The TAT Forum: a spiritual magazine of essays, 
poems and humor.

March 2019 / More

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/.

Local Group News

Update from the Central Ohio Non-Duality Group:
The Columbus group operated under the name OSU Self-Inquiry Group and met for many years in a church next to The Ohio State University. After attendance dropped off, the venue was changed to a local Panera restaurant, and the name changed to Central Ohio Non-Duality Group. The group has exposure to seekers through Meetup, but has only occasional visitors outside a core group of 4 people.
     Due to schedules, we have met infrequently the past semester, and in deference to an effort to try to do other things, like rapport sittings, in private meetings.
     Meeting format is a discussion format on topics of interest to seekers, and often bridges from the concerns, questions and interests of the core members in attendance into the topic which we intend to discuss.
     Unlike the public meetings, we are able to sit in rapport in the private meetings.
     One recent topic included a discussion of Invisible Forces: Physical (gravity, electromagnetic waves, light, laws of nature as exhibited by physical reactions like wind, rain, erosion, stress, strain, chemical reactions, nuclear reactions, etc.), Mental (intelligence in living organisms, thought, memory, belief, emotion, desires/drives) and Spiritual (rapport, creation, life, love, awareness), with the questions/prompts:
- Did man create any of these?
- Does man control any of these?
- Does man possess any of these? If so, how is man defined?
- Which of these do we observe as "outside" the mind and are witnessed by others?
- Which of these do we experience "internally" that cannot be shared by others?
- Which of these is understood by becoming?
     Another was a series of rather over-used questions, but with some additional prompts:
- Are you what you eat? Then are you a chicken, cow, lamb, pig, leafy plant, vegetable or the proteins, molecules or minerals resulting from digestion, or the atoms, electrons, protons and subatomic particles conceived by man as the ever smaller and smaller units of matter?
- Are you what you feel? Then are you as ephemeral as a feeling which changes as quickly as the songs on a radio, first a madman, a hater, then a lover, and in turn a reflective person…?
- Are you a thought? Then are you the insanity of your thoughts, wildly changing your form throughout the day and night, changing the paradigm in which you exist?
- Are you what you believe yourself to be? Then are you the creature of your imagination? Are you an entrepreneur, a father, a grandfather, a seeker, a savior, a story-teller if you believe yourself to be so? Are you defined by your own insistence on self-affirmation? Are you the beautiful baby your parents loved, or a grizzled animal you see in the mirror? Have others affirmed you to be either or neither?
- What proves itself to be real? The physical body? Feelings? Thoughts? Beliefs? Reflections? Is the power of observation found in the mind? Is the mind found in a location in space and time? If time and space are concepts, and what is real is beyond the mind, what finds? What realizes?
     Some of the added prompts were targeted to stir the core members.
     We continue to meet on Monday evenings at Panera across from The Ohio State University. ~ For further information, contact or . We're also on Facebook.

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Reader Commentary

Encouraging interactive readership among TAT members and friends

The question we asked readers, from TAT friend Sergio F., for this month's Reader Commentary: I'd like to ask "What book was the most inspiring read in your search?" as it may help me discover some gem I'm missing.

The complete message from Rob-in Leeds:
I reacted strongly to the question the moment I read it the Feb Forum.

My instant reaction was twofold: one, Jonathan Livingstone Seagull by Richard Bach, and two, "How the hell do you pick one book?"; then a real sense that I should truly think about this question and attempt a response for myself and find the gem in the question treating it as a koan.

At the end of maybe ten days cogitation, hesitation and my mind's almost constant creation of lists of books: authors (TAT and non-TAT); spiritual and non-spiritual; book forms (long, short, text, audio, websites, ebooks, free books, poetry, comic, illustrated); academic, non-academic; scripture, non-scripture, scientific, psychology; the one book from each decade of my life, the one book from each year of my life and so on….

I am still left with making a choice on how to answer the question and point at a possible "one gem!"

This morning after awaking from sleep, mind prompted, "Read the book of nature".

That linked to the eleven word, three rules of thumb from Terry Pratchett's Long Earth series of five books … "Apprehend. Be humble in the face of the universe. Do good."

When I encountered TAT on-line after searching for books on "Being," I found Ramana Maharishi and Nisagadarta and loads of TAT references to these and other dead and living sages.

More than anything else in the last four years of being aware of TAT, reading TAT Forums and the forum/journal archives, then attending a May 2017 retreat in Dublin organized by TAT member Tess Hughes, and regular email correspondence, weekly video chats with TAT friends from around the world and frequent sharing of inspirational quotes, videos, books, articles etc., I now feel there will be no "one gem" of a book; in fact, the answer may be in the book you just put down, or read 10 years ago, or in my case 50 years ago.

I still read, but I have taken up some advice from various TAT teachers and friends which may be of more use to Sergio from Buenos Aires than the title of a book!

Thus in no particular order of importance:
1. Try reading out loud part of a text that's difficult, read a chapter and record it, play it back in the car or out walking.
2. William Samuels is quoted as saying any book or piece of writing to be truly and deeply understood needs reading 12 times. Take notice of what he calls glimpses, when what you hear, read, in books or conversation resonates with something you previously read, heard, saw or thought.
3. Try writing a passage from a book out by hand on a post card and carry it around as a reminder, to come see it more deeply.
4. Try just having a question in mind and opening any book to hand randomly and look deeply at what's on the page you opened at.
5. Check out and practice "Lectio Divina" with a book you already like or trust.
6. Sometimes it's all in a title. "Alan Watts" wrote In My Own Way: An Autobiography, which I have read, and had on my book case for twenty years, long before I encountered TAT. Only recently did the significance of the title shout at me, that I had truly been "in my own way" on the Spiritual search!
7. Challenge yourself to read something "spiritual that does not appeal" at first glance.
8. Read the bibliographies of a few spiritual tomes; check out the authors' recommendations.
9. Read John Kent's PhD thesis on Richard Rose (Richard Rose's The Psychology of the Observer: The Path to Reality Through Self). Free.
10. Read David Carse's book Perfect Brilliant Stillness. Free.
11. Read some Carl Jung.
12. Read any of the TAT authors.
13. If you want to understand a spiritual concept (God, Prayer, Awareness, etc.) use advanced Google search for the word and search just tatfoundation.org. That resource is so huge there is nearly always a rich, pertinent find when I search in this way.
14. Check out the Indexes for A-Z for TAT Authors, subjects and poetry, try the find on page function if you have a target concept or author.
15. Learn to read "silence".
16. Learn to read the book of nature, indigenous people often suggest that "to look upon natural landscape is to look upon the face of God".
17. Inspiration is always there right in front of you and within you, at all times. One just needs to look….

Sorry, I could go on and on. But if I had to recommend one book, at this moment in time, it would be a recent read, the book by Douglas Harding The Science of the First Person. Finally clarity on why science can be so paradoxical and dogmatic, explained in terms that are simple. I have the audiobook; it's read by Richard Lang and helped me realise that there is the known, the unknown and the unknowable—the mystery that is!

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The complete message from Desperately seeking Susan:
The book I've chosen is Where God Begins to Be: A Woman's Journey into Solitude by Karen Karper. A book I borrowed from Tess Hughes that she subsequently gifted to me. When I think of this book I realise that every reader of the TAT Forum could read this book and just think, "Yeah nice book but not that great. She's not someone who has realized her true nature". She is undoubtedly a sincere seeker, though, giving an account of a period along her journey.

The inspiration for me in this book came from the examples of risk that the author took. She realized that although living as a nun in community with other nuns, she wasn't truly practicing her faith as she kept ignoring an urge that she had to leave the convent and live as a hermit. This urge that she was ignoring had been with her for over 10 years before it dawned on her that ignoring this urge meant that she wasn't practicing her faith in God. She was in a conflicted state for those 10 years as part of her was very content to live in community, yet something was dis-satisfied and calling for a life in solitude. The inspiration for me is that she finally heeded that call—that she stepped into the unknown where logic and rationality were not dictating the terms. A few months before reading this book I had realized a personal urge that I had been ignoring for years and had such amazing freedom when it was seen. Upon reading this book it seemed to inspire yet another wave of ticking another few things off the heart felt desire or urge list, which I had not been allowing myself. These were dreams or significant desires that had been visiting for years, yet I had been overlooking again and again. Examples of these things were:

1. I spent years fantasizing about camping alone in the mountains, yet I actually had not realized that I truly wanted to do this. That possibly doesn't make sense to you, but I realized how I can blatantly overlook very clear urges/desires. Camping alone in the mountains has become a very special part of my life in the summer months for the last 2 years.

The next examples became obvious after reading Karen's book.

2. I wanted to leave my job for a very long time and resisted that urge as it didn't make sense. I couldn't imagine a better job and got on well there, so why would I leave? Karen's book inspired me to finally heed that call.

3. I spent years dreaming of living on an island for a summer. When I left my job, I rented a cottage in a coastal village and lived by the sea for a month. It felt amazing to finally listen to my heart's desire.

4. Following these 3 things I wondered was there anything else I've been ignoring? It struck me that I've wanted a cat for years, but I kept ignoring that urge as it seemed more hassle than it was worth. Well, the urges kept happening and 2 years after I identified this as an ignored urge, I finally became ready to follow through and get a cat. The bitter sweet of this experience is that the cat (Susan) is now missing for the last 48 hours…I'm heartbroken.

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Other Reader Feedback

The complete message from Bill Racine:

In the TAT Forum February 2019, Baruch Cornejo published "EMAIL TO A FRIEND #3," with this third paragraph:

Another friend wrote, "'You' will NEVER get anything from Truth Realization. It is not possible. I cannot emphasize this enough. The honest, no holds barred, down and dirty reality is that you are looking for something that you think you can gain from. This is an oxymoron, an impossibility. My best advice is to look somewhere else if your intention is to get anything out of this." If I can't get anything out of this, what's my motivation?

There is so much wrong with this, that it is difficult to know how to begin. I have to guess at the intentions of the friend who counsels against seeking Truth Realization. Perhaps it is intended to say, "You misunderstand what it is you seek," or perhaps it is meant to say, "The search is falderal and a waste of time and energy." It is unclear, and so, I will comment on this by deconstructing and un-packing the ideas in this small paragraph to the best of my ability.

"'You' will NEVER get anything from Truth Realization." It is difficult to imagine what this statement is even supposed to mean. NEVER is a rather bold declaration, but what does "get anything" mean? I suppose one should ask what there is to "get" from seeking Enlightenment. Why does anyone seek Enlightenment? One seeks Enlightenment because something within the self resonates with the belief (or hope) that existence will be better if one knows Absolute Truth.

Life is often painful, confusing, and disorienting, and we are each programmed to seek the solution and resolution to those conditions. It is an innate drive essential to our existence: suffering is the clear message that our existence is under assault, and we are programmed in our DNA to seek existence and well-being. Occasionally, someone intuits that, maybe, there is knowledge that will deliver one from being a victim of the world's tendencies toward suffering, that with the right knowledge, I will be free of my entrapment in the chaos. And the history of humanity, in every culture of the world, has presented sages and prophets who have declared that there is a state of awareness, a realization (to make real) of a transcendent knowing, that delivers one from illusion and the belief that, "It is not possible."

TAT founder Richard Rose made the assertion that it is more important to meet an Enlightened being, than to read books about Enlightenment. The reason is that the Enlightened being radiates the conviction of knowing and inspires the experiential awareness that there is, in fact, a knowing, a Truth, that is worth the effort and the life commitment. Such a conviction is the very reason for the existence of TAT.

So, again, what could one hope to "get" from Self Realization?

Buddha said, "All I can offer is liberation." Jesus said, "When you know the Truth, you will be free." Liberation from what? What is freedom? We are each programmed to strive, with every breath, to exist, to prosper, to know benevolence, but we are doomed to failure in this relativistic, material realm. Decay, decrepitude and death are inevitable, and so, all of our materialistic ambitions are for naught in the quest for a permanent state of well-being. If there is anything to "get" in the quest for Enlightenment, it is most probably not in the realm of the material.

Is there anything to get? One may often meet those who claim to have realized that there is, in fact, nothing, and the realization of nothing is liberation. But these souls seldom comment on the nature of the nothing that realized itself. It is fairly common to encounter the nihilist who proclaims that not only is there nothing to find, but fools like Buddha, Socrates and Jesus were delusionals who wasted their lives. And along comes Baruch Cornejo whose friend writes, "My best advice is to look somewhere else if your intention is to get anything out of this."

Maybe the problem is the thought that there is anything to get OUT OF THIS. Is there a thought that the quest for Enlightenment will (or will not) result in a "thing" that can be held up or pointed to, a concept that can be referenced, a reward that can be extracted and possessed? If so, then yes, that is wrong. Enlightenment is not a thing to be possessed, but a state of being. And, although any concept or words about the Absolute are abysmally inadequate, the ultimate Realization is fulfillment beyond the ability to define.

So, Baruch, that's all there is to "get." Enlightenment is its own reward. The path may not be easy, but neither is ascending to the pinnacle of Mount Everest or K2. But those who have gone there will declare the experience of standing at the peak is its own reward. The paradox of ascending to the peak of Enlightenment is that the journey is often more like diving to the depths of the Marianas Trench, or spelunking through the successively deeper levels of the abyss of the shadow world. How ironic that the journey into the dark leads to the light.

And then, as Richard Rose so elegantly stated, "There is a storehouse of information about the mind … that is unplumbed. There is a world of potential there also for the individual to explore once he has reached the limits of the Absolute and returned back down the projected Ray of Life."


[For a context including that final quote, see Part 3 of a 1983 public talk by Richard Rose, "Knowing Oneself" footnote #10 for an excerpt from Rose's Psychology of the Observer that describes the difference between the mind's view and a higher form of awareness. ~ Editor.]

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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.

Laws, Yardsticks, Exaltations

Part 3 (conclusion) of a talk given at Ohio State University in 1974,
continued from the January 2019 TAT Forum and the February 2019 TAT Forum :

The only things that these [local self-inquiry] groups do is—I allow them to pay my gas money, they don't pay me anything else; and sometimes I don't get that because they don't have it. But they pay for posters, and this is to advertise their meetings or a little ad in the paper, or something of that sort, and that's the sum total expenditure of the group. And there is a strict accounting of that, or I won't associate with the groups.

So the first thing that I found was that money does not buy relief from untruth.

Selective diets are not necessary and above all not imperative. It doesn't matter what you eat, it's what you say that's really important with regards to the mouth.

Physical appearance means nothing spiritual; poses, vestments, hairstyle are more apt to distract from interior work. These become rationalizations: "Look how holy I am,"—not "am I?"

Most chanting and much praying is auto-hypnotic. You can hypnotize yourself with it.

Meditation of the sort that brings tranquility is not going to answer critical unanswered questions; you're not going to be satisfied in the long run. You're going to, if nothing else, stand up in the coffin and try to take another look around.

A transcendental movement is at best only a utility if it is followed because it makes you feel good, because it helps your business, because it finds conjugal compatibility, or peace of mind. In other words, you're not supposed to have peace of mind; you're supposed to have a sword.

Concentrating on undefined chakras or undefined nerve centers are objective attempts to do something subjective. Same way with psychology: The majority of modern psychology uses objective means to try to demonstrate a subjective state of being. And because they hooked onto this—there are very few psychological authors who go beyond saying that you are your body, nothing else; that you are what you see and nothing else.

But we do have some that do not, like [Hubert] Benoit; Benoit was a psychoanalyst. And Victor Frankl, after following down through the footsteps of Freud and Adler and a few others, came up with this conviction that the purpose of man is meaning, not adjustment to environment; it doesn't matter a darn whether the environment accepts you or not.

The great strides that have been made in esoteric lines and in scientific lines as well, is made mostly by hermits, not by people who were voted the most popular man to succeed in the local ashram or desert.

The juggling of scriptures and numbers and symbols can be a waste of time that can go on for decades.

Worshipping a human is asinine. I'm talking about gurus; I'm talking about myself. In the long run our essences are equally absolute—I should have said our essence is.

A system that has a few good points may be useless because of one bad point. This is something that you see a lot of; you'll see things that are very good points. To give you an example, a movement which advises moral living but it has its followers dancing or chanting as a way of truth. In other words, just some sheer nonsense, just to keep their minds occupied.

Of course, they maintain that this chanting and dancing keeps their minds off sex and keeps them moral creatures. But by making this chanting and dancing the whole thing, they're mostly just preoccupying part of their life.

Another religion may scorn the former religion just mentioned for its macrobiotic tendencies and for meaningless gestures, but this newfound system may demand all of your money. Or a system may not require more than ten percent of your funds but may require blind belief. Some Zen sects while claiming the highest Zen attainment specialize as I said in selling pads and robes and that sort of thing. And we wonder what relation this has to an absolute state of mind.

So in summation I believe, as I said before, that the greatest enemy of mankind is not ignorance—we can't help our ignorance—but accepting authority that doesn't manifest quality. They have a lot of authorities running around today, and some of these authorities are even people who have written books—but they do not have the quality. Some of them will even admit it; for instance, Alan Watts tells you quite frankly in The Way of Zen that he knows nothing about enlightenment; he's just talking about it like a reporter.

Another enemy of mankind is the deification of pleasure as the answer to pressure. The belief that you're going to get somewhere spiritually by drifting and flowing into, flowing with—this is nonsense. You flow downhill. Everything that flows, flows downhill.

You get somewhere by pressure. And this whole system that we talk about is one of tension and pressure. And Victor Frankl mentions this too in his book on psychology. He was a prisoner in a German war camp, and his whole family was wiped out. And he saw that man grows in stature in those extreme conditions—of course, he was forced into it—but every man can create similar conditions of tension and grow in stature. You do not grow in stature by drifting downhill.

We cannot barter away ultimate survival, concepts of ultimate survival, or work on ultimate survival by a psychological system which is only interested in daily compatibility, in daily survival. And this is where we're headed today, socially; our so-called sociological sciences are helping to push them in this direction.

Now, again, I'll read you something about the differences in cosmic consciousness. People think that every exaltation is the final one. If you're acquainted with Gurdjieff, Gurdjieff mentions four men, man number 1, 2, 3, 4: instinctive, emotional, intellectual and philosophical.

And you make transitions between them. You start off as an instinctive man; you go up that ladder to emotional man, then to intellectual man or scientific man, then to philosophic man. And between each again is the so-called law of betweenness, that somehow we get caught between. And in this between state we have an exaltation, a moment of ecstasy, of rapture or amazement.

And our exaltations are that which somehow—it's like a gumdrop that a kid would be given to get effort—the human mind is somehow gratified by its struggle. And possibly the growth—there's somehow an interior recognition that the person has grown, has reached a certain stage.

But anyhow, we get up to the stage between the intellectual and the philosophic, and there's an exaltation. I'm skipping over the other two because we're running out of time. [These are discussed in the Q&A below.]

But in the level between the intellectual man and the philosophic man, this is what we call cosmic consciousness, and what Ramana Maharshi calls kevala nirvikalpa samadhi. And after you transcend the philosophic state you enter sahaja nirvikalpa samadhi, or what is referred to as enlightenment.

Now people say, "This is all the same; there are many exaltations and enlightenments, and I had one with drugs, or I had one with this or that." So this is to define them—and this is not mine, this is Ramana Maharshi's; many of you may be acquainted with him, I don't know.

The chart below is from The Spiritual Teaching of Ramana Maharshi:


Kevala Nirvikalpa Samadhi

Sahaja Nirvikalpa Samadhi

1) Mind is alive;

Mind is alive;

Mind is dead;

2) mind is sunk in oblivion.

mind is sunk in light;

mind is resolved into the Self;

3)   --

like a bucket with the rope, left lying in the water in a well;

like a river discharged into the ocean and its identity lost;

4)   --

to be drawn out by the other end of the rope.

a river cannot be redirected from the ocean.

Number 1: In sleep—we're taking sleep as a point of reference—in sleep, the mind is alive. It has lost its conscious quality but it's alive. In kevala samadhi, the mind is alive. In sahaja samadhi, the mind is dead. In the final enlightenment, the mind is dead. In all of this training that I have been talking to you about, in using the laws and driving and plugging and storming the gates of heaven—this fattens up a head and builds up a tremendous head that you cut off and throw away.

Number 2: The mind in sleep is sunk in oblivion. In kevala samadhi, the mind is sunk in light. This is the technicolor experience of Richard Bucke in Montreal, where the city lit up with rose-colored lights. Or the mystic sees—his jail cell is lit up with light, he reads a book by the light, and his mind then is in what they call the state of illumination. That's the reason that word is used, that a light is involved, almost a physical light, transforming the whole environment maybe for miles around—for you only. In sahaja samadhi, the mind is resolved into the Self—it sounds kind of meaningless—the capital-s Self, not a relative self.

Number 3: We pass over sleep now, and this is just a description of kevala samadhi: It's like a bucket tied to a rope and left lying in the water in the bottom of a well; that's what the mind is, a bucket lying in the bottom of a well. Sahaja samadhi—it's like a river discharged into the ocean and its identity lost.

Number 4: In kevala samadhi, the bucket still laying in the bottom of the well can be drawn out at any time with the rope. In sahaja samadhi, a river cannot be redirected from the ocean.

Now these are the distinct differences between the types of exaltations. And all of your Zen writings that talk about real, final enlightenment of man refer to this. Atman merging in the Brahman—that's one of the Hindu expressions for the same thing, and man entering no-mind – that means the same as losing the identity.

Q & A

So I'd like for you, if you've got any questions or if you'd like for me to explain anything that I can possibly explain, or at least take some time, I'll answer a few questions.

Q. Did you say you were enlightened?

R. No, I just said I had an experience.

Q. What was it?

R. Well, it is the equivalent of sahaja samadhi. The reason I'm hesitant to answer you is because, as I said before, there's not much to be gained by answering. Because I have no way of proving it to you, or even of a way of defining the words. So if we launch into a definition of words I can say, "Yes, my mind was like the river that entered the ocean." But there's no way of demonstrating it.

Q. [Inaudible]

R. There's recognition of things that have happened. For instance, the first exaltation that you encounter in life may be seeing a flower in a meadow, which is strictly on an instinctive level; it's an instinctive person suddenly being—a sunrise coming up, or thunder at a certain time—this is an exaltation. You're lifted above the mundane, momentarily, and meaningfulness and meaninglessness simultaneously are thrust upon you, and you're caught between this. And that's the exaltation.

But you go on from that when the emotional man enters. And you may make Jesus Christ the emotional objective, or you may fall in love with a woman—it doesn't matter whether you fall in love with Christ or a woman, you will lose yourself in that person. And when you lose yourself in that person, once more you're caught between: the vanity of the self still hanging in there a little bit, but the total—you know—and this results in what I call salvationism. This man is then saved; the woman saves him, or Christ saves him. He is saved; he forgets his instinctive nature, puts it behind him, and sacrifices for his children. He's a changed being.

Salvation is generally connected most to—the people whom I knew who had salvation were saved from booze. A woman couldn't do it; it took Jesus Christ to do it. They had to reach for a greater objective, a more complete surrender than to a person, who might make them angry and they'd call it back and renege on the surrender. But with Jesus Christ there's no reneging, because there's no argument really.

So you go then to the intellectual stage, by virtue of realizing that you've been playing tricks on yourself with your emotions, and you realize that you've had an emotional life, that your religion has just been one big emotional experience. And you adjust yourself when you come back into studying, as I did, magic, numerology, astrology, anything that seemed to be tangible, spiritualism—some go into fundamentalism, trying to find the numerological value of the Bible or something, and find truth through letters and words.

And then one day this pops. I call it the algebraic eureka: when you study algebra and you can't make any sense out of it, and all at once it pops, and you say, "Ahhh." There doesn't seem to be any reason why it should pop at a given time, but just some day it pops, and you know your algebra; from that time on it runs smoothly.

And this same thing—it could be explained as what I call the "Wow!" experience, the eureka experience, or satori. This is as far as the word satori goes in my reading of all the experiences in books like Kapleau1 and in some of the more shallow books of keisaku Zen.

Then of course when you see the vanity of logic, and you see the vanity of intellectualism—you reach again. You reach beyond that, and you reach into philosophy, by the comparison of many symbols, the utilization of all your faith and all your background; all the computer goes to work and chucks everything in at once. And then your intuition applies itself at the same time, and you come out then finally with an evolution by way of frustration and despair. And this is kevala samadhi.

And the next one after that, though, has to be one without almost any conscious, objective conviction of any sort. You get to a point where—you keep on pushing while knowing nothing, doubting everything. You finally get to the point where you doubt everything: you doubt your ability to survive; you doubt the fact that you're living. When you become that intense, something again pops; you reach another state of betweenness, which is final.

Q. In your system of Zen do you concentrate on a koan?

R. No, no. Your koans are happening to you every day—I don't need to give them to you. Everyone has plenty of them; all you have to do is watch them.

As Bob said, there are meetings here every Monday. And the system begins with observation and somehow getting the feel of what we're doing, by reading the book if you wish, or coming and asking questions.

And the next step is one of confrontation, because I believe in irritational meditation, not complacency. The second step is pretty much like a philosophic encounter group; we're not interested in what your psychological hang-ups are—although those clear up too, incidentally, as you go along; because it is a psychoanalytic system.

But it's basically a continual questioning of your philosophic motives and values: why you are you doing things; why you are taking dope, if you're taking dope; why you are trying to make a million bucks; or why you believe this as opposed to that; why you particularly favor a certain philosophy—do you do it because you like it or because it's true? And we will continue attacking these so as to keep the head straight. And this is where the group functions.

Then we have, as he said, a rapport group. And we're using a direct system, presuming that you people have suffered and that you have also studied. And this rapport group builds up the ability to become one with another person's mind. That's the purpose of it. As he said, by "selective" we don't mean that we're the elite; it means that we have certain people who can have rapport and others who can't. Now that doesn't mean that those others can't have rapport in another group, so sometimes the groups are split up, so similar ones will get together, and they'll learn to get into each others' heads.

Because the whole art of transmission is accomplished by my getting in your head. In other words, when you're able to see my head, you'll experience my experience. So this is basically the part that can be said in a few words.

Q. Is zazen2 part of your system?

R. No—it is if you wish; we don't forbid. But I maintain that you can be painting a house or washing your dishes and you can be doing your zazen. If you read some of the authors on Zen, you'll find this too. Of course, some of it's confusing; some will say, "When you hoe corn, hoe corn, don't meditate." But I believe that as you walk down the street there are literally thousands of mirrors being held up to you. You'll see something comical or ridiculous and you can't help but realize that that's a mirror of your own behavior in some way.

And as you see these things in other people—if you sit alone in a monastery, you can't see these mirrors, and you can't take advantage of the experiences which will provoke an awakening—some real valuable experiences in yourself that way.

I do believe in quieting yourself down. We sit—in each of our rapport sessions we generally have a ten-minute period of quietness—to bring the head down, because you're out there. In other words, you strongly come to believe that the world is out there and that all the exigencies are out there: that you must work for that nickel for Kroger's and compete for that nickel for Kroger's and get that college education so that you'll get a bigger nickel for Kroger's, and so on.

So you're coming in off of this, and into a place where nothing much matters, so we bring the head down, in meditation. But zazen itself—I imagine that if zazen were practiced say eight hours a day as some of the ancient Zen people did—like Bodhidharma: he didn't go down to the pool hall for eight hours and then go back to the cave for a half hour. He stayed in the cave day and night. And he built up one tremendous power of irritation; he had to—that cave had to be hell. And out of that hell was produced discovery.

But you can't do it from just sitting down for five minutes. I know people who do that, and look at their toes for awhile or imagine the date they're going to have that night. You've got to be continually—I've written a special paper on meditation.3 This paper instructs you on how to meditate without getting into dreamy visualization, or just dreaminess, and what the symptoms are to look for. It's retrogressive, not progressive.

For people who attend the group—for one thing, the advice to each person is different. I do not advise anyone the same, hardly. There are general applications; but, for instance, there are ways of raising your intuition. And these things will occupy your meditation as well. There's a complete balanced system for developing intuition.

Whenever you are travelling in what I call the desert without any railroad tracks—you have no trail to go by—you have to have some beacon light, something to guide you. Logic will not do it; your faith alone will not do it; but intuition will. It will take you through the abstract realms.

Any system that pretends to take you into becoming has to have some mechanism for facilitating your skill in becoming—the necessary skill—and that skill involves intuition. You can't argue it out logically, this is the whole thing.

So once you hear it—it amounts to the business of closing doors. The human mind is like this room, and if they're pounding on a piano next door, or the sirens are singing outside that window, you're going to be distracted, and your computer's not going to work—because all this stuff is continually going to be injecting itself into your problem. So the secret of course is closing doors.

This is one good part about meditation, that it's done to close doors. But sometimes the door of the room is closed, the door of the mind is closed, but inside of that head it indulges in everything instead of the problem. When I was doing business I could always come up with the best business formulas while I was meditating. The computer wanted to work on business; it didn't want to work on philosophy. So that's a door you've got to close. You've got to put your business outside.

And then we find that the physical door—you go into a room and you meditate, and your wife pounds on the door: "What are you doing in there?" This is symbolic, I mean, of nature calling. So you've got to find a place or a door that this noise can't come through. You've got to cut out all of the stuff that's going to feed in. In other words, you're going to say to the computer, "We've got all the data in there we need; we just want to digest it, re-associate it, coordinate it."

And we don't want a bugle blowing into the computer all the time and let things go on, shouting what it wants. The whole art of developing intuition is one of shutting the doors, and that includes drugs and any excessive appetites. Sometimes it includes a particular diet if that helps.

I had one man join the group in Pittsburgh; his wife and he both joined. They were both schoolteachers, they were both macrobiotics. This fellow was a physical education major, teaching some sport in high school. He had been 170 pounds and went on this macrobiotic diet and was down to 130 or 140 I think it was. His wife was also down to about 90 pounds.

But F. was developing an intuition, and he needed this because he had been—what's the word that DeRopp4 uses—viscerotonic or somatotonic? He was all tied up in his body and he had been neglecting his head. He needed to be a little cerebrotoic. So this starvation of the body with the macrobiotic diet seemed to allow his head to think a little better, to take the emphasis off the body.

On the other hand, his wife didn't need it. She had an illness, and the macrobiotic diet had weakened her to a point where she was anemic and could have died as a result of that when the condition flared up, because it required an operation, and she was in a weakened state. Fortunately she had taken my advice to start eating liver and hamburgers a month before she suddenly needed the operation.

So for one person in that family the macrobiotic diet was doing wonders, and to the other person, it was killing her.

So the same way—maybe a fellow drinks a quart of whiskey a day, and you take it away from him; you at least let him have a shot a day. Another person, if he only needs a shot a day, he can stop. Now of course if a guy needs a fifth of whiskey a day, naturally he's not going to do any spiritual work, but I'm just using this as an example on any of the appetites.

Q. What is that book you were quoting from?

R. Ramana Maharshi. You may see it in a bookstore; I picked it up at a rummage sale. It's amazing; the best things you get sometimes very cheaply. The Spiritual Teaching of Ramana Maharshi,5 from Shambala.

There's a picture of him in here, and everything I read about him, I get the impression that he's a very wonderful man, a very enlightened man. And I never heard of him before—all these years I've been digging around, I never heard of him. But I don't care who he is—it's what he says that counts. I mean he might have been a dishwasher in Los Angeles, but it's the things he says and the way he says it.

I think that the basic, real, spiritual path exists in every major religion, but it's buried underneath the hucksters; the hucksters have managed to push it to the rear, saying, "It really isn't that simple; you've really got to pay in so many days of servitude, and go through this routine."

[Chit-chat as meeting winds down]


1. The Three Pillars of Zen by Philip Kapleau.

2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zazen.

3. Meditation booklet by Richard Rose.

4. The Master Game: Pathways to Higher Consciousness by Robert S. deRopp. PDF.

5. The Spiritual Teaching of Ramana Maharshi.

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

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