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April 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 April 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 4 of a talk given at Case Western Reserve University in 1978 (continued from the January 2018 TAT Forum, the February 2018 TAT Forum and the March 2018 TAT Forum):

Q & A concluded

Q. So it's not really the dreams we're observing, but the moods, and it's only that we're looking at the dreams because it's easier to see the moods in them?

R. Yes, I'm pointing out the moods. You see the dream and you come to your friends later and say, "Boy, I had a real nightmare last night." But what I'm talking about is what you don't communicate to your friends, and what you don't record in your notebook as you come out of that dream: That you went to bed in a certain frame of mind and woke the next morning in an eerie, unreal state of mind – that the world is absolutely unreal. And what happened? What provoked it? You ate meat before you went to bed? I don't know. Something you ate might be like the opposite of fasting. Fasting might lead to some psychic disturbances too. I don't know.

Q. Moods seem to come from your environment – say the guy who works in the steel mill as opposed to the guy who works in a nursery.

R. I think you have to have the courage to change your environment. If your environment is giving you troubles, get away from it, that's all. And I think you do get into certain moods in certain environments. I know I've taken these steps. You can get into a place where you just can't live with the people, or you can't live with the circumstances. And the factors are not always human. I don't know what the factors are.

Q. When you find yourself in moods that are very volatile or destructive, you'd have to change your environment?

R. What was it Christ said? If you get unhappy in a certain town, you dust your shoes off and leave.1 Don't hang around and try to change their minds. And I think this advice goes for almost anything. Don't try to sell refrigerators at the North Pole. Like a marriage of certain people – it's like trying to sell a party a refrigerator and they're not interested in refrigerators. Or you're trying to sell them a way of living which is sheer agony for them. So you just have to split, that's all. You have to separate.

Q. A doctor I heard a while back claimed he could get a large percentage of people out of mental institutions by putting their blood in balance, cleaning their blood. And this would clean out the institutions.

R. Well, I think the mental institutions are a product of our psychiatrists. I don't believe that the psychiatrists are cleaning out the institutions; I believe the psychiatrists are causing them. I believe that the advice given to children today will fill the nuthouses of tomorrow. And I don't carry enough weight to emphasize it too much, so I don't say much about it. But that's my opinion. My opinion is that one of the cures for the increasing insanity in the public today is an increase in morality. I believe you have to conserve your energy. I don't believe you can be exhausting your energy in five, six, or ten different directions and not have an effect upon the mind. There's a confusion. We have become such an immoral nation that the confusion is driving the wits out of ourselves. And of course, this is old-fashioned. So what.

Q. I was taking notice of the effect of a lifestyle on your dream states; this is when I was smoking a lot of pot. I wasn't having any nightmares, but rather they were occurring while I was awake.

R. [Laughs.] Right. Well, the computer's going to get the message through to you some time or another.

Q. So I walked around in the fear state all day.

R. Yes, this is what I used to wonder about. I used to have people approach me and say, "Hey, man, we've got to get back to nature and we've got to learn to love each other." And they were the most hateful and the most turbulent creatures you'd ever run into – and often dangerous to be around. But they had this drug conception. I've often thought they were painting a case; what they were trying to say was, "Don't hurt me while I'm weak." That's the only thing I could figure.

Q. Did you ever have any personal benefits, or hear of anyone having benefits from limiting their sleep? I just read a book by a guy who went into this really fantastic experience, and one of the factors was that he was deprived of sleep. He wasn't trying to be deprived of it, but it just kept happening. And I've heard about an exercise where that's possible.

R. Well, I've heard of them using this, and I wonder how good it would be for everybody. I think different people react differently. I think for some people, if you deprive them of enough sleep they get violent. I used to get violent when I didn't get enough sleep. [Laughs.]

During the war I went to work on a midnight job, and I couldn't sleep for approximately a week. And I became dangerous, very dangerous. They wouldn't put me on another job. I went to work in the middle of the hot summer and I went home and just couldn't sleep. I'd go to bed in the sun, and get up, and I was like a chicken – I couldn't break that habit. But I got so that my mind got locked some way. I had a limited perspective – like being in a stunned condition all the time. But in that stunned condition I was defensive. I realized I wasn't able to protect myself, so I'd strike out at anybody who'd give me any trouble. So eventually I had to get off the job and quit it.

So I just wonder whether the same thing is good for everybody. Some things work, and I think the best thing is to go for the study of the dreams, and if you feel like you don't want to sleep, then don't sleep. If you like sleeping ten hours a day, maybe you need it.

Q. If a person is studying himself, studying moods and observing states of mind – isn't that person apt to dream less?

R. I wouldn't say. I don't know. I always dreamed, and I've been studying myself for years. And I've had some dreams that would shake my philosophy in the night. [Laughs.] I'd wake up with an entirely new philosophy.

Q. I was wondering about the power of suggestion on moods. This week a friend read an article about an ingredient in Chinese food that about thirty percent of people are allergic to, and this will cause depression. We went to a Chinese restaurant, and the next day she said she was so depressed that if somebody handed her a gun that morning she would have shot herself. But I ate the food too and I wasn't depressed. I just wonder whether the fact that she read that article affected her mood.

R. I wouldn't doubt that some people are this way. Incidentally, one of my chief directions in life is Zen and a Zen-ish type of discipline, and as I said, there's such a thing as a koan. Now you can give a suggestion to a person indirectly – and you've got to be careful. Some people can take a lot of attack – by attack I mean simply that I can say, "Who do you think you are?" And, "What is the meaning of the universe? What's your relation to the universe? What's your importance to the universe?" And keep asking a person questions of that sort. It may provoke you to do two or three hours of thinking after the lecture's over. But another person may want to go home and shoot themselves. Because the hint comes through, "Maybe I am insignificant."

So I disapprove of a lot of the current Zen systems. I disapprove of a lot of the so-called spiritual systems which have a ruthless attack upon the human mind. Because some minds are on the fence, and you've got to be very careful. I live down in West Virginia, and we hadn't had a person hang themselves in jail for about forty years. But in the last three months or so we've had five young people hang themselves in these small-town jails.

Now this I think is a consequence of suggestion. The jails have become dives, so to speak; cesspools for degenerates – they have just taken over the penitentiaries and jails. A kid goes in on a drug charge and he wakes up in a dive, and somebody's raping him or trying to attack him. And he just hangs himself and checks out of it. Maybe because of fear. Maybe he could have escaped from it by using his wits; he could have fenced it off. But I think that in these cases where people take extreme action, there has to be a certain amount of suggestion, of the hopelessness of the situation, or they wouldn't do it.

And I think there are a lot of things that can be learned from this – rather than to say, "Oh well, we're better off without him," where the person's nervous system or mental system wasn't too well balanced. But some of them are darn good people. I believe this. We labor under suggestion to a point where you enter a state of mind; and it takes a state of mind to kill yourself. So a state of mind becomes an enemy then.

Q. Do you think there's like a pattern of universal let's say "keyholes" that can trigger these peculiar states of mind that are particularly powerful or self-destructive? Do you find a pattern, in humanity? Like the guy when the woman left him?

R. Oh, sure, sure. There are a lot of key things – sex causes states of mind. And we almost leap into them. We're eager to get into this state of mind, hoping it will be productive, as we call it. Then drugs – even cigarettes. Cigarettes seem to be harmless, but cigarettes will put you in a state of mind. Almost any chemical can cause some type of change, if not a profound one. But I know cigarettes can cause a profound change in your state of mind.

Now – I believe, as I said before, that everybody is searching for this mean or average or common denominator of human behavior, or the thing that's acceptable to most everybody in the world. And we do read this through television commercials. They're continually presenting the fact that the sane people, the well-balanced people, buy Super Suds. Except that the men now are getting to be like Dagwood Bumstead; the men are always stupid and the women are wising them up. If you're sane, you'll act like this when you buy the Super Suds.

So I think you can get into a bad state of mind from that, from this false portrayal. Because the majority of people are like animals in the jungle – you've got to watch them. They're not all sweet people trying to show you that one bleach makes your clothes whiter than the other bleach.

Q. It seems hard to get away from that. It's almost overwhelming. If you watch TV a lot, there's not much you can do about getting sucked in.

R. I was watching TV last night – on the news they had a story about a guy by the name of Reverend Ike; I don't know how many of you saw it. He's got homes for boys and girls down in Texas; they're runaway kids and stuff. So the State of Texas is trying to put him out of business because he's mistreating these kids, supposedly; he claims he isn't. He claims he's beating the devil out of them. The devil is evil, and according to the Bible he's doing the world a service.

But anyhow, the thing I noticed about it was that they had the camera on all of these girls in this home. He would say, "Chapter 21 verse so-and-so." And they would say, "Amen." And the girls all spoke in the same tone; the amens were all in the same tone. And occasionally one of them would pop up and say something very pertinent to his legal case. They were going to put him in jail if he didn't close down his places.

And I was amazed, that all these girls down to the last one – the reporters couldn't get any of them to criticize him. The reporter says, "How about you?" And this little sixteen year old girl says, "Well, I was a prostitute and this man saved me." They don't charge them anything – he takes them in and they don't pay him. But they do get into a state of mind, and they do attach it to Jesus; they attach it to the Bible. Well, so what? If that saves them, maybe it's good. But what I'm saying is that there's a state of mind there.

They interviewed two girls who had left, they had run off. And the one girl said, "Well, we didn't like it there. It was like a penitentiary." She said, "Some of those girls were runaways – we weren't. We just went there for religion, and we didn't like the idea of being locked up to do it, so we left." But she said, "You'll get in there, and when you do, you'll get to smiling like they smile – they all smile."

If you watch some of the people in the various cults you'll get this, the same superior type of condescension: "We have found the Lord, and you little devils are out." So they're functioning from a state of mind you can't compete with. You can't talk to it. And in this respect, they're out in left field until something brings them around.

Q. We're taught to be programmed beings from birth, from our grandparents to our mother to where we go to school. There's a certain program and this program has to be fulfilled, and you just have to fit in – otherwise you're a bad kid. It just keeps going on, into college and marriage.

R. Yes, yes. Well it's a thing they want to fall into; there are people who want to fall into it. I've seen people I know who have joined the police force, and before that they were fairly compassionate human beings. But then they've decided that they were the wrath of God, and they had to strike down all these corrupt, dirty people who didn't register their license plates on time. That these were arch criminals – this fellow drove across the yellow line and we've got to stop him, get him right away. In the name of God they work, not in the name of the law; they're almost divine. And these were just ordinary Joes, but they've been exalted by what they think the public wants. They're convinced that they're the voice of the public, the zeitgeist. And they become a disaster, a one-man wave of trouble.

But I don't think it's all programming from our grandparents. Go down to the barnyard and you'll find that the chickens and the goats all operate the same way. They have a common behavioral pattern, and when one of them gets out of line they jump on him. They have the kingpin – one cow is the kingpin; she fights her way to the top – and the rest follow her when she travels. So this is a biological trend, more or less, of adaptation.

They ran a film one time on The Wild Dogs of Africa, like a documentary. And I was really amazed. Incidentally, the females always rule. Something happened in the human race – I don't know what it was – where logic superseded intuition. [Laughs.] But in the animal kingdom most of the females lead the herd. And they showed this one dog that had killed the pups of another dog, and then this other female followed her. It was very obedient; you could see it was cowed – it followed her crouching and that sort of thing.

I could see that the pack became a society, and it was very similar to the human society. They were all trying to find the proper way to please the other animal. Somebody wrote a book on that about people, The Naked Ape.2 It had that same theme – that we're just apes with clothes on, so to speak, functioning pretty much that same way. Except that we've got a big vocabulary that fills the Webster's dictionary with excuses – for our so-called animal behavior. I don't think it has to be that way, but I think that's a factor. If you're analyzing yourself, you've got to take that into consideration. You can't bypass it.

I don't believe we're animals. I believe that the human being is divine. By divine I mean he has the potential. He also has the potential to be an animal. But I don't think you can become less of an animal just by ignoring the fact that you're an animal, or trying to be like an animal. A lot of people today are trying to be animals. They think that's the only way to go.

I believe that there's a vector. Civilization is a vector, and the vector is good. It's pretense; civilization is a pretense, but it's a good vector. Who knows? – we may hatch something out of it.

Q. It would seem that if somebody tried to develop their sensitivity, they would constantly be at the mercy of moods.

R. That's what I said earlier today. You can overcome your major moods; you can overcome the things that dominate you, on a major scale. But after you conquer that and get clear of that, you're still going to see everything you're doing as being the result of some factor you can't control. Not that it will matter as much, because you will have some clarity and some sanity.

But this is something I shouldn't emphasize too much, because I don't want to discourage people from fighting. I believe that this is important – because even if you lose, you're a fighter. It's important to fight, because then you're a fighter. If you don't fight, you're a slug. You're just like a snail without a shell, or a snail in a shell, something that basically exists.

I believe that man has a fact status, and you're eternally that fact status. And I maintain that this nostalgia is the voice of the soul, which points to eternality. It points toward it by virtue of all this emphasis and direction that is on it. It points and says, "There is an eternal man." Whatever you make it to be, you'll be eternal. If you're going to be a murderer, you'll be an eternal murderer. If you're going to be a person with a vector, you'll be an eternal vector.

And this is the language I think we read from this study of the nostalgic mood. That somewhere inside, the intuition behind the computer – or the Oversoul or whatever you want to call it – gets this reading very clearly, and acts on it. Or tries to act on it.

I can remember, when I was a kid I used to go to a show – and finally had to quit going to shows. They used to put out what I considered some good movies – they would really stir you up. They stirred me up – I don't know how many other people they did, but I think some of you have had this experience. Where you go into a show and you'd come out – you'd been thrown into a mood by everything that's in there, the sound, the music, the pictures, the setting and everything. I ran through some of them the other day: How Green Was My Valley3 – certain ones that showed the tremendous social injustice, that would stir you up. I would come out and I would decide that I was going to go join the army and become a general and stop all this junk. And I would be completely carried away for two or three hours. And Lord knows what would have happened if somebody had run into me, in the wrong mood themselves at that time.

The idea was that my life up until that time was doing nothing. I realize I'm sitting in the show, itching to get out and get some action going. I'm sitting and doing nothing and I want out of there, because I want to start that vector. I want to start that man who is going to be for all time. And I think this is the message. I think this we know, down inside – we know that there is something that is eternal.

Walk around the block

Q. Can a person effectively generate the vector, so it is stronger than the moods?

R. You can't just invent one. But whatever step you take, moves you. And then your potential for higher steps evolves – only after you've taken some steps. But the first step should be the planning of how to take the second, third, and tenth step if necessary. Not just to make a move and then stop. The first step should be planning.

We talk about making a move in esoteric philosophy or Zen – and I found out that the majority of people can't get out of the rut. They've got to be at class or at work at eight o'clock in the morning, and they've got certain responsibilities right up to six o'clock at night, and after that they're too damned tired to do anything. So they go to bed, or they get a shot of whiskey and blank themselves out, and that's it.

And I say yeah, but you still have fifteen minutes or a half hour that you can lay claim to, that's yours. It doesn't belong to the corporation you work for, and it doesn't belong to your future, it belongs right now to your present. And in that half hour you can do something, repeatedly, of your own. No matter how asinine it is, do it. I used to say, if you can't do anything, if you can't think of anything to start with, walk two blocks down, two blocks over and two blocks back, every evening at eight o'clock. Can you do it? That's the beginning of a spiritual life.

It isn't necessary to chant mantras. Chanting mantras can get to be silliness; it can be absurd to you after awhile. But do this to set yourself and put yourself under control. And then after you do this, you might be able to do something else – like instead of smoking ten cigarettes a day, smoke ten cigarettes a week – by putting out the same force. When you realize that you're able to put in two solid months of walking two blocks that way, two blocks that way, and two blocks back – even though all the time it seems to be asinine, and especially if it's asinine – do it anyhow, just to show that you can do it. And you want to quit smoking? Get a piece of chalk and smoke it – it's asinine, but force yourself to smoke a piece of chalk.

And pretty soon you get control of your situation, and you'll go on to bigger things. But don't try to start right away with curing yourself of a massive alcoholic habit or a massive drug habit. Start with some little thing, and the rest will come.

Q. You said that nostalgia in some way points to the eternal within us. I find that my nostalgia keeps changing its form, over the years, which contradicts what you said, that it points to the eternal.

R. The nostalgia may change form, from dream to dream – but I maintain that the point behind nostalgia is the same thing, to perpetuate whatever that is you're dreaming of. It's the perpetuation of it.


End of transcript.


1. Matthew 10:14.

2. Desmond Morris, 1967.

3. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/How_Green_Was_My_Valley_(film).

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

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

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