, the Maximum Reversal technique I read about this but not sure I understand. Is he basically stating that in order to understand what something is, you must first understand what it is not?
You don't need to look for any complicated underpinnings in Rose's writings. The "maximum reversal technique" refers to your life itself becoming your path. Rose taught that you had to become a vector. This required commitment and projection of energy in a direction. That direction was negative, since it would be foolish to postulate answers and then work toward finding them. He taught that the rules of spiritual searching were the same as those for success in any endeavor—commitment, action and working with others. You can only accomplish one or two major goals in life. You have to "get your house in order" or in alignment with your declared priority. Retreating from erroneous thinking and seeing requires developing intuition. The development of intuition along with the need to focus requires conservation of energy.
Rose was a big believer in celibacy—not on moral or religious grounds—and not forever. His idea was that you were not going to develop clarity of thinking if all the taps were running. The process of conservation itself introduces tension and material for self-observation.
Today it seems it's fashionable to attend AA meetings etc. and admit to addictions which are not that distinguishable from "normal" every-day addictions, such as the addiction to basically any behavior or thought pattern which magnifies the self. People trade one addiction for another. If it's a progression to less self-destructive forms, then that is a good thing. Magnifying the self doesn't always have to come at someone else's expense. It's as though admitting fault becomes a substitute for the actual need to change. I've met many born-again Christians who struck me as having found the perfect rationalization for not exerting any effort at change. God will forgive them, and they can feel safe and happy in believing God loves them just as they are. God exists to worship them....
Back to the reversal technique. The focus is on self-definition. Rose liked to say, "The view is not the viewer." So rather than postulate a soul and rather than split yourself into the person who needs fixing and who therefore really needs you to fix him up, the idea is to eliminate from your notion of self that which you are not, until you arrive at the truth about who—or what—you really are. You do this through self-inquiry.
In the meditation booklet, the levels mentioned at the end of the booklet: I'm pretty sure I get the first 4 levels from personal experience. Level 1 being learning to experience past traumas/disturbances (anything we're avoiding) without judgment or reaction, just letting it be there, experiencing it as fully as possible until it dissolves on it own or reveals something of ourselves to ourselves. Level 2, 3 and 4 are essentially coming to the experiential understanding through detached, impartial, self observation that I am not anything that I can perceive of in myself. I am not my internal talking or internal visualizations or feelings in the body. That I am the empty nothingness from which the reactions, visualizations, talking and feelings are perceived. I am the perceiver. Level 5, Transmission, is where I draw a blank.
The reason Rose advised observing past traumas is that any observation of an affliction to the sense of individuality is a powerfully indirect way of asking the question, "Who am I?" Insight and getting free of neurosis are side-effects of lesser importance. This practice is potentially a trigger for getting past identity.
You say the idea "The view is not the viewer" means that "I am the empty nothingness from which things are perceived." Is this a New Age phrase that replaces the word God or Soul for you? It sounds like your concept of "empty nothingness" is that it has an identity, and that identity happens to be—thank goodness—you! Do you believe you have an eternal soul? What will become of the "I" in the "I am the...." when you die?
When I turn internally to see who is J, who is seeing, who is experiencing, all I see is nothing, I can't find anyone there!
I think you are half-way right. But the point of reference from which you "see" this is still the egocentric one. That "one" cannot accept death. Therefore, it's better for that one to see "no one is there" than to see what is there. Seeing what is there would have unacceptable (to you) implications.
I would advise you not to approach Rose's writings intellectually. Try reading his poetry for balance.
~ Continued in the March 2003 TAT Forum
The field of boundless emptiness is what exists from the very foundation. There is not a single atom of dust that is outside you. You are empty and desireless, unmoving and lean, simple and indisputable.
Contact the entire phenomena with total sincerity. Then you can reside in the clear surrounding vibrancy. This is how to slay and collapse the remaining habits of countless lives. When the tarnish from old habits is removed, the original radiance appears, blazing throughout your being, not conceding to any other matter. Immeasurable and spacious, like sky and water merging in spring, like snowfall and moon having the same color, this field is without boundary, beyond direction, vast, marvelous, one single entity without border or rim. Accompanying this, when you turn within and drop off everything completely, recognition occurs. We all have the clear, miraculously bright field from the crack of dawn.
Many lifetimes of misunderstanding come only from mistrust, barriers, and partitions of confusion that we create in the expansion of separation. By sitting empty of dualistic concerns in timeless awareness, you are at this instant permitting your factual nature to shine forth.
~ See Gary's web site, Spiritual Books Worth Reading.
"The great danger of the written and spoken word is that you will ingest conclusions without the pain of the growth. You can't do it. It won't work." ~ Jim Burns
When I graduated from high school and moved on to a large State University, I received an invaluable lesson in the difference between fact and fantasy, words and Presence. I had been good at the high school curriculum and had been led to believe by my teachers, friends, and proud mother that I was gifted and special, and would be so forever. I had as yet no real knowledge of myself, of what might be called 'being.' Most of my so-called smarts was made up of memorized facts, a large helping of pride, and an assumed self-confidence based entirely on praise. On entering the larger world of the university, I was soon force-fed the fact that it was all relative, and that an untested life, no matter how innerly enriched with fantasy, was not much of a life at all.
At about this same time, I encountered the books of Carlos Castaneda. I fell under the spell of his romantic tales of power. Along with several friends, I envisioned myself roaming the desert, wrapped in the fantasy world of allies, magic mushrooms and friendly old sorcerers. We were still not even weaned from our mommies, but in our fantasy realm of no-resistance, of wishful dreaming, we were sure we could do at least as well as the bumbling Carlos, if Don Juan would just give us a chance. The months ahead proved to be educational in more ways than one. I flunked out of my first semester, and had to spend a year at a small community college to get my GPA back up. Through a new-found love of the mountains, and a few near disasters there, I also began to realize the difference between being a mountaineer, and dreaming you're one. I was beginning to get a taste of the mechanicalness of my being.
As the years passed, I lost more and more of the attachments to family and upbringing, though never without a shock, but still retained my infatuation with Castaneda's world of magic and freedom. It was not until I had the good fortune to meet a real Don Juan, a true 'nagual,' that things changed. This master was no Indian, Mexican or Hindu, nor Buddhist or Shaman, but a West Virginia native named Richard Rose living a simple life in near anonymity. The difference between him and the don Juan of my fantasies was in his Presence. This man had power. It felt like I was sitting in a room with a live nuclear weapon. I learned more from this than in any and all of the books I'd ever read. I learned what true strength was, the nature of real magic, and that we truly don't learn from books or fantasies. We become through struggle, real experience, and grace. This West Virginia Zen master did not take it easy on me, or anyone who came seeking his help. Instead of just telling us unverifiable tales of power about his teacher through books or lectures, he turned us back on ourselves. We were forced to go within to find an answer. He was all too available and real, maddeningly so. I had found my don Juan, and he was turning me inside out. I was tested in ways I could never have imagined—and never got to spend a single night in the Mexican desert.
This man had also written books, but he was there to back them up. He made himself available to anyone with a sincere desire to 'discover the truth,' as he put it, and never charged for his time. He had true being, and by seeing this in him, one could come to know what was possible for oneself, and how to find it. He put no stock in appearances or words, but in action and facts. I saw for the first time the difference between being aware of oneself, and of creating a fantasy and identifying with it.
The search for truth, the journey within, finding our link with the abstract: these are just words until we find the reality they speak of, for ourselves, in ourselves. To place the higher value on the trappings of the adventure and its backgrounds, no matter how exotic, will not get us to loosen our grip on illusion and fantasy. Find a teacher if you can, and don't run away after he throws the first punch. If he's worth finding, he'll raise the grain until you think you're losing your mind. If it was worth his finding you, you will.
~ From the Mystic Missal.
I cannot wait to see,
Like a man sinking
I left me behind
Silence melts me
Let me tie together:
I look from a timeless place
These bones of thought:
Don't stay with me,
That rattle inside:
As the cool of evening descends,
This empty place:
The mind twists Mobius-like.
It is fortunate to begin a spiritual search while in college. Despite the demands of classes and friends, and the perpetual shortage of funds, it is a relatively flexible environment for a seeker. In addition, there is the vitality of youth.
The time eventually arrives to graduate into the world of work and a choice looms in the mind of the potential seeker—whether to pursue a career or the search for self-definition. Often, this manifests as a desire to find a career into which the quest will "fit." For example, becoming a teacher, so you have summer vacations for reading, meditating, and traveling. That career provides financial security and respectability, yet hopefully enough flexibility for your "other interests."
However, will you be a teacher who is a seeker, or a seeker who happens to be a teacher?
Another inspiration that arises is the plan to make a fortune in a hurry, retire young, then spend the rest of your life seeking. This is the gamble for the big kill. You contemplate starting your own business, or inventing the "next big thing." Most who go for the gamble wind up chained by their desire, with their relief, like that of Tantalus, just out of reach. Or they find that by the time they achieve their fortune, their best and brightest years are spent.
A few take the opposite approach and reject the need for money, believing that God will provide their financial needs, or dreaming they are holy men on the streets of India. While some are simply lazy, others are well intentioned but wind up slaves to their poverty as surely as others are slaves to their salaries.
The wise man ignores his cries for security and uses work to further his quest. He recognizes the value of money as a tool: money buys his plane ticket to an ashram, a month in isolation, books, or a warm, quiet place to meditate. Money pays the unavoidable bills and keeps the collection agents from calling.
Besides money, work provides another valuable service in your search. Work is a potential means of self-exploration and force to shape you into a more astute seeker. Often, there are psychological adjustments that will speed your progress toward self-definition [see the article To Change or Not to Change in the July 2002 issue]. Well-chosen work accelerates this change.
For example, if you are shy, don't get a job in front of a computer. Find work that forces you to interact with others. If you are easily distracted, find a job working with numbers, or where precision counts. To "become as a little child," work with children. To contemplate death, work with the elderly or in hospice.
Let your jobs evolve as your inner search evolves. Too long spent at one job will find you in a comfortable, uncomfortable rut. To keep looking within, you must continually prod the mind and a new job is an effective prod.
What if I take the wrong job? is a worrisome thought. The simple solution is to quit. Do not be afraid to exit your mistakes. Do not be afraid to walk a different path. Others have done so and found success beyond price.
Most are indoctrinated into the idea of a career—an employment path that will bring you wealth, security, and fulfillment. I propose that the spiritual search is the most valid career and a job is used to further that path. You know nothing about your real wants, needs, and desires until you discover who you are. The wealth, security, and fulfillment of self-knowledge are the ultimate career. Once found, all else will unfold.
Love involves a peculiar unfathomable combination of understanding and misunderstanding. ~ Diane Arbus
The key to a successful marriage is not compatibility, love, or anything like that. Rather, the real key is low expectations. ~ attributed to Warren Buffett by Hayward Kelly
If love is the answer, could you please rephrase the question. ~ Lily Tomlin
Loved the article on sex [in the January TAT Forum]. ~ David D.
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.