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April 2017 / More

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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 April 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.

Early Impressions of Richard Rose in Retrospect

The material here is from interviews conducted between 1994-1995 with students who knew Richard Rose as early as 1973, by Paul Schmidt—an early and still-active TAT member. The Mr. Rose that we knew as students was fading into Alzheimer's by that time. The TAT Forum published a memorial issue to Richard Rose (March 14, 1917–July 6, 2005) in August of 2005.

Part 2, continued from the March 2017 TAT Forum:

"There's some type of feeler in human systems that knows the being of the other people, and they know his being. And after a while, if you score, you sense about half the people you meet. You realize what they really are, what they're up against. Most everybody is working against a wall. Trying to get through that wall."

"They think they have the answers. And they give answers to everything. But I throw them off balance, and that forces them to begin questioning. I get them to start comparing and evaluating, and that is the key. That makes them start thinking. And once they start thinking, they'll deprogram themselves and come out of it…. Keep hitting them with challenging questions that show they don't know right from wrong, and they see that they don't have any answers. They start searching for something…. You push the mind into questioning until you break through.

"From the first time I lay eyes on a person, I watch his face and I start moving his mind, pushing it with questions. I keep pushing and pushing, and I don't let him get away with the lies he's been told or telling. One day there will be a minute, a second, when the mind snaps back and comes out of it … and his state of mind will change."
~ Richard Rose

Psychological Astuteness and Zen Techniques:

Bob C. talks about one of Rose's methods: "He would talk as though he were talking in generalities. He would be tailoring his talk based on the intuitions he was having about people. If he suspected that a person had a certain difficulty, he would start talking about that difficulty in generalities. That's probably where a lot of that came from, where people felt he was talking about them personally. He wouldn't have to get personal. He could just take one look at people. Let's face it, putting aside someone's extra intuition or ability to think clearly or see clearly, the fact was he was in his mid-fifties. He's 57 years old, and you're looking at a 19- or 20-year-old, and he's been through life and raised a family. You know what life is about, and you know what trouble people go through."


Al F.: "One of the proofs of Rose's experience [of the Absolute] is that I have never met anyone before or since that has the depth of psychological insight into people's heads. That depth doesn't come from reading books, it doesn't come from even being observant and intuitive. It's beyond that. He's been outside the mind. He would come up with stuff so particular to that person, no amount of infinite working of psychological factors that we know of from this side of the mind could add up to his uncanny ability. With pure spontaneity at any given moment, without guessing, he could pull out of thin air an analysis, but he would use it with humor. I believe that ability, which is some kind of enhanced intuition, is a result of being outside the mind."

"Five or six years ago, during the era of our hypnosis group in Pittsburgh, I called him about something else. In a matter of a few minutes, he told me things about myself that had just never occurred to me … how my head works … just matter-of-factly. I wrote it down, it was so shocking. I was stunned all through the night and into the next day. I felt as if I had been hit over the head. The fallout from it was I began to deny it, saying this wasn't true, an internal argument. But it was true. Usually people can say things to us and we know they're guessing, that they're off the mark."

At one of the early meetings Al attended, he asked Rose a question about the nature of enlightenment. Rose looked at Al, and he got personal, "What you need to do before you even think about enlightenment, is to get your head on straight." Wham!

"One time someone asked about love and enlightenment. Rose laughed. 'Love, you need a translation: lust. There's no such thing, except for a mother's selfless love for her baby.'"

"On a daily basis there weren't all different sides of him. What I saw was a master psychologist. I've been through a little bit of psychology, and we can sit and take a person … and we can speculate about him, about what makes him tick, and try to get as deep as we can. What Rose was doing on a daily basis, at one time probably with 20 to 30 people, was working on a consistent psychological basis with them. Not the kind of that we think of in therapy, somebody sitting taking notes. He was trying to get them to overcome their hang ups."

"The outstanding thing about him, that I know in retrospect, is he wasn't guessing. When he looked up at the TV set [a tiny B&W set on top of a refrigerator in Rose's kitchen], that guy up there … he could look at anybody and know them right to the core. He sees everybody how we don't see it. He sees them as a projection. And I don't quite know why that is. Other than when I had that thing happen to me at Duquesne [University], the next morning the first thing I saw was my wife; and when I looked at her face, I saw her as a stranger. I could even pick up her thinking, her thoughts and her motives, as her eyes moved. And I think that Rose sees that on a deeper level."

"There are people who are good guessers, but Rose wasn't guessing, He never guessed. I don't think he was ever wrong about anybody in that sense. He could be wrong about, like my brother Mike says, the tractor—but he was absolutely right about my brother's chief feature. I've never run into anybody else with the depth of insight into people. He could be anywhere, absolutely anywhere, and turn and look at somebody … and he would start talking about them like he knew them from birth…."


Bill K. recalls how Rose's one-liners could completely change your thinking. "One time this girl Janie, a skinny girl who looked like a boy, asked Rose the difference between concentration and meditation, and Rose said, "I always concentrate." For me, that's the only thing that could have been said at the time. "It goes right through your head and stays with you for the rest of your life, even though it sounds trivial."


Rose has told Shawn N. that nobody ever listens to him, and that men, when you tell them something, get mad.


Bob C.: "As far as who he was, the actual form his interactions with different people was absolutely based on his observation of that person. He was extremely intuitive. He could read people, but he was also always cautious about his intuition. He always tried to validate, look for concrete behavior, ask questions, find out all he could about a person's past. What was their childhood like, what kind of experiences did they have? He didn't put you on the spot."

Rose's method, his technique (repeated from the first part of the transcript): "He would talk as though he were talking in generalities. He would be tailoring his talk based on the intuitions he was having about people. If he suspected that a person had a certain difficulty, he would start talking about that difficulty in generalities. That's probably where a lot of that came from, where people felt he was talking about them personally. He wouldn't have to get personal. He could just take one look at people. Let's face it, putting aside someone's extra intuition or ability to think clearly or see clearly, the fact was he was in his mid fifties. He's 57 years old, and you're looking at a 19- or 20-year-old, and he's been through life and raised a family. You know what life is about, and you know what trouble people go through."


Augie T. relates the time he was in Cleveland with a lot of doubts and the letter he sent to Rose. Rose returned the letter with a blank piece of toilet paper in it.


Al F. tells of a time Rose came to Kent [State U.] to give a talk. They met on Sunday and went to breakfast at a Dutch Pantry. "An older woman, the cashier, was riding a young girl who worked there. Rose gets in line to pay and says out loud, 'What about the fly in my soup?' I never encountered someone who could act so out of character at any given moment."


Augie T. tells of a time in Columbus when three hoodlums were harassing some short guy and his girlfriend by a car. Augie, Rose, and another guy were walking down the street talking philosophy. "Rose looked over and saw those guys and says, 'C'mon, let's go help him.' Without a moment's hesitation they start across the street. But fortunately the little guy goes to his trunk and gets out a tire iron, and the guys take off." Augie's heart was pounding, and he says to Rose, "You're always talking about this manure pile, how we've got to obey the law of the ladder, the heck with people. God, you had us risk our lives for that (unintelligible) over there. And Rose turned and said, 'You don't understand. Someday you'll have a family. The streets have got to be safe for families. But I don't expect you to understand.'"


Bob C.: "People who go through therapy are different than those helped by Rose. Victor Frankl's therapy of meaning used a gimmick or trick to make you feel cured or rationalized. What I sense about Rose, there are no axes to grind. He's not selling anything. He's coming from an absolute perspective of facing the truth… if he can help you see that truth about yourself, and point you in a direction somehow, he will. If a person had to grieve, the grief wouldn't go away, but he would face his grief directly, and he could use this grief as a catalyst to face himself."


Augie T.: "He doesn't project a superiority. He doesn't take himself very seriously at all. I was just talking to him recently and telling him 'every time you turn around, you're in my head, and you were predicting what I was gonna think and what I was gonna do.' It's amazing. Rose said, 'You gotta remember something, I was 56 years old when you met me. I spent my whole life studying this. You were 18 or 19 years old, and so were all the rest of the guys. It doesn't take a mental giant to keep 3 or 4 steps ahead of a bunch of 18-year-olds. I was always making out like a big cat.'"


Michael C: "Rose is such an enigma. But what it is, is that he's had decades since his experience [in 1947] to watch and wait for propitious moments to act. I think I'm pretty intelligent when it comes to esoteric things, but when I'm around Rose I feel like I'm still in the first grade, and Rose is the emeritus. I realized it's because he's spent fifty years on it. It's his priority."

"I experience it as an awareness there that is powerful, and a very vigilant awareness that's contactable but is only contacted by your awareness. That's how the contact is made. It's not made with personality. It's one awareness contacting another awareness."

"I have closely watched for signs of weakness or inconsistency over the years and know that there's no other answer possible for the tremendous scope of Rose's overview of our human existence. He has a working knowledge of what are known as the "Natural Laws" and has made of his life a grand example of those very laws. He has become his path, and does not exist apart from it. He knows how to live in harmony with the forces that shape our destiny and yet possesses a will of such magnitude as I have never seen. He calls it between-ness. Others might call it magic, or the hand of God."

"He is an easy man to love and yet a difficult teacher to work with. He allows you little comfort in your delusions (or illusions). He is a master of True Psychology and has the uncanny ability to pinpoint that exact part of your thinking which is presently blocking your understanding of yourself. I have been present at both formal and informal programs, large and small, where literally dozens of people walked away sure that he was speaking directly to them, and them only, addressing their personal problems. This is no mean trick."

"He has the most developed intuition I have ever seen, and such that I never dreamed possible. This is coupled with a penetrating, scientific mind. His approach to analysis of situations, and especially people, is phenomenal. Every psychologist should have this ability, for with it, he can go directly into the mind of the student/patient or to the heart of a situation. He has mastered the art of keeping his own ego colorations out of the picture, and allowing the truth to come to him. This is not as easy as it sounds, nor as arcane. It is simply something that very few are capable of, and few even believe exists. The main advantage, aside from a perhaps smoother life, is its use as a tool in helping questioning minds find answers."

"There are many who have been helped through Rose's efforts. Potential suicides, addicts, neurotics, and the confused have by the score moved from positions of relative misery to plateaus of success and a greater understanding of themselves and of life's meaning. They can tell their own stories. Their very lives will tell the story, if they choose to remain silent. It is a magnificent quality of the man that he places his value on the work itself and not on the results. There is a paradox here, in that his system is validated by the results, but his heart is only in the act of the work itself. This is a difficult area to define, but I know him to be detached from his effort. The East has a way of expressing it: 'To do, without being the doer.' This, too, is part of the magic of betweenness. This attitude is born out, in part, by Rose's refusal to accept payment for his teachings, and his maintenance of a very low profile, in the age of millionaire gurus."

"By the very nature of his system, he has chosen a most difficult path for himself. He detests mummery, dogma, devotion, intellectual concept building, and anything else that leads one away from the inner direction. This leaves very little glitter to attract those who might be looking for answers. He adamantly refuses to indulge in self-glorification or to allow anyone to be devoted to him (as millions are to their teachers). In fact, he makes strong efforts to disturb those close to him, so that there can exist a distance (and hence, polarity) between himself and the student—likening all human progress to the action of an automobile sparkplug, where the energy (or tension) builds up to a point where it must leap the gap. It is at the midpoint of that gap that the explosion takes place. It is also at the midpoint between minds (or between Being and Nothingness), that Enlightenment takes place. Or, I should say, where Transmission—defined as 'to send or transfer from one person to another'—takes place. Little can be said of this, except that Rose has the ability to project into a student's mind the memory of his own Satori experience, and thereby, perhaps, give a slight push to one who is on the brink of his own realization. This is not to be confused with "zapping" or any of the other tricks of some powerful teachers, which only temporarily open the head of the recipient, only later to fade away, and the student is left with little or nothing since it was the teacher's effort and not his own that caused the experience. Rose adamantly insists that it is useless to attempt any such heroics with a mind that is not prepared. The danger of insanity and other lesser mental amazements far outweighs any possible advantages to the student. It is also possible that those teachers who indulge in such displays are doing so only to enhance their own reputation and thereby increase their flock. You must judge for yourself a man's motives, and react accordingly. The student literally trusts his very mental (and sometimes physical) health to the teacher."

"Waking up could be a shattering experience for some … or most of us. I feel Rose's personal satisfaction comes from two areas. The first in being able to live up to an early-life commitment to make available to others, any wisdom he chanced upon. The second is simply that he truly loves working with people."

"It is a marvelous experience to watch Rose in a group atmosphere, at his best during informal discussion sessions. He is well-informed on current events in politics, world affairs, and social news. He manages to interweave intense philosophy into a continuous dialog, with five or fifty people, mixing humor with sarcasm and penetrating insight with the open curiosity of a child. My best comparison is to that of a master orchestra conductor. Every mind in the group is an instrument, and his task is to bring out the best from each, and harmonize one with the other, and with many others. He highly values group rapport and the resulting understanding and friendships that develop. His goal is to inspire the life inside to come forth, and venture into the light, that it might increase. I have seen people weep, with both sorrow and joy, and laugh heartily—many for the first time in years. And many laugh at themselves and their own pompous egos and struggles of foolishness. There is no heavy-handed approach, and people's feelings are respected at all times. More goes on in one hour of this type of 'therapy' than might occur in one hundred hours with the high priced mind-mechanic."


Augie T. says "One of the things that frustrated Rob A. most was how he would recall for Rose some of the profound thoughts and sequences he had had driving to meet Rose at some coffeehouse. And when he would finish. Rose would go, 'Hmm, you don't say?'"


Bob C.: "And he explained it (his message) in a language that felt like he was talking directly to me, like we were having a one-on-one conversation…. I think that a lot of people had the reaction when they went to any of his lectures. They almost felt as if he was speaking to them personally. His mind would take him into talking about things that did speak to people personally. Undoubtedly a certain element of it was universal and that people applied it to their own circumstances and so took it personally. That was such a common feature of his talks, so intense that it's hard to believe there wasn't more to that."

In the summer of 1973, Bob C. moved to Rose's Benwood house and stayed there for 6 weeks before he moved to Columbus to set up a group. He spent a lot of time sitting around Rose's kitchen table and talking. "One time comes to mind—I don't specifically remember what we were talking about, but then he started telling some bizarre story about animals in a zoo. What I do remember about it, looking back, is that it was a nonsensical story, and I became disoriented. He was doing something, my mind was being affected by the conversation, and he must have seen that my head was in a certain spot. And he did one of his mental flip-flops and went to the opposite end. We were probably talking about something, a very long drawn out exposition, philosophically. He was painting a picture that all made sense. And then he did a reverse on me, speaking nonsense. It stopped my head, and I felt disoriented. At that point he just left the room. Hey, I didn't know what to expect, I didn't know … getting to know this person in this short period of time I was down there. I didn't know what the agenda was as far as the teaching situation … accepting him as a teacher. I didn't know what his method was."

"I sat there for a while. I was in a frozen state of mind. I got up and went upstairs to my room. I had this corner room in the house where he mixed his own paint [Rose had been a painting contractor before this time]. This was a very unusual room. The ceiling was painted a powder-sky blue, and each wall was painted a different shade of sunset pink. That was the most placid room to sit in. I sat down, in the mood for being reflective. And while I was sitting in the room, the strangest wave of emotion overwhelmed me—intense nostalgia, almost to the point where you felt like crying but you weren't sad. I remember this as an example of one of many things that happened to me over the years and there was always a part of my being observing this while it happened. I'd think, wow, what's happening to me? I'm in a very strange mood."


Mike G.: "I remember one lecture, there was this guy who was kind of a nut in the audience. And he asked some seemingly crazy question. It was like a cross between a scientific type of question and something you might expect out of a schizophrenic. The question had something to do with the mind and time. Rose didn't laugh at him or put him off. He paused for a minute and gave him an answer. And the guy, said, 'That's the first time I've ever run into anybody who understood' such and such…. And the guy didn't say anything for the rest of the night."


Bill K.: "If you listen to Rose or you talk to him in a dialogue, it never fails to astound me, he just says things so matter-of-factly (especially if you tape it and take it apart after listening to it), he really has credibility in that he can talk in those areas, and he does have experience, he does know about those things. After listening to dozens, maybe hundreds of hours of tapes, the consistency is just incredible, and you just don't see that with anybody else … especially in spiritual matters. People are too smug. And that's the criticism of every person you begin to talk to who has been around some spiritual discipline for some period of time. They can say things, but they don't have to verify it. Rose goes to great pains to elaborate."

"Rose has always been an incredible psychologist. His insight into human nature is not from the laboratory or theoretical. He talks about how no single psychology is complete in its understanding of human nature. When you talk to Rose, you realize that it's an incredibly simple approach. It's not naive, but it's incredibly honest."

"I think it's because he doesn't have any skeletons in his closet. I think that he has nothing to lose. He doesn't have a profession. He doesn't have any clients that he's afraid will leave him. He doesn't have any colleagues that he has to keep in step with, that he has to answer to."

"He points out how grandiose the theories and explanations of existentialism and behavioral psychology are. And all these things are totally abashed in light of his simple honest approach—where you call a spade a spade. And psychologists don't want to operate, they don't want to explain the situation, that way. The church doesn't want to do it that way; there's no religion that wants to do it that way. It's always in light of … there is always something that they're trying to sell that you need to subscribe to, that you need to believe in."

"Maybe that's why there's such a high turnover of people that come and say that Rose is the most remarkable product they've ever run across, and the next thing you know they disappear or they hate him. Maybe it's because of his genuine honesty. He's not afraid of the facts, he's not afraid to point these things out to people. And modern psychology won't do that because they respect your privacy, they respect your habits. But Rose's point is well-taken. The lifestyle or the habit-patterns that you have determine what you can understand. If you want to be a philosopher, your lifestyle is going to paint that philosophy. After I met Rose, I kept my nose clean. I was into drugs. I had tripped about four times at the most. I was doing serious marijuana for about 2 years."


End of part 2. To be continued….

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

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