This month's contents:
The Path (part 5 and conclusion) by Richard Rose | Poems by Shawn Nevins | Thought Experiment by Shawn Nevins | How to Be Happy by Douglas Harding | Do You Think a Higher Power Can Help You? by Bob Cergol | What Dream of Mind? by Bob Fergeson | Self-Knowledge by Gary Harmon | Humor | Reader Commentary
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(~ Continued from the February 2003 TAT Forum)
Questioner: How do you change your state of mind?
Rose: Well, you can't change it—there's no way you can change your state of mind. I think by recognizing it, it automatically changes itself. As you recognize something, it loses its ability to carry you off or force you in a certain direction.
One of the very important things, I think, if you're interested in this auto-psychological system, is to realize that there are things called states of mind. We hear very little talk about this in modern psychology—that people get into what starts off to be a mood. And a state of mind is a prolonged mood.
There are things called states of perception. In other words, the reason you call these "states" is that they're changeable. For instance, if you look through a kaleidoscope, whatever you see through that kaleidoscope has a different appearance. And even though you only pick up an image, it will look perhaps dramatic, romantic, Lord knows what. And if you get up in the morning and look at the sunrise after you've smoked some pot—that's a state of perception. That's not a state of mind. You're looking at the sunrise through pot, just like you would through a kaleidoscope.
But when you develop a conviction as a result of moods upon you day after day after day—this is a state of mind. The state of mind can be to murder, it can be to love, or anything that may influence your life for years to come.
There's so little emphasis placed on this, there's so little research done—I think some of the Gestalt psychologists have tried to get into this, they've tried to examine states of mind, but they've never had the hunch from the beginning what was going on, so they didn't know quite what to look for. They were just looking for behavioral patterns.
But we get into profound states of mind. For instance, when a man or a woman falls in love—that's a state of mind. It's not reality. And when we get battered about in life over a period of time, in half a dozen of these different states of mind, it may cause or drive us to anything from love to murder—and we have to stop and think, "Where are we?" We're talking about defining ourself. Where are we where all this is going on?
The man goes away later, he sobers up the next morning and says, "Hey, how did I ever get into that mess?"—which yesterday was a conviction. He was ready to lay his life down for this certain thing, or he may have while he was in that state of mind trotted off and gotten married, and tied himself up to a situation for twenty years or so that he regretted—because he hurried the situation along.
So you're bound to come back to this thing and say, "Where was I at that time? I'm not that. I'm not the drunk. I'm not the guy that takes dope. I'm not the guy that makes love. I'm not the guy that gets greedy and eats too much. Because something else in me says, 'Hey, you're making a fool of yourself.'"
What is that which says, "You're making a fool of yourself"? Which one of these observers is really you? One of them is you, and the other is the state of mind. You've got to be able to pick this up in this business of self-analysis—to be able to pick up when you are under the influence of a state of mind and when you are observing yourself.
Q: You talk about states of mind. Is this not just a portion of yourself?
R: No, no. I'm talking about dichotomy. See, now, there is a trend in modern psychology to think that all things are phases of "you." This is nonsense. You have bugs on you just like a dog has fleas. There are things upon you that take your energy that are not you. Now if you've taken enough dope, some of you will know. Some of you have met these things face to face.
There are many things. There are states of mind that are not entities. But there are even entities which people try to pass off as "Just a phase of me." But they're actual entities.
Q: So the state of mind actually isn't real?
R: Well, no—it's still more you though than if I hypnotized you. If I hypnotized you, you couldn't say that that was just a phase of you, because I may have you out taking shots at somebody on a street corner while you were under hypnosis.
Q: But I would be the one who pulled the trigger.
R: Your body would have been the one who pulled the trigger. But which one are you identifying as you?
Q: Well, they're all part of you....
R: That's if you want to claim that. If you want to claim all these actions. But how would you want to claim that? If somebody hypnotized you and you shot somebody, would you go into the courtroom and claim that?
Q: I might tell them that I didn't do it, but what if I know that I did it.
R: Well, you know the thing you did—parts of this body do things all the time that it's not necessarily in favor of. By that I mean it's a moment. But what you're telling me is that you would like to lay ownership to an irresolute being—that takes ownership for all of the confusing and contradicting impulses which may get it into trouble.
My attitude is that the majority of people who commit crimes even, do not commit them. They are the victim of circumstances and strong, overpowering external impulses. Some of them are states of mind, and some of them are downright invasions.
Q: Would you say that you are separate from what your personality is?
R: Well, a personality is nothing more than something that you project that you want other people to accept. That isn't you.
This is what you have to determine for yourself, what you are. Because after you do a little bit of meditation, you'll realize, number one, that you're not your personality, number two, you're not your state of mind, number three, you're not any of your desires—until you are [instead] the guy that's watching all this stuff that going on.
Now when you find that, you're getting back to what I call the anterior observer. Not the ultimate or final observer, but the anterior observer—the umpire, so to speak. Down inside of you somewhere there's an umpire that says, "Hey, I don't approve of that part of myself."
Now if you want to own it, then you're creating a dichotomy. And a lot of people are living with this dichotomy today, wanting to lay ownership to all of this. No. It's much easier to say, "There are things that I do I don't approve of. I would reject that part of myself." Then you can keep your head clear. But when you try to rationalize all of that as being one big happy mess, it doesn't work.
Q: Are there spirits that can influence a human being?
R: Yes. It's absurd to presume that we are the only fish in the sea. We like to believe that we're top dog. That all of these chickens and cows and cats and dogs were put here for our happiness and all this sort of thing. This is nonsense. You take this little play The Exorcist—this is based upon fact. This gives a hint that there are things that have a powerful influence over human beings and all forms of life, which are invisible.
Now the psychologist says, "I don't believe in anything I can't see." This is their reaction to The Exorcist. "It doesn't exist if I can't see it, if I can't get it into a test tube."
You can't see a virus. You can't see oxygen. But we will accept a pill from a doctor under the basis of his idea that we have cancer, or something that you really maybe can't isolate. You'll accept that. His professional advice. But people will not respect the professional advice of the theologians who for centuries have dealt with these creatures.
Q: What about self-hypnosis? Do we constantly create conditions according to the nature of our own thought?
R: Well, we don't create them. We don't even create our thoughts. And this is a good little part to remember. If you think that you think, try to stop. If you think that you think, try to start. You don't start your day's thoughts. It's upon you before you know it. Nobody starts thinking; nobody stops thinking. It's caused.
All thought is the result of external environment. Until you reach a point where by some means—this is the whole trick of Zen—the robot's bid to find his transistor, to find his own crank in his back, and to move himself for the first time. Until that time, all people are robots.
And, incidentally, your conditional psychology is true in this respect. But the thing is—conditioned by what? There are multiple factors. One person gets up on television, has subliminal advertising or something, and he thinks he's conditioning the masses. A certain political arm will reach out and try to put out propaganda. But they in turn are conditioned. So that we don't ever know where all this conditioning starts. It only seems as though the human race always just fits into the blueprint of the zeitgeist [the spirit of the times]—that which is supposed to be.
In other words, we're in a sort of culture here. And no matter how magnificent our egos become, we still respond as the people did six or ten thousand years ago. Some die in battle, some work themselves to death, some become bums. The same thing. We just have a little fancier ways of dying, that's all.
Q: Do you think everybody is born with the same amount of conditioning.
R: Well, I don't know about the measurement. But beyond a doubt, as soon as you're born, as soon as you learn to talk—you have to talk with your parents—and you're going to learn their language, and you're going to get their hang-ups and their beliefs and their attitudes, even though they're not spoken....
© 1976 Richard Rose. All Rights Reserved.
I look without the veil of words
Look up and out
The body is leaving on its own,
While all words fail to convey depth,
Love is no answer.
I am the space
You turn to the world that beats at your door
I'd like you to consider, to imagine with me, this line of thought and see what changes in you through that process. In a way, it's as if I'm asking you to partake in a fairy tale—suspending disbelief.
Sometimes a thought experiment takes us to the limits of the mind and the edge of what is beyond. A line of thinking may lead us to a perspective greater than the sum of the parts. For example, if we hike in the woods and take an uphill route, we may discover a panorama never hinted at as we trudged up the hillside.
Imagine the everyday event of riding in a car down a two-lane road. The opposing traffic rushes by your door so close you could reach out and touch the other drivers. Your thoughts are not unusual. Perhaps planning errands, calculating costs, musing over past conversations, weighing relationships, or simply drifting with the radio's music and the swaying of hills and curves.
It is a completely ordinary day. A pattern that repeats in six billion minor variations all over the world—thinking, breathing, living beings on the verge of tragedy. For this day, as you think profound, silly, or profane thoughts, a vehicle crosses the centerline and slams headfirst into you. There is no time to react.
There is no aftermath. No sound of crashing metal; no sirens, horns, or voices of passers-by. You are here, then you are no more. Let your imagination reach the limit of experience—the moment of your non-existence.
Of course, you can picture all sorts of potential after-death experiences based upon what you have heard or read. Tunnels of light, reunions with relatives, adventures in other planes of existence. All these are but variations on the theme of life. What is death's theme? To discover the truth of that theme we must explore the limits of our experience and dare to touch the boundary between knowing and the utterly unknown.
The experience of sleep or passing out is the nearest analogue to death. When we sleep or pass out there is an unknown blankness, perhaps interspersed with dreams. We awake and the remembered pieces of yesterday become who we are today. Memory holds our sense of self together. Without memory, we are dead to our self.
You are here, then you are no more. Who remembered your thoughts while living? As you hear these words in your mind, someday you will sleep and never wake again to remember them.
When you die, will the "you" right now, this moment, have ever existed? If you are dead, will you live on in the thought of another person who is dead or soon to be dead? Once dead, how will you know of your death or life? What will be when knowing is lost?
The immediacy of this thought experiment, the fact that at any moment you may cease to be, mirrors the immediacy of the answer to the above questions. Dig deep into the emptiness at your center. When one sinks into the truth, extinction and glory will rise.
To you, death is a wall, a void, an utter blackness. All falls into the void. Therein lies the answer if you have the desperation to look with your mind at the possibility of no mind. What seems a black wall of voidness, may be a state of utter completeness.
You are here, then you are no more. Come with me to the edge of your mind, to the place where you are not. Dance between the equal considerations of immortality and oblivion.
What if in death, rather than being snuffed out, you were flattened out and made so vast that you no longer knew the extent of your boundaries? What would it feel like to be without edges? To forget your belief in beginnings and ends?
~ Comments on Richard Rose's teaching,
including transmission and helping others
Part 2 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.
Regarding transmission, it refers to direct mind contact with another mind. It is the "direct pointing to the soul of man" and "the special teaching outside the scriptures" mentioned in Zen. It is a paradoxical notion since when transmission occurs there is only one mind—not mind "A" sending some gossamer substance to mind "B." Rose explained it by saying it was causing someone's mind to be on "dead center." He most definitely had the capacity to trigger this phenomena. (Rose also said that every person would "ultimately have to make the trip alone.") Franklin Merrell-Wolff used the term "induction," which implies he believed it was possible through a subtle communication to evoke in another a transcendental consciousness. I would say simply that it is that which is real in one person communicating with that which is real in another, transcending the personalities involved. (Think of a pair of tuning forks—one causing the other to vibrate, or God talking to himself, if you like.) The result is a spontaneous seeing from a point of reference impossible to have imagined or predicted. Where that seeing leads the individual depends on what that individual is prepared to accept....
No one has ever done this alone, not even Gautama Buddha, who had teachers, whom he presumably asked for help. Each individual must enter death alone, but the events preceding it are not of our own making and certainly not within our power to control.
But ultimately the Buddha had in the final moments to have been alone when it happened and had to have gone through alone. I am leery of and don't go for falling at the feet of some enlightened individual ... to me it's no different than what people do at church. Besides I have no one to help guide me, I have to go it alone! I don't mind.
I agree that the trip can only be made by one. Rose once said that when you have an absolute realization you find that there is no one else there. It's you alone. But the "you" to which he refers is not the same "you" which everyone thinks.
Do you think a higher power can help you?
Unfortunately for me, asking for help from a higher power is just asking for more junk from my mind; no more beliefs. I don't believe or dis-believe in a higher power, I just dropped the whole business. I know if I just patiently wait and long to find a way it will show eventually. Things are getting closer for me; I sense it. I sense the calmer I can remain through all the trials of life I will see a way clear. That's pretty much what my life is about these days, just calming down and staying open and receptive. Somehow it will all work out and everything will be fine.
I agree it is a mistake to postulate "God." But surely you don't believe individuals are responsible for the universe. "All things betrayest thee, who betrayest me" writes a poet. For myself, I know that there is a "higher power," but it is not separate from myself. It is the "Sat Guru" the Indians write of. It is what Rose refers to in "Three Books of the Absolute" when he says, "Where within thee have I dissolved myself?" and "All that remains of me is thee." Without "That which is," we are powerless. Not a second passes—whether you are engrossed in work, focused in meditation or asleep dreaming—that this "higher power" is not calling you home. But "you" cannot hear it because hearing belongs to 'you,' your hearing is egocentric, and accepting the inner call would contradict your existence.
Rose was fond of saying "It's later than you think," and "You'll have plenty of time to relax in the marble orchard." He believed you had to build intensity in this direction. Even if a person defined the path as "staying open and receptive," I would argue they don't follow it. They are closed and reject everything which threatens self-supremacy. Truly being open and receptive would surely involve earnest self-examination to the point of realizing one's helplessness, at which point the ears with which one hears might belong to something else—something else within you, perhaps something which transcends the self—maybe a higher power.
Rose also stressed the need to help others as much as anything else in his teaching—maybe more. He said in his own case that he did not make any progress until he made the commitment to help others if he ever found an answer. He believed that you don't move until your motivation is "purified" or at least the egocentricity of it is offset by a sincere expression of something a bit less selfish. Of course Buddhism talks of compassion for all sentient beings, etc. Everyone needs help—and they're very fortunate to find it as I did from Rose and many, many others in my life.
I'm sitting here at work at lunch feeling a tightness in my gut after reading your response. Feeling in the back of my mind that once again its all been another self delusion.
Your reaction of "feeling a tightness" in your gut indicates to me that you must have understood more than you think you did about what I was writing. That one wants both to know "what it is all about" AND yet wants self-preservation—ultimately mutually exclusive goals. (The tightness is the gut-level knowing that this is so! and getting so close to it as hearing someone else affirm it!) That one realizes the capacity for self-delusion. That one saw some of the "machinery of addiction" in the process of dropping some of the barnacles of draining habit patterns. I would suggest to you that it was more the observation of that process than your "meditations" that is responsible for the feeling of separation from your thoughts that you describe. You are as a result more skeptical about what goes on inside your head. That is a good thing. I never trusted my thoughts entirely even before I became acquainted with Zen and Rose. It was a good thing, too, since the ego generates an onslaught of arguments designed to turn anything and everything that might diminish that self into something that instead magnifies and reinforces that self. (The process reminds me of the Cowardly Lion's "I do believe in spooks" mantra only modified slightly: "I DO exist, I DO exist, I do, I do, I do exist...."
Well, the self that nearly everyone believes in could accurately be called a ghost in the sense that it has no substance or solidity—except that by definition a ghost is a formerly corporeal, now non-corporeal, being, i.e. an identity without a body. Question: Do you believe you are your body? If you are like the vast majority of people you would answer "No!" So then I suppose you must be your mind. Of course when you say or think "you," you have in mind an identity—who you are—your sense of self. What is your sense of self? It is tied up with identity. But then, you are not your body. Well it's a good thing you have a mind to contain this identity since you know your body will die and dissipate. It's not a very good vehicle for preserving identity. So you are probably like most and believe that you are the mind or soul or something which is not dependent on the body to contain this "you" which "has" the body and the mind and the soul. Are you in fact a ghost?
~ Continued in the April 2003 TAT Forum
"Our being attracts our life." ~ Gurdjieff
Many of us may have had the experience of being stuck in a repeating pattern, not knowing how this particular set of circumstances is kept alive. Why do we keep running into the same situations, the same types of people, the same dead ends in our search to get beyond ourselves? Often this can be traced to the action of an archetype acting through us, by our unconscious yet willing attachment to it. Let's look at two of the most common 'parts' we can get stuck in, and how they attract a certain fixed and endlessly repeating life.
The alternating pattern of the 'child' and 'parent' is a common pitfall. Each of these 'persons' requires and attracts the other. We may wonder why we attract a certain type of person, say someone who endlessly gives us advice, and tries their best to correct or mold our behavior. They could be treating us as a child, because that's what we 'feel' like to them. In playing the role of the child, we will have unfulfilled needs, which we look outward to a new and better parent figure to provide, escaping the old parent within, thus continuing the circle. If the 'parent' is the dominant part in them, they will naturally have to find 'children' to take care of. A similar fate awaits us if we have the parent dominant in us, feeling a need to find someone to criticize and take care of, to take the pressure off the child in us. We can find that both of these types, or personalities, are within us, endlessly engaged in the parent/child dance, and that the only relief we get is to find an opposite character in others, to take the pressure off our own being. This, of course, is just a temporary measure, and doesn't bring lasting release. Through the long work of observing what archetypes or pairs of characters are at work in us, we begin to see the play in its entirety, and thus gain a higher perspective.
The observation of this interplay of opposites in us can create a new person, the 'engineer,' as Jim Burns calls it. This part can see the interactions of the other two, and reconcile them. We might visualize this as the warring factions of child and parent each being an opposite pole on the baseline of their mutual activity and the engineer as being the apex of a newly formed triangle. From this superior viewpoint, the engineer can see the needs of the child and parent, and bring harmony to the scene. Eventually, through effort, the engineer becomes the dominant part, who we are. The child and parent become integrated. This then brings about a change in our exterior life, also. We find we are no longer in the same frustrating emotion-based relationships and are more rational and capable. We have taken a step within.
All spiritual work proceeds in the above fashion. By first becoming aware of what basic motivations control us, we can begin to see what duality we are operating in. This observation puts us above the paired forces and places us farther up, or inward. Through observing this process in ourselves, we come to see the reality that we have been 'asleep' or identified, and the dangers therein. The traps of constant emotional neediness and dependency are seen for what they are. Only when we grow tired of the drama, will we become willing to face the unknown of change and jump between the gap of the opposites to a higher level. Much like the sleeping man who has been too long in bed and has tiresome dreams he longs to end, we become weary of the drama and struggle to wake up to a new day. What dream of mind are you in?
~ From the Mystic Missal.
At a recent meeting I was asked to comment about seeking Self-knowledge:
We are all seeking something all the time.
Some of us enjoy seeking so immensely that searching has become our reason for existing.
But the answer still eludes us like a carrot dangling from a stick.
Self-knowledge is accurately perceiving what you are.
What you are, you are already, whether you recognize what that is or not.
First, Self-knowledge must consist of knowing what you are not.
Eliminating self-delusion clears the way for definition to become evident.
Only ripe fruit drops naturally.
~ See Gary's web site, Spiritual Books Worth Reading.
An ad that appeared in a Pennsylvania newspaper....
I thoroughly enjoyed the reprint of the Q and A [from Richard Rose's "Path" lecture, in the February Forum]. I was also attracted to the articles "Words or Experience" by Mr. Fergeson and "The Ultimate Career" by Mr. Nevins. ~ Stephen C.
"... others are well intentioned but wind up slaves to their poverty as surely as others are slaves to their salaries" [from "The Ultimate Career" by Shawn Nevins, also in the February Forum]. Well said. Thank you for your emails and web site. ~ Dennis Gaudet
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