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June 2017 / More

TAT Foundation News

It's all about "ladder work" – helping and being helped

Downloadable/rental versions of the Mister Rose video and of April TAT talks Remembering Your True Desire:

"You don't know anything until you know Everything...."

Mister Rose is an intimate look at a West Virginia native many people called a Zen Master because of the depth of his wisdom and the spiritual system he conveyed to his students. Profound and profane, Richard Rose was not the kind of man most people picture when they think of mystics or spiritual teachers. Yet, he was the truest of teachers, one who had "been there," one who had the cataclysmic experience of spiritual enlightenment.

Filmed in the spring of 1991, the extraordinary documentary follows Mr. Rose from a radio interview, to a university lecture and back to his farm, as he talks about his experience, his philosophy and the details of his life.

Whether you find him charming or offensive, fatherly or fearsome, you will not forget him, and never again will you think about yourself, reality, or life after death in quite the same way.

3+ hours total. Rent or buy at tatfoundation.vhx.tv/.

2012 April TAT Meeting – Remembering Your True Desire

Includes all the speakers from the April 2012 TAT meeting: Art Ticknor, Bob Fergeson, Shawn Nevins and Heather Saunders.

1) Remembering Your True Desire ... and Acting on It, by Art Ticknor
Spiritual action is like diving for the Pearl beyond Price. What do you do when you don't know what to do or how to do it? An informal discussion centered around the question: "What prevents effective spiritual action?"

2) Swimming in the Inner Ocean: Trips to the Beach, by Bob Fergeson
A discussion of the varied ways we can use in order to hear the voice of our inner ocean, the heart of our true desires.

3) A Wider and Wilder Vision, by Shawn Nevins
Notes on assumptions, beliefs, and perspectives that bind and free us.

4) Make Your Whole Life a Prayer, by Heather Saunders
An intriguing look into a feeling-oriented approach to life.

5+ hours total. Rent or buy at tatfoundation.vhx.tv/.

Return to the main page of the June 2017 TAT Forum.


Founder's Wisdom

Richard Rose (1917-2005) established the TAT Foundation
in 1973 to encourage people to work together on what
he considered to be the "grand project" of spiritual work.

Miami Theosophical Society Talk – 1985

The first public talk that Richard Rose gave was by invitation of the Pittsburgh Theosophical Society, in 1973. It was at that talk where two college students got inspired by what they heard and became instrumental in setting up self-inquiry groups at colleges primarily in the northeastern U.S. In 1985, one of Rose's students had moved to Miami, Florida, and Rose traveled there to help in starting a local group. Several members of the Miami Theosophical Society had heard about Rose and were enthusiastic about inviting him to give a talk there. Part 1 of the transcript follows.

Years ago I talked to a student of Zen1—I was interested in contacting a Zen master—and I asked him who the most important man was that he ever met in his life. He told me about this follow in Connecticut, Alfred Pulyan.2 And Pulyan was the most able Zen teacher I ever encountered.

I asked this same fellow what the most important book was that he had read in his life. (He talked very plain. In fact, he used quite a few four-letter words for adjectives in order to be emphatic.) And he named this book by JJ Van der Leeuw, The Conquest of Illusion.3 In the beginning of this book the author wrote a dedication to Krishnamurti, and I was a little surprised. I heard quite a bit about Krishnamurti before that, but I had never read him. It's not a book of Theosophical principles or anything of that sort, but it was published by Quest Books.4

But the reason I was fascinated by the book was his use of the term absolute.5 I had a little experience out in Seattle, Washington—a big experience, actually—and I wanted to understand it. I had come away from that with the realization, not of having met a personal God, but of having met an absolute condition. And I used that word in my description of it. On my return from Seattle I wrote a little thing called "Three Books of the Absolute";6 it's in the back of The Albigen Papers. And I used the word absolute because I felt, and I still feel, that the word God is misused. It's used by name-droppers. It's used by charlatans and phonies the world over to draw people in, taking a rake-off from their sense of importance.

And then there are people who are very dedicated and sincere; and they also use the word, and they are right in their dedication and their sincerity—but it doesn't match the sincerity and the definitions of people who are diametrically opposed to their convictions. So when you utter the word, you're liable to be offending. Or you're liable to have people think, "Oh, I know what he's talking about. He's talking about what I read in chapter and verse so-and-so." So I avoid the use, because at no time did I ever encounter anybody with a long beard and a very human personal appearance.

There's a difficulty in this type of talk because I don't intend to waste time, and at the same time I don't wish to offend. But if I'm too careful about offending, I will waste a lot of people's time. So I intend to be very direct; I'll answer your questions very honestly, even if it may hurt ten people sitting all around you.

I want to remind you of something also. When I was a kid I studied in a theological seminary. Back during the depression I went to work on a farm, for fifty cents a day, and the farmer was what I'd call a fundamentalist Christian. He was wanting to get some theological information off of me, and I felt I didn't want to give it to him for fifty cents a day. Because I was working about twelve hours a day and I was too tired to go home and get into theological discussions with him. He saw I wasn't going to talk too much, so he said, "Well, Richard, I'll tell you the conclusion I come to about religion. The old barn out there at the top of the hill has many paths going up to it, but the cattle, no matter which path they take, all wind up in the barn." And I thought, "That's pretty good." I never forgot it.

So what we have to do—and it's very difficult—you have to say your piece but at the same time you give great respect for every individual who has diligently sought for the truth about things. And if he's pausing momentarily in a state of belief, and maybe fanatical belief, rest assured that he's a much better person than he was before. So you only hope that what you're saying doesn't go over too harshly on him. But at the same time, I don't intend to be the savior for mankind, meaning I don't pretend that I've got all the answers for everybody. Because I definitely believe in plateaus. And if you live long enough you'll realize that people do have plateaus.

You can remember when you were ten years old, and you had a concept of yourself and society and the world, and you adjusted yourself accordingly, and you got away with it. You looked in the mirror and you said, "That's me." And when you were twenty years of age, you considered the boy of ten as green, and all his contemporaries as green and immature, not worthy of loafing with—meaning that at the age of twenty you wouldn't have loafed with yourself at the age of ten, if you had met yourself simultaneously. And we go on through life that way, to where each decade we reject the person we were before.


We do the same thing in our philosophic searching. I started off as a Catholic. And I'm not saying this to offend Catholics—I don't apologize—because I think if I hadn't been a Catholic, I could have been worse [somebody laughs]. I could have been born into a family that had no religious background at all. I had a very devout mother, and I believe that she said a lot of prayers getting me into the seminary, and I had to use a lot of will power to get out. But nevertheless, I say that if it hadn't been for her, and her dedication to bringing me up with a clean nose, I surely wouldn't be here today. I'd be interested probably in making some money someplace or Lord knows what.

So I was raised as a Catholic, and studied to be a Catholic priest for a short period of time. And I got out—because there was no consistency there. Not only that, but there was hypocrisy among the people I was living with. That disturbed me.

Incidentally, if you've ever been up to Pittsburgh, the seminary where I studied wasn't too far above there, a little place called Herman. They were Franciscans. Today that seminary is empty. There were hundreds of kids there, between the grades of the first year of high school and four years of college. They had a whole group of monks7 that worked on a big farm and raised all they ate. And now they are all gone. The place is totally empty and it's up for sale—which is unfortunate in a way. But I think, to be quite honest with you, that they tried to force the game of enforced belief. You had to believe, and if you doubted they called you a Doubting Thomas, and you were in danger of losing your soul.

I came to the conclusion at an early age that if I were created ignorant by a being who demanded that I be ultimately or totally intelligent, there was a little injustice there, and I couldn't see that anybody would do that. And if he were that sadistic, to create people ignorant and then say, "You've got to know me and believe me," then he or it was capable of playing games. And I saw that it was basically not a theological quirk as much as that people were misunderstanding. They were stuck to some pattern they had created or accepted.

But anyhow, I want to give you a little outline of what happened, because I think it's important that if we're ever going to meet each other in the future, you'll know more about me.


I used to read books by any esoteric author I could get, from Blavatsky on down. And the first thing I went into with each of these authors was to try to find or know that author personally. Most of them were dead, so it would take quite a bit of doing, but one of the ways to do this is to read between the lines, meaning to read intuitively and get a view of that person's personality. It's just like going to a show and you see an actor acting. That is generally some part of his personality—he's just repeating the personality he uses during the day—but some of it is put on. So you'll have to tell the difference, and you have to be intuitive to tell that difference.

I read Paul Brunton8 for instance. I read Blavatsky's The Secret Doctrine and Isis Unveiled. And those two books, incidentally, overwhelm you so much with the information that I didn't know too much about Blavatsky. I had to read other books to find out about her. But with Brunton, as soon as I began reading him I became convinced that he was sincere. Not only that, but that he had found something; he was on the right track. Incidentally, Brunton came to the United States right before he died. And Art, did you meet him?

Art: No, I think Lou did.

R: Yes, because they took some pictures with him there in Columbus, Ohio. I didn't know he was there until he was gone, or I would have gone over there.

I think it's important to know the person. Because you can read books, and those books could be a tremendous, monumental fraud from one page to the other. And Brunton admitted that he wrote his first book as a reporter for hire for a publisher in England; that was A Search in Secret Egypt. They said, "Go out and get a story on the pyramids." Ouspensky did the same thing. He heard about sleeping all night in the pyramids and the magical things that happened. But they were paid reporters at the time, and they got so much per chapter.

So it's important to get the person. Because what I have to give, if it's possible to give you anything, is an experience of mine and a method by which it happened—and if I'm a phony, you're wasting your time. Consequently, you may get more by hearing me talk about myself face-to-face. You'll be able to get an impression, and you may be inclined to read the book, or you may be inclined to save yourself the money. But I still believe that the most important thing is the person—because that way you'll know whether the message is any good


I got out of the seminary when I was about seventeen years old. But I never stopped looking. I didn't go back to the church; I thought, "This is it; it's not going to work." But there was a lot of pressure, too—because of my mother, particularly. My father was a bit of a free thinker, but my mother thought that the whole family was going to hell if I didn't stay in the seminary. So I had to run the risk of her going to hell.

But I started looking into everything. There aren't many things that I haven't been in. And I even travelled to examine them, if they'd talk to me. I visited the Rosicrucians on the west coast; that was the Oceanside group.9 And I found a few people, a few groups that I considered honest, and worthwhile spending money in—because they are honest, not because they know a whole lot. What they tell you is what they honestly believe. And of the Rosicrucians, I found that the Oceanside group was the most valid.

And when I got to be twenty-one years of age, I set for myself a certain code that I went by, in this examination of groups. I was on the path of searching. And I decided that I would have nothing to do with any teacher or group that charged money. That truth is free, and a person who has something he wants to hand on should expend as much time and energy as the person who's out there searching in the sands. And when the two people get together, when people who are genuine searchers meet the person who's a genuine teacher, there's a tremendous joy. It's not a one-sided thing, of somebody saying, "Hey, you found me, so now write the check."

The other thing is, I don't go for dogma. I like to have everything ascertained. I mean I did then. If a person lays something down as a premise or a law, or something I have to believe, I want to know why. Another thing was, no regimentation or ritual. I had come to that in the church, where you start as a trooper, and you wind up as a corporal and then a sergeant and so on, in the religious hierarchy. This keeps people glued to a purpose or a cause that somebody created maybe a thousand years ago, and lost track of why they created it. The people who are running things today may not know why the thing was created. I think if you examine any religion on the face of the earth, you'll see a bit of this. For instance there's something in the Bible about Peter and Barnabas—each went his own way because they didn't see eye to eye.10

Radha Soami

At one time I was initiated into two different Radha Soami sects.11 I don't know whether you're acquainted with them or not. The reason I looked into them: no charge; a claim of total knowledge—meaning a reach for total knowledge; and no particular addiction to any routine or ritual that you had to follow.

They had a guy who was in the lineage of Guru Gobind Singh;12 they were Sikhs. And the Sikhs as you know carry knives all the time, and they were warriors. They were the people who stood between the regular Hindus and the Mohammedans in what is now Pakistan. When the Mohammedans invaded India, they boiled in oil one of the Radha Soami teachers.13 So this Gobind Singh said, "Boys, it's time to fight," and they took up the sword and never put it down. Today they still carry that code, and each one of their names ends in Singh, which means "lion."

But they're very sincere and dedicated people. And I thought, "Well, I'll look into it." I went there, and there was no obligation. So I took the initiation. Incidentally, some of the things I found in their initiation, you'll find in Blavatsky's The Voice of the Silence.14 In the initiation are the secret sounds given for the different planes you encounter after death. You're supposed to hear these before you die so that you'll recognize the different sounds as you pass through—the sound of the conch, the little bell,15 and so on.16

I had a tremendous admiration for them. The man who was the teacher came over here from India at his own expense. Some people from here went over there. And the man whom I met originally was from Chicago; he had made a few big dollars inventing things, I guess in industry. He was eighty years of age and he had time to travel. So he'd get on an airplane and come over to Pittsburgh and hold meetings.

So I had a great respect for them. But you know, when each one of those gurus died they had a fight. And they didn't have enough respect for the common theme—that I considered of great value to them at least. They couldn't get along. The gurus themselves were more or less sworn to poverty, but they sat upon a tremendously wealthy temple: the grounds, the ashram and so on. And in this country, they had a corporation, and there was maybe money in the bank. So there were people sitting around waiting for that fellow to die, and then they would pounce upon the center, form a schism, and then you had two or three. Some of you may have heard of Kirpal Singh—he's one of the Radha Soami people that came to this country. I thought he was pretty much on the level, and he taught some of the things they did.


End of part 1; to be continued.


1. A cab driver in Los Angeles, in the late 1950s.

2. See http://selfdiscoveryportal.com/Pulyan.htm for an introduction to Alfred Pulan and his teaching.

3. See http://selfdiscoveryportal.com/Conquest.htm for an introduction to The Conquest of Illusion. See http://selfdefinition.org/van-der-leeuw/conquest-of-illusion.htm for a full text of the book.

4. Theosophical Publishing House.

5. The Conquest of Illusion, ch. 4: "The Relative and the Absolute."

6. About 1947; See the full text in http://www.richardrose.org/ThreeBooks.pdf.

7. Capuchins.

8. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Brunton. Full texts: http://selfdefinition.org/brunton.

9. http://www.rosicrucian.com/.

10. It's a complicated story: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barnabas.

11. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radha_Soami.

12. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gobind_Singh (1666-1708).

13. Bhai Dayal, 1675: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhai_Dayala#Martyrdom.

14. 50-page PDF linked here: http://selfdefinition.org/blavatsky/.

15. Three Books of the Absolute: "And within that House is heard the painful tolling of a tiny silver bell, and within that dome is felt the surge of mighty roaring tides that will not be stopped."

16. Radha Soami Sounds of the Higher Regions, PDF: http://selfdefinition.org/radha-soami/. The Voice of the Silence, page 6: "Thou hast to hear the inner God in seven manners. The first is like the nightingale's sweet voice chanting a song of parting to its mate. The second comes as the sound of a silver cymbal of the Dhyanis, awakening the twinkling stars," etc.

~ Thanks to Steve Harnish for the transcription. for information on the transcription project.

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