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January 2018 / 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 January 2018 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.

Nostalgia and Dreams

Part 1 of a talk given at Case Western Reserve University in 1978:

This talk may be a new approach to you in the field of psychology. And it is mostly psychological—it has to do with self-understanding. Of course, psychology does too, if you apply it rather than taking an objective form, following some psychological system, Freudian or more modern. Then you might not be interested in what I call intuitional psychology—or the business of looking inside the head directly as opposed to reading books or studying curves or norms.

This is a kind of a takeoff from the fifth chapter1 of the book I've written, The Albigen Papers, which has to do with the obstacles you run into when you start trying to do something with your Self—your capital-S Self. And I noticed that the key things, which are pretty much ignored, were some very everyday, patent happenings. And they have to do with states of mind.

Now psychologists will play up cause and effect. For instance you'll have a stimulus and a reaction to the stimulus, and from this behavior they try to set up laws: the way you react to a stimulus. But I became interested when I was quite young in gestalt psychology; it was coming out when I was in college. The word "gestalt" came out—no one knew too much what was behind it, but it was quite different from Fritz Perls' gestalt psychology of today.

This applied to thinking about patterns of the mind and watching them, rather than particular responses to stimuli. And I noticed that in the business of self observation—if you're observing yourself in meditation, or in self-analysis, or if you're analyzing someone else—we pay very little attention to what's really going on inside the person's head, and watch instead for physical reactions.

For instance, in this group we try to practice a method of going directly to a person's mind, as opposed to listening to a torrent of words—that possibly as Talleyrand says were invented to conceal meaning rather than to convey it.2 Most of the information given to a therapist is false, deliberately false. So if he's not intuitive, it's going to take him a long time to dope out his patient.

There are things that afflict the mind. First of all, we do not perceive with the senses—we perceive with the mind. The senses are imperfect, and the observations of physicists can tell you this: our lenses are inverted, our color range is different from what we actually witness, and a tremendous adjustment on distance and that sort of thing is carried out in the mind.

So when we get into such subjective things as human behavior, or the relationships between people, and you're no longer dealing with distances, colors, etc., you have to get a better view of the total man, not just the way he moves his arm or the way he swings at you.

States of perception

And our mind is colored before we start. Now—"before we start"—I don't know where it begins. I think it goes back maybe for generations. Jung says it may go back to ancient, archetypal patterns, mental patterns. But regardless, this is the way we're built. We see things through our mind, and they come through what I call states of perception.

To give an example of a state of perception: dope is a state of perception, to an extent. A kaleidoscope is a state of perception. A child looking through a kaleidoscope at the world sees an entirely different world, and sometimes becomes thrilled by it—by the different combinations of colors and shapes. It's really unreal.

But much of our life comes to us through states of perception—say, a person with a few drinks in him. I've had this experience and I think some of you have too, where you saw things differently after you had a few drinks. I used to be affected by cigarettes; I could smoke a couple cigarettes and then write poetry. I would suddenly see the world through a different lens, and I'd start writing poetry. I don't want to dwell too long on states of perception, but this is basically where we're headed.

States of mind

There's a takeoff from states of perception which we have to observe in order to understand the human mind. States of perception influence what I call states of mind. Now these are very common words, and you think, "Oh yes, I know what a state of mind is: I'm in a good state of mind or a bad state of mind." No. There are distinct-colored states of mind that can lead us to bliss or to murder.

For instance, you can join institutions that will desperately try to change your state of mind, by disciplines, until you'll be capable of committing murder. Or you'll be capable of going out and sacrificing your life as a martyr, once you get into this state of mind.

Now I maintain that unless we can perceive this mechanism that goes on, we cannot be free agents. And we cannot think clearly and get a true picture of ourselves unless we're free agents. And we are battered and assailed at all times by a tremendous amount of work going on by agencies. Now I'm not saying that they're necessarily plotting to take over our head or anything like that. I think everybody's plotting to take over your head in the commercial line, in television and that sort of thing. But it's not anything really evil. But nevertheless, we are battered by a lot of demanding mentalities. We are battered by nature. Nature produces a state of mind. Nature produces a state of perception also, and the states of perception lead to states of mind. Now this is the direction of states of perception: we're not in a state of perception unless we're seeing through some coloration. That is, we see the world through some coloration, or we see actions through some coloration.

We're all acquainted with going down the street and meeting a person of the opposite sex, becoming carried away completely with the idea that this is a perfect creature, this is your future destiny—and then going to bed with it and waking up later and wondering how you got into bed. Because the state of perception changed with the amount of hormone in the bloodstream, presumably. I don't know all the endocrinology. But I do know that people are capable of profound changes in states of mind before and after sexual acts.

It's not something insignificant, where somebody says, "This happens to everybody." No, no—this is the basis for religions forming. This little thing is the basis for the whole quibble that man has with himself. Man is not satisfied with himself—and for ten thousand years he's not been satisfied with himself. Now he would like to tell himself that he's satisfied with himself, but he's getting more dissatisfied. The more he tells himself he's perfectly normal in all the wild things he does, the more dissatisfied and the more unhappy he gets—and the more people are hanging themselves. They're trying to get out of life.


Now we come to a thing called moods. And a mood is a peculiarly strong state of perception. Again, you say, "He's in a bad mood," or "He's in a good mood," and we drop it at that. Nobody pays attention to moods. But if you stop and think, you'll realize that a person gets into a depression, or he gets into a mood, and he sees the world through that mood, and his actions are consequently influenced.

Why use the word mood? This is a significant factor in human reaction. It's not just now looking through a kaleidoscope. This is the case where the mind sets on something and acts upon it, and is incapable of escaping from that action until the mood passes. The mood can be so strong he'll be carried away—to a point where, in a sullen mood, or in a despondent mood, he may kill himself. And as he is dying he may regret it.

I know of one such case where a man stabbed himself in the heart and was on the operating table. He just wanted to spite the wife or girl or whatever it was, so he stabbed himself. He had been drinking, too. He cursed all the time they were sewing him up; they had cut him open and sewed up the opening in his heart. But he went back into his ranting and raving and this time he ripped the stitches out. And he knew then that he was dying, and the new realization came upon him very quickly. And instead of a look of anger that he had before—now he's alone in the universe and he knows it, and they can't save him. And he died with this look on his face. But the mood seemingly would not allow him to escape until he was dead.

Now to what we like to think of in scientific terms as meaning. What is meaning? We talk about the meaning of a certain word, like the word psychosis, and we go through a lot of babbling about causes of action and this sort of thing. But everything means something different to you at a different time of the day—and strangely enough, even more weirdly, at night. So that the best time to observe these moods is when you wake up: you've been in a mood, and you've been awakened to the mood by virtue of a striking dream.

You can get into moods in the daytime and never define them until they're gone. And generally you're just happy to get out of them—or they're followed by another mood—and you don't pay any attention to them. I maintain that the biggest part of our lifetime is spent in floating without any direction; we don't know that we're in moods, and we can't put ourselves into moods. I think we try, with booze sometimes, to get into a carefree mood maybe, but generally after a time this just deepens the depression.

But I maintain that our life experience is a concatenation of moods. And we are subject to them; we are not the masters of them. They're pervasive as far as our consciousness is concerned, so we accept them as being us. But we can't be that which we hate—and a lot of our moods are rejected two or three hours later.

Now I approach this idea from the study of the dream world, because there, the moods become more significant—they become more blatant, let's say. In the daytime you can be in a subliminal mood or a halfway mood, in which you're not unhappy and you're not happy, and you think there's no mood. But you may be in a sort of diffident mood.

Fear and seduction

But regardless, we're always motivated by something, generally somewhere between an extreme high and an extreme low. And I find that these are reflected in dreams in two categories—as fear and seduction. Most dreams come under the categories of either fear or seduction; either nightmares or acquisitive dreams—of possession, where you're stealing something, taking something from somebody, raping somebody or having sexual relationships. In the seduction dream we are getting something or pursuing something. In the fear dreams we are the victim; we are being pursued, something is about to kill us, or we're thrown into some weird picture that scares the wits out of us, and maybe we don't know why.

Now we talk about sanity, and of course I'm not going back to the cliché that sanity is the average point in the normal curve, or that whatever the majority of the people do is sanity. I believe that sanity could better be defined as what people in their saner moments—the more subtle moments in-between the highs and lows—would decide on then; the type of life they would decide upon.

Now fear is not sanity. We spend a lot of our daytime in fear. Almost every time you go out on the street you have to be afraid—either of the people in the neighborhood or of the police, who are hungry. But nevertheless, we can't leave our house without fear. And we don't want any part of this; we don't consider this normal. And our dreams I think are trying to tell us something.

On the other hand, we really enjoy the seduction moods. We enjoy grabbing something in the dream, and sometimes we even think, "Why did it stop?"—maybe we can pick up on the second edition next week. But these things leave of their own accord; they too are nothing permanent. This is not our life. When you get the object of the acquisition, you find out that it's not something you really wanted after all.

Speaking of poetry, I wrote a little poem once:3

I dreamed a dream of gold and ran for a chest;
with a fever cold, lost by running the joy of the quest.

In other words, I chased this dream of gold but by the time I got it I was too tired to enjoy the acquisition. And it seems like for everything you get by this seductive method, the price you pay takes the edge off of it.


Now somewhere in between these two moods, there's another one. And it dawned on me that this was the contact of the human being with what some psychologists might have called the zeitgeist, or the spirit of man, or the universal mind of man—even in the present time. And I refer to this mood as nostalgia.

In other words, as we get older, from the time we're a small child, we become aware that we do not fit into society. But we also feel that somewhere there's a common language, a common behavior, a way you can get along with everyone, if you act the right way—there's a tack you can take that will make you harmonious with your fellowman. And in this same mood, in this atmosphere of understanding among fellowmen, everything would run smoothly, seemingly. And it's an ideal state.

Now everybody is out of adjustment, and especially when they're children, because they grow up in what I call the family state of mind. Each family has its own state of mind, each race has its own state of mind, and this is coupled with the many other states of mind that are assailing it, like institutional states of mind. You go into a convent or a penitentiary and you'll find that there's a state of mind in that institution which is pervasive; and everybody has to share it—or somehow get into disharmony with it and either conquer it or be conquered by it.

Consequently, when a kid goes to school, he finds out that the other kids don't have his state of mind. He cracks jokes that aren't funny, he does things that aren't cute, and he gets punched. Some reaction happens. And he begins immediately to embark upon trying to discover that common state of mind by which he can become accepted by people. And as he grows older he still does that, for years and years of his life. He's still wondering whether he's in tune with humanity—and whether humanity has a tune to be in tune with.

So in the business of dreams, I discovered that a great percentage of our dreams are nostalgic. They are neither seduction nor fear; the nostalgic dream doesn't carry the traces of either one. All of us have had them. And I'd say that possibly there are more nostalgic dreams than there are either fear dreams or seduction dreams.

And what is a nostalgic dream? If you haven't had one, or if you had one and maybe didn't identify it—it could be something that is just a bunch of geometric figures. But somehow it sets you, when you waken, with a longing for college, the old college spirit. It awakens something in you—you remember twenty years ago that you had been in such a class, maybe you dropped out, and you wish you had stayed in—and it sets up a nostalgia in you.

Incidentally, the reason dreams are much easier and better to observe than daytime moods, is that there's less sensory factoring allowed. For instance, when you're awake you're confused: If we're talking now, the lights might confuse, the colored rug, the people's faces. In a dream this is all shut out; you're only dealing with stuff from the memory bank.

Very seldom in a dream do you smell anything; I've never heard of anybody smelling anything in a dream or tasting anything in a dream. Hearing, yes. But seeing is the primary thing in a dream. Now again, I'm only going by some people I have checked in my life and that sort of thing. But I've found that even hearing is diminished; a person says something, and if you're watching them in a dream and you wake up, you realize they didn't move their lips. The hearing is almost a mind-to-mind communication, of a certain word or a certain conversation. But the primary senses are seeing and hearing.

And incidentally, for some reason, some of the eastern yogis latched onto this sleeping consciousness faculty, of seeing and hearing. And those are the two things they harp on to develop, so that you'll be able to have some sensory faculty after death. And they call it the darshan and the shabd,4 if I'm not mistaken. The shabd means the ability to hear the sound current. There was quite a business run on these, incidentally; they put it on the market.

Studying moods

Getting back to this business now of the mind at sleep—we can study these moods in a sleeping person better than we can in a waking person, and I think that's the reason they come out so brightly, because this other sensory input is shut off.

I maintain that one of the objectives of meditation is to shut off sensory input into the computer. I was talking in Pittsburgh the other day, and I spoke to an electronic engineer, and he said, "Oh I don't think the analogy holds good," that you can solve problems best by shutting the computer down; that is, shutting down the input and the output. But this is what I advocate: closing off the problem inside the computer until it's solved.

Now this is the basis of meditating for the purpose of a subjective answer. In other words, you want a subjective answer, and you're putting in almost all objective data—only words out of philosophy books. But you throw all this data in, and you have to shut the computer down—or it will continue to put data in, which will confuse your answer. As long as data is coming in it will confuse your answer; it will affect it.

Trying to examine the mood of a person—in talking to him you say, "Well, you're in a bad mood." And he says, "Oh, no, you're wrong. I'm very cheerful. I was just thinking deeply." Because perhaps the words you spoke to him, telling him he's in a bad mood—if he's an obstinate type of person, he might change immediately. The course of a conversation may take him out of the mood, or something you'll see if you're walking down the street together may take him out it—at least to a point where he'll not be able to see it clearly. But let him have an outstanding dream, and then there's no argument.

I think that some of the great psychologists of our time have not been psychologists, but have been poets and artists—who sense this stuff but can't put it into words. I think this has been the key to a tremendous lot of understanding of human nature, whereas you read bales of psychology and you'll not get the mood. A man's trying to tell you about moods, but you can't get it. But read a couple of poems, or go down to the art gallery and look at some of these portraits—and notice if you stand in front of them a few minutes, the different moods that this thing will project you into.

Now—what is the advantage of this? There's a disadvantage to moods, and there's possibly an advantage to them.

First of all, who cares about what humanity's common denominator is, whether we have to worry or dream? I'm not bringing this up for that point. I don't care whether anybody conforms to the language of mankind, and I don't think that that would be a very good aim.

Sure, it's good to get along with your fellowman. It's good not to get into a mood where you're going to commit murder. And I think if you understand your moods, you won't allow that kind of mood to return to where you'll do something harmful, maybe get into kleptomania, or just anger—allowing yourself to drift into a mood which may cause mayhem. I think once you understand this from that psychological viewpoint, then automatically you're free of it. So we don't have to worry about that.

But the main thing is to know what effect the mood has on your mind, when you're studying yourself. And I think that all moods are not us.

If you get sick and you run a fever and you wake up in the middle of the night in a delirium—this is a mood. You're looking at the world through a different lens. You'll hear noises that are magnified. You'll see motions of the physical world that are not true, that are magnified, like a person who is on a bad trip. But this delirium is not sanity, and we do not want any part of it. Although it's a natural thing that happens to a lot of people—I think it has a message. If we look at all these moods we get into, we find that there's a reason behind them. You may learn something, and you may alter your life's course.


To be continued….


1. "Obstacles to Transcendental Efforts"

2. "We were given speech to hide our thoughts."

3. From "The Poet's Dream" in Carillon.

4. "Yoga: Hatha, Shabd, and Raja," by Richard Rose http://www.searchwithin.org/download/yoga.pdf.

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

Return to the main page of the January 2018 TAT Forum.

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