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May 2020 / 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 May 2020 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.

Relative and Absolute

Part 3 of a talk given at Ohio State University in 1978
(continued from the March 2020 TAT Forum) and the April 2020 TAT Forum):


Q. Were you saying earlier that when you become aware of your umpire, you see your small-s self and your suffering, and using your umpire you can find your way to your capital-s Self?

R. No, no. You don't do it by virtue of the umpire, you just see through the umpire. What happens is your life becomes adjusted. These are the signposts or milestones. That once you've gotten behind the umpire and see what's happening, you don't have to fight quite as much. You're not at war with yourself. Maybe you're not at war with your neighbor any longer. The wife and the husband aren't fighting because they recognize that it's the person's appetite and not their inner self that's screaming for attention. So there's a lot to be learned along the road in this line. But this is only adjustment of the somatic mind. This study of the different umpire voices will not bring you to the realization of the final truth – but you have to go through it. And you'll be obsessed with doping it out.

Q. That's a big step though.

R. Absolutely. Some people don't do it in their entire lives; they don't even get that far in their entire life pattern.

Q. What happens when the umpire fails and the individual ends his life?

R. I don't know. If they ...

Q. Well, how much power do you attribute to the umpire?

R. The basic motive of the umpire is the coordination of the different voices to keep them all alive. All of them.

Q. I'd say that suicide is the total failure of the umpire.

R. Yes. And incidentally, after the umpire becomes aware that the observer has put a factor in there called spiritual survival, he also takes this into account. Up until then the umpire is only concerned with individual survival and family or genetic survival; it's not concerned at all with spiritual survival. So when the umpire has to deal with that, then of course it may use it. For instance, the umpire may use a religious concept of sin to fortify the individual against extremes that would kill him. Consequently, that becomes an artificial factor or voice that's thrown in, created by the umpire or at least encouraged by the umpire, to exist – although it's generally not concerned with that.

But when a person commits suicide, I generally interpret it – if they succeed and they're a thinking type of person – as that they realize there's no future; there's no more that can be gained in that particular life, that they can't progress. If you examine the cases of people who commit suicide, you'll find somebody who is maybe hooked on dope and he can't get out. I know a boy who came back from Viet Nam who was nineteen years old, and he took a .45 and blew his intestines out. He couldn't get the money to buy the stuff and he was in torture, so he just killed himself. Another case would be a fellow whose entire life was spent maybe building up a business, and then the business collapses. This is his whole meaning, his whole concept of life, he's not young enough to build up another one, so he may commit suicide. Or a person may commit suicide to get away from the pain of cancer. There are different reasons. But it is true that the umpire failed. And of course, the umpire's not infallible, it's just the watchdog of the somatic department.

Q. When the umpire helps you understand certain things, does that mean you're letting down your ego?

R. Your ego changes.

Q. Your defenses are down, you don't feel as if you have to be in control of the situation?

R. Well, I wouldn't say your defenses are down. I don't think you need to surrender, and I don't think you should surrender one bit of pride. Foolish vanity is something else, but I mean keeping your prestige within society or keeping your looks up and your health up, or pursuing an ambition, whether it's spiritual or economic. I don't think that part of it matters, unless you really come to the conclusion finally that it's a lie.

Q. The umpire helps you do that?

R. Right. Well, what happens is that you choose. Ultimately you'll see that the sex is not you, the stomach is not you – if you eat too much it could kill you. Or the power's not you, because in cases like Richard Nixon or this Moro in Italy,1 this proves we can go, no matter how big we are. Somebody can shoot you, depose you, tear up your empire – which is a sardine can in which all the little sardines are eating each other. So there's no real power in this world.

So what is left? And the person who has hung onto a spiritual path this far realizes for the first time that the real value is not in this stage play, this rat race, this game of eat and be eaten. So then an additional amount of energy is liberated for the evaluation of systems. I don't say to grab one religion, but you evaluate systems of thinking, psychology, errors in psychology, errors in religious systems, to choose for yourself the true, to sort. And this is where your life will turn abruptly.

Q. Because you're not distracted.

R. Right. And with that of course starts the analyzation of the systems of thinking. Your attention is off of the body, its appetites, and even off of the fears, which are egos. It doesn't matter then.

Q. Do you lose your umpire at this point?

R. No, I don't think so. You're aware of it, you allow it.

Q. You're not watching it at this point?

R. No, no. You're aware of it until you've reached the final step; and when you come back, you're aware of it. You have to eat so there's no sense in eating food that isn't good for you and that sort of thing. That doesn't mean you should overeat. By the same token, if you're young enough and it occurs to you to get married, there's nothing wrong with that, or indulging in a relationship with somebody of the opposite sex. But you're not going to be carried away with the idea that this is the utopia. If it's healthy for you to have a relationship, then this is what's topmost in your head, more so than that you're going to be the greatest lover on earth. And the same with everything else. If you have a chance to get a promotion in your job, you take it, but you don't make a big thing out of it. You don't try to kill off everybody else to get there. If it comes, okay; if it doesn't, okay, because that's not the most important thing. It's generally just a bigger headache if you get a promotion.

Q. What is the reason for continuing life either before or after a person gets enlightened? What is the significant value? Truth exists whether you're physically alive or not, whether you've reached it or not.

R. Well, after the experience, you're not dead so you've got to go on living.

Q. But why?

R. I don't know why. I don't know why I was born. I have a feeling that a physical vector is formed in the pursuit that determines a lot what you do after the experience happens. I also believe that certain things happen that are in the blueprint, but I didn't draw the blueprint. Now, I said you experience that you are everything, and that means you must have something to do with drawing the blueprint. But my mundane consciousness is not aware of that. And significant things have happened in my life that my mundane consciousness is not aware of. In other words, if I fasten my mundane consciousness on a desire, it has no meaning and it will not come to fruition.2 But if I fasten my consciousness on something indifferently, it may happen.3

Q. In other words, you can divert the divine?

R. I think we have to resign ourselves to that which is. The blueprint's already made; we're not going to change anything. Everybody wants to manipulate, but there's no point in manipulating. You go out into a flower garden where somebody has carefully planted and what do you do, start digging and planting more flowers? No, you enjoy the scene, that's all. There's no point in planting more flowers, or tearing them up.

I believe too that you have a pattern you go through. I think that the thing behind my whole drive was a hunger to find an answer, and a tremendous anger at the phonies I found in my youth. I went from temple to temple and found nothing. If they weren't after money they were perverts; there was always some game they were playing. And I made up my mind that if I found anything, I'd make it available.

Now reserving this thought, possibly what? – it caused me to fire back into this dimension? Or it opened the door? I don't know which happened. I think there are a good many people who don't come back. But I think that if they have a healthy enough body, everybody will come back. If you've taken care of your health, you'll come back. But a lot of people, if they had a stroke or something and they're on their way out, they'll have a profound experience, but they can't talk, they can't describe it.

And the hope of course is to benefit the other people. We are not alone. I said before that every person is the end of the so-called ray of the absolute. If you want to call it divine, okay. That means that there's an equality here, a tremendous equality; we are not better than the person who doesn't realize this. The difference is in the degree of consciousness of our real source. Consequently, there's a tremendous desire to take care of the kids: your children, other people's children, people who are also fed up with the chicanery, with the phoniness. Now maybe I'm playing an ego trip. You'll have to judge that for yourself; I could just be showing off.


Q. Has it been your experience that an artist's preoccupation in his work with low grade exaltations will keep him from the higher rungs?

R. I don't know.

Q. Could he say what he means by "low grade exaltations"?

R. If you can pick him up, I think he means that, for instance, a person becomes enraptured by the ability to create. A man reads a poem and reaches an exaltation, or he writes a poem and has a tremendous feeling. That doesn't mean he knows the final answer. He may know there is something beyond that, but he lingers in that. And I believe that's a hangup. I think a tremendous lot of people who have the artistic drive without the artistic degeneration can reach spiritual heights. But most of the artists I have met somehow coupled it with every form of degeneration they could possibly think of, and even wrote it off, excusing it as being "experience."


Certain things destroy the mental clarity. We talked a little bit about emotion: two people can fall in love and experience a tremendous rapture; and I went through this myself, to find out a short time later I had projected something that wasn't there. Consequently, my emotional self is erratic. Everybody goes through this. They see somebody, they project something onto it – maybe it's themselves that they project – and they live to regret it. And the same with projection of a tremendous affection on a guru or even a system of thinking. So after this kind of experience we take a new direction, we go on to the logical approach and try to solve everything with mathematical precision. We're going to know right down to the nth degree exactly how to go about this, and we find out later that that's a total failure, another fatheaded trip.

But then we find that there's somewhere in-between, or somewhere with both, that is the tool we have to use. And that's intuition. Now there are certain things that you do, that a person can get into, in which their intuition is destroyed for a lifetime. To give you an example, you can take acid and you'll have an intuition. And after awhile you get to depend on it. People used to come to my lectures: Rose plus acid. "We're going to get this right through this guy. We're all hopped up, we'll listen to him awhile, and then we'll know exactly what he knows." That is a faulty intuition – which will carry them down a toboggan ride. And a lot of them will tell you even when they're cold sober that this is a genuine intuition. They've become sold on it.

But genuine intuition is the only tool you have in the abstract realm. When you're talking to a man, like when you're listening to me, the only gauge that you have is your intuition. It's not in my words; I could be a very clever liar. I could be spinning you a tale. How do you know? Your intuition is the only thing you've got to go by. You read a book, and why don't you throw it away, or why do you throw it away? Because of your intuition.

One man throws away a book and another man picks it up and says it's valid. So somebody's wrong. One man goes into a certain church but another man rejects it. And they all do this by virtue of intuition. But what's happening is that somebody's somatic-mind voices are leading him. He's never bothered to use his intuition, to go through the umpire-thinking, so he's going to this church or movement because they encourage him. The guru says, "What you do doesn't matter as long as you pay me and chant this word. Don't apply your intuition. Don't try to lead a moral life. Just go through this mechanical thing and put your money on the table on the way out."

[break in tape - question missing]

R. I'm sure but I can't make you sure. How should I answer you? You know I'm sure – if I'm not sure then I'm crazy; why would I be up here? I'd have to be a real capital fool – I don't even take a collection.


Q. What do you consider to be the role of emotions such as love in your system?

R. I believe that there is a thing called love. In the next issue of TAT Journal4 there's an article5 on love in which I try to demonstrate what genuine love is. Love is a theme. Life is an act. Love is the theme of life, basically. And it has a certain amount of power, but it's only relative. My concept of love is basically different from what the average person talks about. I'm very much opposed to using the word love. The first thing, if you hear the hillbilly singers when they talk about love, giving their man a good loving, they're talking about sex. And in other cases, when somebody is talking about love they're talking about hypnosis, where two parties are so hypnotized they don't know where they are, but when they wake up they hate each other.

Then there's a path of friendship and devotion that lasts an entire life. There's hell to pay and moments of happiness and this sort of thing – and this to me is the genuine love. It's the service of the man to friendship; that's his theme of life. And I don't think a person can pledge themselves to it; you either work for other people or you don't. And you can't work for yourself after you realize there's no self, that what we considered the previous self doesn't count.

I consider the people who are the greatest lovers to be those people who dedicated forty or fifty years to trying to make a better life for three or four kids – doing without things, and quietly doing it, keeping their mouth shut even when hell breaks out. Because that's their dedication. This is their proof. I've met people who wouldn't pass you on the highway if you had a flat; they'd stop and help you. And you look the fellow over and think, "What's he doing this for? He didn't have to stop." But you recognize a certain type of person. Maybe he's wanting to do more, but that's all he can do. He doesn't know what to do, but he wants to be instrumental in helping other people. Now, we have another class of people who are crass hypocrites, people who go around popping off about helping humanity, and they're doing everything to destroy us. So it isn't the protestation, it's the proof.


Q. What's the role of emotion in general? Is it something to observe and detach yourself from?

R. I don't think that there are any emotions that really sway you. All through the early days of my searching, I had the emotion of anger: I was an iconoclast, I wanted to break things up. When I was seventeen or eighteen years old, I went to a spiritualist center – at that time I thought the proper way to get the answer was to find out what would happen to me after I died. All these things are answered if you answer one of them: if you can find out what happens after you die you may get an inkling of what the eternal nature of life is. So the first thing to do is something objective. For several years I made a career out of going to spiritualist churches, listening to messages, going to materializations, seeing the spooks, until finally I got into some that were real.6 But we went over to one in Chesterfield, Indiana7 and they were cheesecloth. I could see the safety pin in the spirit's neck. And this is where my emotions came in. I said to the fellow with me, "Turn on the lights and I'll throw her through the window." This was my immediate reaction. "How can they have these people weeping over a dead person who isn't there? They're weeping over a guy with luminous cheesecloth wrapped around him."

So you may have emotional reactions. I had them. I didn't care, I encouraged it. That fired up my pursuit to go further. You can't just be bland and say, "Oh, well, we're going to drift and observe." No, I think sometimes if you're determined and you're irritated, you develop a love for that which is selfless and good, and an anger for the stuff that's using up people's lives. My complaint is that you only have a few years in which your mind is flexible enough to do this battle; it doesn't do you any good to get into this when you retire. This has to occur in your youth. But the people who are being driven the hardest and allowed to think the least, who are propagandized the most and have the most pressure put on them, are the people in that age bracket.

Consequently, my anger was against this wholesale prostitution of the minds of the young people. And I resent the gurus who come over here with their little mantas and clichés and their adoration of the flesh – the personal guru and all this sort of thing. To me this is malarkey. And I don't need to come out and be anti-social. But what do they do? They all reinforce each other; they have conventions in which they all pat each other on the back. It's like a candy store: "You want some of this junk, that junk and that junk? Take your pick. We're all genuine." Backscratching deals.

No, I say there's a true and there's the phony. And when you finally develop an intuition to where you can discriminate, then you help the poor sucker who doesn't have the discrimination, if you can – if you can get through his thick head and say, "Hey, you're being snowed." And don't be afraid of the consequences. So that may be emotion, and I'm still an emotional person.

Q. What about an actual physiological state of say euphoria?

R. No, no – trauma, trauma. Don't get euphoric. You find euphoria in the cemetery; for years and years you'll enjoy it. Indulge in trauma while you can.

Q. What about any emotion, not necessarily euphoria?

R. Well, I don't say that all emotions are bad. But I equate euphoria with non-action, placidity. When you enter these various states, when you enter the salvationistic state, it's euphoric. We climb and we hit a plateau, and you get a reward when you hit the plateau, because this is a rest. The mind rests for the next struggle, and sometimes it rests for what seems like a long time before it gets to thinking again. So we have a way of breaking that up. This is one of my aims, because I know that people will go through these stages, and I don't like to see them rest twenty or thirty years on one plateau. Take a little rest and let's start fighting again, let's try going for this truth again.

Consequently, it's better to allow yourself to become irritated by the untruths around you, rather than to say, "Oh well, it all comes out in the wash." Now in the final analysis you may discover that everything in the world is perfect the way it is. This is the reason that once you find out, you're not going into politics or anything, because it doesn't mean a damn. But right now you don't know that. You've got to fight like hell to find out that it doesn't pay to fight like hell. There's no choice. Don't accept my word. Some so-called teacher or writer says that in the final analysis everything is taken care of by God – whether it's the fall of the sparrow or the fall of the bombs over Japan – that these are all things that are supposed to happen. But that doesn't stop you from being concerned, and the concern stirring up your head. Allow it to stir up your head, and after your head is clear, then you'll realize it was a play. But don't take my word for that.

"The world is terrible"

Q. I still don't understand how you can say things are perfect. Our world is in terrible shape. Don't you think we should all be trying to do something to make it better?

R. Yes – commit suicide. [Rose laughs.] I know [the questioner], that's the reason I answered that way. It is in terrible shape. And each to his own method. Some people go out and shoot people over it, and other people talk about Zen. Because everything is wrong. No matter who's in office they're wrong, no matter what thing is sweeping the country it's wrong. And no matter where you go, there's brutality, suffering, hate and all this sort of thing. So I used to joke and say the real way to solve the earth's problems, the solution for mankind, is to kill everyone off but one man and let him commit suicide. Or to rise above and find out that it isn't that important, that terrible. I was saying earlier that I got a letter from this fellow on the west coast. He read "The Three Books of the Absolute"8 and he said, "I went into agony reading that thing; this is an agonized view of the world. Everything is terrible." I'm not going to tell you exactly the words he used, but it was in unpleasant terms. But the truth of the matter was that it was his viewpoint that was terrible. Our viewpoint is terrible.

Q. But you must admit that in the present world situation things do look pretty bad. We can destroy the world fifteen times over if somebody mistakes a meteorite for a nuclear missile. Or if there's a major accident at a bacteriological warfare plant, this country could be wiped out in a matter of a year.

R. All right, you give me a hundred dollars, and I'll see that you go to heaven when that bomb goes off.

What do you think I can do for you? I can't help it. It's just a play, you know. Like this actor Evans9 who played Shylock in Shakespeare – it took two men to walk him up and down the alley after the play, shouting in his ear, "Remember, you're not Shylock. Remember you're Evans." So this is the same: you have to continually remind yourself that it's not that serious. It's just a play.10

Umpire redux

Q. I'm trying to nail down what you mean by the umpire. Is this just a concept-building thing which seeks to arrive at clarity of mind, using intuition and verbalization?

R. No, no. We have to be the observer that is aware of this.

Q. But you don't equate the umpire with the capital-s Self or anything?

R. No, no. It's the somatic mind, basically. It's a combination of the influences of the body, the appetites, the fears and that sort of thing. The person is born with clarity, but he loses it. We have to become as a little child, as the Bible says. You have to regenerate your intuition. But this doesn't always occur to you; I think you have to have a bit of intuition to know you've got to generate your intuition. And this is the reason some people are so irrevocably lost. They get sand-trapped; they don't know how much they're limited. They just presume that everybody is similarly limited, with certain thought patterns, life experiences, answers and so on. And they don't realize that their computer might be improved.

I go back to this little story that I got into when I was studying theology: "The finite mind will never perceive the infinite." And when you start talking with people about philosophy, they'll say, "I'm going where everybody else goes." They think everybody is equally stupid, everybody is equally limited, everybody is going to die and have exactly the same experience. But now we're getting books like Moody's which show that everybody doesn't die and have the same experience. So some of these minds must be different.

... To be continued.


1. Former Italian PM murdered two days earlier. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aldo_Moro.

2. Franz Hartmann in Magic, White and Black: The Science of Finite and Infinite Life, chapter 12: "To be silent: This means that we must not allow any desire to speak in our heart, but only the voice of the truth; because the truth is a jealous goddess and suffers no rivals." See https://selfdefinition.org/magic/hartmann/white-and-black/chapter-12-theosophy.htm#to-be-silent.

3. Part of Rose's formula for betweenness. Energy Transmutation, Between-ness and Transmission and The Direct-Mind Experience are two of Rose's books with chapters that focus on betweenness.

5. "Tales of Love," Volume 1, number 4, 1978: http://www.searchwithin.org/journal/tat_journal-04.html#3.

6. Rose described some of these explorations in his 1974 "Laws, Yardsticks, Exaltations" talk in Columbus, Ohio and his 1977 "Introduction to the Albigen System" talk in Cleveland, Ohio.

8. See https://selfdefinition.org/rose/Richard-Rose-Three-Books-of-the-Absolute-7-pages.pdf. Rose testified to awakening to his true nature and having found it to be an absolute state of being. The transition into this awareness and a communication of it were transmitted with much beauty and force in "The Three Books of the Absolute," which came to him in one sitting shortly after his awakening in 1947. It can be found in The Albigen Papers and also in Profound Writings, East and West.

9. Unknown reference. Canadian actor? [David Gold in After the Absolute recalled the actor's name differently, citing this comment from Richard Rose: "You know, when I was a kid, I used to hear about this great Shakespearean actor over in England who was famous for playing Shylock. I think his name was Peter Benson. I guess he could really play the part. Only trouble was he got so wrapped up in the performance that when the curtain went down he couldn't get out of the character. So after every performance a couple of stage hands would have to walk him through the streets of London, repeating over and over, 'You're not Shylock, you're Peter Benson. You're not Shylock, you're Peter Benson.'" - Ed.]

10. From a 1974 talk on "Obstacles" in Cleveland, Ohio: "He'd be saying, 'I want that pound of flesh.' And he would become so obsessed by getting this pound of flesh – they'd take two stagehands and walk him up and down behind the theater shouting in his ear, ‘Remember it's just a play.' ... and it would take hours after every play to bring that man down. And this is what life is. This is what you're doing now."

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

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