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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 May 2016 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.

Knowing Oneself

Part 3 of a talk given by Richard Rose in Denver, CO on June 10, 1983 (continued from the March 2016 TAT Forum and the April 2016 TAT Forum):


But to make a long story short, we should never exercise our ego too foolishly. One of the biggest detriments in the understanding of yourself – that which stands between you and yourself – is an ego. And there are many steps as I described; you get into observing yourself and looking for methods. I call this the ways and means committee. You have to set up a ways and means committee for every step.

It's a great temptation to exalt yourself. And right before you have your final experience, the biggest ego you have to face is your own mortality. I remember when we were meeting in Steubenville one time,1 I was trying to get a fellow to join us. His wife was sitting in a little group with us. He was a tremendously congenial fellow and he was generally sipping a martini when we were talking. He said, "That's alright but that's not for me. You're talking about life after death and immortality, but John Kapitka is just not that dammed important to live forever."

This is what you have to face one of these days, and if you aren't run over by a Mack truck you will face it. If you die slowly, the thing that will surge through your consciousness is, "I'm not that important. What is it about the inhabitant of this wreck of a body, what's left of it, that's important?" You actually drop that ego, and strangely enough, in the process of dropping that ego is when the lights come on.


Q. You referred to cosmic consciousness. Would you elaborate on that?

R. Yes. Have you heard of Gurdjieff?

Q. No.

R. There's a fellow by the name of Gurdjieff,2 a lot of you may not have heard of him. I consider him the top psychologist of the western world. He had an astute understanding of the human mind and the different types of people. He had a psychological-spiritual philosophy as well. And these people fit into this. Because we're all spiritual people. As I said, as physical beings we're nothing but fertilizer. Unless we have some objective beyond that, then it doesn't matter what we do. If there's no inkling of hope for anything beyond the last day, you may just as well do what you think is fun. Do what you please. But Gurdjieff divided men basically into four classes, and above these, man number five, six and seven were people beyond ordinary men. The first bracket was the instinctive man, the second was the emotional man. He called it living in the emotional center. The third would be the intellectual man and the fourth was the philosophical man. The fifth was the enlightened man. But anyhow, there's a transition between these levels, which Gurdjieff didn't talk about too much, but you pick up the inference by reading his literature.

When does an instinctive man become an emotional man? That's a step above. An instinctive man is a guy who loves to drink, he loves sex, he loves to fight, he loves power, playing, and that's it. The world is a playhouse, everything is material, and that's all that counts. His concept of life is, "When I can't have sex, let me be dead." (My concept of sex is, "When I depend on sex, shoot me," because it's a trap, that's all.) But the instinctive man falls in love. I'm saying man but this could be a woman as well. The instinctive person falls in love, and in so doing he touches into his emotional center, he respects somebody more than he respects himself. He falls in love with a woman, or she gets pregnant. He starts working selflessly for his children and he forgets about all these other games. I don't say they always do, but this is the graduation if he graduates.

Now, there's another form of this emotional release or growth. And that is the salvationistic experience, where a man falls in love with Jesus or Buddha or some figure he respects, and follows that person. It's no great contact with heaven. It's that he loses the worshiping of himself and his body. This is the key that is struck. From this comes a marvelous release. Sometimes they say, "Oh, I've made it, I've been saved. I confessed my sins and beat my head on the floor, and I'm satisfied now that I'm in touch." Sure. This is the first step in spiritual growth, if they follow through on it. But what happens? Why do people leave churches? It's because these convictions come and go. The computer somehow is saying, "Maybe you snowed yourself." Or maybe six months after you get married you realize that you're no longer worshipping this person and now you're working because you have to. Regardless, you're going to drift.

My father-in-law3 was a Pentecostal minister, they used to call them holy-rollers. He was like the man in Tobacco Road or God's Little Acre or one of those little books. If he got his hands on too much money he would go out and get drunk, or he'd get one of the girls from the church. (In the books I read, they'd take them out to the irrigation ditch, you know.) He was married and had a family. But he would come back and repent, confess his sin, and start all over again. He was a sincere person but he just wobbled. So he wasn't really sure of himself, or he wouldn't have done that. I don't think he was really sure of himself.

But then you become disgruntled, and you realize that you're emotional and consequently unstable, that you don't have proof. I maintain that this idea of the pursuit of truth should be started off with a scientific procedure having the same strictness by which you'd examine the element oxygen or hydrogen in an analysis in chemistry. This isn't fiction, and you can test. There's a system.


In the process of finding the Truth there is only one path to go, because truth is not any place you can put your finger on. You don't know what the truth is. You've got millions of books perhaps to study but don't know which one to start with. You don't know what the word truth means. We talk about looking for God, but you don't know what the word God means. In West Virginia they think his last name is Damn. So everybody has their own theology.

Consequently, what you have to do is avoid the garbage. Set yourself certain principles to go by. This is what I did when I was 21 years old. I made up my mind that I would never listen to any cult or movement that charged enormous sums of money, or even more than it should for basic expenses. I believe that everybody should work for a living. I don't believe we should take our salvation from the blood and sweat of slaves. At 10% each, ten people in a congregation gives you a day's wages. Why do you have to have 200 or 2,000 people paying 10%?

Another thing to watch for is rank: altar boy, priest, bishop, pope and so on. This has no bearing. We start to have a respect that is unnatural; we think that this person is holier, more important. Nobody is any more important than anybody else. We look upon certain people as authoritatively wise because they have shingles, they have degrees. But for what we're talking about, you people here are the wisest people on earth for you. Because you'll find what you're looking for inside yourself, not in a teacher. So you are the source of your own wisdom. You have to go inside.

It might take some stumbling speaker like myself to point the way a bit or give you a little inspiration. But you'll ultimately find it by yourself, by your own bootstraps. You don't need traps and routines that are liable to take up too much of your time, when you could spend it better just sitting or walking and thinking.

The other thing is secrecy. I used to hear some of the fellows talking who had been into a lot of these movements. They said, "The movements that require secrecy generally appeal to the wealthy; they just love to be in something that nobody else can get into." You have to get in by invitation or something of that sort.

I noted this when I'd be traveling around – and I spent most of my young years traveling after I got out of the seminary. I looked into every group, anybody who would stand still and talk to me. I'd come right to the point, "What do you know for sure? Do you know what you're talking about? Have you talked to God? Do you know where this magic comes from that you're implying?" And generally you'd get an evasive answer.

Intellectual man

I want to go on to this third category. Some people just live and die in the emotional phase. But a person who is intellectually inclined will free himself from it in his lifetime. He says, "Hey, I've been taking the word of somebody who says he's a representative of God Almighty. I'm going find out for myself." But he doesn't know where to look. So he takes to the more scientific type of books. I did this. I got into astrology, numerology, the Kabbalah, and I thought that maybe by some confusion of the brain or added exercise of the brain I would get something out of this – because evidently there are some very wise men in it; when you read the books, they are very astute literature.

And in the same way you'll get a graduation, which I call the "wow" experience. You can also get this from studying algebra or math, and lots of people have. When I was in college I thought algebra was the most absurd thing I had ever gotten into. Somebody wants to know the value of x in relation to a, b, c. And I thought, "What nonsense is this? If you don't know what a, b, c are, what do you care what x is? But I had to take this because I was majoring in chemistry at the time. So I kept on belaboring myself with it, and one day it popped, and from then on it was all downhill.

This little phenomenon will occur in your spiritual search as well. You belabor yourself. Don't give up. There is no place to look except anywhere – under any stone, I always say. Turn every stone over. But what happens is that a person gets into this algebraic wow, or he gets into a certain Zen training that will do it, and they call this satori. "Wow, that's what it is! Now things are clear." And now you think you've got all the laws of the universe down, that all you have to do is keep applying the algebraic formula.

Now you've exhausted everything you've got to work with. All we have to work with is our logical faculties, which is mostly common sense. And if we have to apply a stricter logic, we do it. We also have applied what you might say is our emotional self, which is a feeling. We thought we felt correctly, and we found out we didn't, perhaps. And where else is there to go?

So you go out and you just keep looking. You read books, you think, you meditate, you meet with people, get opinions that will stimulate your thinking. This is where I go back to the contractor's law: this is where those other people come in handy, because they're a reflection of yourself. You can go down a blind alley as a philosopher, and your good friend will come along and say, "Hey Rose, you know what you're doing? You're playing a game inside your own head." And you'll realize it when that person points it out.

Also, the so-called association with those people is apt to provide a certain amount of protection. I think that in anything you do, in any group of scientists, you have to have some sort of coordination between the findings. This is true about your esoteric scientists as well. It's good to trade notes; you'll learn a tremendous lot by talking to other people. This saves time. You can't join every movement. But if you can get honest people to tell you what goes on, you'd be surprised what you can pick up.

And I am still learning. I have learned a tremendous lot since I was 50 years of age. My experience occurred at 30. My experience only gave me an answer, it didn't tell me how I could communicate with other people. It didn't tell me the mechanisms of the people's minds and that sort of thing. So you can always learn a tremendous lot.

Cosmic consciousness

Okay, so in this blind sort of struggling, once more you're back to the drawing board. You start floundering around, but you keep pushing, even though there's nothing to push. You don't know what you're doing, but you still look everyplace; you still try to understand. And then you have another breakthrough. This is the first real breakthrough of any immensity, and it's called cosmic consciousness in our language.

Richard Bucke headed up some sort of a university or a foundation in Canada.4 He stepped out on the veranda one day and he said the whole city5 looked like it was in flames. It wasn't real; nobody else saw it but him. It sounds in a way like he had gotten some LSD because the whole horizon was shimmering. He said that coincidental with this view a tranquility came over him, and he knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that everything was under control, everything was operating according to order. God was in charge, and we didn't have to worry about a thing, just don't try to interrupt things too much. I can't explain more than that, except that's the type of experience it was. In the Hindu terminology it's called kevala nirvikalpa samadhi. The English word for it is cosmic consciousness.

The word enlightenment is another word that's highly misused. Some people think that just being wised-up is enlightenment. No, that isn't it. It's a decided change and an understanding of your being. As I said repeatedly, a man never finds God except in himself. You never learn the truth; you become the truth, or you never know what the truth is.

So we go on to the philosophic stage. I go through these because you may have had some of these experiences. Don't get too egotistical and think you're talking to God yet. Because even in the cosmic consciousness experience, what you're having is a relative experience. The city is there, colored, which is objective and relative. Motion, the shimmering of the color, is there. These are not absolute.

Now at the time, there's no way that you know there's anything above that. But if by some chance later on you transcend the philosophic level, then you'll have what is called enlightenment, or sahaja nirvikalpa samadhi.6 This is the union with the absolute. You can call it God if you want. But when I had my experience, in the transition through the experience, I saw humanity, the entire scope of humanity, but I never saw any man with a long beard. And yet I knew the answer, because basically I was the answer. Of course, when you go through that experience, you too will be the answer, which seems paradoxical, because how could everybody be the total absolute answer? But regardless, that's the experience.

It's when you reach this point that you first have a complete overview of human life and its purpose, and the mechanism of human thinking, and the things that are programmed. You are programmed. There is no evil, because you respond to things you're programmed to do. And maybe this is to learn. I think of course that this is one of the errors, that everybody is attacking evil. Ayatollah Khomeini thinks that if he chops off your head he makes you holy. So he's going about chopping off people's heads.

You can't have a physical, frontal assault on a subjective matter, especially when the subjective matter is only the polarity of another undefined thing called "good." There is no good nor bad, there is only that which the engineer designed. We're not smart enough to change it. That goes for our so-called social systems, and that goes for ecology. We're trying to change the ecology. We're not doing anything wrong. I think we have a toss-up, whether we burn all the coal and the oil and cause a carbon umbrella in which we can't breathe, or we poison the streams and everything with tin cans. But do you think we're going to change any of these? I doubt it seriously. All this may lead to us evolving.

So we don't know what's in store. We don't know why we came out of the ice age. But there's evidence that this can happen. The lowering of temperature can happen very quickly.7 They predicted that the effects of Mt. St. Helens would cause colder temperatures for four consecutive years.8 And we've had somewhat chilly weather since then. Our winters have been more severe, completely across the country. They claim that this umbrella hangs there, just from that one volcano. Now we have one from Mexico that blew also,9 so we've got more of them, a mini-umbrella.


Q. Do you distinguish between our awareness and our consciousness?

R. Yes. Consciousness is the awareness of awareness. In other words, we have a faculty of awareness, and when we look at it, it's consciousness. Some people think that trees are aware. But the trees can't think. I shouldn't say that; maybe they can. [Laughs.] But I somehow have the feeling that they don't have the same introspective quality. One time a fellow told me that he was working with carbon oil, kerosene. He said that kerosene showed signs of life. You get down to basic things like a virus and a ketone enzyme, that life began in the ketone enzyme. The ketone enzyme may be aware. The amoeba has to be aware. If it isn't aware it won't find any food. It gropes, it speculates, and it's aware when the food touches it. It closes up on it and devours it. So that's awareness, but the extent of its consciousness is something else, from our viewpoint at least.

Another thing is that you have people who are highly aware and people who aren't. You'll see people who seem like they're just walking in a daze. With some it's caused by retardation, some by shock, and so on. Their point of awareness is somehow blocked out for a period of time.

Basically, awareness is a fundamental quality; and at the other end of the spectrum is this process observer, a thing that sees without the eyeballs, a thing that watches thoughts. This is a process observer. This body makes decisions. If I pick up an apple, this is a body-decision, pick the right apple. But the mind that watches thoughts is a higher form of awareness. This has a specific identity. And this identity continues after your mind and your body are both gone.10

As I said, you have to be prepared to give up your body, but this thing comes in stages. You can't say, "Give me the formula, and I'll jump off a bridge." No, you have to take care of your body. You have to be an egotist to where you get strong enough to do it on your own. You can't think with a diseased body. You've got to have something of a methodical way of going about your thinking processes, or you could become a raving fanatic and go bananas from the so-called pursuit of the truth. This is caused by improper thinking, something wrong with the awareness of your own awareness; you're unconscious of factors and that sort of thing.

But when you really realize, your whole thinking mechanism disappears. I talk about fattening up the head before you chop it off. You can't be a dummy, you can't just say, "Oh, I'm going to relax. One day at a time." I hear a lot of this stuff. This is nonsense. This is the philosophy of earthworms, or rocks, where we're going to "be here now." They haven't begun to be here, much less now. You have to come out fighting. A man fights. The woman is acceptance. A man fights like heck before he learns to surrender. The woman has the ability to surrender more quickly, and consequently reach that point.

To be continued....


1. The Steubenville Psychic Research Group, as mentioned previously.

2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Gurdjieff

3. Jesse Leslie West.

4. Bucke was born in England but emigrated to Canada. The institution that Bucke headed was an insane asylum in London, Ontario.

5. The experience happened when Bucke visited London, England.

6. See the chart from Ramana Maharshi at http://albigen.com/uarelove/sahaja.htm.

7. Environmentalists then were predicting a new ice age.

8. Erupted in 1980: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1980_eruption_of_Mount_St._Helens

9. El Chichón, 1982.

10. Here's some additional description, from Richard Rose's Psychology of the Observer to help distinguish between the process observer and a higher form of awareness:

The Process Observer for a while imagines that it is the true consciousness. It observes the frailties of the Umpire, and the subliminal, unclear nature of readings from the data that comes directly to the mind without the senses, via intuition….

The Process Observer (point E on the Jacob's Ladder diagram) cannot study itself. We may become aware of observing processes, and the polar point F becomes awareness. It is for this reason that the observation position does not go on indefinitely in regard to the mind's observing itself. The Process Observer is the mind in its maximum ability to observe the individual and its complexities. It constitutes the all of the mind, with all of the abilities of that mind in all dimensions. But something is watching it.

The mind (Process Observer) felt that there was nothing beyond or superior to it. It conceived itself to be the all of consciousness. However the fact that we are aware of this, and can look backward at the Umpire and see that previously it too thought that it was the maximum conscious aspect of man, leaves us forever uncertain that anything conceived by the mind can be the final point of observation. But mind has a polarity which is non-mind, but which is simultaneously awareness.

At this point, we become aware of the mind as being external to our awareness. "We" are now observing all from a point of undifferentiated awareness. The mind still does not stand still but continues its labor of sorting and studying the processes of the mind. It simultaneously becomes aware of its own potential for awareness.

The final throes of the mind are like the intense but hopeless motions of a beheaded chicken, struggling to be eternally aware of the awareness that it witnesses. It is for this reason that those who go through the experience of transcending the mind, recognize in it and describe it as being the experience of death. The mind does not die easily, and when the personality is gone, we find that we are still aware. Not only are we aware, but we are infinitely more aware than ever before.

This outline has been wordy perhaps, but at the same time very brief. There is a storehouse of information about the mind represented by the points C, D, and E, that is unplumbed. There is a world of potential there also for the individual to explore once he has reached the limits of the Absolute and returned back down the projected Ray of Life.


~ Transcription (at www.direct-mind.org/index.php?title=1983-0610-Denver-Colorado) by Steve Harnish of a talk given by Richard Rose in Denver, CO in 1983. for information on the transcription project.

Return to the main page of the May 2016 TAT Forum.

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