This month's contents:
Jacob's Ladder (part 2) by Richard Rose | Free from Desire by Lao-tse | Expressions by Shawn Nevins | Poems by Shawn Nevins | Nisargadatta's Power: Interview with Alex Smit by Belle Bruins | Impressions by Art Ticknor | Rapport by Art Ticknor | Movie Madness by Bob Fergeson | Humor
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~ Continued from the February 2005 TAT Forum
11. Does not the possibility of multiple dimensions weaken our significance and our pretended potential for controlling our environment?
Now that may not sound like too much. In other words, we seem to labor under the idea that we're in a restricted environment; that there's only one dimension, the material world. And all we have to do is conquer that material world. And some people go so far as to say there is no mind beyond the body, the somatic mind. So all we have to do is learn to manipulate the somatic mind, and possibly the somatic minds of other people, and we've got everything under control.
But we're not taking into consideration the possibility of multiple dimensions—that the mind itself may be a dimension, number one—it may be something besides the body. But there may be other dimensions besides that. If there are—then we have factors, multiple factors, never taken into consideration.
In other words there might be a God up there, there might be a chief engineer, who draws the blueprint or changes it occasionally or something of that sort. And we're down here saying, "Let's work our pencil on the blueprint."
12. What is God. What are His dimensions?
13. What is a soul?
Everybody has one. You go back to Frazier's Golden Bough, you find out that man endowed himself with a soul rather young, in the early stages. I'm not saying he doesn't have it, but he endows himself. He doesn't wait and define it. Every man has the responsibility of finding his soul.
R. Let me finish, please. I'm doing this for the purpose of questions. Also let me say something else: I've come here to inform and to share; I haven't come here to argue. And I will answer until ten o'clock tonight or until they throw us out of the building, if necessary, any questions. Except pointed questions and loaded questions and egotistically inspired questions.
In other words, I'm not here to deny that other people are smarter than I. They may well be smarter. And I'm not pointing at you; I just wanted to say that while I was saying it. We can't get anyplace if we're going to all of us have a battle of egos.
The point of it is I do want questions. I think the communication here will be questions and I want the dialogue, but I want to run through these, and then if somebody can remember a point we'll go back to that and take it up from there.
14. What is thought?
This is something I'd like to propose to every psychiatrist. I had one fellow tell me he had a drug for every thought. But he didn't know the definition of thought. So he didn't know the definition of sanity.
15. What is mind? What are its limits, its dimensions?
16. What are we implying when we say, "I think"?
17. Is thought a possession, or an obsession?
18. Does a man think, or is he a thought?
Now these are not just idle little koans, thrown out here. It's very possible that we're obsessed with thinking. Especially if you're an alcoholic and you need a drink. You'll become obsessed with thinking. And you'll still think that you are the guy who wants the drink.
19. What is sanity? The normal curve? Somatic healthiness?
20. Could sanity ever mean that state of mind with perfect understanding of all problems? A state of mind in which the altering lens of ego has been removed from our mental vision or perception?
We see a lot of stuff through our ego. Do we incorporate ego into sanity? Is the egotistical person insane—to a degree? Not really badly insane, but doesn't that somewhat color his thinking processes?
21. Could a state of sanity ever be approached?
That's the next thing. Supposing there is a state whereby we have an ability to more perfectly view all problems. As we would approach engineering problems, with a slide rule. Is there a slide rule called sanity by which we could approach our problems?
22. Would such a version of sanity imply the need of perfected logic—or perfected intuition?
We're going to do it with logic alone? Well, what is intuition? We've been discussing this quite a bit lately. One fellow says, "Do you know that you know?"
And I say, "It isn't so much that you know that you know that you know; simply as that you have a direct mind evaluation, instead of a indirect mind evaluation."
23. How would a person who is possessed of this version of sanity find for himself answers to such questions as God definitions and essence definitions?
Supposing we postulated for the time being that there is such a thing. And the reason I say it's possible to postulate this is from what I call a theory of progression. That if there are smarter people, there must be even smarter people. So that you have a progression that arrives somewhere close to the Absolute.
They talk in mathematics of taking a distance, say, two inches from a wall, and cutting it in half, and keep cutting that in half. And they argue mathematically, "Does the man ever reach the wall, or is there always half of something left?"
Well, the same thing with the approach to sanity. If there are people who are more sane than others, is it possible by progression to reach the totality? And with that slide rule to properly evaluate such things as man's own essence.
This has been the effort that has been tried and claimed. That certain people have reached the answer. Not necessarily that they claimed to have perfect logic, or even perfect intuition. They may have had an indescribable accident.
24. How would such sanity-potential affect peace of mind, ideal health patterns, or physical security plans?
There are several movements that talk about the perfected man. I remember years ago I was looking into the Universal Brotherhood, and they had this talk of the perfected man, who was supposed to wind up doing everything just right and having the proper answers; he was a successful business man, a happily married man, and everything else. Is it possible, such a sanity, that would bring us to that?
25. What is the relationship between thought and mind? Are they the same? Is thought a mind-extrusion?
We get into some ideas about thought: Is this an extrusion of the mind? Or an emission like a broadcast from an electronic broadcasting tower? Or is it projected something like light from a lamp?
26. Is thought synaptic?
The reason I'm going into this is that this is psychology. This is the basis of psychology.
27. Is thought synaptic reaction to an electrical stimulation? Meaning—is thought something like an electrical impulse?
Now, even more important:
28. Do we willfully think?
And if you think you do, try to stop. Try to stop now. Just say, "I'm going to stop thinking." Or predict that at a certain time tomorrow you're going to wake up and start thinking. See if it's possible.
29. If we cannot start or stop thinking, how can we take so much responsibility for our decisions?
Unless we are able to take something and willfully study it, not being inspired to by some event, which may already be colored, then we do not know from what viewpoint we start the investigation.
30. Is it possible that the people who realize that they cannot make decisions are the ones that eventually may find ways and means to make decisions?
The people who protest that they're able to make decisions always seem to me the people who make the wrong decisions. Where people who say, "I'm not so sure of myself" - because they don't have too much of a platform to stand on, in that they don't have any prejudiced thinking on either scientific side of the coin—may find ways and means later on.
31. If we think about thought, is thought then objective and separate from the thinking self?
This is a serious question. Because this is the process by which this thing we're discussing goes on. It becomes an objective study of the self. Or a study of the objective self, if you want to call it that; whatever you see being objective.
32. Is there is a thinking self, or only an awareness that witnesses thoughts?
What watches thought? Is this a thinking self that watches it, or is it just awareness?
What we're doing here is not studying theology or something, but actually looking inside and saying, "What goes on when I think?"
Is there a thinking, cognitive, logical self that examines our thoughts, or does it just boil back to an awareness of something going on, out front? Something out there, that we can observe.
33. When a man asks himself a question, are there two people or selves involved—one who speaks and one who hears?
Now that may sound strange, but people like Gurdjieff have claimed that there were several I's or egos that were sometimes in communication with each other, sometimes in conflict. But that we aren't a single individual.
This is not a new concept, in other words, of the different voices within man. For instance, the stomach rebels against the sex organs, perhaps, or the head rebels against another part of the body. And there are certain voices representative of those things.
34. If there is such a conglomerate of selves—supposing that we take that, momentarily, the Gurdjieffian principle of the many selves, or whatever they are, the ghosts inside of us—how do we isolate then the real one?
They're all taking turns talking. So which one do we encourage to talk, and to which one do we say, "You're not real, you're a phony; the real one is really me."
It's like the fellow, supposing he's an alcoholic, who says, "I want a drink. That's me." Or: "When I can no longer drink, let somebody shoot me, because that's my real pleasure." Ok—he gets drunk, he gets sick, and he's got a hangover, and he says, "I hope I never see another bottle of booze."
Now here's an opposite philosophy coming up. And you say, "Well, you said you wished you could spend your last days drinking."
"Oh, hell, I'm crazy. Don't pay any attention to that." Meaning there's another guy who's crazy.
So the thing is to determine of these different voices in the conglomerate, the real self. How do you go about that? What leverage, what tools do you use to pry them apart and keep them apart?
Keep reminding yourself, always, "Yesterday I said that was a negative self; that wasn't the real guy that I want to be in charge of my vehicle."
35. Are spiritual achievement and psychological clarity arrived simultaneously?
You hear of these great spiritual experiences. When people have those—are they psychologically wise? Or can we have a spiritually enlightened person who is manifestly wrong about the things in his head?
I wasn't a student of the Bible until much later in life; after I went through a lot of this stuff I used to go back and read segments of the Bible. I also read other works of enlightened men, or men who seemed to have the answer. And I catch this echo in there; these people were psychologists. They became aware of the outer dimensions, but they also became aware of the inner dimensions, so to speak.
36. And can one bring about the effect from the other?
Can psychological clarity bring spiritual clarity automatically? If so, then that's a path. Can spiritual clarity bring psychological clarity? Then Ok, let's get it down into our psychology majors, if that's what it takes; if that's part of the deal.
We come now to the crux of our questioning. That is:
37. Direct mind cognition in relation to true sanity—is such possible? And spiritual realization—is it possible to realize it by any means?
I think, of course, that what you have to do—again, I draw diagrams and I make noises, but I think each man has to find things for himself.
Maybe when you're going through a jungle, if you can get somebody who knows a particular section of the jungle it may save you losing some time or getting injured. But I don't think there's anything satisfying about piling up a lot of objective knowledge about what somebody else believes. Some conception. Until those conceptions, let's say, had the same substance to them as an irreversible spiritual realization. That the man knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that he's right.
And I don't think we've quite progressed that far. But I still think that the basic psychology starts with the self. And without predetermined definitions.
There are some things that are evident. For instance, I don't think that we have to deny our existence; we don't have to deny we're standing on the ground. And there are certain things we can't deny in that there are two sides of a relative coin. We are relative people in a relative dimension, trying to talk about a non-relative dimension.
I'm talking about the mind. The mind is subjective. But it's based entirely upon a relationship with the relative dimension. The mind is watching the relative earth, or the relative dimension.
I liken this to the camera analogy of Ramana Maharshi. You go back through the eye of the observer. You have to see what the observer's looking at, and you go back through that to get the interpretation. Then you understand or study why the decision of the somatic mind is made. You get a little insight then into your mind.
Then when you become more aware of the somatic mind, it's possible that you're aware of something else, which is an intuitive type of thinking process.
The basis of what I'm getting at is outlined in the drawing. The thing is, you don't go externally for knowledge; you go inside.
Now this is an old saying, "going inside." And there are many methods of going inside. So you can take your pick; whatever appeals to your intuition. It may be concentrating on a nerve center, it may be self-hypnosis; there are different things you can try, for their effect. You can try all of them in fact, if you wish to. But I think that there is a very direct way, and that is by watching your actions.
~ Continued in the April 2005 TAT Forum
© 1976 Richard Rose. All Rights Reserved. This talk is available on CD through Rose Publications.
Free from Desire
You must work as if your hair were on fire. I remember my friends and I bandying that old Zen expression back and forth trying to instill a sense of the importance of self-discovery in one another. Try as we might, we couldn't act a convincing version of a spiritual seeker with their hair on fire.
Here is another expression, this one by Foyan (from Instant Zen): "There is a genuine expedient that is very good, though only experienced seekers will be able to focus doubt on it." Right there is all you need to know—focus doubt. Drill down to the core of uncertainty within your sense of self—focus doubt. Again, though, you can't just run onto the field (with your hair on fire!) chanting, "Focus doubt! Focus doubt!"
Perhaps though, on one particular day you wake up and a phrase keeps rising in your mind, like a gnat buzzing around your brain, until you decide to get up and attack it. Its importance becomes obvious. There is no need to imagine Foyan's meaning. You know, and you dig a little deeper.
You dig, you take action, and you discover for yourself.
Richard Rose said, "The only meditation is what you devise for yourself" (Peace of Mind in Spite of Success lecture tape, Akron). Franklin Merrell-Wolff speaks similarly:
In no case have I had any results that were worth the effort so long as I did not supply at least a self-devised modification of my own. Apparently the modification is suggested intuitively. Often I got results by a method diametrically opposite to that suggested by a given authority. At least, so far as my private experience is concerned, the successful method always had to be in some measure an original creation. (Experience and Philosophy)
Of course, you can not force yourself to devise your own method because an authority said you should. You will. You will if you do the basic spiritual work: ask why, question assumptions, question authority.
Mr. Rose spent a good bit of time in his talks attacking social institutions and norms. In fact, I tired of his criticisms. Yet he was pointing out the Law of Paradoxical Immanence in All Things Relative (The Albigen Papers, seventh paper) in its most obvious manifestation. Compare what we hear in the news with that heard in another country. Question the all-knowing stance of a doctor. Watch what people do as opposed to what they say. "Things may often be, or appear to be, the opposite of that which they were originally."
You see that everyone is wading through a morass of uncertainty and confusion.
There is a multitude of expressions to inspire us to escape this morass, yet only some will apply at any given time. Every expression is tainted with the mind of its originator. There is no step by step map, but the compass is self-honesty. What propels us is hope and fear. When we arrive, we find that we did what the core of our self was called to do. Only in retrospect do we lay claim to focusing doubt or flaming hair.
Don't gather seed for the winter.
"First Day of Fall"
Once again there are signs.
He said, she said,
At sun rise,
Happiness is a wide river
A wind rises
A dying man stays awake
"God made the senses turn outwards; man therefore looks outwards not into himself. Now and again a daring soul, desiring immortality, has looked back and found himself. He who knows the soundless, odorless, tasteless, intangible, endless, deathless, supernatural, undecaying, beginningless, endless, unchangeable Reality, springs out of the mouth of death." ~Katha Upanishad
Would you like to feel love?
The Cathars believed that their soul became trapped in the world, reincarnating over and over until they were once again free from identification with this dimension and could return home to pure Spirit. They saw how our attention becomes easily trapped in this dualistic universe. Snared by the temptations of the outer life, the mind creates an inner thought-based world to match and, by these very thoughts, reinforces the outer world of matter and the senses. Seeing how thoughts and matter became intertwined, creating a net nearly impossible to break, the Cathar Perfects labored to save themselves with great earnestness. A little serious introspection will show us that we too are trapped in a net of two worlds interwoven of mind and matter.
The first of these worlds, and the primary projection, is the physical world of matter and the senses. It is basically neutral, having no emotional or value-based characteristics in and of itself, and separate from us, being a view. This world includes our body, also. The second world, our personal inner drama, is entirely in our heads, and is reactive, less real, and layered upon the first world like icing on a cake. It too, is only a view. The only reality in either of these worlds is our attention, which, when it comes into contact with this dualistic mess, soon becomes trapped.
These two worlds, or movies, let's call them, are so intertwined that we come to see them as one. We are taught from birth to accept what we see in front of us as real, and soon learn to accept our inner reactions, or thoughts, as valid also. Most of these early thoughts are colored by the psychic atmosphere of our home environment, and are never questioned, being so close, and us so young. Soon enough, as the play of life unfolds, we have blended our thoughts and the scene before us into one big drama, which we call our life. This so-called life oscillates between heaven and hell, depending on how the two movies are interacting. Barring a catastrophic failure, trauma, or mounting misery, we never question any of this. Any attempt at escape usually consists of simply rearranging one of the two movies to better fit the other. Let's take another look at each of these dramas, and see if we can find any holes in this net; the trap of movie madness.
The first movie, the world "out there," is the universal projection we are all, as humans, subject to. It functions according to universal rules, and can be taken as good or bad, right or wrong. Hardly anyone sees it clearly, in and of itself. To illustrate this, simply pick an object and try to look at it without association. If you could see the world as it is, without benefit of the inner drama's projections, you would not know what the object was, nor care. As soon as "knowing," or memory, kicks in, you are looking at the inner movie as it layers itself over the neutral world of the senses. For most of us, many years of inner work are necessary before we can gaze upon the world without attachment. This can be a startling revelation, to look about at a world created new every moment, full of wonder and possibility. This listening attention can only be had in a quiet mind cleared of emotional baggage, a mind unconcerned with voices of judgment and fear, desire and greed.
The other drama, the inner movie, is the world of thought, both personal and impersonal. It is reactive, associative, and entirely in the head of the individual, regardless of how it may or may not correspond to the heads of others. It is what separates and confines. Again, to get a look at this, pick any familiar object, and take a look. What you tell yourself you are seeing is your inner movie at work. If you see the object as separate, with associations in memory, no matter how valid, you are looking at your own head, not the object. As you go through your day, look at how everything you see is colored with memory, expectation, and judgment, trapping your attention into a dualistic dream world of your own creation. And it all happens automatically, as if by magic. And magic it is. We weave and spin the net that binds us into our own heads with every thought we identify with. How can we free our trapped attention, and perhaps turn it back in the direction of our Source, towards something non-associative and changeless, something Real?
The devil is said to be in the details, and this is where we can start. Simply look at your thoughts, your reactions, as they automatically fire every second of the day. There are many holes in the net, if we but look. By a constant passive attention, a listening, a looking without thinking, we can spot the many little clues that show us how we project the inner movie onto the outer, and how we can break the chain of relentless association. Once this listening attention is familiar, one can learn to turn it, to move it from movie to movie. We may eventually find it can be turned around and focused within, behind the inner movie to the formless realm beyond all experience. This freedom of movement of the attention doesn't happen by willing it, for that would be just another ego-character playing about in the inner movie. It simply happens, once we've paid the price.
If you're not lucky enough to have paid the price of losing your own head through the grace of trauma or disaster, then the freeing of your attention must be bought with austerity, conviction and earnestness. The Cathar Perfects gave us a hint on how to get started freeing the attention through their lives of abstinence, discipline, and peace, which set them free from the cares and temptations of the worlds of matter and thought. This lifestyle develops the intuition and clears the head of desire and fear based thinking. Then, by paying constant attention, coupled with intuition, one can see little tricks, gaps in the net, that build on the conviction that things are not as they seem. The inner presence of one who has already lost his head can also help. If felt, this presence may trigger a revelation, a conviction that there is something beyond the apparent. As for earnestness, this cannot be bought or faked, but again can be bolstered by intuition, clear reasoning, and the facing of the fact that life, as it is in appearance, is a zero-sum game.
The everyday world of paying the bills and getting by will not allow itself to be questioned; it will not help you of itself. If you have read this far, you must have seen enough holes in your own net to start questioning your worlds, inner and outer. If so, make a move. Find your true companions, the ones who too have had enough of the dream world of living alone, in the movie theater inside their heads. They're out there in the lobby, waiting for you, these soon to be headless souls. Help each other, clear a path through the tangle of thought and form. Find the exit, the door to daylight and freedom, and walk away from the movie madness of shadows and dreams. You may discover, once you are outside in the daylight, that you and your companions are One.
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