"Bob Fergeson is a gifted and engaging student and teacher of mysticism who manages a delightful spiritual education site at www.mysticmissal.org . I always read, and i recommend, his excellent email Newsletter: THE MYSTIC MISSAL NEWSLETTER which you can order at his site. Expect spiritual insights, meet new mystics, get ideas on how to apply mysticism to daily life, esoteric teaching materials, cartoons, and more. Bob is a reporter for the News that's Timeless. Ask him to aim a missal your way."
My first contact with my teacher, Richard Rose was not a personal one, though it's effect was strong enough to last the many years it took until that face to face meeting could come about. This first meeting was through the press, and I saw his face quite by accident. I was newly married, settling down to what I thought would be a life of hedonistic bliss in the Colorado Rockies, replete with drugs, skiing, sex, and a touch of Zen meditation on the side. I was heading down the same road of destructive dissipation as my parents before me, but was much too full of the naive pride of youth to know it. Then I met Richard Rose.
On that lucky morning in 1983 I was thumbing through a newspaper, when the face of Richard Rose appeared before me. It's look of silent challenge grabbed me, and I began reading the accompanying article. This man was telling me to lead a life opposite to my own, one of courage, truth, and discipline. Even though I loathed to admit it, I somehow knew he was right. His message appealed to a hidden part of me, a small part, but it was enough. I saved his address.
I did a strange but fortunate thing soon after; I wrote him a letter. I asked him about his philosophy and to send me a copy of his book,The Albigen Papers. I did not expect a personal reply. When his hand written letter soon arrived, penned on old hotel stationary, I was humbled. This man, a stranger, had taken the time to answer me personally. That act, coupled with the message he wrote, convinced me Richard Rose was serious about his work. The fact that he had asked for no money, just my time, also struck me.
I read The Albigen Papers and several more of Rose's works over the next several years, but it was not until the spring of 1990 that I mustered the courage and cleaned up my life enough to meet him face to face. I had gained just enough wisdom to finally admit I was miserable, but not enough to know who was miserable. By then, my marriage had ended. I had been treated for alcoholism and drug addiction, and found myself in my late thirties with no purpose or commitment other than to find out who it was that been playing the fool all those years. The only person I knew who might have the answer to that question was Richard Rose. I bought a plane ticket to Pittsburgh, and made my first visit to his West Virginia farm which served as an ashram.
Meeting Mr. Rose in his kitchen was anti-climatic; the room was rundown, the man himself was old, humbly dressed, with the stocky appearance of a retired wrestler. It wasn't until a few moments later when we were leaving that I caught a glimpse of the man within. As I walked away from him, I had an eerie feeling. I turned and observed Rose staring intently in my direction. I felt he saw more of me in that look than most people see of themselves in a lifetime. I also knew at that moment that I was a stranger unto myself, but no longer to Mr. Rose. Those feelings only intensified over the years. They served to strengthen my search for self definition, and gave me hope that there was something to find. I had developed an inner mantra: I don't know who I am, but I'm going to find out.
The few short years I spent listening to Mr. Rose convinced me that Rose knows, knows that which we are, or can be. I took his advice to heart, put what little I could into practice, and it gives results. I lost the fear of living I had carried in years past, and now found life to be a great adventure into oneself, filled with dangers, but the only adventure worth living.
This journey culminated in a dramatic realization, the experience of my true nature as pure awareness, love in action. This was a traumatic loss of the personal man, which was replaced by the knowledge of myself as the universal awareness in every man, in everything. The question of 'who am I' was answered. This was replaced by a drive to communicate the ways and means of this realization to others who ask the same question.
The side effects of Rose's system have given me a stable, contained lifestyle, financial and moral responsibility, the courage to fulfill life-long goals, health, vitality, and a blessed relief from the adolescent fears and desires that nearly killed me years before. These alone would make Rose's system valid, but his main gift was the one of himself. He relentlessly served the cause of helping others to Become. Rose lived the Truth, and by his example we can find the Wisdom in ourselves to do as he. If we can but stay awake, earnest and committed, the Teacher within will show us what we need. Richard Rose led me to that Teacher.
I now live in a small town in western Colorado, working in the service industry. My current obsession is to develop a system of self-discovery based on my own experience. (See The Place of No Concern,The Listening Attention, Listening Attention 2, On the Turning of Heads and this month's blog My spare time is divided between my love for roaming the hills, family and loved ones, and in the efforts to communicate through spiritual endeavors such as this site and spiritual photography.
No matter how subtle or astute our meditation may be, we will never realize nirvana by using yet another facet of samsara. A different level of seeing is needed, a pure awareness that is not itself a product of the world or mind, but primary to the reaction pattern we call ourselves.