Everyone wants to be wise (vs. foolish, cockeyed, idiotic, laughable, goofy, unwise). Wisdom can be practical (how to tie your shoes, avoid getting hit by vehicles when crossing the street) or impractical (how many dollar bills laid end to end it would take to circle the equator). Practicality implies helping one succeed in real circumstances. Wisdom implies deep understanding and realization.
The search for a permanent solution to our suffering and longing; the search for truth, beauty, and the creative force, is predominately set aside by the scramble for the next dollar, the next high, the next bit of excitement or security. Join us for a weekend dedicated to the work of highest value: the search for Practical Wisdom.
Meditation is the destruction of the sense of ‘self.’ This self has been created by the mind through ignorance, a sort of learned hypnosis, and can be destroyed by the very act of staring it in the face. This is better described as the act of observing ourselves. Thinking we observe ourselves already, we must somehow first become convinced that what we are doing is no such thing, but instead we are blindly creating our own version of the Frankenstein monster, then stepping inside our creation and taking it to be us. This created act of the imagination is never questioned until disaster strikes and the peasants with their torches are banging at the door.
We may actually begin to observe ourselves and find we are a stranger. If we are still intrigued and the intuition awakened, we may be tricked into looking for the problem inside our own head. This revelation that something might be amiss in our own interior, coupled with a bit of intuition and grace, may lead to an interior questioning. Awareness breeds more awareness and soon we may find we have reversed our direction. The creating mind with its compensating imagination may be glimpsed just enough. We may find we are hooked on this self-observation thing. But watch out. The ego and animal nature won’t like this one bit, and will do everything to bring back the good old days of dissipation, drama, and self-created misery. If we are still a tad lucky, we will see through this and have discovered another layer of that which is not us. We place meaning and value on the continual act of observing, the inward listening with attention.
Meditation also involves finding a stable point within. The body/mind is in constant flux; happiness or pleasure are fleeting at best. By sorting through and retreating from this, we eventually go beyond body/mind and find a Place of No Concern, a deep stillness. Thus we find meditation to be a changing process, different at every stage, but final in its result. Eventually we look at the looker, and even look at looking itself.
“The path to Truth begins with the self. We cannot properly isolate, identify, or analyze the self, because it is the subject about which we know the least.” – Richard Rose
The conscious attention, or ego, sits on the doorstep between two worlds: that of the outer country of our senses commonly called reality, and the world of the mind, our inner realm, the undiscovered country. While much can be said of the outer world of the senses, little is known by most of us of our inner country, a world of automatic responses and unquestioned beliefs, hidden in darkness, projected onto our hapless neighbors.
Even those of us on the spiritual path, professed seekers of truth, rarely enough venture into the unknown country behind our eyelids. We tend to avoid this inner space, side stepping it in favor of imagination. We create a conceptual idea of ourselves in our head, one which fits our needs and fears, and then believe in it. The true state of our mind and emotions is avoided and exiled, an active but unconscious shadow in the darkness within.
This refusal to look at our inner state is not only because we are cowards, ignorant, and/or blind. It is necessary. The mind could not go on about its business in day-to-day affairs in the hustle of modern life if it questioned itself. Things could come to a halt.
One of the ways we avoid the inner realm is through what I call the game of ‘stay away’. We refuse to look at anything about ourselves that doesn’t fit the script. An extreme example of this is found today in neo-advaita types, while a generation or two ago it was seen in the radical side of Hare Krishna’s, and even earlier with ‘Jesus freaks’. The game is played by having a tight 5-10 minute circle of unbreakable logic which is repeated over and over, both to oneself as well as others. This is a very effective form of self-hypnosis which enables it’s practitioner to stay away from all consciousness of any inner emotional turmoil.
Another trick is that of placing the ego in an intangible form so that it cannot be attacked. These folks have no practical ego to speak of, meaning they have no real skills, no career, no interest which is actually carried out in the world. But to function the ego has to have an object, so if they are unwilling or incapable of identifying with a practical aspect of life, they find a concept, an archetype, or an image with which to identify. These images are invisible and intangible, so there is no risk of failure or success associated with believing in them. The trap is almost fool proof and extremely hard to break free of. Examples are seen often in New Age archetypes, such as the ‘goddess’, the ‘warrior’, the ‘sage’, etc. Even political and religious concepts can be effective shields against our personal truth, such as being politically correct or morally self-righteous. The common thread is an inability to handle tension or resistance. There can be no failure or questioning of an inner goddess, it can’t be seen or corroborated, so the person has an excuse not to face themselves, no matter what.
The trick of transference is seen in those who avoid their inner country by projecting it onto others. They have nothing to work on in themselves (being perfect, the ego’s main characteristic) so they spend their time helping others less fortunate (the rest of us). In this manner, they never have to see themselves as they are, for all imperfection surely lies in others, out there. They feel they are fortunate to be able to spend their time in helping, while their victims, their unlucky friends and acquaintances, must bear the burden of the ‘helpers’ unresolved inner conflicts.
An example of this was driven home to me when I worked at a ski resort. A group of blind cross country skiers came for a week, from the wonderful organization Ski for Light. There were over a hundred of the blind skiers, along with their guides and coaches. I assumed that the skiers, being blind, would be in need of much help, and their guides must be selfless saints to volunteer for such an undertaking. I had it exactly backwards. The skiers were the ones with the greater being, and needed no help traveling freely about their inner country. The guides on the other hand, while sighted in the outer world, were, perhaps unknowingly, being taught humility, faith, patience and wisdom by their unsighted charges.
I’ll never forget this surprising contrast: the guide bragging at dinner how she had been blessed not to have to work so she could give her time to ‘helping’ the less fortunate. The resort staff soon became fully aware of who was helping who. Her blind student was easy to wait on, not at all demanding, while the guide required constant attention, everything had to be prepared to her individual specifications, running us ragged for no real reason other than her inability to act in any way other than self-centered. The blind skier (the true guide) spent the week in infinite patience, a shining example of courage and wisdom, expecting nothing in return.
While these examples may illustrate our ignorance of our own psychology, it also serves to show how our values are reversed by life and its demands. The inner country, the basis for our character, is undiscovered and lacking in meaning, while our outer life of body and ego is given first priority and the highest value. The soul, with its connection to our inner self, is discarded in favor of saving face and ego. Only when the inner atmosphere is clear and quiet can we hear the true message from our Self. A long and hard journey within to clear the air and underbrush may be arduous, but in the long run, worth any price.
Scanning the index of TAT Forum issues going back to November 2000, there are three articles written by TAT members or friends with personality, personhood or person featured in their titles. And here’s a peek at what they had to say:
I’m convinced that self-observation, when done correctly (without getting sucked into analysis), is a technique which “maneuvers” the awareness away from identification with the ego, so that in an instant ALL of ego becomes the view—the dreary details just aren’t important then…. You could reject the argument you know so well and instead of giving it form in words, look at how you FEEL, and give expression to that. I wonder what thoughts would then arise is you, and what verbal form they would take…. Before you observe clearly, or perhaps just at the moment when you do, reaction immediately sets in: defense, rejection, yes, no, good, bad, aversion, attraction. Analysis results. The ego-based arguments get verbalized and you are sucked right back into identification with the fictional you. — On Personality, Analysis & Going Within, by Bob Cergol
Somewhere along the line we read or heard someone say to us, this self you think is you, is not you, it is an elaborate production—it is a trick. Or maybe, if we were lucky, we got a peek behind the scenes via an experience of trauma, or maybe even some sort of spiritual or satori experience. Whatever the case, however it happened, we got attuned to the notion that person we took ourselves to be was not as solid, continuous, and consistent as we once thought. Indeed, we noticed that we were, to one degree or another, being tricked. — … But it Feels Like Me!: Discerning the Fabric of Personhood, by Alex Danilowicz
Ramana Maharshi stated his view succinctly: “‘I am a man’ is not natural. You are neither this nor that.” Nisargadatta Maharaj put it even more forcefully: “You have squeezed yourself into the space of a lifetime and the volume of a body, and thus created the innumerable conflicts of life and death. Have your being outside this body of birth and death, and all your problems will be solved. They exist because you believe yourself born to die. Undeceive yourself and be free. You are not a person!”
Are you a person? Then you will be alternately happy and unhappy. The fun prospects of life are ruined by death waiting in the wings. Of course death may eventually seem appealing. You will never be fully satisfied. An individual (a separate thing) is never going to be whole. — Are You a Person? by Art Ticknor
TAT’s fourth and final gathering for the year presents an opportunity to come together on the “grand work” for which Richard Rose founded the TAT Society:
“After all, are we not all working for the same goal, which is Truth, which is God if God is found through the search for Truth, or for the Absolute, if the Absolute is found through a search for Truth?” — Richard Rose
What follows is a series of letters from Richard Rose to L. written in early 1990.
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Your letter of Dec. 18th has been sticking on top of my typewriter until now… in fact I was surprised at the date when I saw it.
I am glad to hear that your business is maintaining good momentum. I am always concerned about the stasis, or stagnation of business ventures by people in the group. Because it is the red light of trauma for the individual.
The cause of such trauma is difficult to assess or correct because it can be from a lack of attention by the individual… or it can be entirely from an opposite direction — it can be the take-over of some internal spiritual hunger or attending HGA coming with a shell-bursting Koan. And there is yet a third factor, or possible cause.
The third cause comes from entities… parasites (of a spiritual energy addiction) which throw blocks into any spiritual endeavor that might threaten their food supply.
What do we do about it? We must cover all three possibilities. If adversity is reflected in what seems to be our actual, physical survival, we must double our efforts and attention… and never give into blaming it on the times or on persecution.
If we think it might be a spiritual Koan we plug along with an eye to any possible gains from such a Koan.
If it is a negative attack, we must eliminate all action or habits that would feed the power of a physical attack that threatens the mental energy, so that we don’t surrender like a falling house of cards, all the while babbling to one’s self about the many possible diagnoses that might have caused the dead-end state of mind.
Just this morning I ran across a bookmark. I cannot remember the exact message… or its author… I thought it might have been placed in the mail by some well-meaning Christian sect. It said in effect — Do all things for the sake of a higher power, and it will correctly guide your every step.
Amazing! I thought. For this I have always believed since I was in my early twenties. The advice covers all three possibilities to problems of adversity.
There is a god within every man… that finds his contact with the chief Engineer of this scenario… the Absolute God that has everything planned or is able to at least enable us to see that everything is for the best. And the best includes eternal contentment at the cost of momentary inconvenience.
What follows is the follow-up letter from Rose to L., from the preceding letter, above. It defines some of the abbreviated terms used in the preceding letter and is not dated. It was handwritten by Rose and signed with an uppercase “R” with no period.
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Finally getting a chance to catch up on the mail. As you probably know I was hit by a car in December. Did not require hospitalization but it played hob with my vertebrae and the nerves.
In answer to your question of the front of this page HGA is a Holy Guardian Angel. The “HGA” is used by esotericists and some alchemists who feel it is like the word JHVH. HGA is a humanoid or angelic messenger. JHVH is the eternal Absolute or Essence.
KOAN is a Zen word for a puzzle or catalytic limerick that will bring about better insight.
About moods. Nostalgic Moods are never seductive or acquisitive.
Hang in There
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* * *
I received your letter last Saturday. We are like ships at sea. The man at the wheel has to be firmly in control of the ship or body.
I can see that you have been hit by a hurricane.
We are attacked if we momentarily are exposed to parasitical forces or divine forces. (either)
If your course is straight and selfless – all will [turn] out well.
Be careful about publicizing and great windfalls of opportunity. The bats in the belfry and rats in the cellar mount an attack – to provoke an action that will feed the entities, that want you to be poor and weak.
If you have been attacked by the divine forces, – all will be well.
May the light within guide your course.
R. (Richard Rose)
” I found that the study of dreams led me to a better understanding of moods…. I have found that there are three major moods in dreamland…. One of the moods is fear. Another is seduction or acquisition. And the third is nostalgia…. The above three moods represent three great motivations that for some reason have been ingrained or programmed into all people. I think that the understanding of the effects of moods, and combinations of moods, will bring us closer to an understanding of the non-somatic mind and how it affects—seriously—the life of the body. I think it might be a good idea to look for our understanding of the mind in the mind itself. I maintain that the nostalgic mood becomes the language of the soul. It is the inner man trying to get through the earth-man’s paradigm, to communicate with him.”—Richard Rose, from the Lecture on Moods, The Direct-Mind Experience
Self-realization is possible only because the body-mind, which we identify with as our individual self, emanates continuously from the source or soul of all, the Self of all selves. That downward current from our source speaks to us in the language of nostalgia: “Over the river and through the woods, to Grandmother’s house we go” carries us back to feelings of perfect moments in our memory or pre-memory of earlier times, when we had not a care in the world. Like the biblical story of the prodigal son, we’ve come from a home where there are no problems, and the nostalgia mood calls us to follow its ray back to that source.
The 2012 TAT Fall Workshop will be held over the Labor Day weekend, Friday, August 31st through Sunday, September 2nd. Sessions will investigate issues such as longing, self-transcendence, eternality, ignorance, harmony, and returning to the source.
The weekend begins with a standalone session on Friday evening for those who can arrive early. On Saturday, participants split into small groups for two interactive workshops (see details), coming back together for other activities. Participants again split into groups for a third workshop on Sunday morning. Sunday afternoon wraps up the workshops with friendly feedback by and for all participants. Free time for informal talking, walking meditation, and other activities is scheduled for both afternoons, as is a before-dinner rapport sitting on Saturday.
He cared deeply, lived carelessly, and couldn’t care less, and he died in the same obscurity into which he was born.Yet he remains the greatest leader and most remarkable man I have ever met. Everything that is best in me I owe largely to him.