"Beware when the great God lets loose a thinker on this planet." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
(1917 - 2005)
This month's Missal pays homage to Richard Rose, one of the most profound and unusual spiritual teachers this country has ever produced. It was my great fortune to have known Mr. Rose personally and as a teacher. A native son from the hills of West Virginia, Mr. Rose underwent a cataclysmic spiritual experience at the age of thirty that left him with an intimate understanding of the secrets of life and death. He is often referred to as a "Zen Master" by the people who knew him because of the depth of his wisdom and the spiritual system he conveyed to his students. But he did not expound traditional Zen, or any other traditional teachings. What he taught is unique because it sprang from his direct personal experience of the Truth.
Richard Rose lived, spoke, and wrote without the pretense or arrogance so often found in spiritual and philosophic work. He never charged any money for his teaching, and never closed his door to any sincere seeker, or to anyone who was troubled and wanted to discover an avenue to peace and mental clarity.
Since his first public lecture in Pittsburgh in 1973, Mr. Rose continually maintained a lifestyle unaffected by opportunities for wealth, fortune, and fame. He was a simple, humble man, who had the determination, inspiration, and dedication it takes to discover, possibly by accident, the total answer to the riddle of life.
"The purpose is to find the Truth--
meaning self-definition, and the true relation of man to his fellow man, and a true understanding of our life's events."
"My purpose is to outline a system which will prove itself as it goes along, and which will reward us at any point along the line by finding for us a more disciplined and skillful mind, and a mind that is more aware of itself."
- Richard Rose-
I first made contact with Mr. Rose through a newspaper article which contained his photograph. At first glance, something in me knew this man was on the level. A handwritten response to my initial letter confirmed this. I read his books, and knew he had something to offer, but this was not on the level I found in meeting him face to face. I often felt that sitting next to him was akin to being close to a live nuclear weapon, one never knew if and when it would go off. His inner power confirmed my initial reading of him through his writing and photograph; I knew he had found, or become, the Truth. I realized that if he had found it, and I could sense it, then it was possible for anyone with enough drive and intuition to find It also, including myself. This was his greatest gift, to be a living example of Man's potential.
He also had an enormous capacity for friendship and compassion. He would tell stories for hours, bringing his audience to tears with laughter, and leaving them in wonder at the possibilities of our awareness. I never doubted him, and trusted him implicitly, though my ego was often left battered and quaking in its boots. Though the time I spent with him was relatively short, I never lost site of what I had picked up from his presence.( for more on my encounter with Mr. Rose, click here
Richard Rose reached enlightenment at the age of 30 in 1947, after years of unrelenting search. He had promised that if he ever found anything, he would pass it on to future generations of fellow seekers, and he lived true to his word. He taught that the direct path to Truth is through retreating from untruth, rather than postulating a heaven, and then going about projecting this personal concept to others in the hope it would thus come true.
He dedicated his life toward helping those who were seeking self-definition and recommended an approach that is "subjective, subtractive, immanent and designed for immediately changing and becoming." He called this method The Albigen System,
a threefold approach for becoming the Truth:
A way of living your life aimed at understanding that life.
A life of brotherhood--helping and being helped by others with a common goal.
A system not of learning but of becoming the Truth.
This system aims at self-definition and considers all knowledge incomplete until the knower or experiencer is known or identified. It does not attempt to prove itself by the vanity of logic but is inductive and answers to common sense and intuition. It revolves around confrontation, both in friendly questioning that challenges each others' thinking to the point of retreating from error and in self-confrontational meditation. The Albigen System is a method for stripping away the glossy veneer of life in the pursuit of the greater Reality that lies beneath its surface. It is a system of spiritual seeking for those who are sincerely interested in becoming the Truth.
"You learn sooner or later that you are not running the show and that if you relax, the show runs better. Things will happen if you just relax; many things are under control in many respects. You quit and things happen, you let the door open, you stop the obstruction, you eliminate the ego. The ego is one of the biggest obstructions to the achievement of anything."
The TAT Foundation
formed as a result of the life of Richard Rose. It was his dream to form an organization grounded in what he found so little of in his years of searching - sincerity. TAT was founded on the belief that your investigation of life's mysteries is expedited by working with others who are exploring, perhaps down a different road, so that you may share your discoveries, exchange ideas, and "compare notes" in order to come to a better understanding of yourself and others. TAT is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization established in 1973 to provide a forum for philosophical and spiritual inquiry. Information on the life and teaching of Richard Rose
can be found by visiting the TAT Foundations
web site at : www.tatfoundation.org .
" Truth is a path because it is never fully realized, and because many aspects of the search for Truth remain relative. Man is a being whose consciousness depends upon fickle senses and a mind largely capable of witnessing in a relative manner, and largely incapable of direct knowledge."
- All quotes by Richard Rose -
For the serious seeker who has read one or more of Rose's books, see The Key Passages ,
compiled by Shawn Nevins.
- Related Sites -
Richard Rose: Zen Master - Poet - Philosopher - Friend.
This site contains "The Three Books of the Absolute" - Rose's epic poem on his realization; the full text of After the Absolute: The Inner Teachings of Richard Rose
- a student's memoir of life with Rose; and an account of "The Last Hours of Richard Rose."
The TAT Foundation: TAT is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization established in 1973 to provide a forum for philosophical and spiritual inquiry. TAT was founded on the belief that your investigation of life's mysteries is expedited by working with others who are exploring, perhaps down a different road, so that you may share your discoveries, exchange ideas, and "compare notes" in order to come to a better understanding of yourself and others.
Rose Publications: Richard Rose
wrote seven books over a span of thirty years. Each deals
directly with a specific aspect of spiritual seeking. Richard Rose's books are made available through the publishing and distribution services of Rose Publications. Rose Publications also publishes and distributes several other titles. These are generally out-of-print works that Richard Rose thought were valuable and wanted to make available in reasonably priced reprint editions. Those who venture into the mind and thought of Richard Rose via his books will come away from the effort changed in an undeniable way. http://www.richardroseteachings.com/products_books.html
Biographical Sketch of Richard Rose, from the
Greatest Teachers Section of The Self Discovery Portal. "Richard Rose was born in Benwood, West Virginia, on March 14, 1917. He was the third of four boys in an Irish Catholic family and was born under circumstances that may have set his life's direction." by Art Ticknor.
And I had a friend . . .
Whose dust with mine was not the bond,
Whose love with mine was not the bond,
Whose teaching with me was not the bond,
Both of us had been to this same place,
To the twilight in the narrow crevice,
And because of this place, we are eternal. ~ From "Friendship" by Richard Rose
"I Will Take Leave of You"
( by Richard Rose, from his book Carillon)
I will take leave of you
Not by distinct farewell
As one entering vagueness
For words, symbols of confusion
Would only increase confusion
But silence, seeming to be vagueness,
Shall be my cadence,
You will understand.
Tricks and Traps
Trap: Judging our own projections. Half of our thought-pattern is unconscious, being projected by us before we are even aware of it. This projection is taken for granted as real, as what we usually call the 'world', and then reacted to in a semi-conscious fashion. We are constantly tweaking our thoughts and feelings in reaction to our own unconscious creations, believing we are dealing with something we call 'reality'. It's a game we'd best become aware of, this living one step behind ourselves.
Trick: Learning how to meditate, or truly observe. In reviewing our actions in hopes of practicing self-observation, we often look at memories of our body and its recent escapades. But this body is as much a mental fabrication as our judgment of it. To find worthwhile material for meditation, it's best to look instead at what thoughts and feelings motivated the body. These patterns of thought are clues as to how we build our personal universe, and then endow it with realness as well as universality.
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"We live in a cloud of illusions and rarely realize that we are spinning this web of fiction for all the hours and days of our lives, unless we are fortunate or unfortunate enough to die slowly. Perhaps slow death may be the only moments of reality for the total life of many earthlings. Because the dying person is forced to face the fact that he is about to become zero."
- Richard Rose
"Every last one of us thinks we are right" - Richard Rose
The Dividing Mind
Our mind has an amazing ability to split itself. The effect of this on the seeker of self-knowledge is to lead him about in endless circles of egos, never getting a true look at himself. "The world is divided into people who think they are right" also applies to the world inside our heads. The ego has to maintain this position of being right, or the center of the universe, in order to keep its position as the unquestioned 'I'. It accomplishes this by splitting into different roles. This is the Ego1-Ego 2 game, in which the main ego, or Ego 1, creates a scapegoat, Ego 2, on which to place all negative aspects about itself. It cannot be wrong and maintain its absolute rule, so when the facts speak otherwise, Ego 2 becomes the culprit. The variations of this are legion. Thus, a ceaseless internal conflict is perpetuated and any attempt to go within is effectively blocked. And we wonder why the unexamined life is misery.
This process is started long before memory, when the parents use this same escape mechanism on their children. The parent keeps its attention away from its own negative aspects by using the child as Ego 2. The child is then taught the trick, growing up using this mind-splitting to remain 'right' regardless of the facts of its own behavior or thoughts. The voice of the parent will remain in them, goading them to create their own endless versions of Ego 2 as facets of their personality, to be planted eventually in children of their own.
This process can be seen most clearly in extreme cases where either trauma or frustration reached such a level as to cause the mind to escape by creating another 'person' complete with its own world. In cases of trauma so intense as to be completely unacceptable, the mind may create a new, safe personality and forget the former one which was subject to the traumatic event. All conscious connection with the traumatic event is thus lost. In cases of frustration or extreme boredom, the mind may compensate by creating a grandiose paradigm in which to reside, where it lives in inner fantasy to escape the 'average' existence of the fact state. The ego cannot tolerate 'average'. "Always remember your unique, just like everyone else." In either case, the mind has succeeded in creating a refuge where it can remain 'right'. This is all simply a mechanism of nature to insure that the individuals of the species do not self-terminate prematurely. The sad part is our ignorance of it all, and our continuing identification with the mind's creations. We are not very good at observing ourselves, but most excellent at creating new 'selves' and their worlds.
If we come to the point where no fantasy will do the trick, however grandiose or safe, and where we begin to see we are not 'right' or 'wrong' but simply ignorant, we may begin to yearn for something more than the ego can provide. The Inner Self is continually trying to draw our attention to how we fool ourselves, and relentlessly showing us how to get back in touch with the facts. This is an inner process to which we have a right and need, and with which we can reconnect. It lies beyond the ego-centric position, and comes about when we start to observe ourselves rather than create or visualize 'selves' we then identify with, in either a positive or negative manner. The adage "know thyself" now has new meaning. It does not say "if you don't like what's happening, but wish to stay identified with the manifest, create a new 'you' ". Learning to observe, or listen, takes courage and patience but leads to an amazing situation. You become everything when you are not anything. There are many techniques that can help us learn to listen. In the quiet of a mind at peace, the tools of dream interpretation, intense self-analysis, group confrontation, time alone in contemplation, and even life itself can teach the earnest seeker what he is not, and how to re-establish contact with the Inner Self. Listen with attentiveness; the Inner Self may be heard above and beyond the mind-splitting clamor and dis-ease of the ego and its creations.
Lead me from dreaming to waking.
Lead me from opacity to clarity.
Lead me from the complicated to the simple.
Lead me from the obscure to the obvious.
Lead me from intention to attention.
Lead me from what I'm told I am to what I see I am.
Lead me from confrontation to wide openness.
Lead me to the place I never left,
Where there is peace, and peace, and peace.
- The Upanishads
- Quotes of the Month -
" The highest form of spiritual work is the realization of the essence of man. You never learn the answer; you can only become the answer.
" If we become spiritual agents, then our meaning makes us spiritual beings.
"Our immortality is dependent not on our ability to extend our personal illusion indefinitely but to transcend it.
" Find out why you are doing things. When you do, your life will change.
" Man must develop a system of work, and work with persevering dynamism.
" Every last one of us thinks we are right. Which means that we think we have the Truth or that if we do not have it, no one else will do any better. But everyone has a different definition of it." - Richard Rose
" All depends on self-practice...". - Hui-neng
" Prayer is only another name for good, clean, direct thinking." - Mr. Gruffydd
, from How Green Was My Valley
" Let there be a silent understanding and no more. Away with all thinking and explaining." - Huang Po
" One thing you must be able to do in the midst of any experience is laugh. And experience should show you that it isn't real, that it's a movie. Life doesn't take you seriously, so why take it seriously." - Richard Rose
" It is a great comfort to know you can live a normal life, even after you have lost your mind." -
comment about Mike the Headless Chicken
. Hilarious true story of a chicken that lived 18 months after becoming headless. http://www.miketheheadlesschicken.org/
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Copyright 2005 - Robert Fergeson. All Rights Reserved.