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June 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 June 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 4 of a talk given at Ohio State University in 1978
(continued from the March 2020 TAT Forum), the April 2020 TAT Forum and the May 2020 TAT Forum):

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.

Process observer

Now the process observer is the first inkling of an intuition. The process observer may find that there's something inhibiting the thinking. For instance, I had a daughter who was hypothyroid: she couldn't think and she couldn't help herself, she couldn't clear up her thinking. I saw her standing in a daze one time for about two hours and I gave her hell for it. She started weeping and said, "I can't think." And we took her to the doctor and he pumped her full of something, some hormone, and then she was able to think. Consequently, sometimes you can't help yourself. But once she got that balance in her thyroid, then she became functional. Then she could think and say, "I'd better remember to take these pills, to keep myself on track." And this is the same.

There are things that can get out of whack. I talked about physical pride and taking care of yourself. There are certain improper balances in nutrition that will make it more difficult for you to stay awake and think properly. There's a lot about this that you can learn. But I think this comes basically from the process observer; he's watching the differences in your systems of thinking, and then he feeds this into the umpire. So this becomes another factor: the vitamin pill, the thyroid shot, the cold shower, whatever it is to make your thinking change, or to hold your state of mind to get the thought. Most of us can't keep a state of mind long enough to solve a problem. And these are great problems to solve.


Q. Do you think it's our human condition that gives us these problems; that the rocks and trees and animals have this state and we have to try to get there?

R. I don't know so much about trees, but I've never talked to any. Some people have,1 but I've never been fortunate enough to get any answers out any of them. Now there's something I can't prove to you, but my belief is that the animals have a much more direct way of knowing. We are confused by our words; the Tower of Babel story is very apropos. We're confused by symbols and we're trying to verbalize everything. As I said, I discovered in my lifetime that there's a way of going directly to the mind. You can debate words ad infinitum. We've got to use them, and this is the first thing Pulyan said to me, that words are all foolishness but we've got to use them until we can surmount them or get beyond them. I think that what the animal lacks is the ability to work together, or maybe he reaches a point in which he sees the foolishness of it. He may act well within his limitations, to the best of his ability.

I think it was Voltaire who said that the animals despise the humans and that's the reason they refuse to talk.2 And there's a bit of wisdom to this. But occasionally they will try to communicate if they think it's worthwhile. They'll try to have rapport with us, to communicate, if they develop enough attention, if they feel it's worthwhile or they're concerned. But I think they have the intuition that what's going to happen to them is, they're going to eat so many blades of grass, or if it's a cat they're going to kill so many mice and birds, and then they're going to die and that's it, that's their experience. And of course I don't know why they're born a cat or a dog, and I don't think they do. But they know a tremendous lot more than we credit them with. They're more telepathic than we are, I'm quite sure, because we have so many accounts of it.

If you stay on a farm for a period of time you'll watch their understandings go on. They say a lion and a deer will go down to the same water hole. The deer has some way of knowing whether the lion is hungry, and if the lion isn't hungry it won't kill; so they drink at the same time. Another time they won't go near the lions. If you notice in these films of African places, there will be deer or gazelle grazing while the predator is right in their midst practically, alongside. They seem to ignore them, but yet they know when to take off and run. So I believe they have an awareness, they have this direct-mind. That's my conviction at least but it's open for quibble; a lot of people don't believe that animals think.


Q. Do you know about any investigations on the Sufis.3

R. I don't know. I feel that the Sufi practice is more or less an expeditious way of throwing away false values. I don't comprehend how you'd safeguard yourself. I haven't read extensively nor have I talked too long with anybody. But I have kind of an uncomfortable feeling about the Sufi movement, because I could see that if you let go too much, without a proper moral ballast, you maybe could go off the deep end. But I don't want to pretend to be an authority on Sufism. I know there must be something valid in it because there are some giants in the Sufi movement.4

Martial arts

Q. What about Aikido?5

R. I don't know anything about it. What is it?

Q. It's a martial art, which was developed by a master.

R. Yes, maybe I've heard of this. There are several things they talk about, where people have even learned to kill by shouting, and developing extreme physical and mental powers by concentration. But unfortunately, at least in the manifestation of it that I have learned, they talk about using it to defend themselves [rather than self-investigation]. That's the reason I fail to get interested in the martial arts. But I've heard that they tell their students that you'll first learn to perfect your body and then learn to use your mind like an instrument. Maybe so, but I've never been in it.


Q. [inaudible]

R. This is a misinterpretation. A lot of people think that you have to be miserable all the time. That isn't true. Life will provide the miseries. All you have to do – if you announce yourself and make a commitment to yourself that you're going to go for the truth, these traumas will occur to you. They will not be obsessions that last. Now you can go through a crisis which occupies a couple days or something, and when you come out of it you'll be ready to rest on another plateau, if it was that bad. You may go for a year or two without a trauma. But I don't believe you should do things like going into autohypnosis, placating yourself by singing a lullaby-mantra to yourself. That's all they are, they're lullabies to placate yourself, so that you can't think.

If you dedicate yourself to the truth, the irritation will arise. The traumas will create themselves. And lots of times it will come to you as a sort of a shock. Certain things occurred to me for instance: I worked real hard when I was first married, to build up property and things for my children, and one day the state road came through and wiped it out. They condemned it and took it. And I was irritated. The first thing you do, you get angry and think, "This is the reward for trying to live an ethical type of existence. Maybe I should have been in the gangster business and robbed banks, and I would have gotten more respect." But then you say, "Hey, the truth is, you don't own that; you never did." It's just the conceit of ownership.

Sure, it's nice to try to create a situation in which your children will be more secure. But let's see what happens. We're presuming that only the right thing is supposed to happen to us, that which was destined to happen. But later I found out that this was the best thing on earth. I couldn't see it at the time. My eyes were blinded by the success in this rat race, the squirrel treadmill that I was on. But I wasn't getting anyplace; I was never going to get any more money than what I had. And I was much freer then; when I got rid of the property I could start writing a book. Before that I could do nothing but paint and fix roofs on two or three pieces of property. So we interpret things sometimes as being good for us because they're running smoothly, and we're trying to make them run smoothly.

But I think it's just as bad to go hunting trouble; I don't think you should do that either. We get plenty of it. The thing is to be able to have some discrimination. The Alcoholic Anonymous people say this very well. I can't remember exactly – they have a little thing on their card – give me the grace to know the things I should do, what I can change and can't change, and the wisdom to know the difference.6 And this is basically what life is. If we want to live the right way, we don't have to go into a lot of exercises to soothe ourself. I think that most of the people who are soothing themselves are people who have suffered infection; they have done things that have caused their minds to be turbulent, and in the pursuit of hedonistic pleasure they have caused a real mental misery. So then it seems like they almost have to take a mantra as a tranquilizer to get themselves to a point where they will not commit suicide.

Helping people

Q. You said that we cannot get what we're not ready for. Once you realize that you're on the journey, do you try to help others? Or do you just let them help themselves?

R. I believe in something – it has different descriptions – did you ever hear of The Magnificent Obsession?7 Rock Hudson played in the picture. People recognize, not necessarily from a religious viewpoint, that you can't go anyplace unless you help. As I said, when I was in my twenties I was an angry person. I got fed up with all the movements, the religions, the cults. And strangely enough I didn't go anyplace. I was into a form of yoga, standing on my head and twisting my toes around, different positions, repeating Om, and it did nothing for me. It seemed that the big transition came in my life when I got angry enough or determined enough, and also wise enough, to realize I was not alone. That I was bitching and griping for an honest teacher but I was a selfish recipient. In other words, I had no use for anybody. I felt superior to them; because most of them I ran into were on a hedonistic trip. And one day I realized that I wasn't better than these people, and that if I found out something, I was obliged to help.

And I maintain that you don't have to wait until you reach an experience; everybody can help. You can loan somebody a book. If you find a book that inspires you and starts your thinking processes, kicks them off to a little degree, you can advise or give the book or loan the book to somebody and say, "Hey, read this." Don't give it to just anybody. Don't waste it. Again, you can't help people who are not ready to be helped. But if you find somebody who is talking along similar lines you can say, "Well, why don't you and your wives or husbands come over? Let's get a little group together on Friday nights when we're not working. And maybe each of us will read a book each month and we'll discuss it, with the idea of being honest about our results."

These things will always work. If you are honest and dedicated, they will always take you to the same place. I don't care what the sphere is, whether it's religion, philosophy, psychology or whatever, I maintain that they'll all come to the same answer. Even psychology. I maintain that psychology is false, but it would be true if people were not concerned with building up professional prestige and holding onto that. So any of these mental disciplines you get into will take you there if you're honest. And you don't need me. I'm the roadmap but you can get one at Esso. You can get them out of the Bible, you can get them anyplace. And you get it out of yourself too, if you're sincere.

But I do believe you should work with other people. And I call this the Law of the Ladder.8 I was a contractor, and I used to have these little symbols going through my head because of working with them all the time. But I believe that we can only experience three rungs of the ladder: There's the teacher on the rung above. Then know which one you're on, in the middle – and don't get the idea that you're way up there or way down there. And then reach down to the rung below to try to get that fellow up on your rung.

Don't reach down two rungs or you get crucified. That's what happened – this fellow got crucified for healing people, putting devils into pigs and that kind of stuff. It seemed like a campaign for the public too much, rather than just for the twelve who could hear. There were possibly only twelve who could hear him, and they even got to fighting among themselves after he left. So you can reach down too far, and the big ego is to encompass as many as you can. When a person starts helping people it becomes an ego, and you've got to watch that. All of a sudden you become the Florence Nightingale of the esoteric group: you're going to charge out and beat people on the head with the book. And if you're aware of this, then of course things will run a bit more smoothly.

Hypnosis and direct-mind

Q. You practice hypnotism don't you?

R. I can put people to sleep.9

Q. Why do you do that?

R. Well, there are a lot of things I can do. For one thing, I believe that it shows you the human mind. I do it mostly as a demonstration of what is possible. For instance, with the use of direct-mind control you can change the person if they wish to be changed. If a person is killing themself from too much eating you can save their life with it. It's strictly therapeutic in that regard. If they have a habit they seemingly can't break on their own, you can reinforce them, very quickly and efficiently. You change it.

Q. You try to make sure that the person can accept it?

Oh, yes. The point is not to do it for them. In fact, I don't use it, except that I like to show, first of all, that the human being is not what we think we are. The best way to demonstrate that a man is a robot is through hypnosis. I can take a person and make everyone in this room disappear to them; they will see no one in this room except themselves and me. These things show us that we have a very unstable thing – that we're so proud of – our intellect. We put a lot of confidence in it, but we are continually beguiled by things we had a lot of confidence in previously. I think that anyone who wants to teach on an esoteric or psychological level, every psychologist, should be a hypnotist. Because then you realize the way the mind works, that it's by suggestibility. And then you'll learn to resist conditioning. We're all victims of conditioning. The big thing today is to condition all the rats so they'll continue to function without causing trouble.

And I think each of us individually has to learn to be alert to this. But at the same time it's an insight, a peek into the mind that the average person doesn't bother to get into. Some don't believe it exists. But in India and places like that they can knock you off your feet just by looking at you. And I've demonstrated this sometimes just by pointing at a person, and they'll go down. This is just something more or less to say, "Hey, watch yourself; you can be impressed." The television can hypnotize you. A charismatic person can hypnotize you.

Now you can't apply that very well to spiritual training. And I'm not a trained hypnotist. I got this way by direct mind-to-mind contact. We use that word because that's basically what it is in our language. But in direct mind-to-mind contact many things can happen. You can heal people, you can deliver them from obsessions, that sort of thing. So if you have somebody you think is obsessed or possessed or sick, and it's worth the expedient measures, go ahead and do it, that's all. But otherwise, if it's a habit they can fight off for themselves, and this would build more power for them, don't go near it. I had people who wanted me to cure them of smoking cigarettes, and I'd say, "Cure yourself; you'll build up stamina." If somebody hypnotizes you, you'll depend on hypnosis.

Entities, possession

Q. Where do entities, possessions, witches fall into the cosmology?

R. Well, I don't know about the cosmology, but they exist in this dimension. They exist here. Now the first two, possession and entities, are one category, and witches are something else. I picked up a dictionary of witchcraft the other day and it was really gross, the ideas they had in those days of people who were witches. Some of them worshipped an entity, some of them didn't. Some of them just got the finger pointed at them and were tortured to death.

But as for what witches are, I look upon most of it as being nature worship. It's a form of religion, so to speak, or anti-religion. The witch movement10 goes back I think to some very primitive beliefs, that if you sacrifice somebody the corn would grow. I understand that in the covens in England, periodically they killed the head man. That was part of the deal; he was the head billy goat for so long, and then they killed him. He knew that was coming. They had a television movie on that about a month ago, "The Dark Secret of Harvest Home,"11 and these people were butchering off a man periodically, up in New England someplace. The cult that I ran into was from Wisconsin; supposedly the whole town was taken up with this. I wrote about it in the article in the TAT Journal about the witch.12

But getting over to the entity thing, there are entities. This is another fallacy: the materialistic psychologists refuse to believe in anything they can't put into a test tube. However, we can't see a virus, but we accept the scientist's dictum that they exist; he says you've got a cold that's caused by a virus. But when we say a person is insane by virtue of being obsessed or possessed they discount that. They say, "Give him a pill." And if they give him one big enough it will knock him out and the entity can't possess him, supposedly. But when he comes back around it will be active again.

Unless we take these into consideration we can't deal with a part of human behavior – and also guard against these influences in our own case. This has happened to a lot of people who were mixing weird forms of sex with certain weird drugs. They opened a door. There are certain rules for protection. The infant is born safe. An infant cannot be possessed. A pure person cannot be possessed. Consequently, you show me a case of possession and I'll show you where somebody's been tinkering around.

And here in the last four or five years they did it with almost arrogance. They'd get a book of invocations, get about half crocked, and get into this stuff, mix it up with sex and everything else. They thought it was a big joke. And the next thing you know they were babbling to themselves. And I'm not just talking generalities, I'm talking about people who came to me, possessed, and asked me, "Hey, get rid of it." And of course I didn't do anything about it, because I don't have the strength to fight too much of that stuff.13 It takes a lot of strength to meet that type of energy; there's a tremendous lot of energy there.

Q. Where does that fit in with the absolute truth?

R. It's relative. These are relative creatures. It's just like if you go up onto another planet like Saturn and you find some people who are diaphanous or translucent; that doesn't mean that they're not material. Their molecular structure may be different. These are physical creatures. It's just that our eyeballs and our senses are only geared to pick up a limited range of messages or vibrations, we only see certain ocular things. But under certain conditions they become visible. Or they're perceived sometimes with the mind. I go into that a good bit in Psychology of the Observer,14 in that there is an ability for the mind to see without the eyes, which you develop after awhile.

You can see without your eyes. I don't mean if you're blind. I use the case of a person who looks at an apple, throws it out the window, closes his eyes, and can see the apple in his mind. This is visualization. Everything that we see, we visualize. Nothing is seen accurately. Something impacts upon our senses and we immediately project. We see, we get a light ray, and we project what's out there. We are never accurate, because we can see only so many colors, we have only so many rods in our eyes, and form and that sort of thing are subject to our projection. They claim that a grasshopper and a horse see entirely different than we do. The grasshopper has many lenses and he may see a distorted image. A horse may think we're very big, when we're not as big as the horse.

Again, I don't think that there's anything evil. You can get tapeworms or spirochetes and they can play hob with your head. But that doesn't mean that they're evil in themselves. I think they're all in a balanced aquarium. I think there are laws that govern them so that they stay in a certain place. But we break the barriers; we break the laws, we break our protection and then they get in.

They're basically symbiotic. They're after energy, the same way as maybe the amoeba is a separate entity that lives in us, and it's after the food. If we don't eat, it doesn't eat. So we may have entities that we are feeding. And of course you then would get into a whole system of what this symbiosis is. The entity may be more conscious than say the deer or the goat – the mountain goat that is ten miles from its mate. The mate only comes into heat for maybe an hour or two hours. These are known facts. The cow is only in heat for two hours. But they'll contact another animal five miles away and call, and within that two hours they will come together.

So what guides them for this? For these animals where the population is thin, what is there behind this, if there isn't some entity that profits by the whole deal? It's the equivalent of the pilot fish on the shark. They have a symbiotic existence; one protects the other. The pilot fish is safe because nothing is going to attack him when he's on the bottom of the shark, and at the same time he does something for the shark. So I think this is what occurs. And then of course, some people get the idea that they are going to be real clever and manipulate things, like Caliban15 in Shakespeare's The Tempest.

Q. What does the possessed person get out of the entity?

R. Insanity. I mean if he becomes possessed, he's done.16

Q. Why couldn't an entity be a good entity?

R. There are.

Q. We'll you're saying that they're evil.

R. No, no; we're talking about the ones that are negative only.

Q. You could have a good one couldn't you?

We do. I believe that everybody has a guardian angel. I don't think this is fiction. I believe everybody has a guiding spirit. In fact I've often said that behind all my searching and struggling, there are many things that happened in my lifetime that I could not in my computer have rigged. There were situations I didn't even want to get into, but that I found out later were for the best. So I get the feeling that back behind the curtain there's an intelligence pulling my wires which is for the best.

[break in tape]

I think everybody's possessed. Everybody's possessed to a degree – by both. They talk of the Hound of Heaven.17 A person is possessed who searches for the truth. He develops a spiritual fever, he charges out with this spiritual ideal, and that's a form of possession. He listens to a different tune of the drums. And another person charges out in another direction. So I think that you can get support; it isn't always destructive.

But there are certain things that happen – that's the reason we talk about the negative type of entity. Like the case of this book The Exorcist. This was a little boy18 – supposedly when he came into his adolescence a dead aunt nailed him, a woman who had known him, who had died shortly before that. And she possessed him. That was the conclusion they came to at least, the priests who were messing with the case.

Now we get people who are not neurotic, who develop symptoms, or else their body chemistry is changing. They have a strong phosphorus or sulfur smell; that's one of the things you'll notice around them. And they're gone. They have a brief moment of anguished consciousness in which they're pleading for help. So these are extreme cases, of course. But they try to treat them as schizophrenia, I think.

Q. How do you recognize the non-extreme cases?

R. Well, you can tell that some people are dominated. Some people are inclined and dominated and other people aren't, that's all. I don't pay attention in any case, unless somebody comes and says they've got it. And I don't even pay too much attention to them after they say it. But the cases are outstanding enough that you'll know it's not just a mental aberration. They talk perfectly intelligently; they don't have any paranoia or anything of that sort.

A girl came down to my house from Pittsburgh one time and she was sitting at the table in my kitchen. In fact I had sensed that there was something wrong with her in Pittsburgh, but one of the fellows in the group thought it was a good deed to bring her down. I noticed something standing behind her. And I couldn't tell. It was not a complete form; there wasn't a distinct feature or anything like that on it. And I thought I could be dreaming this. But my intuition told me she had a bug on her; that's what I call them.

So I said, "Do you know you have a demon?" And she said, "Yes." And I said, "Is it here now?" She said, "Oh, yes." I said, "Would you tell me where it's standing?" She pointed behind her, to her right, and that corroborated the location where I saw it, off her right shoulder. So she told me, "That's the reason I came down. I had five of them at one time." She was very brave: she had mixed dope and sex and murder. She told me this. The other girl said they had helped a guy bomb the laboratory at the University of Wisconsin;19 they killed a man up there with a bomb. They arrested a man for it; I guess he's in the penitentiary now. But these girls were also involved in it; they were Weathermen.

One time I gave a lecture in Pittsburgh and a guy came up to me, he followed me out to the car. He said, "Hey, you've got to help me." All these people smelled strongly of sulfur. This is the reason I think in the old writings they used to talk about fire and brimstone. They thought that hell was composed of brimstone [sulfur] and these were people who had been down there, that something from hell came up and was visiting them. But it's a distinct odor you'll pick up around them. And it can't be their diet alone.

You haven't noticed any odors have you? [Rose joking with someone in the audience.]

Alright, I think maybe we'd better knock off. We go down below sometimes and get a cup of coffee if they don't throw us out. If there are any other questions, I'll be glad to answer them before you go.


1. Charleston Gazette, July 20, 1968: "The Rose farm had been labeled a hippie haven by nearby residents and hippie watching had become a popular pastime. The farm tenants have long hair and whiskers, one watcher told a Wheeling newspaper last week. Another reported seeing a girl with hair down to her hips. They dance on the roof of a barn at night, according to still another report, and one man said he had seen them talk to trees." See http://selfdefinition.org/rose/richard-rose-shooting-incident.htm.

2. Unknown reference.

4. Rose later spoke favorably of Al Ghazali after reading Idries Shah. See 1980-Winter-Psychology-and-Metaphysics-Columbus.

6. The Serenity Prayer: "Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

8. For laws see The Albigen Papers, chapter 7.

11. 1978. See http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0077399/ for details.

12. TAT Journal Vol. 1, no. 3, "The Pregnant Witch" by Richard Rose: http://www.searchwithin.org/journal/tat_journal-03.html#3.

13. "Rose Biographical Notes" by an anonymous author has an account of Rose attempting an impromptu exorcism: "He went by M and had the urge to put his hand over his head. When he did, he said it was like opening Pandora's Box, a hoard of demons coming out and attacking him. Rose said the demons blew out of the top of M's head and they consisted of hundreds of 6-inch lizard-like creatures.... The blood vessels popped out on Rose's head, he stumbled out of the room onto the porch and retched."

14. See Psychology of the Observer under "six different forms of perceiving."

16. See The Sex Connection: A Study of Desire, Seduction and Compulsion based on the teachings of Richard Rose, by Alan Fitzpatrick.

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

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