The TAT Forum: a spiritual magazine of essays, poems and humor.

TAT Forum
February 2001

Essays, poems, opinions and humor on seeking
and finding answers to your deepest life-questions

This month's contents:

WKSU Interview with Richard Rose (part 4 of 6) | Meditation: It's Not What You Think (part I) by Michael Conners | Separate Particles by Bob Cergol | Tears for Fears by Bob Fergeson | Persistence & Self-Honesty by Shawn Nevins | Humor | Reader Commentary

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WKSU Interview of Richard Rose (part 4 of 6)

(~ Continued from the January 2001 TAT Forum)

For instance, there are several volumes published by a man by the name of Charles Fort. (I don't know if he's still living or not.) Lo!, and Wild Talents, and The Book of the Damned are the names of them. These are compilations of things like flying saucers, flying horses, all sorts of sea phenomena, monsters at sea, and this sort of thing. Things which defy our scientific writings or our scientific beliefs.

So we can study those, and sometimes they will give you an idea. But we couldn't begin to catalogue them—an individual couldn't at least—and try to deduce some great truth from them as to our relation. Because when you get down to it, for instance if you want to get to the core of Zen teaching, or the culmination of the Zen training which would be an experience—you have a certain conviction that this entire physical world is a projection, not a reality.

And immediately when this becomes apparent to you, you sort of lose interest in the mundane phenomena like levitations or haunted houses. These seem to be just strictly more of the same phenomenal world. They are a little bit more tenuous or gossamer, but they're still just parts of a phenomenal world which in itself is not too real.

Now I had a very difficult time even delivering a lecture, because I had to deliver it to people who thought in objective terms. And I think I still have trouble with that. In trying to get to people who are thinking in terms of very objective things, like tomorrow's paycheck, or pleasure, or compatibility, or conventional philosophic attitudes, conventional psychological attitudes, this sort of thing.

I have a lot of trouble communicating with that because when you find out that the whole thing is a projection, it makes you more or less lose enthusiasm about the significance or glamour of this projection.

Question: I'm sure you can't break down twenty-five or thirty years of conditioning to society's ways and tell them, "Look, this is the way you should think about it."

Rose: Right, and this is the difficulty that we run into all the time. For instance, a person will come in to a lecture and ask a question, and you are torn between trying to reply to that person in his language, or being as truthful with him as you would be in approaching total truthfulness. If you give him a totally truthful answer, he may be insulted or think that you're making fun of him.

So we're continually faced with that—trying to still talk to that man in an objective manner, to reply to him or pick up his head where it's at. The terminology in the Albigen System, as we call it, is continually difficult to translate, because people are asking such questions as, "Is it good to do this?" And of course your immediate reaction would be to say, "Why do you say 'good'? What do you mean by 'good'?"

But yet you don't like to do that because then they look at you rather amazed: "What's he doing, evading me? Playing with my head? I asked him a simple question, why doesn't he give me a simple answer?" So in some cases I'll try to come at them from their viewpoint, and lead them back to perhaps more clear thinking.

Question: What about those individuals at the base of the pyramid, who seem to have been locked into a religious belief which says, "You will believe or else you will go to hell." Are these people inhibited from breaking out of those frames of thought, or can they be lifted to a higher stage?

Rose: It isn't "inhibited." I call it trying to put three pounds of, let's say, material into a two-pound bag. A person on the instinctive level cannot comprehend the person on the step above him. And we find this in all levels of spiritual work. If you encounter a teacher who is what I call two rungs on the ladder above you—you'll reject him.

We find this all the time. Where people come into the group and their intuition picks up that we are people outside of this appreciation of the glamorous and the bizarre part of life. And people on other rungs—if they have been imbued with the game, the dance of life, and they find it all wonderful and joyous and all that, and they make the mistake of coming in and thinking that we're a bunch of joyous people who are going to enhance their joys even more with some new gimmick that will titillate their mentality—when they get the picture that we are very sober—they disappear as quickly as they can.

Because their instinct tells them, "Either you're going to get out of that place, or these bizarre pleasures that you think you have been enjoying are going to disappear—and are you ready for it?" And I'd say that ninety percent of them will leave when they become aware of this.

The instinctive level is basically just what the word implies—that there is a certain segment of people who move from the cradle to the grave in reaction only. They just react—their DNA molecule or genetic plan, their inheritance characteristics, plus their environment, cause them to function in what is a maze or groove. Which they think that they are functioning in very deliberately, that they are doing it themselves.

And they are the people who think that they are really the most alive. They more or less look down their noses at people who are devotional even and say, "That's a fool. I'm living. I'm having my fun, I'm reproducing. And I'm having my fifth of whiskey on Saturdays." These are instinctive people.

And they have no exaltation, to use one of Huxley's words, until they get tired of that (the instinctual life-style). And this may take years of their life. If you look at people over a span of forty years you’ll witness some of your friends who were instinctive, very down to earth with just you might call an animal existence. And then one day they said, "Hey, there's more to life than this, there has to be. I've been an idiot."

So they go down to church and they beat their head on the floor and they get salvation. And then they have an experience, an exaltation. They lose themselves. They give up this ego of being a proud animal and they change to devotion, to someone who has sacrificed, or to a noble movement. They do it for a person, like Jesus or Buddha or any major head of a religion, or they may do it just for the religion itself.

In whichever case, they lose themselves. All exaltations are accompanied by the giving up of part of your foolishness, which we call egos. So then this person becomes, you might say, a real fanatic. He gets into this emotional religion, and he will tell you that he's right in there talking personally to this god, communicating personally with him. And they go along on this track maybe the rest of their life.

Or maybe you'll find a person born into this particular category. He seems to be emotional or devotional right from the start. He goes to church, and some day he'll tire of it. And his intellect will reason (we're talking about the intellectual level now): "Well, according to the history and the scriptures and all this, there’s not too much evidence of this personal God."

It will become apparent to him that for instance the armies who supposedly thought that they were doing God's work were destroyed. Individuals who lived good lives according to what someone else told them was good were destroyed. That the people who seemed to live by no rules seemed to prosper. And he begins to wonder then, "What is this? What's going wrong?" And this doubt brings him into a search, a mechanistic sort of search such as logic and reading and so on. And this is when he in turn moves out of the emotional level.

~ Continued in the March 2001 TAT Forum

This 1974 Kent State University WKSU radio interview is printed in The Direct-Mind Experience. © 1985 by Richard Rose. All Rights Reserved.

MEDITATION: It's Not What You Think...
Part I
by Michael Conners

The Two Types of Meditation that Work Together and Lead to Self Knowledge

Intellectual Effort
(To Identify our True Self)

Position of the body and time of meditation not important



Problem-solving by the mind as taught in school, work, society

We call this "thinking"

Deals with words, meaning, concepts

Seeking; self-inquiry; Shankara's Vedanta; Richard Rose's "back through the projector"

This way of highly intellectual and abstract thinking develops a person's ability to discriminate the Real Substance of existence from the Apparent Objects that seem to exist

Is an energy consumer

Hard work for most folks

Nuts and bolts method of science and Jnana Yoga; knowledge through doubtless understanding

But this alone may not make us identify with omnipresent existence (Being)

The value of contemplation is that it ideally leads to integration, identification, wisdom. But the key is that one must be looking to identify one's self so that when the Real is found it is Known to be the Self

Self-inquiry's goal is intellectual, for certain, full and doubtless realization of the insubstantial nature of the world and the body, and the realization of "space of intellect" as the Self: "I am that Nothing and the only Real Substance of all the universe."

Effortless Meditation
(Sinking into Transcendental Consciousness)

Position of the body sitting and eyes closed every morning and evening for 20 minutes

Not concentration

Not directed thinking

Essentially not recognized in western society, so effortlessness is not taught

Few are aware of effortless meditation, even though there is a lot of talk about surrender, mindfulness, St. Theresa's "Prayer of Recollection," Mahesh's TM, Zazen's no-mind

This is not intellectual, but a simple experience of subtler, quieter levels of thinking

Sets up a condition where one is able to perceive subtle thoughts, and transcendence to silence can just happen

Is energizing and easy

The Key is to not "do" the technique, so that the automatic nature of thinking can be realized and self can be known as not the thinker or doer, not these thoughts or feelings or memories!

But this alone may not cause us to identify with silent Being!

The benefits of effortless meditation are deep relaxation of the nervous system, which gradually releases the accumulated stresses of a lifetime

The goal of yoga is realization by the direct experience of transcendental pure consciousness as the innermost self: "I am this emptiness, silence, the absolutely real, eternal, omnipresent Being and the only Real Substance of all the universe."

Doing both methods alternately is very reinforcing and leads to full Realization

~ Continued in the March 2001 TAT Forum with an example of "effortful" meditation ("discrimination").

Separate Particles
by Bob Cergol

I used to be fascinated as a child by the behavior of a glob of mercury—splitting it into tiny droplets and then watching those separate pieces "rush into each other" when in close proximity. The essence of individuals is like so many scattered bits of mercury that are drawn to each other as a manifestation in this dimension of the "desire to be re-absorbed" into the One-ness from which they've all split. We cannot get close enough to each other. And a lifetime of accidental patterns "conspires" to block our "rejoining."

Tears for Fears
by Bob Fergeson

We climb inside our pride to hide,
digging holes to crawl inside.
To run from Fear inside a tear,
we run inside our Pride to hide.

Why does life seem so hard to try?
Turn left, back right,
I can't decide.
Fear blocks my skill, what's left, pride kills,
I run inside vast pride to hide.
At the end of every year
I shed a tear for every fear
that drives poor souls the whole world wide
to crawl inside their pride to hide.

The warning whispered in Caesars' ear
should not have been for a time of year
but to give him heed to that inside,
Oh, Caesar! keep watch on the Ides of Pride.

Where are my father, mother, siblings three?
They all have sailed far out to sea,
driven by fear and self-tyranny,
they sailed back into pride, you see.
To build stone towers on islands each,
to fly the flag of pride above the breach.
This, they hope, keeps fear back 'cross the moat
but ties their souls with tight black ropes.
And safe within their castle keep,
safe from fear, safe in sleep,
kept prisoner by Fear's mighty tide,
they lie inside their pride and hide.

Cry humble tears where the paradox lies,
not boast of things that live, then die.
Come forth to stand in the light of day,
your gaze looks back on the world of clay,
no fear, no moan, no cry of dismay.
Climb out the trench where we all lie,
stand firm in Truth, don't fear the lies.
Shake off the dark, dank cloud of pride.

Don't fight too hard, don't try to hide, just
let it be, this curse of Pride.
To Humble be's a trick you see,
it leads you round to Pride's vast sea.

Persistence and Self-Honesty
by Shawn Nevins

I am not outstanding in any quality. Yet, I attained a spiritual realization, so there is hope for others. In examining my decade of seeking, I think the qualities of persistence and self-honesty proved key.

Persistence implies desire, but I never felt I wanted the Truth badly enough. I always felt short of my ideal seeker who asked every waking moment, "Who am I?" I never felt driven. Perhaps that is a result of my biology. I am more of a long-distance walker than runner or sprinter. The walker may not show sweat on the brow, yet be just as driven as the runner.

Mr. Rose once said, "If I tell you to go five miles, don't walk a mile then turn back." Though I certainly fell to the ground many times, I always got up and kept walking. Why? Because I knew, in my heart, that there was NOTHING ELSE TO DO. This is where the self-honesty comes into play. Think through your desires and see where they take you.

Other than the spiritual search, I believe my strongest desire was to retreat to a cabin in the woods. It was a nostalgic dream of a perpetual summer evening complete with front porch swing, a dog, and sweet iced tea. Yet, I knew that moment of perfection would never last. I also knew that I had limited energy in life. I could choose the cabin—the known but ultimately hollow—or choose the unknown but potentially complete spiritual search. For me, every dream ended in death, and the discovery of my true nature seemed the only hope of escape.

Self-honesty is developed. For this, I see the value of my years of character development while with the SKS. If you learn to see your daily lies, you will learn to see the larger lies. You must find a point within your self from which you can judge the garbage from lesser garbage. A teacher helps in this respect. Around him, you may sense his perspective and see clearly the idiocy of your daily pursuits. Books, being in nature, music, meditation, friends, many things may give you a truer perspective. You will know it when you find it. One really does back away from untruth. Until, finally, your momentum is in one direction and you no longer care—you just want to know the Truth.

This was all done in tiny steps and nowhere along the way did I feel, "Aha! Now I am a seeker, now I am a vector, now I am 100% committed." I think that was a good thing. When one feels they are falling short, they are probably working as hard as they can, and when they feel they are at their maximum, they probably have more to give.

More important than a specific, verbal commitment to find the Truth, is the action of self-honesty. As Rose would say, "Tell the truth in all things relative." If you are honest, you will realize that you don't know anything for certain. That uncertainty will haunt you and keep you moving. You hide from the uncertainty by distractions, but it is always in the back of your mind.

Lest you get the idea that I was a paragon of persistence and self-honesty, I will point out that several times I threw up my hands in despair and fatigue. The worst of these was early in 1998, when I decided that I was finished with seeking and would go make a fortune instead. Perhaps everyone hits a point where they convince themselves that they cannot attain—that the task is too great. Sometimes, the mind simply loses interest in the search. I have no easy answer for these dark times, except that in each instance, something appeared which reignited my interest. Being surrounded by fellow seekers helped. It is as if one is delirious and needs friends to watch over them until they recover. Unfortunately, in their delirium, they see their friends as enemies and try to flee. "To the sick man, sweet water tastes bitter."

Let's say a boat goes down miles from shore. There are some people who, floating in the water, decide they will never make it to shore and give up on the spot. These people don't begin a spiritual path. Others point in the direction of shore and start swimming, confident they will make it. These people soon discover if they are truly courageous or not. Finally, some say they cannot make it, but start swimming anyway. These are the most courageous. They have learned to act in the face of despair.

We back away from untruth and judge the untrue from a higher perspective. The higher perspective is eventually judged from another, superior perspective. Until the end, I was never certain of anything. I think that is the value of Rose's emphasis on using reason and intuition. For me, one perpetually doubted the other, so I kept striving for a superior state—a state of certainty.

I was not a born seeker. My plans for the perfect life were trounced and in the resulting state of despair I felt the emptiness of life. The despair was born of an honest appraisal of my situation. I stumbled upon a lecture by Mr. Rose, and for the first time realized the possibility of discovering the meaning of life. I was twenty-two years old before I read my first spiritual book. At first, the spiritual search substituted for other failed pursuits and propped up my wounded ego. I suppose I could have rested in the conceit that I was a spiritual seeker and superior to my fellows, but I did not. Perhaps it was the sense I got from Mr. Rose that there was something ultimate to be discovered. That sense of the ultimate is the most important thing to communicate. Once you have had a taste, it will haunt you.

Again I return to self-honesty. You know that there is more than the way you are living. You have a superior perspective, yet you chose to forget. You cannot escape. You are simply running in circles. Persistence is a natural outcome of honesty. Commitment is the fruit of honesty.

Honesty may very well bring despair, then you must have faith. Faith born of your own contact with the edges of the Ultimate or in the knowledge that others have attained. Know that the path of honesty will lead you through the final despair—through death itself.


Brother Theo, looking for Self

Brother Theo (from www.zoofence.com)

Aloud: All our friends are enlightened now except I and thou. What shall we do—wallow in our retardation, or get angry and 'have a cow'? What makes sense to me (aside: and one of our enlightened friends is chuckling because he now knows my identity), is to proceed in our practiced superiority. After all, if what they claim be true: who is there to question our veracity? ~ Anon

Reader Commentary:

"I think the forum is a great idea. The 'Zen Crossword' put a big grin on my face (and the old Fugs chant in my brain: 'Monday nothing, Tuesday nothing, Wednesday and Thursday nothing; Friday for a change a little more nothing. Saturday once more nothing.')

"While enjoying, I was reminded of the untitled poem [see below] by e.e. cummings (not to mention a half-dozen other sources of inspiration) that I've long felt connected with.

"Shawn's 'Your Current State' (wonderful) recalled to me a haunting H.G. Wells story called 'The Plattner Story.' A man is violently thrown into another, dimly-lit, philosophical dimension right next door to this."

~ Tony in Seattle

untitled poem by e.e. cummings, 1926

i thank you God for most this amazing
day; for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any-lifted from the no
of all nothing-human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

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