The TAT Forum: a spiritual magazine of essays, 
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February 2018 / More


Convictions & Concerns

TAT members share their personal convictions and/or concerns

Doubt: The Two-Edged Sword of Spiritual Seekers


In his teachings, Richard Rose dedicated a lot of time and energy to the critical analysis of spiritual systems and to the application of doubt on the spiritual path. To that end, I'd like to spend some time talking about spiritual teachers and systems, and how we can apply doubt in the best way possible to sharpen our inquiry and hasten our way along the path.

In my life, three main "pillars of Truth" served me well when evaluating teachers and their systems. First, a deep sincerity to find Truth opened doors for the right teachers. Seemingly, they appeared at the appropriate time in my life and delivered the appropriate message. Second, self-honesty allowed me to make a crucial decision: was it time to leave the teacher because all the gifts were delivered, or was I was running away out of fear? And finally, perseverance enabled me to look under every rock—paradoxically, to continue searching until I failed my way to Truth.

First of all, we should be extremely grateful if we're lucky enough to find an honest spiritual teacher who is also a friend. In my life, I had the great fortune to meet Richard Rose when I was in my early 20's. Rose and his spiritual system ultimately emptied me to the very core of Being and fundamentally stripped away my fear of death. A few years later, another teacher opened my heart to an unimaginable love—and as I usually have to say, before that I was the tin man in the Wizard of Oz, who greatly feared love. Finally, another teacher stripped away my fear of small "s" self and struck down self-doubt, which dissolved me into everything and opened me wide to an impersonal capital "L" Love. And so it's been a grand journey….

Even though spiritual teachers served as beacons of light for me over the past 30 years, I encountered a lot of pitfalls along the way with various teachers. And I know there's a strong tendency in spiritual circles to brush off the pitfalls and bad behaviors so long as the teachers are beneficial to us. But I say we shouldn't so easily dismiss bad behaviors and bad advice—we should employ doubt to shorten the path. It's possible to avoid some of our own unnecessary failures. So while it might sound like I'm harping on spiritual teachers, I want to make it clear that personally, I would've been lost at sea without teachers to guide and inspire me.

I'd also like to point out that we wouldn't be at this event today if it weren't for all the spiritual charlatans. When he was a seeker, Rose encountered so many teachers who were after money, sex, and other nonsense that he became enormously frustrated. He said to himself that if he ever found Truth, he'd commit his life to making his findings freely available to all. And so we have the TAT Foundation today as a result of his commitment.

Today, I'll hit on three key points—doubt, self-delusion, and self-doubt. In addition, I'll offer several cautionary notes concerning the sword of doubt: while it can cut through a lot of nonsense, it can also cleave deeply into us if we're not careful.

1. Doubting Teachers and Spiritual Systems

TAT's model remains in line with that of TAT founder Richard Rose, whose vision included an "umbrella" organization through which many people would exchange ideas. TAT encourages exploration of teachings that resonate with the seeker. Accordingly, it's important to spend time talking about the potential pitfalls we might encounter.

Spiritual teachers must adhere to a high standard. A teaching role has far more implications for the wellbeing of others. Therefore, teachers can't get away with telling students they should or shouldn't expect certain behaviors from someone who is Enlightened. Enlightenment may or may not change a person's behavior, but stepping into a teaching role darn well means the teacher has assumed a serious responsibility and is highly accountable for his or her actions.

That said, we can't blame them for doing or not doing something—that just leads to regret and living in the past. Ruminating over our past actions through a victim mindset rarely serves us well. So seekers also have a lot of responsibility in the process of studying under a teacher. And that's part of what I want to emphasize today.

Here's a few key areas for evaluating a teacher. There's many more to consider. I recommend visiting SpiritualTeachers.org and typing the word "guidelines" into the search box.

A focus on money—We're bombarded every day with a billion-dollar marketing industry. We're hypnotized by commercials, ads, telemarketing, and sales pitches. And in spiritual circles, it's a similar marketing process. So caveat emptor!

Simply put, money muddies the waters, because no matter how deeply realized someone is, a teacher may start treating seekers as clients and therefore change their own behavior as the teacher. For example, teachers are often quite friendly to others during satsang and on YouTube. But later, while they're off stage, they display less friendly behaviors toward students either directly or behind their backs.

In the case of our True Nature, most of us really do need help in recognizing it. So I don't begrudge someone who wants to make a little bit of money by teaching. However, teachers have a better chance of remaining humble if they work down in the trenches like the rest of us.

Please note that I'm not highlighting the money controversy as some form of "elitist" attitude in TAT. I simply feel that the pitfalls associated with money are legion.

Tip: Remain especially discerning of spiritual teachers who charge an excessive amount of money to participate in group events, enroll as a member of their group, receive instruction, or talk one-on-one. This is an indicator that the teacher is focusing too heavily on money rather than simply taking joy in helping others in the Grand Journey of Truth.

Ritual and hard-core practices—Light ritual can provide a sense of community. But be wary of teachers who seem to push their students into certain practices. If the teacher doesn't give flexibility for the myriad of differences in our wiring—our nervous system—then the one-size-fits-all approach is doomed to failure. Or worse, it may create even more problems for people than if they were otherwise left alone.

Likewise, if a teacher expresses too narrow a viewpoint by solely extolling their set of spiritual practices, we begin to overlay more beliefs and constructs on top of old ones. Or we replace old beliefs and constructs with new ones by hopping around from teacher to teacher. Or, we begin filling in the information gaps with our own imagination and erroneous pieces of information.

Tip: Evaluate spiritual teachings for their flexibility, sensibility, and practicality. Simplicity—not complexity—is the preferred beacon for seekers.

Treatment of others—Is the teacher accessible? Is he or she simply a good friend? Does he or she show unkind behavior toward others, including obvious behaviors such as sexual or physical abuse but also subtler behaviors such as ridicule, humiliating others, or attempting to control others? Do they attempt to divide us from family and friends?

Time and again, we see others who are immersed in a spiritual group develop rationale for a teacher's bad behavior. You'd think after the teacher bought the 96th Rolls Royce that students would be clamoring for the exit door. Or if the guru slept with your spouse. Yet I still hear students of some of the more notorious teachers discard this type of behavior with loads of justification.

So while it's somewhat of a mystery to me, I feel that someone can deeply realize their True Nature, step into a teaching role, and start to feel special. Enlightenment usually causes someone to feel ordinary because they realize they've become what they've always been seeking—that it was there all the time. But teaching can once again result in a feeling of specialness and a feeling of immunity from decent human behavior. It can reignite and magnify deep-seated conditioning and lead to all sorts of bad behavior. And so even a realized teacher must forever remain vigilant against self-delusion.

Of course, we should always remain on guard against teachers who are beguiling, narcissistic, or fraudulent. Likewise, it's also possible that some teachers haven't fully recognized their own psychological baggage. They haven't clearly seen and come to terms with the deeply rooted dark areas in themselves. Thus, acute discernment is incredibly important for spiritual seekers.

Tip: Before stepping into a teacher's arena, establish your boundaries by drawing a "line in the sand." For example, most of us are unwilling to tolerate physical abuse or sexual abuse. Or we're unwilling to allow someone to rip us off. We need to ensure we don't rationalize and dismiss odd behaviors in a teacher. This doesn't mean we should run the other way after seeing small displays of quirkiness. But we should take note—and if the evidence becomes sufficient, then it's time to move on.

Actions and words—Does the teacher say one thing in front of spiritual groups or on YouTube but talk or act differently while off stage? Do actions align with words? What do their family, friends, and significant others think? To me, it's important to find out how a teacher interacts with others outside of a retreat setting. For example, some teachers talk a lot about love but then express their dislike of people. It's okay to express dislikes—but it isn't okay to say one thing and do another. And I am reminded of something Richard Rose said about those who preach love: "These people have an underlying motive, and they may not even know it. It's 'love me.' They want others to love them."

Tip: Get behind the scenes with a teacher and see if he or she walks and talks the same truths.

2. Self-Delusion

Which brings me to my next point—self-delusion. This is an especially tenacious and pervasive quality of the mind. If you watch your mind long enough, you'll see how one part of you fools another part. One voice inside us provides the strongest argument and succeeds over the other voices. This is where self-honesty serves us well.

We as spiritual seekers often feel a bit smarter by thinking we've given up material pursuits for something more meaningful in life. But things get tricky, because there's still a deep conviction—a deep self-delusion—that Enlightenment is going to add something to our life. Or that it will take away all the fear, suffering, and other bad experiences and leave behind the good stuff. Or, we might have deep discoveries by seeing we're separate from thoughts and feelings but then delude our self by building a new identity around the Observer or Witness. Self-delusion ultimately ends when we dis-identify with everything….

One strategy to help us see through self-delusion is to doubt everything. In his book Psychology of the Observer, Rose said: "We must learn to doubt, not only the verbal testimony of others, but the persuasions of our own beliefs, and keep looking for symptoms of self-delusion…." He also said: "…you should believe nothing, including what I say as well. You should doubt. To doubt is sacred,--to believe is foolishness. Because believing is an easy way out,--it's a cop-out."

Just to illustrate that no single rule applies to everyone, in the book I Am That, Nisargadatta said in response to someone who asked how he came to his realization: "By my trust in my Guru. He told me 'You alone are' and I did not doubt him. I was merely puzzling over it, until I realised that it is absolutely true." So here again, because paradox permeates all spiritual teachings, the sword of doubt might hurt those who use it to an extreme.

With regard to doubt, it's best if others doubt me as well. Most likely, that'll happen anyway, because I offer no "fireworks." I don't have anything that you don't already have except, perhaps, an experiential recognition of something quite ordinary and intrinsic in all of us. Spiritual seekers are always guessing about which teacher is truly realized, when in fact, all seekers have everything they seek but don't yet recognize it. Therefore, I feel the best I can do is inspire you—I want my love of Truth to catch fire in you! And, perhaps I can offer some tips that helped me along the way.

What else can we do about self-delusion as it applies to spiritual teachers and systems? For one, we must take responsibility for our own decisions. All of us have been fooled by someone along the spiritual path. But we became a hell of a lot smarter by seeing how we discarded the intuitive voice that told us to act more wisely.

Tip: Intuitions usually don't come with strong rationale. By contrast, decisions emanating from ego usually have a long laundry list of why we should or shouldn't take action.

Tip: Blind belief is a form of self-delusion. We need to make the trip ourself instead of leaning too heavily on a teacher. Be aware that how a teacher expresses his or her understanding of Truth is quite different from another teacher. Meaning, the teacher's personality, degree of suffering, genetic makeup, nervous system, family upbringing, and so on all affect how a teacher discovers, expresses, and lives the Truth.

3. Self-Doubt and Cynicism

Rose said: "…you have to doubt everything but your ability. If you doubt your ability you won't try." We must have faith in our self. We must trust in life to give us what we need on the spiritual path.

Cynicism is a form of giving up. We can misuse doubt to the point where we doubt everything—that all spiritual endeavors, teachers, and groups are a waste of time, which might simply be an insidious type of rationale. So while the sword of doubt can clear the way on our path, it can also mortally wound us if we're not careful. It's extraordinarily difficult to do this alone. We must take action—inquire, investigate, and work with our fellows but find out for our self—so that our experience becomes firsthand and authentic.

In my case, after my head opened to True Nature, I still had a lot of self-doubt. The mind is a doubt machine, and I wrote about this openly on SearchWithin.org after my realization. And although this two-edged sword cut into me, the other edge kept me open to more possibilities. That is, I might have never persevered and experienced the greatest depth of love if I had stopped there. I might have never opened myself wide to love and life.

I knew the self-doubt was there over the years, but I hadn't realized the strength of its grip. And so like a lover by my side who patiently waited while I went off on another truth-seeking adventure, when the self-doubt crumbled, I arrived back Home—exactly where I was during my realization in 2007. My true lover was there the whole time. But this time, the whole thing equalized. Once all doubt disappears, we are truly free. We discover a miraculous dynamic equilibrium—a peaceful coexistence between what we are and what we aren't. We come to deeply appreciate the miraculous transformer that we are—a transformer between heaven and earth. A transformer of Love….


The strongest encouragement I can offer today is to use doubt to cut through beliefs so that we may live our own truth. We can stop deluding our self by blindly believing someone else's description of Enlightenment. We can stop leaning too heavily on a teacher. And we can stop waiting for the "Grand Maul" Enlightenment in the future and begin recognizing the magic of what's unfolding now—we can live it instead of trying to understand it all. To steal and rephrase someone else's quote, the spiritual path is all about the journey, not the destination. And along with that, I say help your spiritual friends from the self-honest perspective of your own truth, in the vein of Rose's Law of the Ladder. You may just find that your spiritual friends are your greatest teachers.

In closing, I'd like to emphasize that the greatest antidotes to self-delusion and self-doubt are sincerity, self-honesty, and perseverance. These three qualities ultimately allow us to pierce the veil so that we may discover our full potential. As seekers and Finders, we should fully strive to live life atop these three pillars of Truth.

~ Thanks to Paul Constant, a student of Richard Rose. Presented at the November 19, 2016 TAT Gathering, at the Claymont Society Mansion in Charles Town, WV. Paul maintains a cornucopia of "resources for the sincere seeker" at SearchWithin.org. If you have comments for the TAT Forum, please email the .

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


TAT Foundation News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2012 April TAT Meeting – Remembering Your True Desire

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

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

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

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

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

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

Return to the main page of the February 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 2 of a talk given at Case Western Reserve University in 1978 (continued from the January 2018 TAT Forum):

Features of nostalgia

But the nostalgia mood is the least harmful. And it too can impede your sense of veracity about yourself. But it has a tremendous binding force upon humanity, in that it's not too dangerous socially, and it aims at beauty. And for tonight's talk, I have put together the key features, certain things that are earmarked in nostalgia.

For instance – what are the moods we get into if we dream about people? The rose-covered cottage by the side of the road, the children playing in the house, and the happy housewife. This is the perfect picture, let's say, that every young girl longs for. The perfect home, the perfect bliss, no troubles, that sort of thing. And when you're dreaming in this mood – all people are kind. Not even the enemy is rude. People whom you know in the daytime become suddenly kind in the dream. Everybody is seemingly understanding. So the most outstanding feature of this is the kindness, or you can say love, a certain amount of love.

There's another thing that's there all the time and not seen: the sense of eternality. There's a longing for whatever this is. Supposing you've been away from home for twenty years and you've forgotten all about the people next door when you were a kid. And then one night you dream about the people, and in this dream there's just a small part of your yard that's visible in the dream. Or maybe your birthplace is visible. But the people next door occupy the main part of the dream. And when you wake up you wonder why you dreamt of those people, because you haven't thought about them for ten years.

But what happens is that you're in a strange mood when you wake up. Despite the people; they had nothing to do with the mood, when you knew them twenty years ago. But you went back to this idea, that the old place is the same as it was. Sometimes the people are the same as they were. Maybe this man died when he was seventy years of age, and in the dream you noticed he was forty; he was dressed as he did when he was forty years of age, his complexion was younger, and all this sort of thing.

This type of dream is based upon this hunger for eternality in every individual. And it isn't necessarily an emanation of his theology. I maintain that whether you have a religion, whether you're an atheist or whatever, you'll have this longing for the good old days – that's one of the ways they have of putting it – the eternality of that which was pleasant. We try to perpetuate it. We're always trying. It's like the drink of wine – I've made the remark that you only get one drink of wine, and after that you get the habit of chasing that, to try to get it again.

Another aspect of this is peace, serenity, inoffensiveness. And of course in some respects the possession of property, the possession of things – whatever was beautiful to you. It could be a person; it could be somebody who in the experiences you had with them, they were wonderful. Or maybe it was somebody whom you parted from. Not a sexual dream. But in the dream you go back and you're talking to this person, and the only thing you have in common now is the memories of something that was beautiful. This is what seems to be foremost in your head, and when you awaken it has a profound thrust upon your mind – and wipes out, or puts in the background, all the unfortunate troubles you may have had between you.

Inner voice

I think that this observation of nostalgia will bring you to a realization of the basic structure of the mind, and what the mind wants to do. It's almost like a soul-voice. It's almost a voice from inside that says, "This is the way things are, if you allow them to be that way." Things aren't that way now because your daily life has been one of furious fighting or endless ambition, something along those lines.

I think that it's possible too, that this is like a voice of what Paul Brunton would call the Overself,1 or the oversoul. In more objective terms you could call it the intuitive rendition of a computer. That if you were to throw all of your life's actions into the computer, you would come out with a certain wisdom, I believe. In other words, by trial and error, by doing things and failing, by charging the wall and being thrown back, and then by acquiring some very beautiful experiences in life by resignation – I think the computer is bound to come up with some sort of language that says manifestly that you're putting too much pressure on the wrong things.

And this is caused by your accepting states of mind which carried you away, instead of helping you. And I think of course that certain states of mind and certain states of perception and certain moods can help us get through. I believe that primitive peoples in fact allow themselves to get into certain moods. The martyrs allowed themselves to get into a mood in which they felt no pain when the lions tore them apart. Primitive peoples have been known to undergo operations without anesthetics, by allowing themselves to get into a certain mood. And I think this is lost to our so-called civilized people.


Now I wanted to give you some examples, and I know you've all had your own. You can even pick up some psychology books that have examples of moods. I was reading Karl Jung's book, Memories, Dreams, Reflections – but I was awakened more to the types of dreams he reported than the significance he gave to them.

I think Freud has a whole book full of case histories of dreams,2 as does Kraft-Ebing.3 But they're all what I call seduction dreams. And I don't think that the whole of life, the whole of mankind, is built around the seduction part of human nature – that that's all we could get done, and that all of our actions are dependent on that. This carries over into the Freudian type of thinking that everything we do is because of sex – I don't believe it.

There's an enormous amount of our daily activity – the fact that the fellow goes down to the mill and works every day for forty years of his life – that's not always done for sex. He may marry out of sex, he may get tired of it in five years, but he keeps on working – because he's got another language he's living by. And it may be the mood, the family mood, the family state of mind, that he wants to perpetuate. And he just keeps on plodding along.

On the other hand, as I said, the moods can become disastrous. Because logic can build up a million-dollar business for us, and one dream in one night can destroy everything. And I'm sure you've read cases of this – well, the fellow the other day, the actor Gig Young, was seemingly very happy. And his mood changed, somewhere between the time the people left him and the morning, and he shot himself and he killed the girl.4 I don't believe any man kills himself unless he's able to go into a mood to get it done.

There was another story that I heard years ago, that started my thinking on this. It was a man who left his family and had been away for twenty years, and he was in a hobo camp in Arkansas. And another hobo had a violin and was playing violin music. And this man was so moved by this music that he packed his gear and went back to his family, or at least tried to find them.5

This ideas of violins – there are certain things that produce moods of this type – and I don't know why. I think there should be some study given to it – a person working in the field of psychology might be able to get some of this information. And I believe that certain colors produce certain moods, and I think that the media know this. I think that some of our greatest psychologists are people who are just selling their wares, and they instinctively use certain ploys to get it sold. You turn on the television and you get the nostalgic music while they're selling Oleo. You get the seductive stuff too; you see the beautiful girl draped on the side of the automobile. That's supposed to mean that people who are going to meet good-looking girls have to buy Buicks.

But if you notice, there's a lot of nostalgic appeal in advertising. And I think the reason for this is they somehow sense that with this appeal, people will buy that product, especially if it's a movie. Now we have quite a run of Little House on the Prairie; this seems to have been very successful. And this I call schmaltz,6 and that's what Hollywood calls it. Because they don't care about the sacredness of the mood; this is just a little method of getting into people's minds, once they see a story like this, with a cereal commercial.

The soap operas that were on the radio – I watched my mother listen to them for twenty years: The little girl from the coal-mining town is going to marry the rich man. The music in the background puts you into a certain mood. And even the language, if you notice it – the man who's talking doesn't sound like a man, he sounds like a pimp. He goes into this strange talk, with a strange sounding falsetto voice even.

And you know that no two people in everyday life would be talking to each other this way. This is the guy, the sex-starved man who's waiting for ten years to marry this girl, and they're still talking to each other like he's the bishop and she's a nun. But nevertheless, it builds up this nostalgic mood, and the eternality of this love affair – it's never going to stop. And every day you tune in to suffer a little bit more with these two people who are suffering. Because that's part of the beauty.

But anyhow, it's done with a violin background. A lot of it has a violin background – or organ music, piano music, and a few of these stringed instruments. Not necessarily a guitar; we associate that with jungle music today – excuse me all you music majors. [laughs from audience]

Now, getting to colors – why certain colors? The little old lady crossing the street is always dressed in lavender, or lace, this kind of thing. But bright reds do not inspire a nostalgic mood. Maybe they'd have the same effect they're supposed to have on a bull – you might want to charge, I don't know. But they don't fill you with peace and serenity and quiet.


I know very little about this, but I do know that we've underdeveloped our dream world; we've gotten away from it. And one of the outstanding instances today is the Australian aborigine.7 We like to think we're so far progressed, but we do not have abilities that are common in their culture. And I don't know that they have the vocabulary we have, so maybe they'll never be able to really teach or share this with the rest of the world.

But the Australian aborigine enters a dream world to kill a rabbit. If he has to do anything that requires any dexterity, he enters into a dream world; he communicates with what he calls his older brother – some of you who have studied anthropology will be aware of this. And he throws a boomerang, which is a difficult instrument to begin with, over a hilltop, and hits a rabbit that he can't see from where he's standing. Now this is a known fact. They have trackers – they'll get an aborigine to do tracking for them. He consults with his older brother, which is invisible. It's a spirit, presumably, or it might be his higher consciousness – maybe that's what he means. I don't know.

But he calls this a dream world. He talks about it as a dream state – that he enters a kind of a dream state to do this. I call it a state of between-ness. I don't know what manipulations go on, but I maintain that the human mind is capable of doing great things when it's in a state of neither anxiety nor extreme laziness. But regardless, this man is able to do this consciously.

The senses

There's another thing in this business of dreams. We were talking about the lack of sensory interruption in dreams from taste or smell and touch. Sometimes there's a case where you will get hold of something. Anybody read Robert Monroe's book on astral projection?8 He talks of encountering astral creatures that would get ahold of him and he couldn't get away from them. But then he'd find that they would just melt, that there was nothing really tangible to them. There seemed to be a sense of touch but there was no firm grip. There was nothing that felt either hot or cold, let's put it that way. You could get ahold of things, but nothing burned you or chilled you.

Back again to colors – we're limited in dreams to color. How many here have had colored dreams – would you mind putting up your hand? Now did you have them more than once a year? See, the hands are considerably fewer. Personally, I have had only one or two colored dreams in my life – that's the reason I ask you. I've heard people say they dream in color quite a bit. But again, if I ask you, aren't the majority of your dreams gray – neither black nor white?

This is the point. We're limited, we don't have this input, we're not assailed by these colors – but we still have the moods. Except that we do have the gray color – it's like being at sea and there's nothing but heavy fog, and you can't tell where you're going. Your perspective is limited.

I remember a little story I wrote for the TAT Journal.9 I had a dream about a bunch of people. We were sitting and talking about death, and I couldn't see in the dream any more than ten feet. The room was full of people but I could only recognize the people right in front of me. And these people were holding a conversation with me. I knew there were other people there, and I could get glimpses of them, but it was so foggy that you couldn't see them.


Now I brought some examples of nostalgic poetry. I think if you pick up some of the old literature, or some of the old poets like Longfellow, you get this sense of nostalgia. I think Longfellow, Whittier and some of the others were very nostalgic. Some of these I had never heard of before – I just ran across them – this one's from Whittier:10

Oft when the wine in his glass was red,
He longed for the wayside well instead;
And closed his eyes on his garnished rooms,
To dream of meadows and clover-blooms.

This was Whittier's Maud Muller. In other words, the idyllic scene of old – and this is expressed so much in poetry, of going back. In the days of Whittier, nearly everyone grew up on a farm, and if he were lucky or wealthy enough he moved to a village to retire. But they always longed for the scene of their boyhood.

Here's an old Canadian example. It's supposed to be a song that the timbermen sang.11

From the lonely shieling of the misty island,
(shieling is a wood shanty out in the woods)
mountains divide us and a waste of seas,
yet still the blood is strong,
the heart is highland,
and we in dreams behold the Hebrides.

These were Scotsmen who came to Canada, and they were still dreaming of the Hebrides, the islands off the coast of Scotland.

Now I notice something else. Psychologically today we look upon melancholia as a disease, and there have been books written on it as being so. I think if anything, it isn't a disease but it accompanies a disease. In other words, if a person is dying and he gets melancholic – well, he's got a disease, he's dying. But I don't think melancholy in itself is a disease. If so, then all our poets were diseased – a good many of them, like Whittier and those.

This is what Dyer says:12

There is kindly mood of melancholy that wings the soul.

And Fletcher wrote:13

There's naught in this life sweet,
If men were wise to see't,
But only melancholy –
O sweetest melancholy!

In other words, I think this fellow's trying to say the same thing: that through nostalgia his life had much more meaning to him than everything else he'd learned.

Q & A begins

I have a lot of notes here but I'm not going to belabor you with a step-by-step rendition of them. I want to stop and get into questions and answers, because I'd like to know your feelings, find out what you want to know, and what you think about this. So I think it would be better if we went in that direction.

Q. Occasionally I'll have a dream and wake up, and it's so real that I'd be surprised when I wake up.

R. This is something I neglected to bring out, and it's one of the main aspects. If this were not real, this nostalgic mood wouldn't mean a thing. That's what I'm talking about – dreams of that nature. That when you wake up, you question which is more valid: "Am I awake?" It takes a bit of reconnoitering. "Which is the real world – the one I'm in now, or the one I was in before?"

And then even further: "What am I doing, kidding myself with this fretful life I'm leading?" "Is there a path that leads to the rose-colored cottage, without any trouble?" Or, "Is there a place where this condition exists?" Because this type of dream makes your daily life look like a massacre. And it's this sense of unreality, I think, that's the main keynote: that at that point of consciousness we have no proof that this waking life is real – any more than we have when we're in a deep acid trip, that this life is real. So you don't have to get into acid; just watch your dreams – whenever you waken with that feeling: "Am I dreaming, or am I in the electric chair?" [laughs from audience] "Is the guy going to pull the switch?"

Now again, don't get the idea that all dreams are nostalgic or that all dreams are seduction or fear. I'm just saying that these are three main categories. Also there are dreams that are prophetic – and I don't know why. I think there are many things you can contact through the mind, but you can't contact them through the waking mind. People have had dreams in which they were quite sure they talked to a dead relative. It's very possible they do. I wouldn't argue with them on the point.

And sometimes a person can be worried over a problem in business or in school – a math problem or an engineering problem, how he's going to do something. And he goes to sleep and finally puts it out of his head – and dreams the solution. Now this is not nostalgia, it's not fear, it's not seduction. But I realize they exist and they too should be studied. I was just bringing out the ones I thought had the most profound effect upon our life.

And you can trace a lot of stuff back to the daytime before. A lot of psychologists will ask this immediately, "What were you doing that day?" To check that out first, if something happens.

Q. Is it possible that in the nostalgia dreams there is less ego-complication? It seems like there's more clarity of mind.

R. Right, right. In daily life we've got to keep up with our egos. One of the boys had a case in court – a fellow took a cue stick and knocked another guy's eye out. They put him in the penitentiary and Dave was defending him. The guy was in a beer joint and what he was doing was keeping up his ego. He was a tough guy and he couldn't take certain insults. Of course, he had insulted this other fellow – he was really in the wrong, by being aggressive. And finally the other guy called him a name and said, "Don't bother me." So he just hit him with a cue stick and knocked his eye out.

Now of course, if he goes to sleep at night and has a dream – and he'll have them, because he's under that pressure of being sent to the penitentiary – he's going to dream of another reality. He's going to realize in his nostalgic state that there's a state he's leaving behind, created by virtue of his egos. He'll realize that he was supporting a false person. And that's what put him in the penitentiary, not his living up for some ideal. Now if he had to do it to protect his child from harm, he might not have a qualm of conscience – that would be his rose-covered cottage that he's protecting. But not just his male ego, not just some pride. You notice this, as I said, that one of the aspects of the nostalgic dream is inoffensiveness. No one in them seems to have egos, except compassion.


To be continued….


1. The Wisdom of the Overself. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Brunton for information on Brunton.

2. The Interpretation of Dreams. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Interpretation_of_Dreams for commentary on the book.

3. Pyschopathia Sexualis. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_von_Krafft-Ebing for information on Krafft-Ebing.

4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gig_Young.

5. A story related to Rose by his father (see Rose's 1979 "Lecture on Moods" in The Direct-Mind Experience).

6. Excessive sentimentality, especially in music or movies. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schmaltz for the etymology.

7. See "The Magical World of the Australian Aborigines" by Mark Jaqua in the TAT Journal, Vol. 1 No. 10.

8. Journeys Out of the Body: The Classic Work on Out-of-Body Experience

9. See "Last Act" in the TAT Journal, Vol. 1, No. 2.

10. John Greenleaf Whittier, "Maud Muller."

11. Attributed to John Galt, "Canadian Boat Song."

12. John Dyer (1699 – 1757),"The Ruins of Rome."

13. John Fletcher (1579 – 1625), "Melancholy."

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

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